The Yankees returned to first place after a two-year absence, thanks to the return of Babe Ruth and the emergence of Lou Gehrig. 1926 was an odd race in the AL, as the Yankees got off to a terrific start, and were playing .700 ball into June, but faded as the year went along and allowed other teams to make a run, with Cleveland second and 3 games back, Philadelphia third and six back, Washington fourth and eight back, and Chicago fifth and 9.5 back. Sixth-place Detroit was just 12 back. St. Louis was lousy and Boston was horrible, losing 107 games.
Heinie Manush hit .378 to edge Ruth's .372 for the batting race, while Ruth led by miles in on-base, slugging, and OPS. Ruth also led with 139 runs, 365 total bases, 47 homers and 150 RBI. George Burns and Sam Rice tied with 216 hits, while Burns led with 64 doubles. Lou Gehrig had 20 triples. Johnny Mostil led the way with 35 steals. It was the era of the mega-offense.
From the mound, slider specialist George Uhle won 27 games and Herb Pennock 23, while Lefty Grove had 194 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA. Uhle was second with a 2.83 ERA and Ted Lyons third at 3.01. Uhle was also second with 159 strikeouts. Firpo Marberry had 22 saves.
Win Shares leaders, players: Babe Ruth (New York) 45, Goose Goslin (Washington) 33, Lou Gehrig (New York) 30, Joe Sewell and Tris Speaker (Cleveland) 29, Johnny Mostil (Chicago) 28, Harry Heilman (Detroit) and Al Simmons (Philadelphia) 27, Heinie Manush (Detroit) 26, Bibb Falk (Chicago) and George Burns (Cleveland) 24.
WS leaders, pitchers: George Uhle (Cleveland) 32, Lefty Grove (Philadelphia) 25, Ted Lyons (Chicago) 24, Urban Shocker (New York) and Tom Zachary (St. Louis) 19, Herb Pennock (New York) and Eddie Rommel (Philadelphia) 18, Dutch Levsen (Cleveland) 17.
WARP3: Ruth 11.6, Gehrig 6.8, Sewell 6.7, Goslin, Mostil, and Willie Kamm (Chicago) 6.2, Falk 5.4 (best year), Topper Rigney (Boston) 5.1, Heilmann 4.9, Pat Collins (New York) 4.2, Eddie Collins (Chicago) 4.0, Speaker (last All-Star level year) and Manush 3.6.
Pitchers, Uhle 6.4, Lyons 5.7, Grove 5.5, Zachary 4.7, Shocker 4.4, Rommel 4.3, Stan Coveleski (Washington) 3.9, Fred "Firpo" Marberry (Washington) and Sam Gibson (Detroit) 3.6, Walter Johnson (Washington) 3.4.
WAR leaders, position players: Ruth 12.6, Gehrig 7.7, Goslin 7.3, Mostil 6.9, Sewell 6.0, Falk and Simmons 5.9, Speaker 5.7, Heilmann 5.5, Manush 5.4, Burns and Kamm 5.3. Pitchers: Uhle 7.2, Grove 6.1, Lyons 5.5, Rommel 4.3, Shocker 4.0, Johnson 3.5, Zachary 3.2, Pate 3.1, Smith and Thomas 3.0.
Actual MVP voting, top 15: (previous winners, like the Babe, were ineligible)
1 George Burns CLE 63
2 Johnny Mostil CHW 33
3 Herb Pennock NYY 32
4 Sam Rice WSH 18
5 Harry Heilmann DET 16
5 Heinie Manush DET 16
5 Al Simmons PHA 16
8 Lefty Grove PHA 12
9 Goose Goslin WSH 9
10 Lou Gehrig NYY 7
10 Tony Lazzeri NYY 7
12 Bibb Falk CHW 6
12 Bob Fothergill DET 6
12 Ski Melillo SLB 6
12 Harry Rice SLB 6
Best player: Babe Ruth. A return to the everyday lineup makes this basically a foregone conclusion. George Burns is an odd selection, and hard to defend. Guess all those doubles made an impression. Gehrig would have been a much better choice, or even repealing the rule to make Ruth eligible. Ruth hit .372, 2nd in the league, and led the league with 47 HR and 150 RBI. My #2 would be Gehrig, the league leader in triples with 20, he hit .313 with 16 HR and 112 RBI. I'd rank Goose Goslin #3, he hit .354 with 17 HR and 108 RBI. Joe Sewell at #4 with a .324 average and 65 walks to go with strong shortstop play. Johnny Mostil would be #5, he batted .328 with 79 walks and scored 120 runs.
Best pitcher: George Uhle. Leader in wins, 2nd to Grove in ERA and strikeouts. Uhle was 27-11 with a 2.83 ERA. Grove, at #2, was 13-13 with a 2.51 ERA. Ted Lyons ranks #3, he was 18-16 with a 3.01 ERA. Urban Shocker #4, Herb Pennock #5.
Best rookie: Tony Lazzeri hit .275 with 114 RBI for the Yankees.
Best manager: Miller Huggins pushed the right buttons for the Yankees to win the pennant.