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The 1994 baseball season will always be remembered for the players’ strike that brought the campaign to a premature end.  At midnight on August 12, both major leagues shut down when the players union refused to accept a salary cap proposed by the owners.  The absence of a commissioner to mediate between the two parties prevented a compromise settlement from being reached that might have averted the play stoppage.  Finally, in mid-September, Milwaukee Brewers owner and acting commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged that the strike had torn an irreparable hole in the game’s fabric when he officially declared the season over.

It subsequently took baseball several years to recover from this blight on its record, with the Yankees’ incredible record-setting performance and the epic home run race waged between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 finally able to lure back much of the disenchanted fan base.  However, 1994 was a sad year for baseball, with only slightly more than two-thirds of the regular season being completed, and with no World Series being played for the first time since the turn of the last century.

The 1994 campaign also marked baseball’s first major realignment in 25 years.  The powers that be elected to adopt a new three-division setup in each league prior to the start of the season that provided for an extra round of playoffs.  The new structure called for five-team divisions in the East and the Central, and a four-team division in the West.  Under the new format, the three division winners automatically advanced to the playoffs.  The second-place team with the best regular-season record also earned a postseason berth.  The team with the best overall record subsequently faced the league’s wild-card entry in the opening round, while the other two division winners squared off against one another.  The only exception to this rule occurred when the wild-card team and the division champion with the best record came from the same division.  Those two ball clubs could not meet until the final round of the playoffs.    

The initial division setup in the American League had the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays taking up residence in the East.  The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Minnesota Twins comprised the circuit’s Central Division.  Meanwhile, the California Angels, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers formed the league’s Western Division entry.

The new alignment enabled more teams to remain in the pennant race for a longer period of time.  Adding to fan interest was the awakening of several long-slumbering teams and the outstanding individual performances turned in by some of the league’s top players.

After several embarrassing seasons spent at or near the bottom of the division standings, the Yankees returned to prominence in the A.L. East, posting a league-best 70-43 record that placed them 6 ½ games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles prior to the player walkout.  The Yankees combined solid pitching with one of the league’s most well-balanced lineups to establish themselves as the class of the division.  Jimmy Key served as the ace of the pitching staff, leading all A.L. hurlers with a record of 17-4, while also compiling a 3.27 ERA.  On offense, Don Mattingly batted .304 and compiled a .397 on-base percentage.  Bernie Williams batted .289 and scored 80 runs.  Mike Stanley hit 17 home runs and batted .300.  Wade Boggs placed among the league leaders with a .342 batting average and a .433 on-base percentage.    Paul O'Neill had a fabulous year, leading the team with 21 home runs and 83 runs batted in, topping the circuit with a .359 batting average, and placing among the leaders with a .461 on-base percentage and a .603 slugging average.

While the Yankees created a comfortable 6 ½-game margin between themselves and the Orioles in the A.L. East, the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, and Seattle Mariners competed for the top spot in the decidedly mediocre A.L. West.  The Rangers had a record of 52-62 when play ended on August 12, leaving them one game ahead of the Athletics and two games in front of the Mariners.  

Juan Gonzalez and off-season free-agent acquisition Will Clark both performed extremely well for the first-place Rangers.  Gonzalez hit 18 homers and drove in 85 runs.  Clark hit 13 home runs, knocked in 80 runs, and placed among the league leaders with a .329 batting average.

Ruben Sierra was Oakland’s most productive hitter, leading the team with 23 homers and 92 runs batted in.

Seattle had the division’s two best players in Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr.  Johnson finished 13-6 with a league-leading 204 strikeouts.  Junior topped the circuit with 40 home runs, and he also finished among the leaders with 90 runs batted in, 94 runs scored, and a .323 batting average.  

The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians rivaled New York as the junior circuit’s strongest team.  The White Sox held a slim one-game lead over the Indians in the A.L. Central when play ended, compiling a record of 67-46 that appeared to have them headed for a postseason berth.  

Chicago claimed the top spot in the division by combining one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses with the circuit’s most effective pitching staff.  Chicago led the league with a 3.96 team ERA, featuring four starters who posted double-digit win totals.  Wilson Alvarez and Jason Bere each won 12 games, while Alex Fernandez and Jack McDowell posted 11 and 10 victories, respectively.  

The White Sox also had a very deep lineup.  Robin Ventura hit 18 homers and drove in 78 runs.  Tim Raines scored 80 runs.  Julio Franco batted .319, hit 20 homers, and drove in 98 runs.  Frank Thomas earned A.L. MVP honors for the second straight year by placing among the league leaders with 38 home runs, 101 runs batted in, and a .353 batting average, while also topping the circuit with 106 runs scored, a .487 on-base percentage, and a .729 slugging average.  

The second-place Indians featured the league’s most potent offense, finishing first in the league rankings with 679 runs scored, 167 home runs, a .290 team batting average, and a .484 team slugging average.  Although Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, Paul Sorrento, Carlos Baerga, and Jim Thome also made significant contributions to the Cleveland attack, Kenny Lofton and Albert Belle served as the team’s top two offensive threats.  Lofton led the league with 60 steals and 160 hits, and he also finished among the leaders with a .349 batting average and 105 runs scored.  Belle earned a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP balloting by leading the league with 294 total bases and placing near the top of the league rankings with 36 home runs, 101 runs batted in, 90 runs scored, 35 doubles, a .357 batting average, and a .714 slugging average.  

Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:

• August 11 - The final games of the major league season were played.  The players’ strike began the next day.

• September 14 – Major league owners voted 26-2 to officially cancel the remainder of the season, including the playoffs and the World Series.  No World Series was played for the first time since 1904, and, for the first time since 1869, professional baseball had no national champion.

• On July 18, Kenny Rogers of the Texas Rangers became the first American League hurler since 1984 to throw a perfect game, beating the Angels 4-0.  Rogers’ perfecto was just the 14th in major league history.

• The Indians unveiled the new Jacobs Field.

• The Rangers also opened a new home site, The Ballpark in Arlington.

• Kansas City’s David Cone earned A.L. Cy Young honors by going 16-5 with a 2.94 ERA.

• Royals teammate Bob Hamelin earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors by hitting 24 home runs and compiling a .599 slugging average.

• Minnesota’s Kirby Puckett hit 20 home runs, scored 79 runs, batted .317, and led the league with 112 runs batted in.

• Boston's John Valentin became the second player in big-league history to perform an unassisted triple play and hit a home run in the same inning.

• The Hall of Fame inducted Steve Carlton, Leo Durocher, and Phil Rizzuto.

• Albert Belle was suspended for three games when a White Sox claim that he used an illegally corked bat against them was upheld.

• Chicago signed basketball megastar Michael Jordan to a minor-league contract.

• Jordan batted just .202, with only three home runs and 51 RBIs in 436 at-bats for the Double-A Birmingham Bulls.

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BAL 1473 3856 589 1047 557 .269 185 20 139 69 13 1689 .380 .409 .789 89 35 16
BOS 1624 3940 552 1038 523 .206 222 19 120 81 38 1658 .327 .324 .666 87 33 38
CAL 1595 3943 543 1042 518 .263 178 16 120 65 54 1612 .358 .393 .751 84 29 42
CHA 1557 3942 633 1133 602 .258 175 39 121 77 27 1749 .378 .400 .799 91 46 51
CLE 1524 4022 679 1165 647 .297 240 20 167 131 48 1946 .419 .460 .879 80 38 33
DET 1566 3955 652 1048 622 .250 216 25 161 46 33 1797 .361 .401 .763 86 48 17
KCA 1505 3911 574 1051 538 .239 211 38 100 140 62 1638 .373 .358 .753 72 38 32
MIN 1565 3952 594 1092 556 .269 239 23 103 94 30 1686 .362 .405 .768 93 34 22
ML4 1568 3978 547 1045 510 .263 238 21 99 59 37 1622 .386 .422 .830 85 38 28
NYA 1546 3986 670 1155 632 .264 238 16 139 55 40 1842 .372 .439 .812 112 37 27
OAK 1639 3885 549 1009 515 .209 178 13 113 91 39 1552 .310 .294 .630 79 51 24
SEA 1568 3883 569 1045 549 .230 211 18 153 48 21 1751 .335 .396 .749 87 32 48
TEX 1571 3983 613 1114 582 .256 198 27 124 82 35 1738 .378 .379 .778 95 34 41
TOR 1498 3962 566 1064 534 .231 210 30 115 79 26 1679 .330 .359 .689 96 44 30

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BAL 346 63 49 995 666 351 4265 1005 131 72.430 478 497 13 3 37 18 1
BOS 423 54 61 1029 729 450 4553 1104 120 133.500 566 621 6 1 30 46 4
CAL 372 47 68 1028 682 436 4566 1149 150 101.860 620 660 11 3 21 48 8
CHA 352 67 46 1011 754 377 4310 964 115 64.440 445 498 13 6 20 19 3
CLE 335 66 47 1018 666 404 4488 1097 94 140.160 497 562 17 5 21 58 6
DET 361 53 62 1017 560 449 4572 1139 148 130.870 609 671 15 1 20 59 2
KCA 362 64 51 1033 717 392 4428 1018 95 70.030 486 532 5 3 38 60 5
MIN 385 53 60 1004 602 388 4507 1197 153 94.210 635 688 6 2 29 43 4
ML4 367 53 62 1038 577 421 4493 1071 127 72.720 532 586 11 1 23 30 6
NYA 354 70 43 1020 656 398 4406 1045 120 109.740 492 534 8 0 31 46 4
OAK 422 51 63 1002 732 510 4423 979 128 123.540 537 589 12 3 23 42 12
SEA 364 49 63 984 763 486 4411 1051 109 118.290 548 616 13 4 21 41 1
TEX 415 52 62 1022 683 394 4595 1176 157 141.350 620 697 10 3 26 50 5
TOR 336 55 60 1025 832 482 4536 1053 127 122.190 535 579 13 4 26 54 7

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BAL 1846 4982 3769 1144 69 .956 11971 61 28 0 5
BOS 1974 5172 3861 1218 93 .966 12350 98 38 0 16
CAL 1942 5266 3939 1228 99 .970 12322 83 38 0 11
CHA 1900 4990 3901 1001 88 .963 12132 81 30 0 12
CLE 1875 5219 3795 1320 104 .956 12227 75 33 0 7
DET 1944 5261 3886 1279 96 .973 12213 94 36 0 8
KCA 1843 5162 3785 1279 98 .961 12381 91 30 0 5
MIN 1921 5186 3884 1209 93 .973 12059 85 53 0 5
ML4 1985 5364 3933 1332 99 .974 12433 117 28 0 11
NYA 1901 5250 3805 1355 90 .963 12236 55 29 0 10
OAK 2026 5020 3771 1143 106 .969 12035 60 45 0 5
SEA 1909 4923 3620 1196 107 .968 11808 69 39 1.00 8
TEX 1951 5237 3839 1278 120 .972 12274 47 33 1.00 9
TOR 1890 5008 3838 1076 94 .967 12300 101 43 0 14

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Texas Rangers 52 62 2503198 1 683
Oakland Athletics 51 63 1242692 2 732
Seattle Mariners 49 63 1104206 3 763
California Angels 47 68 1512622 4 682

Central

team W L Att Rk SOP
Chicago White Sox 67 46 1697398 1 754
Cleveland Indians 66 47 1995174 2 666
Kansas City Royals 64 51 1400494 3 717
Milwaukee Brewers 53 62 1268399 5 577
Minnesota Twins 53 60 1398565 4 602

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
New York Yankees 70 43 1675556 1 656
Baltimore Orioles 63 49 2535359 2 666
Toronto Blue Jays 55 60 2907933 3 832
Boston Red Sox 54 61 1775818 4 729
Detroit Tigers 53 62 1184783 5 560

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Tagged:
1994 strike, Albert Belle, Alex Fernandez, American League, Bernie Williams (New York Yankees), Bob Hamelin, Bud Selig, Carlos Baerga, David Cone, Don Mattingly, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Jacobs Field, Jason Bere, Jim Thome, Jimmy Key, John Valentin, Juan Gonzalez, Julio Franco, Ken Griffey, Jr., Kenny Lofton, Kenny Rogers, Kirby Puckett, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, Mike Stanley, Paul Sorrento, Randy Johnson, Robin Ventura, Ruben Sierra, Tim Raines, Wade Boggs, Will Clark, Wilson Alvarez

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