After the “Miracle Braves” stunned everyone by capturing the National League pennant the previous year, the Philadelphia Phillies provided a similar surprise in 1915 by finishing first in the senior circuit. Improving their position in the standings five places from one year earlier, the Phillies finished seven games ahead of the second-place Braves with a record of 90-62.
The Phillies’ league-leading offense enabled them to fend off an early-season charge by the Chicago Cubs, before holding off a late-season surge by the Braves. First baseman Fred Luderus and slugging outfielder Gavvy Cravath paced Philadelphia on offense. Luderus finished second in the league with 36 doubles and a .315 batting average. Cravath established a new 20th-century major-league record by hitting 24 home runs. He also topped the circuit with 115 runs batted in, 89 runs scored, 86 bases on balls, and a .393 on-base percentage.
Meanwhile, Grover Cleveland Alexander anchored the league’s best pitching staff. Beginning a three-year reign as baseball’s top hurler, Alexander led all N.L. pitchers in every major statistical category, finishing 31-10, with a 1.22 earned run average, 241 strikeouts, 12 shutouts, 376 innings pitched, and 36 complete games. The Phillies also received significant contributions from Al Demaree, Eppa Rixey, and 21-game winner Erskine Mayer, en route to posting a league-leading 2.17 team ERA.
Nevertheless, it was Boston’s pitching staff that proved to be superior in the World Series, as Red Sox hurlers held Philadelphia’s lineup to a mere .182 batting average. Gavvy Cravath collected only two hits, while Red Sox right-fielder Harry Hooper batted .350, to lead the Red Sox to their third World Series title with a five-game victory over the Phillies. Philadelphia’s lone victory came in Game One, with Alexander on the mound.
While Philadelphia ascended to the top of the National League standings, the New York Giants fell to the depths of the senior circuit. After winning three of the previous four league championships, the Giants finished last in the N.L. with a record of only 69-83. An aging and ineffective pitching staff proved to be the bane of manager John McGraw’s existence, with New York hurlers surrendering a National League high 628 runs to the opposition. The team’s only bright spot was second baseman Larry Doyle, who topped the circuit with a .320 batting average, 189 hits, and 40 doubles.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• Rube Marquard of the Giants threw a no-hitter against Brooklyn on April 15.
• Jimmy Lavender of Chicago tossed a no-hitter versus the Giants on August 31.
• The Cardinals led the National League with 590 runs scored – the fewest ever posted by a loop leader.
• Braves Field opened on August 18, replacing South End Grounds as the home of the Boston Braves. South End Grounds had been in existence as a Major League park since 1876.
• The Giants acquired third baseman Hans Lobert from Philadelphia for three players prior to the start of the 1915 campaign. Lobert was generally acknowledged to be the National League’s fastest player.
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- 1915 World Series, Al Demaree, Braves Field, Eppa Rixey, Erskine Mayer, Fred Luderus, Gavvy Cravath, Hans Lobert, Harry Hooper, Jimmy Lavender, John McGraw, Larry Doyle, New York Giants, Pete Alexander, Philadelphia Phillies, Rube Marquard