The trend towards home runs and run production continued throughout the 1922 baseball season, particularly in the National League, where Philadelphia and St. Louis became the first two teams in the senior circuit to surpass 100 home runs in a single season. The Phillies led the league with 116 homers, while the Cardinals finished second with 107 round-trippers. Meanwhile, National League hitters posted a composite batting average of .292, causing the league’s overall ERA to rise to a bloated 4.10. Only one pitcher in the senior circuit – Phil Douglas of the Giants – recorded an ERA under 3.00 (he led the league with a mark of 2.63).
No other player better symbolized the National League’s movement towards increased offensive production than Rogers Hornsby. The St. Louis second baseman became the senior circuit’s first undisputed 20th-century Triple Crown winner (some historians suggest Heinie Zimmerman won the Triple Crown in 1912) by leading the league in virtually every major statistical category. Posting one of the greatest seasons in National League history, Hornsby topped the circuit with 42 home runs, 152 runs batted in, a .401 batting average, 141 runs scored, 250 hits, 46 doubles, 450 total bases, a .459 on-base percentage, and a .722 slugging percentage. He punctuated his great season by also leading all league second basemen in putouts, double plays, and fielding average.
Hornsby’s extraordinary performance enabled the Cardinals to remain in the pennant race for most of the year. However, they ended up finishing tied for third in the National League, a full eight games behind the pennant-winning New York Giants. The Giants repeated as league champions by finishing the year seven games ahead of second-place Cincinnati, with a record of 93-61.
Although the Giants had no one the ilk of Hornsby, they scored only 11 fewer runs than the Cardinals, placing third in the National League with 852 runs scored. First baseman George Kelly batted .328 and finished among the league leaders with 17 home runs and 107 runs batted in. Second baseman Frankie Frisch batted .327, scored 101 runs, and finished second in the league with 31 stolen bases. Shortstop Dave Bancroft hit .321, collected 209 hits, and scored 117 runs. Outfielder Ross Youngs batted .331 and scored 105 runs. Fellow outfielder Irish Meusel also batted .331, amassed 204 hits, scored 100 runs, and placed among the league leaders with 16 home runs and 132 runs batted in.
Meanwhile, New York featured the senior circuit’s best pitching staff – one that surrendered a league-low 658 runs to the opposition. In addition to Phil Douglas, who captured the ERA title, New York’s starting rotation included 19-game winner Art Nehf, who compiled an impressive 3.29 ERA and led the club with 20 complete games and 268 innings pitched.
The Giants opposed the New York Yankees in the World Series for the second straight year, facing off in another “Subway Series.” This meeting, played under a best-of-seven format, proved to be even less competitive than their earlier encounter. The Yankees managed only a 3-3 tie in Game Two, losing to their Polo Grounds co-occupants in five games. Giants pitchers Jesse Barnes, Art Nehf, Hugh McQuillan, and Jack Scott completely shut down the Yankees, who scored only 11 runs in the five games. Irish Meusel knocked in seven runs for the Giants, while Babe Ruth managed just two singles and batted only .118 for the Yankees.
Although the Giants had the National League’s best pitching staff, the second-place Reds weren’t very far behind. Cincinnati hurlers surrendered only 19 more runs to the opposition, finishing a close second in the senior circuit in team ERA. Eppa Rixey headed Cincinnati’s starting rotation, leading the league with 25 wins and 313 innings pitched, while also placing among the leaders with 26 complete games. Pete Donohue won 18 games for the Reds and finished third in the league with a 3.12 ERA.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Max Carey led the league with 51 stolen bases, placed second with 140 runs scored, and collected 207 hits.
• Pirates teammate Carson Bigbee batted .350, knocked in 99 runs, scored 113 others, and finished second in the league with 215 hits.
• Ray Grimes of the Cubs drove in at least one run in 17 straight games.
• May 7 - Jesse Barnes of the New York Giants pitched a no-hitter in a 6–0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
• October 1 - Rogers Hornsby went three-for-five in the last game of the season to finish the campaign with a .401 batting average. By doing so, he became the first National Leaguer to end the season with a .400 average since 1901. Hornsby also established new National League records with 42 home runs, 152 runs batted in, and a .722 slugging percentage.
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- 1922 World Series, Art Nehf, Babe Ruth, Carson Bigbee, Dave Bancroft, Eppa Rixey, Frankie Frisch, George Kelly, Heinie Zimmerman, Hugh McQuillan, Irish Meusel, Jack Scott, Jesse Barnes, Max Carey, New York Giants, Pete Donohue, Phil Douglas, Ray Grimes, Rogers Hornsby, Ross Youngs