With both leagues using a livelier, cork-centered ball throughout the 1911 campaign, pitchers struggled to reach the level of dominance they attained throughout much of the Dead-ball Era. Batting averages and runs scored totals soared in both major leagues, as the National League batted a composite .260, while the A.L. posted an overall mark of .273. The figure in the junior circuit represented a jump of more than 30 points from the previous season. Two American League clubs, Philadelphia and Detroit, compiled a team batting average in excess of .290.
The tandem of Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford gave the Tigers an extremely potent offense, as Detroit finished a close second in the junior circuit with 831 runs scored. Crawford placed among the league leaders in virtually every major offensive category, including runs batted in (115), runs scored (109), batting average (.378), triples (14), and hits (217). Meanwhile, Cobb topped the circuit in nine different offensive categories. He led the league with a .420 batting average, 127 runs batted in, 147 runs scored, 248 hits, 47 doubles, 24 triples, 83 stolen bases, a .621 slugging percentage, and 367 total bases. Cobb’s extraordinary performance enabled him to capture the Chalmers Award, which was presented annually from 1911 to 1914 to the player in each league who "should prove himself as the most important and useful player to his club and to the league at large in point of deportment and value of services rendered."
Unfortunately for Cobb, the Tigers had little in the way of pitching, relegating them to a distant second-place finish in the American League, 13 ½ games behind the first-place Philadelphia Athletics. An extremely well-balanced club, the A’s captured their second consecutive pennant by finishing the year with a record of 101-50. Philadelphia led the A.L. with 861 runs scored and a .296 team batting average, while also surrendering a league-low 602 runs to the opposition.
The duo of Eddie Collins and Frank “Home Run” Baker led the A’s on offense. In addition to playing a brilliant second base, Collins batted .365, knocked in 73 runs, and scored 92 others. Baker batted .334, drove in 115 runs, scored 96 others, and topped the circuit with 11 home runs. Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, and Jack Coombs headed the A’s pitching staff. Bender finished 17-5 with a 2.16 ERA. Plank finished 23-8, with a 2.10 ERA, 24 complete games, and a league-leading six shutouts. Coombs followed up his brilliant 1910 campaign by leading the A.L. in victories for the second straight year with a record of 28-12.
The A’s continued their dominance against the New York Giants in the World Series, winning the Fall Classic in six games and outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 27-13. Philadelphia’s pitching staff held New York’s lineup to just 33 hits and a .175 batting average in the six contests. Christy Mathewson won only one of his three starts, and Frank Baker earned his nickname “Home Run” by deciding two close games with late-inning homers. Baker finished the Series with a .375 batting average, and he led both teams with five runs batted in, seven runs scored, and two home runs.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Ty Cobb established a new American League record by hitting in 40 consecutive games.
• Walter Johnson won 25 games for seventh-place Washington and led the American League with 36 complete games.
• Chicago's Ed Walsh finished second in the league with 27 victories, compiled a 2.22 ERA, and topped the circuit with 255 strikeouts, 368 innings pitched, and 56 appearances.
• In his first full major league season, Cleveland outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson finished second in the league to Ty Cobb with a .408 batting average, 126 runs scored, and 233 hits. His .408 average remains the highest single-season mark ever posted by a first-year player.
•Cleveland rookie Vean Gregg won 23 games and led all A.L. hurlers with a 1.80 ERA.
• Ty Cobb's 367 total bases were the most by any player during the Dead-ball Era.
• Both leagues adopted the dual-umpire system for every game.
• Smokey Joe Wood of the Red Sox threw a no-hitter against St. Louis on July 29.
• Ed Walsh of Chicago tossed a no-hitter against the Red Sox on August 27.
• Addie Joss passed away from meningitis, provoking an outpouring of grief all over the baseball world. A 160-97 lifetime pitcher over nine seasons with perennial contender Cleveland, the popular Joss posted a 1.89 career ERA, the second-lowest in history.
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- 1911 World Series, Addie Joss, American League, Chief Bender, Christy Mathewson, Ed Walsh, Eddie Collins, Eddie Plank, Frank Baker, Jack Coombs, Joe Jackson, Joe Wood, New York Giants, Philadelphia Athletics, Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, Vean Gregg, Walter Johnson