MLB finishes with 6,776 homers, 11% above previous record

Sports

Chicago White Sox’s Tim Anderson (7) comes out of the dugout and waves to fans after a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Chicago. Anderson, who is attempting to become the third White Sox player to win a batting title, went 0 for 2 with two walks in the second game after sitting out the opener. (AP Photo/Mark Black)

NEW YORK (AP) — Major league batters finished with 6,776 home runs, shattering the previous record of 6,105 set two years ago.

Dominic Smith hit the final long ball of the season, a three-run drive in the 11th inning Sunday off Atlanta’s Grant Dayton that lifted the New York Mets over the NL East champion Braves 7-6.

Oakland’s Steven Piscotty started the barrage on March 20 in Tokyo against Seattle’s Marco Gonzales, the sixth batter of the season.

This year’s total was 11% above the old record and 21% higher than last year’s 5,585.

Minnesota hit three home runs Sunday to establish the big league team record with 307, one more than the Yankees. The previous mark of 267 was set last year by New York. This year’s Yankees became the first team with 14 players reaching double-digits in home runs.

“I don’t think anybody will ever forget the ‘Bomba Squad,'” first-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Major League Baseball has asked for more scientific tests on baseballs, and Commissioner Rob Manfred expects to have results after the World Series.

Strikeouts set a record for the 12th consecutive season at 42,823, up 4% from 41,207 last year and 33% from 32,189 in 2007. A year after strikeouts exceeded hits for the time, by 189 (41,018 hits), the gap grew to 783 (42,040 hits).

The big league batting average rose four percentage points .252, a year after dropping to its lowest level since 1972, the season before the American League adopted the designated hitter.

Tim Anderson became only the third Chicago White Sox player to win an AL batting title and injured Milwaukee star Christian Yelich wound up as the National League’s first repeat champion in two decades.

Anderson went 0 for 2 Sunday and finished at .335, eight points ahead of the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu. Anderson joined Luke Appling (1936, ’43) and Frank Thomas (’97) as White Sox batting champions.

“It’s such a huge accomplishment,” said the 26-year-old Anderson, who hit .240 last year. “To think where I was when I first came here to where it is now. I just came in and continued to work. It’s such an unbelievable moment for me.”

Yelich wound up at .3292, just ahead of Arizona’s Ketel Marte’s .3286, as neither made it to the season’s final weekend. Yelich’s season ended when he broke his right kneecap by fouling a pitch of it on Sept. 10. Marte has not played since Sept. 17 due to lower back inflammation.

Yelich won at .326 last year and became the NL’s first back-to-back batting leader since Colorado’s Larry Walker in 1998 and ’99, which started a run of three titles in four years. The closest NL race was in 2003, when Albert Pujols of St. Louis beat Todd Helton of Colorado .35871 to .35849.

The New York Mets’ Pete Alonso became the first rookie since the modern era began in 1900 to lead the major leagues in home runs, hitting 53. Jorge Soler hit his 48th Sunday to become the Royals’ first home run champion. He finished three ahead of the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, who last played Sept. 7 because of a right foot injured that required surgery.

Washington’s Anthony Rendon led the major leagues with 126 RBIs and José Abreu of the White Sox topped the AL with 123.

Houston’s Justin Verlander led the major leagues with 21 wins and teammate Gerrit Cole earned his 20th victory on the final day by winning his 16th straight decision. Boston’s Eduardo Rodríguez was in line for his 20th win before Matt Barnes blew an eighth-inning lead Sunday against Baltimore.

Cole led the major leagues with 326 strikeouts and Verlander had 300, the first teammates to reach the figure in the same season since Arizona’s Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002. Cole had 21 double-digit strikeout games, the most since Johnson in 2001, and became the first pitcher to strike out 300 with no complete games.

“I never really envisioned the numbers or anything,” Cole said. “I envisioned getting better, and I did.”

Jacob deGrom of the Mets led the NL for the first time with 255.

Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers won his first ERA title at 2.32. Cole led the AL at 2.50, just ahead of Verlander’s 2.58.

Houston (107), the Dodgers (106), the Yankees (103) and Minnesota (101) became the first four teams to win 100 games in the same season. Detroit (114), Baltimore (108), Miami (105) and Kansas City (103) became the second set of four teams to lose 100 in the same year and the first since Tampa Bay, Detroit, Milwaukee and Kansas City in 2002.

San Diego’s Kirby Yates led the major league with 41 saves and Houston’s Roberto Osuna topped the AL with 38.

Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. had 37 stolen bases, the lowest total for an NL leader since Maury Wills’ 31 for the 1961 Los Angeles Dodgers. Seattle’s Mallex Smith led the AL with 46.

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