Pittsburgh jumped leagues, joining the National, and a new Cleveland franchise was added. St. Louis won easily again, with Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Louisville also above .500. The new Cleveland team trailed badly, just behind New York. Run scoring jumped about 50% over 1886, as new rules were enacted. Five balls became a walk, and strikeouts went from three to four strikes (they went back the next year). The pitcher's box was reduced in size, and pitchers could not take a run before delivering the ball any more. On the other hand, batters couldn't call for a high or low pitch any longer. In all, it added up to an offensive explosion, and a need for more pitchers.
How big an explosion? Tip O'Neill led the league in batting with a .435 average, and Pete Browning was next at .402. Denny Lyons came in at .367, Bob Caruthers and Dave Foutz .357. Oyster Burns hit .341 and Charlie Comiskey .335. O'Neill scored 167 runs, Arlie Latham 163. Mike Griffin scored 142 and Tom Poorman 140. O'Neill had 225 hits and Browning 220. O'Neill had 52 doubles and Lyons 43. Six players tied with 19 triples. O'Neill had 14 home runs. O'Neill also led with 123 RBI, Browning had 118, Jumbo Davis 109, Foutz and Curt Welch 108. Hugh Nicol stole 138 bases, Latham 129, Comiskey 117, Browning 103.
Matt Kilroy led with 46 wins, Toad Ramsay had 37, Mike Smith 34, Silver King 32, Tony Mullane 31. ERA numbers jumped, so that Smith led with a 2.94 mark, Kilroy 3.07, Mullane 3.24, Caruthers 3.30, Ramsay 3.43. Ramsay led with 355 strikeouts, Kilroy was down to 217, Phenomenal Smith had 206.
Win Shares for AA Pitchers; Mike Smith (Cincinnati) and Bob Caruthers (P-RF of St. Louis) 54 each, Matt Kilroy (Baltimore) 51, Tony Mullane (Cincinnati) and Toad Ramsey (Louisville) 46 each, Dave Foutz (St. Louis, P/OF) 43, Silver King (St. Louis) 37, Ed Seward (Philadelphia) 33, John "Phenomenal" Smith (Baltimore) 32.
AA Position Players; Tip O'Neill (St. Louis) 36, Pete Browning (Louisville) 30, Oyster Burns (Baltimore) 28, Denny Lyons(Philadelphia) 27, Arlie Latham (St. Louis) 24, Jumbo Davis and Mike Griffin (Baltimore), Frank Fennelly (Cincinnati), Yank Robinson (St. Louis) 20 each.
The AA had a lot of guys like Caruthers doubling between a position and the mound; Dave Foutz, Guy Hecker, Adonis Terry of Brooklyn. With Caruthers' success, it became a pretty common strategy.
WARP3 scores: Pitchers, Caruthers 10.1 (about half offense, half pitching), Kilroy 9.8, Smith 6.7 (first full year), Seward 5.4 (rookie, 6 previous innings), Ramsey 4.9, Mullane 4.1. Not WARP leaders are Foutz 3.3 (more hitting than pitching), King 1.1 (a rookie, 39 innings in 1886), Phenomenal 1.2.
Players, O'Neill 8.0, Lyons 6.4 (first full season), Bid McPhee (Cincinnati) 6.2, Browning 5.8, Latham 5.7, Robinson 4.7, Reddy Mack (Louisville) 4.1, Burns 4.1. Not among leaders: Davis 2.7 (best season), Griffin 2.5 (rookie), Fennelly 3.8.
WAR for pitchers: Kilroy 12.7, Smith 11.3, Ramsay 9.9, Mullane and Seward 8.6, Caruthers 8.3, King 8.1. Position players: O'Neill 7.3, Browning 6.9, Lyons 4.6, Oyster Burns 4.5, Caruthers 4.4, Latham 4.3, Robinson 3.7.
Top pitcher: Matt Kilroy, leader in wins and innings, 2nd in ERA and strikeouts. A lot fewer strikeouts than the year before, but a better all-around performance.
#1 Matt Kilroy, #2 Mike Smith, #3 Toad Ramsey, #4 Tony Mullane, #5 Bob Caruthers.
Top position guy was Tip O'Neill, who led in virtually every offensive category.
#1 Tip O'Neill, #2 Denny Lyons, #3 Pete Browning, #4 Arlie Latham, #5 Bob Caruthers.
Caruthers gets the AA "Heisman" again, for two-way brilliance. He could hang with both the top hitters and the top pitchers.
Top rookie: Mike Griffin of Baltimore, batting .301 to kick off a solid career, at age 22.
Top manager: Charles Comiskey, guiding St. Louis to another pennant.