Baltimore won their third straight pennant, and pretty easily, with second place Cleveland 9.5 games behind. Cincinnati, Boston, and Chicago were in the race, while St. Louis and Louisville were the tail-end, with the other teams in between. Louisville finished 53 games out. Franchise locations were stable through the decade, but richer owners started buying up interests in poorer teams, something not allowed in 21st century (and with good reason).
Jesse Burkett won the batting title again, at .410. He also led in runs, hits, and total bases. Hughie Jennings batted .401, Ed Delahanty .397, Willie Keeler .386, Mike Tiernan .369, Billy Hamilton .366. Delahanty led in slugging, OPS, doubles, homers, and RBI (126). He also took the OPS+ crown. Joe Kelley stole 87 bases.
Frank Killen and Kid Nichols each won 30 games, Cy Young 28, Jouett Meekin 26, Nig Cuppy, Bill Hoffer and Win Mercer 25 each. Billy Rhines led in ERA with a 2.45 mark, followed by Nichols at 2.83 and Cuppy at 3.12. Cy Young led in strikeouts with 140. Pink Hawley had 137, Killen 134.
Pitching Win Shares leaders: Cy Young (Cleveland) 43, Nig Cuppy (Cleveland) 38, Kid Nichols (Boston) 33, Frank Killen (Pittsburgh) 32, Bill Hoffer (Baltimore) 31, Clark Griffith (Chicago) and Frank Dwyer (Cincinnati) 30 each, Jack Stivetts (Boston) 29, Jouett Meekin (New York) and Pink Hawley (Pittsburgh) 27, Red Ehret (Cincinnati) 24.
Players: Hughie Jennings (Baltimore) 36, Joe Kelley (Baltimore) Bill Dahlen (Chicago) and Ed Delahanty (Philadelphia) 31 each, Billy Hamilton (Boston) 30, Jesse Burkett (Cleveland) 29, Cupid Childs (Cleveland) 27, Elmer Smith (Pittsburgh) 26, Willie Keeler (Baltimore) and Mike Tiernan (New York) 25, Bill Lange (Chicago) 24, George Van Haltren (New York) 23.
WARP3 scores, pitchers; Cuppy 7.4, Hawley 6.8, Nichols 6.6, Ted Breitenstein (St. Louis) 6.4, Young 6.3, Hoffer 6.2, Killen 6.0, Meekin 5.1, Griffith 5.0, Stivetts 4.9, Dwyer 4.5, Win Mercer (Washington) 4.4, Bill Hill (Louisville) 4.3.
WARP3 leaders, position players: Jennings 11.3, Childs 9.0, Delahanty 8.8, Dahlen 8.3, Tiernan 8.1, Keeler and Kelley 7.4, Burkett and Smith 7.3, Van Haltren 6.5, Hamilton and George Davis (New York) 6.0, Lange 5.6.
WAR leaders, pitchers: Young 8.8, Cuppy 8.5, Hawley 7.0, Hoffer 6.6, Killen and Nichols 6.4, Dwyer 6.3. Position players: Jennings 8.9, Kelley 7.8, Childs 7.5, Delahanty 7.4, Dahlen 7.2, Burkett 6.6, Joyce 6.4, Hamilton 6.2, Smith 6.0.
Best pitcher: I'll take Cy Young again. There's a reason they named the award after him. Cy was 3rd in wins, 5th in ERA, 1st in strikeouts. Young's teammate Nig Cuppy would be #2, those two pitchers carried the team. 30-game winners Kid Nichols and Frank Killen follow at #3 and #4, with Bill Hoffer 5th.
Top player: Hughie Jennings, .401 hitter and shortstop for the pennant winners. 2nd in average and OBP, 3rd in hits, 2nd in RBI. Ed Delahanty, the OPS leader, would be my #2 with Dahlen #3, Burkett 4th, and Joe Kelley 5th.
Best rookie Fielder Jones, although Nap Lajoie would have the better career. Jones batted .354 in 104 games for Brooklyn.
Top manager of 1896 to Buck Ewing, for bringing the Reds from 8th to 3rd.