1908 American League

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The 1908 season of the American League was the eighth season of the league.

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Season summary[edit]

While the pennant race in the National League is more famous, the 1908 American League had an even closer pennant race, as four clubs were neck-and-neck coming into September: the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Naps, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns, who also happened to be the league's four western teams, with the east coasters being all also-rans. On September 17th, all four teams were within five games of each other, and over the next two weeks, the four eastern teams toured the four western cities, facing all four contenders. By October 1st, the Browns had dropped off the pace, but Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago were only separated by a game and a half, as the eastern teams headed home. The White Sox went to Cleveland to play two, while the Tigers hosted the Browns. On October 2nd, Addie Joss pitched the second perfect game in American League history, defeating the White Sox and 39-game winner Ed Walsh, 1-0, the only run being unearned. Meanwhile, Detroit came back from a run down in the 9th to win, 7-6, and won again the next day. The White Sox avoided elimination when Walsh saved a 3-2 win over Cleveland. That set up a three-game series between Detroit and Chicago, with Cleveland hosting St. Louis. Detroit was in the driver's seat, as the only way they could fail to win the pennant was to be swept, or to lose at least two of three to Chicago, with the Naps sweeping the Browns. Cleveland dropped out when, after a tie with St. Louis on October 4th, it lost the opener of a doubleheader the next day. But the White Sox won their first two against the Tigers, setting up a showdown game for the pennant on October 6th. Walsh had just won his 40th game of the season and was unavailable to pitch for Chicago, so Doc White faced Wild Bill Donovan. But the game was never in doubt: the Tigers scored four runs in the top of the 1st, then added another in the 2nd, and cruised to an anti-climatic 7-0 win to clinch the pennant.


Bold indicates league champion, Italics indicates World Series champion
1 Detroit Tigers 154 90 63 1 .584 -.- 647 (4.20) 547 (3.55) 0.263 0.307 0.347 2.40 0.953
2 Cleveland Naps 157 90 64 3 .573 0.5 568 (3.62) 457 (2.91) 0.239 0.290 0.309 2.02 0.962
3 Chicago White Sox 156 88 64 4 .564 1.5 537 (3.44) 470 (3.01) 0.224 0.290 0.271 2.22 0.966
4 St. Louis Browns 155 83 69 3 .535 6.5 544 (3.51) 483 (3.12) 0.245 0.292 0.310 2.15 0.964
5 Boston Red Sox 155 75 79 1 .484 15.5 564 (3.64) 513 (3.31) 0.245 0.286 0.312 2.28 0.954
6 Philadelphia Athletics 157 68 85 4 .433 22.0 486 (3.10) 562 (3.58) 0.223 0.276 0.292 2.56 0.957
7 Washington Senators 155 67 85 3 .432 22.5 479 (3.09) 539 (3.48) 0.235 0.287 0.296 2.34 0.958
8 New York Highlanders 155 51 103 1 .329 39.5 459 (2.96) 713 (4.60) 0.236 0.277 0.292 3.16 0.947

League leaders[edit]

Bold indicates league record, Italics indicate all-time record


Statistic Leader Team Number
Games Played Nap Lajoie Cleveland Naps 157
At Bats Sam Crawford Detroit Tigers 591
Runs Scored Matty McIntyre Detroit Tigers 105
Hits Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 188
Doubles Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 36
Triples Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 20
Home Runs Sam Crawford Detroit Tigers 7
Total Bases Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 276
Runs Batted In Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 108
Stolen Bases Patsy Dougherty Chicago White Sox 47
Walks Topsy Hartsel Philadelphia Athletics 93
Hit by Pitch Jake Stahl New York Highlanders/Boston Red Sox 23
Sacrifice Hits Bill Bradley Cleveland Naps 60
Batting Average Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 0.324
On-Base Percentage Doc Gessler Boston Red Sox 0.394
Slugging Percentage Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 0.475
On-Base plus Slugging Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 0.842
On-Base plus Slugging Plus Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 169


Statistic Leader Team Number
Wins Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 40
Losses Joe Lake New York Highlanders 22
Win-Loss Percentage Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 0.727
Appearances Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 66
Games Started Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 49
Complete Games Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 42
Shutouts Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 11
Games Finished Rube Vickers Philadelphia Athletics 17
Saves Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 6
Innings Pitched Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 464.0
Batters Faced Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 1799
Hits Allowed Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 343
Home Runs Allowed Cy Morgan Boston Red Sox 7
Base-on-Balls Allowed Jimmy Dygert Philadelphia Athletics 97
Hit Batsmen Ed Summers Detroit Tigers 20
Strikeouts Ed Walsh Chicago White Sox 269
Wild Pitches Eddie Cicotte Boston Red Sox 14
Balks Fred Burchell Boston Red Sox 3
Runs Allowed Joe Lake New York Highlanders 157
Earned Runs Allowed George Mullin Detroit Tigers 100
Earned Run Average Addie Joss Cleveland Naps 1.16
Walks plus Hits
per Inning Pitched
Addie Joss Cleveland Naps 0.806


In the World Series, the American League champion Detroit Tigers were defeated by the National League's Chicago Cubs, 4 games to 1.

Notable events[edit]


* Denotes a fill-in umpire

Further Reading[edit]

  • Charles C. Alexander: The Half-Game Pennant of 1908: Four Teams Chase Victory in the American League, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2018. ISBN 978-1-4766-6506-1
  • Cait Murphy: Crazy '08: How a cast of cranks, rogues, boneheads and magnates created the greatest year in baseball history, Smithsonian Books, Washington, DC, 2007.
  • Tom Ruane: "A Retro-Review of the 1900s (the 1908 edition)", Retrosheet.org [1]
  • Stew Thornley: "Regular Season Showdowns", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 47, Nr. 1 (spring 2018), pp. 85-90.