Starling Marte batting average, stolen base history


Starling Marte won’t win a batting title this year.

Wait what? Let’s explain ourselves. This is one of baseball’s most fascinating record-keeping quirks, and it also involves a fun history lesson.

Marte does lead on batting average, entering Friday four points ahead of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Trea Turner, both at 0.317. But Marte is not eligible for a batting title because, despite being a skilled hitter overall – having racked up at least 3.1 home plate appearances per team game – he will not qualify in any of the. leagues alone.

To win the AL batting title, a player must reach 502 home plate appearances (that’s 3.1 times 162, for a full-length season) while wearing an AL uniform. To win in the NL, a player must reach this mark in an NL uniform. And while we recognize which hitter leads the Majors each year, there is no specific MLB hitting title. A paste must qualify in a specific league in order to win a batting title.

Marte, of course, was traded July 28 from the Marlins to the A’s for Jesús Luzardo. By the time he was traded he had reached 0.305 in 275 home plate appearances as an NL player. He wasn’t in the title-at-bat conversation, for two reasons: Nick Castellanos led the NL, at 0.329, and Marte wasn’t even a qualified NL player at. this point, due to missed additional time.

But since joining the As, Marte has hit 0.343 in 191 home plate appearances, which has done two things: bring him back to the roster of qualified players overall, with 466 AP in all 146 A games, and also increased his overall season average to .321, pushing him to the top of the list. Now, Marte is at the top of that overall batting standings as he’s a skilled, MLB-wide player, even though he’s not just AL or NL qualified.

Again, it’s important to note that this quirk only applies because Marte was traded between leagues. If he had moved from the Marlins to the Cardinals, or any other team in the NL, he would be a qualified NL player at this point, if he had the exact same stats as today.

That means, if the season ended today, or anytime in that current order, Marte would be your 2021 MLB batting average leader, but he wouldn’t win a batting title. This is also important compared to Guerrero: Marte’s batting average cannot prevent Guerrero from winning the AL batsman title – as it stands, Guerrero would win it, in his quest for the Triple. Crown. But Marte prevents Guerrero from becoming the first player since Mickey Mantle in 1956 to lead all players in all three categories of the Triple Crown, as he qualifies in the overall standings.

Has this ever happened?

Marte wouldn’t be the first player to lead the Majors on average at batting and not win a title at bat. This is where the history lesson comes in. He would be the second player of the modern era (since 1900) to meet there, joining Eddie Murray in 1990.

Murray, unlike Marte, did not change teams, but instead lost a batting title because another player has changed team. Here is what happened.

Murray hit 0.330 for the Dodgers, finishing one point ahead of George Brett of the Royals for the MLB lead. Brett won the AL title at batting. But Murray finished five points behind another player for the NHL batting title – despite dominating the Majors overall.

Enter: Willie McGee. He reached 0.335 in 542 home plate appearances for the Cardinals, through August 29. That day, like Marte, he was traded to A, with whom he finished the season. He hit .274 in 123 home plate appearances in Oakland, finishing with an overall average of .324.

But as he was traded across the leagues, that .335 average in the NL froze the moment he donned an A’s uniform and as he was traded in August and had accumulated enough from home plate appearances to qualify at the end of the season, he led the NL in batting average and won the batting title – despite ending the season in an A uniform and with an overall average score in Murray’s less than 0.330 stick.

What about his stolen baseline totals?

While the rate stats involve qualifying, as noted above, there is more potential history with Marte’s cross-league stats if we look at the tally numbers – namely, his stolen base totals. In total, he leads the MLB with 45, five more than Whit Merrifield and 16 more than Turner.

But if we break it down by league, it gets fascinating. His 23 stolen goals with the As are tied for fourth in the AL. And his 22 with the Marlins before the trade? This figure still ranks fourth in the NL.

No player has ever finished even in the top 10 for stolen bases in AL and NL in the same season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And Marte could be in the top five in each.

The Elias researchers were kind enough to delve into other “whole number” stats – hits, doubles, strikeouts, and more. – to see if anyone had already finished in the top 10 of the two leagues in one of them. The only one they could find were full sets of pitchers.

In 2009, Cliff Lee was tied for fifth in the AL in CG with the Indians and tied for third in the NL with the Phillies, who acquired him in late July. The year before, CC Sabathia led the NL in all-round games with the Brewers after they traded him, and he was tied for third in the AL with the Indians. In 2002, Bartolo Colon was tied for fourth in the AL in all-round games with the Indians and was tied for fifth in the NL with the Expos after a trade. And in 1998, Randy Johnson was tied for eighth in the NL in full games with the Astros after a trade, and his AL total with the Mariners was previously tied for fifth.

There are precedents for this concept, but not much. And that’s pretty much the story of Marte’s season: in addition to chasing a playoff berth, he’s chasing the luck of a few unique records and brands.


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