The former Western League announced its arrival as a major league for the 1901 season, opening play in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Washington, which had all been major league cities in the recent past. No New York yet, which would mark a truly major league outfit, but definitely a loop with pretensions. A number of former NL stars were lured to the AL, including Joe McGinnity, Cy Young, Jimmy Collins, Clark Griffith, Fielder Jones, Nap Lajoie, and Lave Cross. Chicago won the pennant race by a small margin over Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia not far behind. Baltimore was also over .500, with Washington off the pace, while Cleveland and Milwaukee trailed the pack. Still a strong midwest flavor here.
The biggest star was definitely Nap Lajoie, who led in most meaningful offensive categories, including winning the Triple Crown. He hit .426, while Mike Donlin was second with .340. Lajoie had 14 home runs, ahead of Buck Freeman's 12; and Lajoie had 125 RBI, ahead of Freeman's 114. Frank Isbell took the stolen bases crown with 52. Lajoie had 152 Runs Created, while Jimmy Collins was second with exactly 100. That was how much Nap dominated the league.
Cy Young likewise dominated the pitching categories, winning 33 games (Joe McGinnity was second with 26), posting a 1.62 ERA (Nixey Callahan came in second at 2.42) and striking out 158 batters (Roy Patterson was next at 127).
First-year Win Shares, players; Nap Lajoie (Philadelphia) 42, Jimmy Collins (Boston) 28, Dummy Hoy (Chicago) 25, Buck Freeman and Chick Stahl (Boston) 24, Fielder Jones (Chicago) and Jimmy Barrett (Detroit) 23, Jimmy Williams (Baltimore), Ollie Pickering (Cleveland) and Kid Elberfeld (Detroit) 22.
Pitchers; Cy Young (Boston) 41, Roscoe Miller (Detroit) 30, Joe McGinnity (Baltimore) and Clark Griffith (Chicago) 27, Nixey Callahan (Chicago) 23, Ed Siever (Detroit) 22, Joe Yeager (Detroit) 21.
WARP3 leaders, players; Lajoie 10.6, Collins 7.9, Williams 7.0, Buck Freeman (Boston) 5.5, Freddy Parent (Boston) 5.4, Elberfeld 5.3, John Anderson (Milwaukee) 5.0, Stahl 4.7, Sam Mertes (Chicago) 4.6, Ollie Pickering (Cleveland) 4.5.
WARP3 leaders, pitchers: Young 11.1, Miller 7.4, McGinnity 7.2, Callahan 6.0, Griffith 5.8, Yeager 5.4, Eddie Plank (Philadelphia) 4.2, Moore (Cleveland) 4.0.
WAR leaders, pitchers: Young 11.2, McGinnity 5.9, Miller 5.7, Griffith 5.2, Plank 4.4, Callahan 4.0, Moore 3.8. Position players: Lajoie 9.5, Collins 7.2, Mike Donlin (Baltimore) and Parent 5.4, Hoy 5.3, Freeman 5.2, Stahl 5.0, Jones and Williams 4.9.
Top player: Nap Lajoie. The Triple Crown winner and obviously the best player.
#1 Nap Lajoie, #2 Jimmy Collins, #3 Jimmy Williams, #4 Dummy Hoy, #5 Buck Freeman.
Top pitcher: Cy Young. Nap Lajoie and Cy Young dominated this fledgling major league, still finding its feet. Young was an established star, Lajoie a young player entering stardom. They were the cream of the crop. Both won their respective Triple Crowns, and led in many other statistical categories.
#1 Cy Young, #2 Roscoe Miller, #3 Joe McGinnity, #4 Clark Griffith, #5 Nixey Callahan.
Top rookie: Roscoe Miller, 23-13 for Detroit, although a better career would be had by Eddie Plank, 17-13 in his debut for Philadelphia.
Top manager to Clark Griffith, who pieced together a pennant winner in Chicago. He went 24-7 on the mound, too.
Several of these guys had played in the NL in 1900, or in 1899 before the Great Contraction. The AL was not yet on a par with the NL. But it wouldn't be long.