1888 was a relatively calm year in the lengthening hostilities between the Century League and Border Association. No clubs jumped leagues, no one put a new club in the other's territory... for once the big stories were all on the field and not off it.

While Border Association President James Tice was starting to feel the heat from his fellow owners over the perceived advantages the Century guys had over them, his team gave him a season to remember. The Cincinnati Monarchs won the second pennant in club history, posting a 92-43 mark behind the most dominating pitching performance in pro baseball history to that point: Willie Rhinehardt went 29-4 and posted an unbelievable 1.01 ERA. He led the league in wins, ERA and saves (8) and was second in strikeouts (206) to Brooklyn's Ferd Hawkins (234). With John Sidberry going 26-10 with a 1.70 ERA, opposing lineups had trouble scoring runs against Cincinnati. 

Montreal was a distant second with a 77-53 record. But the Saints did have two of the league's top hitters in Joe Hill (.344) and Matthew Brown (.326). Batting champ Jack Easton hit .358 for third-place St. Louis (75-62). Toronto was barely over .500 at 68-67 in fourth ahead of New York (64-66) and Chicago (60-79). With the Kansas City Westerns now extinct, the Association had added the Syracuse Olympics to the circuit - the new club went 53-78 for a seventh-place finish, with Brooklyn finishing last with a 46-87 mark. Ironically, Brooklyn owner Sheldon Burton had purchased the assets of the defunct Westerns - including Joe Johnson (who hit .295 in his first season in Brooklyn) - and even with the KC players on his payroll, his club still stunk.

Over in the Century League, it was Providence once again claiming the pennant. They didn't run away with things this year, however, as their 87-49 mark was barely ahead of the 85-50 New York Gothams' record. The biggest news in Providence probably wasn't another pennant for Edward Wakeham's club but rather the fact that Jim Jones didn't win the batting title - and didn't even place that highly on the charts. The star first baseman hit .307 - which was second on his own team to Steve Airington's .321 (Airington was 3rd in the league as pitching began to take over). That was Jones' lowest mark since he became a regular and broke a streak of seven straight seasons of .360-plus averages. His lifetime mark was still a very robust .368 though.

With Jones' bat not quite up to his usual standards, the batting title was won by another good hitting veteran first baseman: Zeb Banks of the Keystones. Banks was the career leader in both at-bats and hits for the Century League and was a lifetime .329 hitter but his .362 average in 1888 marked his first batting title. Unfortunately for Banks - who was also the manager - his Keystones finished at 67-70 and in fourth place far behind third-place Chicago (78-55). Washington finished fifth, followed by Pittsburgh and Boston. Buffalo again claimed the basement. 

New York's Tom Harris (1.91) won the ERA title in a very tight race with Providence ace Peanuts Cronauer (1.92 - who won 42 games to lead in that category) and Chicago's Eddie Jordan (1.97). Keystones pitcher Alton Davis led in strikeouts with 348. A young star continuing to improve was Philadelphia center fielder Elmer Selders who hit .356 (2nd to Banks) and led the league in homers (18) while also finishing 2nd in RBIs with 89. New York's Lynwood Trease had 93 to lead in that category. Teams were also running a lot more - Washington's Chick Futrell led the league with a record 84 steals, but was just ahead of Chicago's Frank Sobreville, who stole 83 bases himself and fellow Eagle Thomas Watkins - arguably the fastest player in the league, who stole 82 in his rookie campaign.