Kansas City and St. Louis dropped out, replaced by Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, moving the league decidedly east. With the AA's team dominating St. Louis, it was getting tough there for the NL. The Pittsburgh franchise simply moved lock, stock and barrel from the American Association. Indy included most of the best players from the previous year's St. Louis franchise.
Detroit won the pennant, in a knock-down drag-out with Philadelphia and Chicago as New York was not far off the pace. Boston was also above .500. Pittsburgh was competitive, Washington and Indianapolis trailed.
Sam Thompson won the batting title with a .372 average, Cap Anson was second with .347. Following were Dan Brouthers and John Ward at .338, Sam Wise .334, Fred Carroll and Hardy Richardson .328, and Ed Andrews .325. Brouthers led with 153 runs scored, Jack Rowe 135, and Richardson 131. Thompson had 203 hits. Brouthers had 36 doubles, Jerry Denny and King Kelly 34 each. Thompson had 23 triples, Roger Connor 22. Billy O'Brien had 19 homers while Connor had 17. Thompson had 166 RBI while second place was just 104 by Connor, then 102 by Anson and 101 by Brouthers. Ward had 111 steals, Jim Fogarty 102.
John Clarkson led with 38 wins, Tim Keefe 35, Charlie Getzein won 29, Dan Casey and Pud Galvin 28. Casey led with a 2.86 ERA, Pete Conway posted a 2.90, Charlie Ferguson a 3.00, Clarkson 3.08, Keefe 3.12. Clarkson led with 237 strikeouts, Keefe had 189, Mark Baldwin 164, Charlie Buffinton 160.
Win Shares, pitchers; John Clarkson (Chicago) 51, Tim Keefe (New York) 39, Charlie Ferguson (Philadelphia) 36, Jim Whitney (Washington) 34, Pud Galvin (Pittsburgh) 33, Dan Casey (Philadelphia) 30, Mark Baldwin (Chicago) and Mickey Welch (New York) 27, Charlie Getzien (Detroit) 25, Charlie Buffinton (Philadelphia) 23, Charley Radbourn (Boston) 22. Staffs were starting to open up a bit, and a three-man rotation of some form was becoming common. Pitcher Win Shares will start to drop accordingly.
Position Players; Sam Thompson (Detroit) 29, Dan Brouthers (Detroit) 26, John Ward (New York) and Jim Fogarty (Philadelphia) 25 each, King Kelly (Boston) and Hardy Richardson (Detroit) 23 each, Sam Wise (Boston) 22, Roger Connor (New York) 21, Jack Rowe (Detroit) 20, Billy Nash (Boston), Cap Anson (Chicago) and Jerry Denny (Indianapolis) 19 each. Detroit won the pennant without a standout pitcher, but with two outstanding hitters.
WARP3 scores: Pitchers, Clarkson 10.6, Ferguson 8.0 (his last year, he died of typhoid the next spring), Keefe 7.9, Whitney 7.6, Galvin 6.6 (last big year), Casey 6.3 (career year), Henry Boyle (Indianapolis) 5.0. Not among WARP leaders were Baldwin 3.4 (rookie), Welch 3.6, Getzien 3.5, Buffinton 1.8, Radbourn 1.4.
Players, Thompson 8.9, Ward 7.4 (best year as position player), Fogarty (career year) and Richardson 7.0, Connor 6.2, Nash 5.7, Brouthers 5.6, Wise 5.2 (career year), Denny 5.0 (best year). Not among WARP leaders: Kelly 4.3, Rowe 4.7, Anson 4.3.
WAR for pitchers: Clarkson 12.4, Casey 9.3, Ferguson 6.9, Keefe 6.5, Galvin 5.9, Whitney 5.7, Baldwin 5.1, Getzein 4.8. Position players: Ward 7.2, Connor 6.3, Thompson 5.7, Anson 5.5, Brouthers 5.4, Fogarty and Jack Glasscock 5.1, Sam Wise (Boston) 4.8.
Best pitcher: John Clarkson, the leader in wins, innings and strikeouts, fourth in ERA and second in ERA+. Clarkson started nearly half the White Stockings' games, a practice soon to disappear.
#1 John Clarkson, #2 Charlie Ferguson, #3 Jim Whitney, #4 Tim Keefe, #5 Dan Casey.
Best player: Sam Thompson, leader of Detroit's pennant winners. Led in batting average and slugging, hits and triples, and RBI by a 166-104 margin over Connor.
#1 Sam Thompson, #2 John M. Ward, #3 Roger Connor, #4 Dan Brouthers, #5 Jim Fogarty.
Best rookie: Mike Tiernan, batting .287 for New York at age 20, over Mark Baldwin, 18-17 at age 23. Hindsight helps here.
Best manager: Bill Watkins again, guiding Detroit to the pennant.