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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Williams and Mantle dropped 60 BA points in 1958. Why?

Ted Williams led the American League (AL) in batting average (BA) for the final two times in 1957 and 1958 despite the fact that his BA dropped from .388 to .328, a sixty point difference.  Mickey Mantle led the AL in 1956 with a .353 BA, then had his career best in 1957 finishing second to Williams with .365.  In 1958 Mantle's BA fell 61 points to .304 and seventh place.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Batting Average leaders 1903-2012.

The biggest drop was .068: AL Nap Lajoie .376 in 1905, Elmer Flick .308 in 1904 the first year used.

Biggest increase was .057 in 1980: AL Fred Lynn .333 in 1979, George Brett .390 in 1980.

Biggest NL drop was .057 in 1988: Tony Gwynn .313 (lowest all time in NL) from his own .370 in 1987.

Biggest NL increase was .049 in 1920: Edd Roush .321 in 1919, Rogers Hornby .370 in 1920.
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The 60 point drop by Williams among league leaders in BA is not the most but I started the previous post asking about it so I'm following through.  Plus, it involves two of the greatest hitters of all time, Williams and Mantle.

The top ten lists for 1957 and 1958 suggest that Williams and Mantle were simply out of whack with the other top ten.  Still, it is curious.  Williams was finishing but Mantle was in his prime.  Mantle would hit .317 in 1961 and .321 in 1962 finishing second to Pete Runnels.  It's curious that the home run hitter Mantle won his three MVPs in the seasons with his three highest BA: 1956, 1957, 1962.  His HR totals in those seasons: 52, 34, 30.  BA has always had undue influence.  Certainly not radical but with traditional value.

1957:
1.Williams (BOS).388
2.Mantle (NYY).365
3.Woodling (CLE).321
4.Boyd (BAL).318
5.Fox (CHW).317
6.Minoso (CHW).310
7.Skowron (NYY).304
8.Sievers (WSH).301
9.Kaline (DET).295
10.Malzone (BOS).292

1958:
1. Williams (BOS) .328
2. Runnels (BOS) .322
3. Kuenn (DET) .319
4. Kaline (DET) .313
5. Power (2TM) .312
6. Cerv (KCA) .305
7. Mantle (NYY) .304
8. Colavito (CLE) .303
9. Minoso (CLE) .302
10. Fox (CHW) .300

Including pitchers AL BA and Runs per Game:
1956 .260 4.66
1957 .255 4.23
1958 .254 4.17
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Tony Gwynn dropped from .370 to .313 but still led the National League (NL) in 1987 and 1988.

1987:
1. Gwynn (SDP) .370
2. Guerrero (LAD) .338
3. Raines (MON) .330
4. Kruk (SDP) .313
5. James (ATL) .312
6. Clark (SFG) .308
7. Galarraga (MON) .305
8. Smith (STL) .303
9. Thompson (PHI) .302
10. Bonilla (PIT) .300

1988:
1. Gwynn (SDP) .313
2. Palmeiro (CHC) .307
3. Dawson (CHC) .303
4. Galarraga (MON) .302
5. Perry (ATL) .300
6. Grace (CHC) .296
7. Larkin (CIN) .296
8. Law (CHC) .293
9. McGee (STL) .292
10. Daniels (CIN) .291

Including pitchers NL BA and Runs per Game:
1986 .253 4.18
1987 .261 4.52
1988 .248 3.88

Clearly Gwynn benefited in 1987 from NL surge when he hit .370. 
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1979:
1.Lynn (BOS).333
2.Brett (KCR).329
3.Downing (CAL).326
4.Rice (BOS).325
5.Oliver (TEX).323
6.Molitor (MIL).322
7.Lezcano (MIL).321
8.Kemp (DET).318
9.Lemon (CHW).318
10.Bochte (SEA).316

1980:
1.Brett (KCR).390
2.Cooper (MIL).352
3.Dilone (CLE).341
4.Rivers (TEX).333
5.Carew (CAL).331
6.Bell (TEX).329
7.Wilson (KCR).326
8.Oliver (TEX).319
9.Bumbry (BAL).318
10.Watson (NYY).307
EXcluding pitchers AL BA and Runs per Game:
1978 .261 4.20
1979 .270 4.67
1980 .269 4.51

Brett did not get a boost from a BA increase, although runs were up.  Brett benefited most by not playing that much: 117 games, 515 plate appearances (PA), 449 AB.  To qualify: 502 PA.

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