Baseball's second season with two major leagues has come to a close, and while one defending champion took home the pennant once again, the American League saw a changing of the guard. Which team was able to dethrone the Boston Americans and win their first pennant? You can see the results below:
At the end of June, the Boston Americans had an outstanding record of 40-18, while the Philadelphia Athletics were lodged firmly in third place with a 31-22 record. By the time the end of the season had come around, Boston was limping down the stretch. They finished the final three months of the season with a mark of 36-43. In Philadelphia, the Athletics took advantage of the stumbling Americans and went an incredible 58-25 over the summer. That outstanding stretch of play was more than enough to push Philadelphia to their first American League pennant, and it appears as if the AL has its first major rivalry with Boston against Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's march towards the pennant wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of Eddie Plank. The Athletics' ace led the American League with 24 wins on the season, and also befuddled batters all season, as he struck out a league leading 142. At the plate, Nap Lajoie once again proved he was well worth the contract he signed prior to the 1901 season. Nap paced not just the American League, but all of baseball with an incredible .418 batting average, and he also led the AL in home runs, with 14, and hits with 223. Quite simply, if the Athletics don't have Nap Lajoie starting at second base, then they aren't within shouting distance of the American League pennant.
|The 1902 American League champion Philadelphia Athletics|
|Eddie Plank's efforts on the mound help guide Philadelphia to their first pennant.|
|Nap Lajoie's historic 1902 season will be remembered for as long as baseball is played.|
Orioles appear to be on the move
In 1901, the Baltimore Orioles surprised the American League with their third place finish. The surprise wore off early on in 1902, as a poor start led to a last place mark. Their poor performance wasn't just based around play on the field. Even before the season began, there were rumors that the Orioles were planning on moving to New York City after the league year ended. Before the truce between the American and National Leagues, there was talk of putting an American League team in New York, however, the move was always opposed by the Giants, who have always seen the Big Apple as their city. This time though, the Giants may have no choice but to yield. The Major League owners will be meeting in early January, and if the motion receives a majority of votes (9), then the Orioles will be on their way to New York. At this time, it seems an almost certainty that Baltimore will be without an American League team for the 1903 season.
The question in the National League this summer wasn't who was going to take home the pennant, but by how many games would the Pittsburgh Pirates win it? The answer would turn out to be three and a half, as the Pirates were able to withstand a tough Brooklyn Superbas team to claim their second National League pennant in as many years. Pittsburgh's offense left a little to be desired in 1902, but their pitching staff, led by Rube Waddell and Fred Glade, ensured that any offensive shortcomings would not mark the end of their season. Waddell and Glade each won 23 games during the season, tying for the National League lead. For the second year in a row, Waddell also paced all pitchers in strikeouts, as he set down a remarkable 241 batters via swings and misses this year.
For a man in his first season, Fred Glade was nothing short of spectacular. As previously stated, the 26 year old tied Rube Waddell for the National League lead in wins, and he allowed a simply amazing single home run in 331 innings of work. Waddell may be the bigger name at this point, but fans in Pittsburgh have already started to fall in love with the workman like skills of Fred Glade.
|The 1902 National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates|
|He isn't always flashy, but Fred Glade's rookie season was one of the best in recent memory.|
|For the second year in a row, Rube Waddell was head and shoulders above any other pitcher in the National League.|
Crawford dazzles for Reds
Though the Cincinnati Reds may not have had the best season in the National League, many fans were willing to overlook their 65-75 record thanks to one man. Sam Crawford, the 22 year old baseball prodigy, seemingly took the next step in his big league career in 1902. While many players were experiencing a lack of production at the plate, Crawford improved his already good numbers from 1901. He led the National League in batting average with a .364 mark, and also paced the league with nine home runs. Sam's terrific season also saw him drive in 89 runs, which was second in the National League and placed him just one RBI behind Ed Delahanty of Philadelphia for the lead in that category as well. The Reds still appear to be a season or two away from making a major mark in the National League, but if they can keep Sam Crawford producing at this rate, the Pittsburghs and Brooklyns of the world will have another team to look out for soon.
|At only 22 years old, Sam Crawford looks every bit like one of the top players in baseball.|