...and then it all came tumbling down.
1875 was the last year for the NA, crashing to Earth after the promise of stability in 1874. Seven teams played at least 60 games each, but the tail-end of the league was coming and going like through a revolving door. New Haven managed 47 games, but went just 7-40. Brooklyn was 2-42. A second team in St. Louis, plus Washington and Keokuk, as well as a third Philadelphia team, all lasted for a few weeks. Boston trashed the league with a 71-8 season. After this fiasco, the financial backers banded together and created a National League of Base Ball Clubs, rather than an Association of Players.
Deacon White edged Ross Barnes in batting average .367 to .364, with Cal McVey making it a Boston threesome at the top by batting .355. Lipman "Lip" Pike was next at .346, then another Bostonian in George Wright at .333, with Paul Hines at .328, Cap Anson at .325, and Ezra Sutton .324. The top five in runs scored were all from Boston. Al Spalding won 54 games, Dick McBride 44, Candy Cummings 35, George Bradley 33. Pud Galvin had a 1.16 ERA and Tommy Bond was at 1.41.
Ross Barnes was healthy again, but did not dominate the league in 1875. Here are the WARP3 scores of top players: Ross Barnes (Boston) 10.3, Deacon White (Boston) 10.0, Lip Pike (St. Louis) 9.8, Cal McVey (Boston) 8.9, George Wright (Boston) 7.3, Davy Force (Philadelphia Athletics) 6.0, "Orator" Jim O'Rourke (Boston) and Cap Anson (Philadelphia Athletics) 5.4, John Clapp (Philadelphia Athletics) 5.2, Andy Leonard (Boston) and John Burdock (Hartford) 5.0.
Pitchers, in WARP3: Al Spalding (Boston) 8.4, Tommy Bond (Hartford) 7.1, Cherokee Fisher (Philadelphia Whites) 7.0, George Zettlein (Chicago/Philadelphia Whites) 5.9.
WAR leaders for non-pitchers: Barnes 5.5, McVey 4.7, Wright 4.4, White 4.2, Pike 4.1.
Top player: Lip Pike. It's Lipman and the three Boston guys, all about even. I came down to Pike or McVey, and chose Pike based on a defensive advantage. McVey's defensive numbers were not impressive. #2 Ross Barnes, #3 Cal McVey, #4 Deacon White, #5 George Wright.
Top pitcher: Albert Spalding, based on his quantity over Tommy Bond's superior quality but in only 60% of the innings. #2 Tommy Bond, #3 Candy Cummings, #4 George Zettlein, #5 Cherokee Fisher.
Top rookie: George Bradley, looking good while breaking in for St. Louis. That's a lot of long train rides to play ball.
Top manager: Harry Wright, still building that Boston juggernaut. He played only one game himself in this year (in league play), going 1-for-4.