The Yearly Reader

Leaders and Honors, 1926

Our list of baseball’s top 10 hitters and pitchers in both the American League and National League for the 1926 baseball season, as well as the awards and honors given to the game’s top achievers of the year.

The National League’s Top 10 Hitters, 1926

Bold type in brick red indicates league leader.

1. Hack Wilson, Chicago

Key Numbers: .321 average, 97 runs, 170 hits, 36 doubles, 8 triples, 21 home runs, 109 RBIs, 69 walks, .539 slugging percentage.

Wilson busted out in Chicago after the Giants lost him through a very costly clerical error (though some say New York manager John McGraw wanted him gone, anyway).

2. Paul Waner, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: .336 average, 101 runs, 180 hits, 35 doubles, 22 triples, 8 home runs, 79 RBIs, 66 walks, .413 on-base percentage.

“Big Poison” began his career with an average that, under today’s rules, would have won him the batting crown—but Cincinnati catcher Bubbles Hargrave was given the official title instead, even though he batted just 326 times during season.

3. Kiki Cuyler, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: 157 games, .321 average, 113 runs, 197 hits, 31 doubles, 15 triples, 8 home runs, 92 RBIs, 35 stolen bases.

On the eve of his fall from grace at Pittsburgh, Cuyler remained the NL’s biggest overall offensive threat.

4. Jim Bottomley, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .299 average, 98 runs, 180 hits, 40 doubles, 14 triples, 19 home runs, 120 RBIs.

After hitting .350 through the first three-plus years of his major leaguer career, Sunny Jim dropped below the .300 mark for the first time—but was still potent enough to lead the NL in RBIs and doubles.

5. Billy Southworth, New York-St. Louis

Key Numbers: .320 average, 99 runs, 16 home runs, 99 RBIs.

Not only did the future Cardinals manager give St. Louis the better of a midseason trade that sent so-so Heinie Mueller to the Giants, but he rubbed in with a pennant-clinching homer at New York on September 24.

6. Les Bell, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .325 average, 189 hits, 33 doubles, 14 triples, 17 home runs, 100 RBIs.

Peaking in 1926 before a gradual decline at age 25, Bell collected a higher average than any other Cardinal—yes, even higher than Rogers Hornsby.

7. Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .317 average, 96 runs, 34 doubles, 11 home runs, 93 RBIs, 61 walks.

While we’re on the subject of the Rajah, the future Hall of Famer’s .317 average paled in comparison to the .390 he otherwise hit during the 1920s—and his 11 homers also were the fewest he smacked during the decade. Still, he managed the Cardinals to their first world title.

8. Edd Roush, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: .323 average, 95 runs, 182 hits, 37 doubles, 10 triples, 7 home runs, 79 RBIs.

The long-time Red finished off his tenure before being sent to New York, where the Giants’ John McGraw badly wanted him; he returned briefly in 1931, just long enough to slip below Cy Seymour for the highest modern-era career average in Reds history.

9. George Grantham, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: .318 average, 27 doubles, 13 triples, 8 home runs, 70 RBIs, 60 walks.

The dependable yet frequently unacknowledged first baseman was one of five Pirate regulars to hit over .300—and one of four to co-lead the team with eight homers.

10. Babe Herman, Brooklyn

Key Numbers: .319 average, 35 doubles, 11 triples, 11 home runs, 81 RBIs.

The rookie hit well over .350 into July before cooling off; of course, everyone will best remember his “doubling into a double play” when he was caught at third base with two fellow baserunners.

The American League’s Top 10 Hitters, 1926

1. Babe Ruth, New York

Key Numbers: .372 average, 139 runs, 184 hits, 30 doubles, 47 home runs, 153 RBIs, 144 walks, .516 on-base percentage, .737 slugging percentage.

The Bambino returned to the Yankees’ good graces with a patented Ruthian onslaught—and once again came oh-so-close to snagging an AL triple crown (losing the batting race to Heinie Manush by just six points).

2. Lou Gehrig, New York

Key Numbers: .313 average, 135 runs, 179 hits, 47 doubles, 20 triples, 16 home runs, 112 RBIs, 105 walks.

Playing his first season every day from start to finish, the Iron Horse would hit the fewest number of home runs in his career—but would collect a personal-best 20 triples.

3. Goose Goslin, Washington

Key Numbers: .354 average, 105 runs, 201 hits, 26 doubles, 15 triples, 17 home runs, 108 RBIs.

Cavernous Griffith Stadium continued to do its best to obscure Goslin’s power numbers; the muscular Senator hit all 17 of his homers on the road.

4. Al Simmons, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: .341 average, 90 runs, 199 hits, 53 doubles, 10 triples, 19 home runs, 109 RBIs.

In his third season, Simmons finally took a day off after playing in 394 straight games to start his career—an AL record that stood until Hideki Matsui in 2006.

5. Harry Heilmann, Detroit

Key Numbers: .367 average, 90 runs, 184 hits, 41 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs, 103 RBIs, 67 walks.

If it’s an even year, it must have been a season between batting titles for Heilmann—who still was good enough to finish third in the AL batting race.

6. Heinie Manush, Detroit

Key Numbers: .378 average, 95 runs, 188 hits, 35 doubles, 8 triples, 14 home runs, 86 RBIs.

Manush was obviously good enough to make Detroit manager-center fielder Ty Cobb demote himself to a part-timer.

7. George Burns, Cleveland

Key Numbers: .358 average, 97 runs, 216 hits, 64 doubles, 4 home runs, 114 RBIs.

The man who set the major league record for doubles (later tipped by Earl Webb) won the AL MVP award in part because Babe Ruth, by virtue of being a previous winner, was ineligible.

8. Johnny Mostil, Chicago

Key Numbers: .328 average, 120 runs, 197 hits, 41 doubles, 15 triples, 79 walks, 10 hit-by-pitches, 35 stolen bases.

Mostil peaked as the White Sox’ leadoff man a year before news of his affair with teammate Red Faber’s wife led to a suicide attempt.

9. Bibb Falk, Chicago

Key Numbers: .345 average, 86 runs, 195 hits, 43 doubles, 8 home runs, 108 RBIs, 66 walks.

The Austin, Texas native put up numbers reminiscent of the man he replaced in left field: The expelled Joe Jackson.

10. Tris Speaker, Cleveland

Key Numbers: .304 average, 96 runs, 52 doubles, 8 triples, 7 home runs, 88 RBIs, 94 walks.

In his final season as Indians player-manager before age-old game-fixing allegations caught up to him, Speaker continued to plug away at age 38.

Bushers Book Ad

The National League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 1926

1. Carl Mays, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: 3.14 ERA, 19 wins, 12 losses, 281 innings, 24 complete games, 34 grounded into double plays.

The controversial pitcher’s on-and-off history of late was on again, a year after being restricted to 12 appearances and a 3-5 record; he would be off for the next three seasons as he entered his late 30s before stepping away from the game.

2. Ray Kremer, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: 2.61 ERA, 20 wins, 6 losses, .769 win percentage.

After a slow start owing to shoulder pain, Kremer went 15-3 over the final three months to secure his first of back-to-back ERA crowns.

3. Pete Donohue, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: 3.37 ERA, 20 wins, 14 losses, 47 appearances, 36 starts, 5 shutouts, 285.2 innings, 39 walks.

Along with Mays, Donohue effectively wound it up on the mound at Cincinnati before winding down as over-the-hill material.

4. Jesse Petty, Brooklyn

Key Numbers: 2.84 ERA, 17 wins, 17 losses, 275.2 innings.

Petty picked up the slack for a slumping Dazzy Vance and Burleigh Grimes in Brooklyn.

5. Charlie Root, Chicago

Key Numbers: 2.82 ERA, 18 wins, 17 losses, 271.1 innings.

After a failed audition with the St. Louis Browns in 1923, Root returned to the majors as a top rookie pitcher with the Cubs—and absorbed more losses than any other National Leaguer despite earning the circuit’s second-best ERA.

6. Guy Bush, Chicago

Key Numbers: 2.86 ERA, 13 wins, 9 losses.

Right behind Root in the ERA race was Bush, who continued to contribute more from the bullpen than within the rotation (35 appearances, 15 starts).

7. Pete Alexander, Chicago-St. Louis

Key Numbers: 3.05 ERA, 12 wins, 10 losses.

The old warrior’s season was rescued as he went from frustrated head-butting with Cubs manager Joe McCarthy to World Series legend for the Cardinals.

8. Flint Rhem, St. Louis

Key Numbers: 3.21 ERA, 20 wins, 7 losses, .741 win percentage, 258 innings.

The colorful hurler—who could drink as much as the next guy, Alexander included—found his footing after a rough first two years in the majors (10-15 record, 4.85 ERA).

9. Hal Carlson, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 3.23 ERA, 17 wins, 12 losses, 267.1 innings.

A former spitballer who couldn’t get grandfathered when the wet pitch became illegal, Carlson must have been discretely lathering up the ball to get the kinds of numbers shown above while playing at an absolutely live park (Baker Bowl).

10. Lee Meadows, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: 3.97 ERA, 20 wins, 9 losses.

Under today’s rules, Meadows wouldn’t have gotten credit for his 20th win—he didn’t finish the fifth inning—but nevertheless became part of the last pair of Pirates (along with Ray Kremer) to each earn 20 victories in the same year.

The American League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 1926

1. George Uhle, Cleveland

Key Numbers: 2.83 ERA, 27 wins, 11 losses, .711 win percentage, 36 starts, 32 complete games, 318.1 innings, 118 walks, 8 wild pitches, 13 hit-by-pitches.

Nobody allowed more hits and walks in the majors than Uhle, yet the Indians workhorse was still at his sterling best.

2. Ted Lyons, Chicago

Key Numbers: 3.01 ERA, 18 wins, 16 losses, 283.2 innings.

The right-hander walked twice as many batters (106) as he struck out (51), but only two other pitchers allowed a lower batting average (.252).

3. Lefty Grove, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 2.51 ERA, 13 wins, 13 losses, 45 appearances, 33 starts, 258 innings, 194 strikeouts.

The sophomore phenom introduced himself to a place he’d become very familiar with—the top spot among AL ERA contenders—thanks to a major cutdown in walks.

4. Herb Pennock, New York

Key Numbers: 3.62 ERA, 23 wins, 11 losses, 266.1 innings, 43 walks.

The veteran southpaw scored a career high in wins, adding two more in the World Series.

5. Stan Coveleski, Washington

Key Numbers: 3.12 ERA, 14 wins, 11 losses.

At age 37, Coveleski performed one last admirable campaign before his arm petered out.

6. Urban Shocker, New York

Key Numbers: 3.38 ERA, 19 wins, 11 losses, 258.1 innings.

Shocker electrified anew in New York City for the Yankees, who righted the previous wrong of trading him off to the Browns in 1918.

7. Waite Hoyt, New York

Key Numbers: 3.85 ERA, 16 wins, 12 losses.

Had it not been for a late-summer slump created, it was said, by throwing too many pitches at a carnival, Hoyt could have jumped a bit higher on this list.

8. Eddie Rommel, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 3.08 ERA, 11 wins, 11 losses.

Like Lefty Grove above, Rommel certainly deserved better than a .500 record.

9. Firpo Marberry, Washington

Key Numbers: 3.00 ERA, 12 wins, 7 losses, 22 saves, 64 appearances, 5 starts.

Baseball’s first realization of the closer set his own record for saves; it would be 23 years before someone else (the Yankees’ Joe Page) would reset the mark.

10. Garland Buckeye, Cleveland

Key Numbers: 3.10 ERA, 6 wins, 9 losses.

The great-grandfather of future major leaguer pitcher Drew Pomeranz, Buckeye slipped into the list despite an underwhelming record—and because of his stifling ability to keep runners off base. His gem among gems was a two-hit shutout of the mighty Yankees—walking 10, four of which came against Babe Ruth (who went 0-for-0).

1926 Baseball History
The 1920s: ...And Along Came Babe
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Pitchers of the 1920s
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Hitters of the 1920s