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Arraez, McNeil Win Batting Titles, Judge Misses Triple Crown


By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Minnesota’s Luis Arraez finished with the lowest average for an American League batting champion since 1968, and the New York Mets’ Jeff McNeil won the National League title.

The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge missed out on a Triple Crown, edged by Arraez .316 to .311 for the AL title Wednesday after sitting out the final day of the regular season. McNeil also sat out and made it first-time batting champions in both leagues, his .326 average one point ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman.

Arraez’s average was the lowest for an AL batting champion since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski at .301 in 1968. The overall major league batting average of .243 was the lowest since the record bottom of .237 in 1968, the last season before the pitcher’s mound was lowered. MLB will ban defensive shifts shifts starting next year, a move likely to help hitters.

In a season that highlighted baseball’s haves and have-nots, four teams finished with 100 wins, tying the record set in 2019: the Dodgers (111), Houston (106), Atlanta (101) and the New York Mets (100 with a late game remaining). In addition, the Yankees won 99 before losing their final two.

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The Dodgers had the most wins in the NL since the 1906 Chicago Cubs went 116-36.

Four teams had 100 or more losses for only the fourth time after 2002, 2019 and 2021: Washington (106 with the game left against the Mets), Oakland (102), Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (100 each).

Judge hit an AL record 62 homers, breaking Roger Maris’ mark from 1961, and Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber topped the NL with 46. The 16-homer gap between first and second in the major leagues was the most since Jimmie Foxx had 17 more than Babe Ruth in 1932.

Judge and the Mets’ Pete Alonso tied for the big league lead in RBIs with 131.

Houston’s Justin Verlander finished with the AL’s lowest ERA at 1.75, adding to the 2011 ERA title he won with Detroit. He became the second pitcher to lead the major leagues at age 39 or older after 42-year-old Roger Clemens in 2005. Verlander also led the AL in wins, going 18-4.

The Dodgers’ Julio Urías topped the NL at 2.16.

Miami’s Sandy Alcantara was second at 2.28 and pitched 228 2/3 innings. That was 23 2/3 innings more than Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola, who was second with 205 — the largest gap between first and second in the majors since Phil Niekro led by 49 2/3 innings in 1979. Alcantara also pitched six of the major leagues’ 36 complete games — the previous low for a full season was 42 in 2018.

Atlanta’s Kyle Wright led the NL with 21 wins.

Shohei Ohtani went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings, and he hit .273 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs. Ohtani became the first player with 10 wins and 30 homers in the same season and also the first to qualify as a hitter and a pitcher since the qualification rule for batters began in 1950.

The Yankees’ Gerrit Cole won his second AL strikeout title with 257, and Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes led the NL with 243.

Miami’s Jon Berti led the NL with 41 steals and Baltimore’s Jorge Mateo topped the AL with 35, one more than teammate Cedric Mullins.

Seattle had 34 one-run wins and became the first team with sole possession of the lead in consecutive years since Cincinnati in 1897-98.

There were was one postponement for COVID-19 reasons, between Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox on May 11, among 2,430 scheduled games. That was down from nine last year and 45 in 2020’s shortened 900-game schedule.

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