Although the cork-centered baseball introduced two years earlier remained in use throughout the 1913 campaign, major league pitchers began to regain their mastery over hitters. Relying more heavily than ever before on trick pitches such as the spitball, hurlers in both leagues excelled to such an extent that the total number of runs scored decreased by more than 1,000.
The most dominant of these pitchers was Washington’s Walter Johnson, who led the Senators to a second-place finish in the American League by compiling one of the greatest seasons in the history of the junior circuit. The “Big Train” led A.L. pitchers in every major statistical category, finishing first in the league with a record of 36-7, a 1.14 ERA, 243 strikeouts, 346 innings pitched, 29 complete games, and 11 shutouts, en route to capturing Chalmers Award honors. At one point during the season, Johnson established a new major league record that stood for more than half a century by throwing 55 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. Johnson pitched so brilliantly that the Senators played .837 ball with him on the mound. Without him, they posted a winning percentage of just .486.
In spite of Johnson’s efforts, the Philadelphia Athletics finished 6 ½ games in front of the Senators in the American League, capturing their third pennant in four years by compiling a record of 96-57. Eddie Collins and Frank “Home Run” Baker were the driving forces behind Philadelphia’s first-place finish. Collins batted .345, scored a league-leading 125 runs, collected 184 hits, and stole 55 bases. Baker led the league with 12 home runs and 117 runs batted in, finished second to Collins with 116 runs scored, batted .337, and collected 190 hits.
The A’s subsequently faced the New York Giants in the World Series for the second time in three years, defeating their National League counterparts once again, this time in five games. Collins, Baker, and catcher Wally Schang were the hitting stars for Philadelphia. Collins scored five runs and collected eight hits in 19 times at-bats, for a batting average of .421. Baker homered once, knocked in seven runs, and went 9-for-20, for a .450 batting average. Schang also homered once and drove in seven runs, while posting a batting average of .357. Meanwhile, the A’s pitching staff held New York’s lineup to a team batting average of just .201 during the Fall Classic.
Led by Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Cleveland Naps finished third in the American League, 9 ½ games behind the Athletics. Although he hit only seven home runs and knocked in just 71 runs, Jackson led the league with 226 hits and 26 triples, placed second with a .373 batting average, and finished third with 109 runs scored. Jackson’s outstanding performance earned him a second-place finish in the Chalmers voting.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Burt Shotton of the St. Louis Browns scored a major league record 19.9 percent of his team's runs.
• The Browns named Branch Rickey their new manager.
• Ty Cobb captured his sixth batting title in seven years by topping the circuit with a mark of .390.
• The Federal League began rumblings that it would become a third major league by the 1914 season.
• On November 2, George Stovall, former St. Louis Browns player-manager, became the first major leaguer to jump to the outlaw Federal League when he signed a contract to manage the Kansas City Packers.
• Idled by a sore arm, Smokey Joe Wood won only 11 games for the Red Sox.
• With a batting average of .335, Nap Lajoie surpassed the .300 mark for the final time in his career.
• The New York Highlanders signed a deal to play their home games in the Polo Grounds. They subsequently renamed themselves the “Yankees.”
• The Yankees hired former Chicago Cubs player-manager Frank Chance to be their manager.
• Philadelphia’s Chief Bender established a new American League record by saving 13 games.
• Third-year pitcher Vean Gregg of Cleveland won 20 games for the third straight year.
- 1913 World Series, American League, Branch Rickey, Burt Shotton, Chief Bender, Eddie Cicotte, Eddie Collins, Federal League, Frank Baker, Frank Chance, George Stovall, Jim Scott, Joe Jackson, Joe Wood, Nap Lajoie, New York Giants, Philadelphia Athletics, Reb Russell, Ty Cobb, Vean Gregg, Wally Schang, Walter Johnson, Washington Senators