Overcoming the sale of star centerfielder Tris Speaker to Cleveland following a salary dispute, the Boston Red Sox repeated as American League champions in 1916, finishing the campaign two games ahead of second-place Chicago and four games in front of third-place Detroit, with a record of 91-63. Although Boston’s offense finished just sixth in the A.L. rankings, their superb pitching staff carried them to their second straight pennant. Babe Ruth became Boston’s most prominent player in Speaker’s absence, establishing himself as arguably the junior circuit’s best pitcher in just his second full season as a starter. Ruth compiled a record of 23-12, with a league-leading 1.75 earned run average and nine shutouts. He also struck out 170 batters, threw 323 innings, and completed 23 games. Ruth headed a pitching staff that also included Dutch Leonard, Rube Foster, and submarine-style power pitcher Carl Mays – a group that led the American League with 24 shutouts.
The Red Sox subsequently faced the Brooklyn Robins in the World Series and, just as they did one year earlier against the Philadelphia Phillies, defeated their National League counterparts in five games. Posting a team ERA of 1.47 during the Fall Classic, the Red Sox dominated Brooklyn’s lineup, which compiled a team batting average of just .200 against Boston pitching. Red Sox batters fared little better against Brooklyn pitching, combining to hit just .238. But they collected their hits at the most propitious moments, en route to outscoring the Robins by a combined margin of 21-13. Babe Ruth was the star of the Series, winning Game Two by throwing 13 shutout innings as he started a consecutive scoreless innings streak that eventually reached 29 in the 1918 Fall Classic.
Boston’s starting staff was perhaps the deepest in the league, but Chicago White Sox hurlers led the circuit in team ERA. Ed Cicotte placed second in the league with an ERA of 1.78, while Red Faber also finished among the leaders with a mark of 2.02.
The third-place Tigers had one of the league’s best players in Ty Cobb, who topped the circuit with 113 runs scored and 68 stolen bases. But Cobb failed to win the batting title for the first time in six years, even though he posted a mark of .371. Tris Speaker led all A.L. batters in that category, compiling an average of .386 in his first year in Cleveland. Speaker also topped the circuit with 211 hits, 41 doubles, a .470 on-base percentage, and a .502 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Shoeless Joe Jackson had an exceptional year for second-place Chicago, placing among the league leaders with a .341 batting average, 202 hits, 40 doubles, a .393 on-base percentage, and a .495 slugging percentage. He also led the league with 21 triples.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• The Philadelphia Athletics and the Detroit Tigers combined to set a major league record by issuing 30 walks during a 16-2 Tiger win on May 9. A’s pitchers issued a total of 18 walks. They walked another 11 Tiger batters the following day, for a two-game major league record of 29 free passes.
• Boston Red Sox pitcher Dutch Leonard allowed two runs on two hits, one walk, one hit-batsman, and a wild pitch, before being relieved during the first inning of a game against the St. Louis Browns on August 29. One day later, Leonard pitched a 4–0 no-hitter versus St. Louis.
• Philadelphia Athletics switch-hitting catcher Wally Schang belted two home runs against the New York Yankees on September 8, to become the first player in major league history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate during a single game.
• St. Louis Browns pitcher George Sisler out-dueled Washington’s Walter Johnson 1-0 on September 17. The victory turned out to be the last for Sisler, who eventually gained admittance to the Hall of Fame as a first baseman.
• Walter Johnson led all American League pitchers with 25 wins, 36 complete games, and 228 strikeouts.
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- 1916 World Series, American League, Babe Ruth, Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Robins, Carl Mays, Dutch Leonard, Eddie Cicotte, George Sisler, Joe Jackson, Red Faber, Rube Foster, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Wally Schang, Walter Johnson