Down to six teams with the expulsions of New York and Philadelphia, the NL operated in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, and St. Louis. A decidedly midwestern bent was apparent. The teams scheduled 60 league games, 12 against each rival, and played more on the side against other challengers. Boston won its first NL pennant, and four members of the Louisville team were banned from NL play after the season for conspiring to throw games. With just six teams, it's probably fair to say the baseball talent on other teams outside the NL was as good or better than that in it.
Deacon White led the league with a .387 batting average. John Cassidy hit .378, Cal McVey .368, Jim O'Rourke .362. O'Rourke led the league with 68 runs, McVey and George Wright scored 58 runs each, Joe Start 55. Cap Anson led with 19 doubles, Jack Manning and Tom York 16 each.
Tommy Bond posted 40 wins, Jim Devlin 35, Terry Larkin 29, Tricky Nichols and George Bradley 18 each. Bond led with a 2.11 ERA, Larkin 2.14, Devlin 2.25, Nichols 2.60, Joe Blong 2.74.
Win Shares, pitching division: Jim Devlin (Louisville) 60, Tommy Bond (Boston) 47, Terry Larkin (Hartford) 31, Tricky Nichols (St. Louis) 24.
Position players: Deacon White (Boston) 16, Jim O'Rourke (Boston) 15, Cal McVey (Chicago) 14, John Cassidy (Hartford) 13, Cap Anson (Chicago) and Joe Start (Hartford) 11.
WARP3 scores: Devlin 5.2 in a season where he was banned (afterwards) for consorting with gamblers to throw games, Bond 4.8, Larkin 3.4 as a rookie, Nichols 1.5.
For hitters, White 7.2, O'Rourke 6.4, McVey -1.0 (bad fielding stats and a bad performance as a pitcher), Cassidy 4.8 (by far his best season), Anson 5.3, Start 4.4. Other top WARP3 scores were 5.5 for Lew Brown of Boston and 4.7 for George Wright of the same team. Tom York of Hartford matched Joe Start with a 4.4.
WAR scores, pitchers; Devlin 9.9, Bond 9.7, Nichols 2.1, Bradley 1.6, Laurie Reis 1.5. Position players, White 3.4, O'Rourke 2.8, Charley Jones 2.5, McVey 2.4, Start, Anson and Joe Gerhardt of Louisville 2.3.
Top player: Deacon White edges out teammate "Orator" Jim O'Rourke. Anson is coming up fast. Put those guys 1-2-3. Cal McVey #4 and Joe Start #5.
Top pitcher: Tommy Bond. Won the "Pitching Triple Crown" by leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. I don't know what Win Shares was thinking this time. Devlin on top in WARP also, but I can't bring myself to name a guy who gets thrown out of the league for consorting with gamblers after the season. I will put Devlin #2, with Larkin #3, Nichols #4, and George Bradley #5.
Top rookie: Terry Larkin. His WARP was not impressive, but by Win Shares he was the 3rd best pitcher in the league, and that's something.
Top manager: Harry Wright, skipper of the Boston Red Caps, is the only choice here.