The Pittsburgh Pirates
finished in first place in the National League
, 7½ games ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Phillies
. It was the first year that the American League
operated as a major league, but there would be no World Series
between the leagues until 1903.
The team was managed by Fred Clarke
, who was also their starting left fielder
. Clarke, in his fifth year as a manager at age 28, won his first pennant. The Pirates would go on to win the National League championship in the next two years as well.
The Pirates were led offensively by Honus Wagner
, who led the league in RBI
and stolen bases
. Although the "Flying Dutchman" had never played shortstop in the majors until 1901, he appeared 61 times at shortstop that year in addition to spending time at third base and the outfield.
In a league that batted .267 as a whole, the Pirates outfield was notable for its hitting. Ginger Beaumont hit
.332, player-manager Fred Clarke hit .324, and Lefty Davis
The pitching staff of the Pirates allowed the fewest runs in the league and was among the greatest ever. The four top starting pitchers
- Deacon Phillippe
, Jack Chesbro
, Jesse Tannehill
, and Sam Leever
- were the four top pitchers in the National League in terms of winning percentage. All of them were in the top ten in the league in ERA
. Future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell
had pitched well in 1900 for the Pirates, but was sold in May 1901 to the Chicago Orphans