Pushed by the AA, the NL moved back into New York and Philadelphia, dropping the small-town Troy and Worcester franchises. This ended a dangerous era in NL history, when it was on the verge of losing its "major league" aura and becoming just another league. New York picked up the best players from Troy, Mickey Welch, Buck Ewing and Roger Connor, and gained John Ward from Providence. No trades in this era, players were free agents when they could manage, but generally stayed with one team until they were released. The Philadelphia team had little in the way of talent and would have to build slowly. Boston won the pennant in a good race, with five teams contending through the year and everyone but Philly putting up a .400 or better percentage.
Dan Brouthers won the batting title with a .374 average followed by Roger Connor at .357, George Gore at .334, Jack Burdock at .330, Jim O'Rourke at .328, Fred Dunlap at .326, and Ezra Sutton at .324. Joe Hornung led the loop with 107 runs; Gore scored 105, O'Rourke 102, Sutton 101. Brouthers had 97 RBI, Burdock 88.
Old Hoss Radbourn led the pitchers with 48 wins and Pud Galvin had 46. Jim Whitney was third with 37 wins, Larry Corcoran next with 34. Jim McCormick led the way with a 1.84 ERA, Radbourn posted a 2.05, Whitney came in at 2.24. Whitney led the way with 345 strikeouts, followed by Radbourn at 315 and Galvin at 279.
1883 NL Win Shares, pitchers; Charley Radbourn (Providence) 60, Jim Whitney (Boston) 57, Pud Galvin (Buffalo) 47, Jim McCormick (Cleveland) 40, Larry Corcoran (Chicago) 38, Hugh (One Arm) Daily (Cleveland) 34, Mickey Welch (New York) 31.
Position players; Charlie Buffinton (Boston) and John M.Ward (New York) 28 (again, most for their pitching), Dan Brouthers (Buffalo) 24, George Gore (Chicago) 22, Ezra Sutton (Boston) 21, John Morrill (Boston) 20, Jack Burdock (Boston) and Roger Connor (New York) 19, Charlie Bennett (Detroit) and Jack Farrell (Providence) 18, Jim O'Rourke and Hardy Richardson (Buffalo), George Wood (Detroit), Buck Ewing (New York) and Paul Hines (Providence) 17 each.
WARP3 scores: Radbourn 11.7, Whitney 9.9 (best season, about 2/3 pitching and 1/3 hitting), Galvin 8.3, McCormick 3.7, Corcoran 4.9, Daily 1.1, Welch 3.4. Players; Buffinton 0.8 (a rookie, after 15 games the year before), Ward 6.2, Brouthers 7.5, Gore 7.2, Sutton 6.6, Morrill 5.9, Burdock 6.9 (last good year), Connor 6.5, Bennett 8.7, Farrell 8.5, O'Rourke 5.1, Richardson 7.1, Wood 5.5 (best year), Ewing 9.5, Hines 6.4. Among those who were not WS leaders, Fred Dunlap of Cleveland posted an 8.2 score, Jack Glasscock of Cleveland 6.4, and Jerry Denny of Providence 6.1.
WAR for pitchers: Radbourn 12.8, Whitney 10.2, Galvin 9.7, McCormick 7.3, Daily 5.8, Corcoran 5.5, Buffinton 4.9. Position players: Farrell 6.0, Brouthers 5.9, Bennett 5.1, Connor 4.9, Glasscock, Burdock, and Dunlap 4.8, Ewing 4.6, Morrill 4.5.
Top pitcher: Charley Radbourn, although Whitney had a fine year. The Old Hoss was 1st in wins, 2nd in ERA and strikeouts. Whitney was 1st in strikeouts, third in wins and ERA, and also best in BB/9 innings. Galvin was the third-best pitcher, leading in innings and shutouts.
#1 Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn, #2 Jim Whitney, #3 Pud Galvin, #4 Jim McCormick, #5 Larry Corcoran.
Top player: Dan Brouthers, the league's best hitter. Led the league in average, on-base, slugging, OPS, hits, total bases, triples, RBI, and times on base. He was also a competent first baseman in this bare-handed era.
#1 Dan Brouthers, #2 Charlie Bennett, #3 Roger Connor, #4 Buck Ewing, #5 Jack Farrell.
Top rookie: Charlie Buffinton, although his rookie status could be questioned. He had 50 AB and 5 games pitching the year before, so I think he's under the wire. There is no one else. Buffinton was Boston's #2 pitcher, 25-14 with a 3.03 ERA, just below league average.
Top manager: Harry Wright, keeping Providence in the race after the loss of John Ward to New York.