This was the beginning of the end for the AA. 1890 was the year of the Players' League, as the top players of the game banded together, found some guys with money, and started their own league. Stars were lured away, and the general depression of attendance would kill off the AA after the 1991 season. The slipping of AA franchises to the NL continued, as Cincinnati and Brooklyn went to the National for 1890. Kansas City also dropped out, and Baltimore moved to Brooklyn partway into the season. Rochester, Syracuse, and Toledo joined the league to fill out the schedule. Louisville won the league, with Columbus and St. Louis in contention. Toledo and Rochester were also above .500.
Pete Browning, Harry Stovey, Henry Larkin, Dave Orr, and Tip O'Neill were in the Players' League, as well as pitchers Silver King and Matt Kilroy. Billy Hamilton and Tommy Tucker went to the NL. Ditto pitchers Tony Mullane, Bob Caruthers, and Dave Foutz.
William "Chicken" Wolf won the batting title with a .363 average, and next came Denny Lyons at .354, Tommy McCarthy at .350, Spud Johnson with .346, and Cupid Childs .345. Jim McTamany scored 149 runs, McCarthy 137. Wolf had 197 hits. Childs hit 33 doubles. Perry Werden hit 20 triples. Johnson had 113 RBI. McCarthy stole 83 bases.
Sadie McMahon led with 36 wins, followed by Scott Stratton with 34, Hank Gasright with 30, Bob Barr 28, Jack Stivetts 27, and Red Ehret 25. Stratton posted a 2.36 ERA, Ehret 2.53, Frank Knauss 2.81, and Elton Chamberlain 2.83. McMahon had 291 strikeouts to edge out a lead over Stivetts with 289 while Toad Ramsay had 257.
Win Shares leaders, AA Pitchers; Scott Stratton (Louisville) 51, Jack Stivetts (St. Louis) 41, Red Ehret (Louisville) and John Healy (Toledo) 34, Sadie McMahon (Baltimore/Philadelphia) 33, Bob Barr (Rochester) 31, Hank Gastright (Columbus) 30, Toad Ramsey (St. Louis) 28, Frank Knauss (Columbus) and Fred Smith (Toledo) 22.
AA Position players; Cupid Childs (Syracuse) 31, Chicken Wolf (Louisville) and Denny Lyons (Philadelphia) 27, Spud Johnson (Columbus) 25, Tommy McCarthy (St. Louis) 24, Ed Swartwood (Toledo) 23, Jim McTamany (Columbus) 22, Jack O'Connor (Columbus) and Jimmy Knowles (Rochester) 21, Charlie Reilly (Columbus) and Perry Werden (Toledo) 20.
WARP3 scores: McMahon 8.2, Stratton 5.4 (career year), Healy 4.4 (career year), Stivetts 3.0. Not among leaders: Ehret -0.1, Barr 1.6, Gastright -0.2, Ramsey 0.3 (last major league year), Knauss 1.0 (rookie), Smith 2.2 (rookie).
Players, Childs 7.0 (rookie, 4 previous ABs), O'Connor 5.7 (best year), Lyons and McTamany 4.8, Wolf 4.6, Swartwood 4.4, Reilly 4.1 (rookie), Johnson and Phil Tomney (Louisville) 3.6, McCarthy 3.5, Knowles 3.4 with Werden 2.7.
WAR leaders, pitchers: Stratton 10.5, McMahon 9.3, Healy 7.5, Stivetts 6.8, Ehret 6.4, Barr 5.6, Ramsay 5.0. Position players, Childs 6.0, Wolf 5.5, Swartwood 5.1, McCarthy 4.8, Lyons 4.3, McTamany, Reilly, and Knowles 4.1, Johnson 4.0.
Best pitcher: Scott Stratton was the best pitcher in the league, leading in ERA and second in wins. It was by far his best year as a major leaguer.
#1 Scott Stratton, #2 Sadie McMahon, #3 Jack Stivetts, #4 John Healy, #5 Red Ehret.
Best player: I'll go with Cupid Childs, 2nd in OPS in a very tough park to hit. He also led the league in doubles and was 3rd in RBI. Chicken Wolf and Denny Lyons were better hitters, but counting in defense Childs was the top of the league.
#1 Cupid Childs, #2 Denny Lyons, #3 Chicken Wolf, #4 Ed Swartwood, #5 Jack O'Connor.
Best rookie: Childs, the best player in the league. He went on to a good career, mostly with Cleveland.
Best manager: Jack Chapman of Louisville, in his only successful season.