The Chicago White Sox replaced two-time defending champion Boston at the top of the American League standings in 1917, finishing nine games ahead of the second-place Red Sox. With both Shoeless Joe Jackson and former Athletics star Eddie Collins members of their everyday lineup, the White Sox became the league's most formidable team. Jackson batted .301 and finished among the league leaders with 75 runs batted in, 91 runs scored, 17 triples, and a .429 slugging percentage. Collins finished near the top of the league rankings with 91 runs scored, 53 stolen bases, 89 walks, and a .389 on-base percentage. Jackson and Collins helped the White Sox score a league-leading 655 runs over the course of the regular season.
While the White Sox featured the junior circuit’s highest-scoring offense, they also allowed the second-fewest runs in the league. Ed Cicotte served as the ace of the staff, leading all A.L. pitchers with 28 wins, a 1.53 ERA, and 346 innings pitched. He also finished second in strikeouts (150), third in complete games (29), and fourth in shutouts (7).
The White Sox subsequently faced the New York Giants in the World Series, defeating their National League counterparts in six games. Pitcher Red Faber starred for Chicago, posting three of his team’s four victories. Yet, the manner in which the Giants lost to Chicago aroused some suspicions as to the legitimacy of the outcome. A key play in the final game involved New York third baseman Heinie Zimmerman chasing Eddie Collins across an unguarded home plate. Immediately afterward, Zimmerman, who batted just .120 during the Series, denied throwing the game or the Series. Within two years, though, Zimmerman and his corrupt teammate Hal Chase both found themselves suspended for life, not so much due to any one incident but to a series of questionable actions and associations.
Although Chicago was the American League’s most well-balanced team, Boston had arguably the junior circuit’s top pitching staff. Right-hander Carl Mays won 22 games and finished second in the league with a 1.74 ERA. Babe Ruth placed second among A.L. pitchers with 24 wins, compiled a 2.01 ERA, and led the league with 35 complete games. Had it not been for Boston’s mediocre offense (they finished fourth in the league with 555 runs scored), they likely would have captured their third straight league championship.
Led by Ty Cobb, the Detroit Tigers finished a close second to the White Sox in scoring. Cobb topped the circuit with a .383 batting average, 225 hits, 44 doubles, 24 triples, 55 stolen bases, 335 total bases, a .444 on-base percentage, and a .570 slugging percentage, while also placing second with 102 runs batted in and 107 runs scored. Unfortunately for Cobb, the Tigers finished fourth in the league, 21 ½ games behind first-place Chicago.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Cleveland's Ray Chapman accumulated a major league record 67 sacrifice hits.
• Three weeks before two members of the St. Louis Browns’ pitching staff tossed no-hitters against his team, White Sox hurler Ed Cicotte threw a no-hitter against the Browns on April 14.
• George Mogridge of the Yankees threw a no-hitter against Boston on April 24.
• Ernie Koob of St. Louis tossed a no-hitter versus the White Sox on May 5.
• Just one day later, on May 6, Bob Groom of St. Louis threw another no-hitter against the White Sox.
• On June 23, Boston's Babe Ruth walked the first Washington Senators batter of the game. After arguing the call, Ruth was ejected by the home plate umpire. Ernie Shore relieved Ruth on the mound and, after the Washington base runner was thrown out attempting to steal second base, Shore retired the next 26 batters in order.
• Detroit’s Bobby Veach led the American League with 103 runs batted in.
• New York’s Wally Pipp hit nine home runs to win his second straight A.L. home run title.
• After winning at least 25 games, compiling an ERA below 2.00, and striking out more than 200 batters in each of the previous seven seasons, Walter Johnson “slipped” to 23 wins, an ERA of 2.21, and 188 strikeouts. Yet, he still managed to lead the league in strikeouts for the seventh time in his career.
• Ty Cobb batted safely in a league-high 35 consecutive games.
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- 1917 World Series, American League, Babe Ruth, Bob Groom, Bobby Veach, Carl Mays, Chicago White Sox, Eddie Cicotte, Eddie Collins, Ernie Koob, Ernie Shore, George Mogridge, Hal Chase, Heinie Zimmerman, Joe Jackson, New York Giants, Ray Chapman, Red Faber, Ty Cobb, Wally Pipp, Walter Johnson