The American League Batting Average Race of 1972

Hi, I meant to include some of this in my article about Rod Carew. I’m glad I didn’t because I found a lot more information this way. I think I will do more details about hit by pitches as related to Craig Biggio.

This is what Bill James said about Rod Carew and his batting title in 1972:

 

Carew hit just .318 with no homers, few doubles, not a lot of walks, only 61 runs scored in 142 games.   In terms of Runs Created per 27 outs, Rod Carew in 1972 was actually the least productive batting champion in major league history, creating just 5.15 runs per 27 outs.     Not picking on Carew; his 1977 season actually ranks as the 10th heaviest batting championship of all time, with 239 hits and a .388 average.

 

This is one of my favorite of Bill’s articles on the site here:

https://www.billjamesonline.com/light_and_heavy_batting_champions/?AuthorId=3&pg=5&F_All=y

I agree with Bill. I watched a lot of Twins games that year and Carew didn’t impress me. I don’t remember him being in the batting race much and all the sudden he won it. I wonder if maybe he had a spring at the end of the year.

In 1970 Carew was hitting .376 in June when he suffered a serious injury. He seemed to have gone up a level from his batting level performance in 1969 when he won the batting title. Carew played 4 games at the end of the season and went 0 for 5. He pinch hit twice in the playoffs against Baltimore and went 0 for 2.

In 1971 Carew came back and hit .307 but his power, which wasn’t great, but adequate in 1969 went down that year. He wasn’t really the same hitter in 1971 as he was in 1970. In 1972 it was about the same. However, this year Carew won the batting title with a .318 average. My theory is that Carew was still recovering from his injury in 1971 and 72.

In 1973 Carew had his best offensive season thus far. He hit .353 with more power. He also stole 29 more bases at a higher percentage. He became the Rod Carew we all remember.

Why don’t I remember the batting race? It was a close one. Here is the top 10:

 

1. Carew • MIN .318
2. Piniella • KCR .312
3. Allen • CHW .308
4. May • CHW .308
5. Rudi • OAK .305
6. Scheinblum • KCR .300
7. Mayberry • KCR .298
8. Fisk • BOS .293
9. Otis • KCR .293
10. Murcer • NYY .292
 
     

This was a big race as Dick Allen had fairly easily time winning the homerun and RBI titles. If he would have won the batting title he would of won the triple crown. I wondered how each player did in September.

  1. Carew .324 He hit a lot better in the second half of the year.
  2. Piniella .315 Like Carew his average went up slightly during the month.
  3. Allen .259 Allen did have 5 homeruns and 21 RBIs in September
  4. May .372 He got back in the race in September
  5. Rudi .275 Apparently faded out of the race like Allen.
  6. Scheinblum .224. Really faded in September
  7. Mayberry .349 So he was never in the batting race. Finished 2nd in RBIs with 100. Drove in 28 in September. Allen had 113 and was probably never really threatened.
  8. Fisk .282 so he probably was below .300 for most of the month.
  9. Otis .260 so he was probably over .300 part of the month.
  10. Murcer .288 so he stayed steady in September. Mercer hit 8 home runs and finished as runner-up to Allen with 33. Allen hit 37.

 

I think I am going to see what the top 10 was batting at the four Sunday’s in September to see how the race ended. I am just going to show you the top 5 each time as I don’t know if showing the top 10 would be accurate.

 

September 3rd.

  1. Carew .318
  2. Allen .318
  3. Rudy .315
  4. Scheinblum .313
  5. Pinilla .311

 

I don’t know who was in first Carew or Allen. I didn’t want to take time to calculate their averages here as it didn’t add much to the story.

I said Fisk wasn’t over .300 much for the month. He was at .301 on this day and stayed above .300 quite a bit. He didn’t hit much at all the last four games of the season, so he ended up at .293.

September 10th

  1. Carew .316
  2. Allen .315
  3. Scheinblum .314
  4. Pinilla .308
  5. Rudy .307

The race got even tighter. John Mayberry had a hot week, so he went from .289 to .300. So, he went from 29 points behind to 16 points behind in the race. However, he would go below .300 the next couple of weeks before getting hot again at the end.

September 177h

  1. Carew .319
  2. Allen .312
  3. Scheinblum .311
  4. Pinilla .310
  5. Rudy .307

Carew stretch his lead a little by raising his average by 3 points. Still a close race with a little over two weeks to go.

September 24th

  1. Carew .323
  2. 310
  3. Allen .309
  4. Scheinblum .308
  5. Pinilla .308

The season was strange as there was a strike to start the season and a lot of games, and some games were added at the end of the season to make up for some of those games. However, that meant teams played a different amount of games. Also, the season normally ends on a Sunday. The season was probably supposed to end on October 1st, but didn’t really end until October 4th.

October 1st

  1. Carew .317
  2. Allen .308
  3. May .308
  4. Pinilla .307
  5. Rudy .307

The May on this list is Carlos May. He jumped from .301 to .308 for the week. He actually did this less than a week as he stopped playing for the season after 30 September.

Dick Allen played his last game on September 27th. The White Sox had the next day off and the A’s clinched the title on that day. Allen took the rest of the day off even though he could have played more and chased the batting title.

Carlos May after the September 29th game was ahead of Allen in batting by .0001. He pinch hit on the 30th and grounded out ending his year. Did he do it on purpose so Allen would have a chance at the triple crown? If he did it was noble of him.

Rod Carew also stopped playing on the 27th for four games. Actually, he made appearances on the field in three of the games but didn’t bat. Why? I don’t know. Then he came back on the 2nd and 3rd against the White Sox to give them a chance to catch up. However, neither Allen nor May played. Carew went 3 for 9 in the two games to raise his average to .318 and win the batting title.

Allen wouldn’t have won the batting title anyway. Lou Pinilla got hot the last four games and went 9 for 15 with a walk raising his average to .312. Carew smartly sat out the last game.

 

There was a race for the batting crown that year and I don’t remember it being that exciting. I remember Boston and Detroit coming into the final series playing each other and each needing to win two out of three to win the division. Maybe, I didn’t follow the end of the year in detail that season for some reason.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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