This was one of the great pennant races of all time, with the Tigers, Cleveland and the White Sox going down to the wire. The Tigers beat Cleveland by half a game, a game that would have to be made up under current rules. Chicago was only a game and a half back, and St. Louis was in the money, 6.5 games back. Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington were in the second division. New York lost 103 games, which inspired some league-orchestrated "charity," where several teams sent surplus players to the Highlanders so the New York franchise wouldn't be the league's sad sack. It was especially sad since the Highlanders had been in the race to the last day of 1904, just four years earlier.
Statistical leaders: Ty Cobb won the batting title again at .324, and the only other .300 hitters were his teammate Sam Crawford and Doc Gessler of Boston. Cobb also led in slugging, OPS, hits (188), doubles (36), triples (20), and RBI (108). He was the only 100-RBI man, easily, as second place was Crawford with 80. Dead ball indeed: by some measures, this was the worst year for offense in baseball history. The guys Cobb was driving in finished one-two in runs scored, Matty McIntyre with 105 and Crawford with 102. Crawford led in homers with seven, while Patsy Dougherty led with 47 steals.
Ed Walsh lapped the field with 40 wins, as second place was Addie Joss and Ed Summers with 24 each. Spitballer Walsh was rode hard and put away wet: his 464 innings far outdistanced Joss in second with 325. Joss led with a 1.16 ERA, and Cy Young was second (at age 41) with a 1.26 ERA. Big Ed ran third with a 1.42 mark. Walsh led with 269 strikeouts, Rube Waddell was second at 232.
Win Shares leaders, players: Ty Cobb (Detroit) 36, Matty McIntyre (Detroit) 33, Fielder Jones (Chicago), Nap Lajoie (Cleveland) and Sam Crawford (Detroit) 32, Patsy Dougherty (Chicago) 29, Charlie Hemphill (New York) 28, Doc Gessler (Boston) and George Stone (St. Louis) 26, Claude Rossman and Germany Schaeffer (Detroit) 23.
Pitchers: Ed Walsh (Chicago) 47, Addie Joss (Cleveland) 35, Cy Young (Boston) 27, Bob Rhoads (Cleveland) and Harry Howell (St. Louis) 23, Rube Vickers (Philadelphia) 22, Frank Smith (Chicago), Ed Summers (Detroit) and Rube Waddell (St. Louis) 21.
WARP3 leaders, players: Lajoie 8.0, McIntyre 6.6, Jones 6.4, Cobb 6.0, Gessler 4.9, Crawford 4.2, Hobe Ferris and Bobby Wallace (St. Louis) 3.9, George Stovall (Cleveland) 3.8, Boss Schmidt (Detroit) 3.5.
WARP3 leaders, pitchers: Walsh 10.8, Young 8.0, Joss 6.9, Plank 6.0, Vickers and Walter Johnson (Washington) 4.9, Long Tom Hughes (Washington) 4.1, Rhoads and Bill Donovan (Detroit) 3.6, Doc White (Chicago) 3.5.
WAR position players: Lajoie 7.7, Cobb 6.9, McIntyre 6.6, Wallace 6.1, Crawford 5.7, Jones 5.6, Gessler 5.4, Stone 5.2, Stovall 4.5, Hemphill 4.4.
WAR pitchers: Walsh 9.5, Young 8.2, Joss 7.5, Plank 4.8, Vickers 4.6, Johnson 4.4, Donovan and Powell 4.2, Howell and Rhoads 4.0.
Best Player: Ty Cobb, leader in average, slugging, OPS, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, and OPS+. Other players had good years, including Cobb's teammates Matty McIntyre and Sam Crawford, and Doc Gessler of Boston, but none approached Cobb.
#1 Ty Cobb, #2 Nap Lajoie, #3 Fielder Jones, #4 Matty McIntyre, #5 Sam Crawford.
Best Pitcher: Ed Walsh runs away from all competition: 40 wins when the next best was 24, and leading with 6 saves to boot. Addie Joss, Rube Waddell, and Cy Young had good years, but Walsh was superhuman in 1908.
#1 Ed Walsh, #2 Addie Joss, #3 Cy Young, #4 Rube Vickers, #5 Bob Rhoads.
Best rookie: Ed Summers of Detroit went 24-12 with a 1.64 ERA. Second is Gavy Cravath, .256 with 11 triples in 94 games for Boston. A 136 OPS+.
Top manager: Nap Lajoie, who almost beat the Cobb-Crawford dynasty Tigers, and might have if they'd given him another game.