1954-American League

The 1954 American League pennant race was remarkable because a team that won 103 games finishing 8 games back in 2nd, while another team ended in 3rd with a .610 winning percentage. The pennant winner finisher 111-43, a .721 percentage.  The season started out typically enough.  On May 1, Detroit was in 1st place with a 8-4 record.  Chicago had a 1/2 game better record, but there 10-5 record put them percentage points behind Detroit.  Philadelphia was in 3rd 7-5 (1) and Cleveland was in 4th 7-6 (1 1/2).  On June 1, all the principals mentioned above were in the  1st Division, which was:  CLE 28-13 (—);  CHW 28-15 (1);  NYY 26-17 (3);  DET 21-17 (6.5).

1st place would bounce back and forth between the Indians and White Sox until 6/12, when Cleveland took over the lead by 1/2 game over Chicago.  They stayed there the rest of the season.  However, for a good part of the season, the race was close enough to keep things interesting.  Between June 22-July 1, Chicago stayed between 1-3 games of Cleveland.  Chicago’s fate was sealled when they could not win 1 of the 4 games played at Cleveland Stadium.  The Yankees took over possession of 2nd place on July 2, and it was their turn to keep the race with the Indians close.

This they did through most of the rest of the season.  Through the games of August 19, the team was never more than 3 games behind the front runner.  New York even shared 1st place on 7/20.  As symbolized the two teams’ battle during this period, the results of the games played in New York, on July 23-25, and then Cleveland, on Aug 3-5, was 3-3. 

When Cleveland came to Yankee Stadium on August 31, they were 4 1/2 games to the good.  New York would just about have to sweep the Indians to stay in the race. In the first game, Cleveland’s ace Early Wynn held the Yankees to 1 run; and won the game 6-1.  New York won the next two games 4-1 and 3-2, but the 3 1/2 games behind that this left them would be the closest they would get.  The  1st Division on Sept 4 was:  CLE 96-39 (1);  NYY 82-42 (3.5);  CHW 87-49 (9.5);  DET 59-75 (36.5). 

That one lose seemed to take the wind out of the Yankee’s sails.  After Sept 5, New York would play .500 ball— winning 9 and losing 9.  Cleveland continued their torrid pace finishing the season 15-4.  The final standings on 9/26 was:  CLE 111-43 (—);  NYY 103-51 (8);  CHW 94-60 (17);  BOS  69-85 (42);  DET 68-86 (43);  WAS 66-88 (45);  BAL 54-100 (57);  PHI 51-103 (60).

Combining hitting and pitching, the Cleveland Indians were one of the best teams in Major League history.  There 746 runs scored was 2nd behind New York; and their 504 runs allowed was 1st in the league.  Bobby Avila led the team with a .341 average.  Al Rosen (.300, 32 HR, 126 RBI) and Larry Doby (.272, 32, 126) were other hitting stars.  Bob Lemon (23-7, 2.72), Early Wynn (23-11, 2.73), and Mike Garcia (19-8, 2.64) anchored an excellent staff.

In the World Series the Indians did not fare as well.

Resources:  http://baseballrace.comhttp://baseball-reference.com

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