5 Most Shocking Batting Champions in MLB History
The two names atop the leaderboard for batting average in the National League are certainly not players that were thought of as contenders for the batting crown at the start of the season.
Chris Johnson entered the season as a career .276 hitter and was transitioning to a new team in the Atlanta Braves. Michael Cuddyer does have the advantage of playing at Coors Field, but that was not a help to him last season as he hit just .260. With less than a month left in the season, both of these players are in a race to lead the NL in batting average.
There have been a number of other players that have surprised the league by coming out of seemingly nowhere to win a batting title.
The Chicago Cubs were a dominant force in the National League in 1880 in a large part because of the performance of George Gore. Not only did Gore lead the league with a .360 batting average, but he also led the National League in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Gore's 1880 season was certainly unexpected based on his previous performance. His .360 batting average was an increase of .097 from his average in 1879, his rookie year.
During his career, Mickey Vernon won not one, but two batting titles, and each one could certainly be classified as a shock.
In his first five seasons in the MLB, Vernon put up a respectable .275 average and then took two years off as a result of his service in World War II.
After returning to the majors in 1946, Vernon went on a tear and posted a .353 batting average to best Ted Williams by .009 points and lead the American League.
Vernon's second batting title came later in his career at age 35. Coming off a season in which he hit .251, Vernon showed that he still had some gas left in the tank and led the league with a .337 batting average.
Norm Cash broke into the major leagues at age 23 with the Chicago White Sox, but he did not get a chance to start full time until two years later when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, and later the Detroit Tigers.
In his second season in an everyday role, Cash exploded for an incredible season. He posted a .361 batting average, .075 points higher than in the previous year, and 1.148 OPS.
Cash would come back down to earth during his next season and posted a .243 batting average. His career batting average after 17 seasons was .271.
Throughout his career, Bill Mueller put up good offensive numbers, but he was never really a player that was expected to win a batting title.
During the 2002 season, Mueller posted a .262 batting average, the lowest of the first seven years of his career.
Mueller then followed that up with a .326 batting average, the highest of any full season of his career. He would need every last hit that year to win the American League batting title as he edged out teammate Manny Ramirez by .001 points and Derek Jeter by .002 points.
Throughout most of his career, Freddy Sanchez had his yearly batting averages consistently in the range of .285 to .295. However, during his second season, he broke out of that range in a big way.
Sanchez put together a strong season, reaching 200 hits, 53 of which were doubles. This was enough to give Sanchez a .344 batting average for the year, allowing him to edge out the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols for the honor to be called the National League Batting Champion.