With baseball’s home run trend gradually picking up steam throughout the 1920s, the ensuing decade began with arguably the greatest offensive explosion in the history of the game. The 1930 campaign produced several record-breaking hitting performances, particularly in the National League, where Chicago’s Hack Wilson drove in a major-league record 190 runs and New York’s Bill Terry became the last player in the senior circuit to compile a batting average in excess of .400.
The New York Yankees led the charge in the American League, establishing a new major league record by scoring a total of 1,062 runs. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig both had monstrous years for New York. Ruth led the league with 49 home runs, 136 bases on balls, a .493 on-base percentage, and a .732 slugging percentage, while also finishing among the leaders with 153 runs batted in, 150 runs scored, and a .359 batting average. Gehrig established a new American League record by driving in 174 runs, and he also placed near the top of the league rankings with 41 homers, 143 runs scored, 220 hits, 17 triples, 42 doubles, a .379 batting average, a .473 on-base percentage, and a .721 slugging percentage. However, New York finished next-to-last in the junior circuit in runs allowed, permitting the opposition to cross the plate 898 times over the course of the regular season. Their poor pitching relegated the Yankees to a distant third-place finish in the A.L., 16 games behind the pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics.
The A’s won their second straight league championship by posting a record of 102-52 that placed them eight games ahead of the second-place Washington Senators in the final standings. The Senators’ league-leading pitching staff, which allowed the fewest runs in the league (689) and posted the lowest team ERA (3.96), helped them improve their record by 23 games over the previous year. Shortstop Joe Cronin also contributed significantly to Washington’s improved play by batting .346, driving in 126 runs, scoring 127 others, collecting 203 hits, accumulating 41 doubles, and leading all players at his position in putouts and assists. Although neither major league presented an official MVP trophy at season’s end, The Sporting News named Cronin its “unofficial” A.L. MVP at the end of the year.
The Athletics, though, were clearly the most well-balanced team in the American League. They finished second to the Yankees with 951 runs scored, and they also placed second to the Senators with 751 runs allowed. Lefty Grove anchored Philadelphia’s pitching staff, leading the league in virtually every major statistical category. Compiling remarkable numbers in a year dominated by hitting, Grove led all A.L. hurlers with a record of 28-5, a 2.54 ERA, 209 strikeouts, nine shutouts, and nine saves. He also finished among the leaders with 22 complete games and 291 innings pitched. Grove pitched so effectively that his 2.54 ERA placed him 77 points ahead of league runner-up Wes Ferrell, who posted a mark of 3.31 for fourth-place Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the trio of Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, and Mickey Cochrane led the A’s offensive attack. Simmons placed among the league-leaders with 36 home runs, 165 runs batted in, 211 hits, 16 triples, 41 doubles, and a .708 slugging percentage, and he topped the circuit with 152 runs scored and a .381 batting average. Foxx finished near the top of the league rankings with 37 home runs, 156 runs batted in, 127 runs scored, and a .335 batting average. Cochrane batted .357 and scored 110 runs.
Seeking to win their second consecutive world championship, the Athletics faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Although the St. Louis pitching staff held Philadelphia to a team batting average of just .197, the A’s outscored the Cardinals by a 21-12 margin, en route to taking the Series in six games. Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw each won two games for the A’s, posting a combined ERA of 1.02. Jimmie Foxx delivered the big blow of the Series, giving Philadelphia a 2-0 victory and a three-games-to-two lead with a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game Five.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• By compiling 209 strikeouts, Lefty Grove became the first American League pitcher since 1916 to fan more than 200 batters in a season.
• After a long holdout, Babe Ruth finally signed for a major-league record $80,000.
• American League batters compiled a loop record .421 slugging percentage.
• The Senators’ staff ERA of 3.96 made them the only major league team to post a team ERA below 4.00.
• Babe Ruth became the first documented player to fan 1,000 times.
• Washington’s Sam Rice established major league records for players at least 40 years of age by collecting 207 hits, scoring 121 runs, and amassing 271 total bases.
• Cleveland's Johnny Hodapp led the American League with 225 hits and 51 doubles.
• Earle Combs topped the American League with 22 triples.
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- 1930 World Series, Al Simmons, Alvin Crowder, American League, Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Earle Combs, George Earnshaw, Goose Goslin, Heinie Manush, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Johnny Hodapp, Lefty Grove, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia Athletics, Sam Rice, St. Louis Cardinals, Wes Ferrell