Turner, Gurriel win batting titles in boom-and-bust season

Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Trea Turner hits a grand slam home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Trea Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston’s Yuli Gurriel won their first batting titles Sunday in a season of boom and bust that saw four teams lose 100 games for only the third time, and four 90-game winners in the AL East alone.

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels was a singular sensation with a superlative two-way season, unmatched even by Babe Ruth.

Turner hit .328 to top defending NL batting champion Juan Soto of Washington, who hit .313.

“It’s consistency, which I pride myself on and showing up every day,” said the 28-year-old Turner, traded from Washington to Los Angeles in late July. “You’ve got to qualify for certain awards and have a certain amount of at-bats, and it’s hard if you’re not out there on the field. That’s part of being prepared and being lucky. It’s been a good season from a health standpoint.”

Gurriel batted .319 to lead the AL; Astros teammate Michael Brantley was second at .311, just ahead of Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., also at .311. Gurriel entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning Sunday and hit a game-ending single that beat Oakland 7-6.

“It’s something really important,” Gurriel said through a translator. “I think everybody knows it’s a big deal and it’s tough to win a batting title.”

At 37, he is the second-oldest batting champion behind 38-year-old Barry Bonds in 2002.

“It says a lot about the fact that veteran players still have a lot to offer in this game,” Gurriel said.

The 27-year-old Ohtani was second in the AL to Guerrero Jr. with a .592 slugging percentage. Ohtani led the AL with eight triples and was third in the major leagues with 46 home runs. He hit .257 with 100 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.

On the mound, he paced AL pitchers with a .122 opponents’ batting average with runners in scoring position. Batters hit .087 (11 for 127) against his splitter, the lowest for any pitch in the majors with a minimum 110 plate appearances.

On the basepaths, his 4.09 seconds sprint time from home to first was the fastest in the big leagues.

Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and Guerrero tied for the major league home run title with 48 each, two more than Ohtani had, and San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. topped the NL with 42. Perez also led the AL with 121 RBIs and Adam Duvall led the NL with 113 for Miami and Atlanta.

Standings reflected the trend to teams going all in or bailing out and tearing down. San Francisco (107), the Los Angeles Dodgers (106) and Tampa Bay (100) gave the major leagues three 100-win teams for the fourth straight full season. Before this run it occurred only in 1942, 1977, 1998, 2002 and 2003.

The Dodgers set a record for the most wins by a second-place team, topping the 104 of the 1909 Chicago Cubs and 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Every team in the AL East other than the Orioles won at least 90 games, the first time that happened since the leagues split into three divisions each in 1994 and only the second time after the 1978 AL East with New York, Boston, Milwaukee and Baltimore.

Arizona and Baltimore (both 110), Texas (102) and Pittsburgh (100) made it the second straight full season with four 100-game losers. Before then, it only happened once, in 2002.

Julio Urías of the Dodgers was the only 20-game winner, the fewest in a full season since there were none for the fourth time in 2017. Gerrit Cole’s 16 wins for the Yankees were the fewest to lead the AL in a full season.

Toronto lefty Robbie Ray became the first pitcher to lead the AL in innings without reaching 200 in a full season, at 193 1/3. Ray topped the AL with 248 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA. Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler paced the NL with 247 strikeouts, and Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes led with a 2.43 ERA.

San Diego’s Mark Melancon led the NL with 39 saves, and Chicago’s Liam Hendriks had the most in the AL with 38.

Starling Marte led the majors in steals with 47 for Miami and Oakland.

There were nine postponements for COVID-19 reasons among 2,430 scheduled games, down from 45 in last year’s shortened 900-game schedule.

This season had 233 games go to extra innings, up from 78 in last year’s shortened season. The longest in the second season of the pandemic rule of placing a runner on second base in each extra frame was the Dodgers’ 16-inning win at the Padres on Aug. 25.

___

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