KC Royals: Anniversary of George Brett’s 3rd batting title
By Shawn Bauman
An ankle injury almost cost the KC Royals third baseman a shot at history.
In order to keep integrity in calculating percentage statistics like batting average and earned run average (ERA), baseball rules set a minimum number of plate appearances (PA) or innings pitched (IP) to determine the best in the league. Officially rule 10.22(a) specifies a player in order to qualify, must register at least 3.1 times at the dish per game during each of a team’s regular seasons games. For a typical 162 game year, that equates to 502 plate appearances.
During the summer, Brett missed 35 games with an ankle injury. He finished with 515 plate appearances, just barely surpassing the limit. What a magical ride it was though. As late as May 21st he was only hitting .247. He then went on a 35-for-73 tear (.479) that pushed him to .337 before the injury derailed him.
He picked up were in left off when he returned, batting a crazy .494 in July and .430 in August. The pinnacle was August 27th where Brett’s average stood at .407 after a game in Milwaukee. As the calendar turned September a “slump” began and his average would last see the .400 mark on September 19th.
When the regular season ended Brett led the majors in average (.390), OBP (.454), SLG (.664), OPS (1.118) and OPS+ (203). Not surprisingly he captured his only MVP award and first Silver Slugger.
More importantly, the Royals finally beat the Yankees in the postseason to advance to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. They swept New York and who else would lead the way but Brett.
While the Phillies bested the Royals, Brett was still in top form hitting .375 with a home run and 3 runs batted in along with two doubles and a triple in the World Series.
The last batting title was one I followed as a teenager who had grown to love the Royals and, of course, #5 was my favorite player. It was fun to see the aging veteran with bad legs still take us on one more exciting ride.