A second year with a six-team circuit, but Hartford, Louisville and St. Louis were replaced by Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Providence. Boston, Chicago, and Cincinnati remained. A 60-game league schedule again, with Boston winning the pennant at 41-19. The loss of St. Louis, coupled with the prior expulsion of New York and Philadelphia, was making for a "major" league of smaller and smaller cities. Boston and Chicago were major cities, to be sure, but there was a dangerous trend here. Players who lived in New York, say, and didn't want to play elsewhere, could certainly find regular employment at home. A number of teams operated outside of the NL.
Paul Hines led the league with a .358 average. Abner Dalrymple was next at .354, Bob Ferguson hit .351, Joe Start a slightly lower .351, Cap Anson .341, and Orator Shaffer .338. Dick Higham scored 60 runs, Start 58, Tom York 56, Anson 55. Higham had 22 doubles, Lew Brown 21, Shaffer and York 19 each. York had 10 triples, O'Rourke and Charley Jones 7 each.
Tommy Bond had 40 wins, Will White 30, Terry Larkin 29, John M. Ward 22. Ward had a 1.51 ERA, Jim McCormick 1.69, White 1.79, Sam Weaver 1.95.
Win Shares data: Pitchers; Tommy Bond (Boston) way ahead with 60. Terry Larkin (Chicago) 34, Will White (Cincinnati) 30, John M. Ward (Providence) 24, Sam Weaver (Milwaukee) 18, Ed "The Only" Nolan (Indianapolis) 15.
Position players: Paul Hines (Providence) 15, Orator Shaffer (Indianapolis) and Tom York (Providence) 13, Jim O'Rourke (Boston), Charley Jones (Cincinnati), Lew Brown and Dick Higham (Providence) at 12, Jack Burdock (Boston), Cal McVey and Deacon White (Cincinnati) 11 each.
WARP3 scores: Bond 3.6, Larkin 5.9, White -3.1 (his pitching was pretty good, but batting and fielding were awful, says WARP), Ward 8.2 (rookie), Weaver 11.5 (rookie, career year, and not back in the NL until 1882), Nolan 0.4 (rookie, not back in the league until 1881. The NL was very fluid in these days).
Position guys, Hines 5.5, Shaffer 7.8 (best year), York 3.7, O'Rourke 3.7, Jones 6.2, Brown 6.3, Higham 4.3 (last play in the NL, except for one 1880 game), Burdock 2.5, McVey 2.7, White 5.1. Other WARP3 leaders are Joe Start of Chicago at 3.8 and John Clapp of Indianapolis at 3.0. King Kelly of Cincinnati checks in at 2.9.
WAR for pitchers: Bond 10.7, Weaver 6.0, Larkin 5.3, Ward 4.6. Position players, Shaffer 3.5, Bob Ferguson 3.0, Hines and Dalrymple 2.8, Jones 2.7, Gerhardt and Start 2.3.
Top player: Paul Hines, the triple crown winner. You could make a good argument for Orator Shaffer, playing in a tougher hitter's park, but Hines was an excellent all-around talent.
#1 Paul Hines, #2 Orator Shaffer, #3 Charley Jones, #4 Joe Start, #5 Tom York.
Top pitcher: Tommy Bond, pitching Boston to the pennant. A case can be made for Ward or Weaver, but Bond was out there every day and led the league in wins and shutouts.
#1 Tommy Bond, #2 John M. Ward, #3 Sam Weaver, #4 Will White, #5 Terry Larkin.
Top rookie: John M. Ward, impressive in his debut at age 18.
Top manager: Cal McVey, leading an upstart Cincinnati team to second place against the powerful Red Caps of Boston.