By Ronald Blum, AP Baseball Writer
Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu won his first National League batting title Sunday, sitting out his second straight game to protect his lead over Washington’s Daniel Murphy.
LeMahieu hit a major league-leading .348 and finished one point ahead of Murphy with the NL’s highest average since Atlanta’s Chipper Jones batted .364 in 2008. LeMahieu’s season ended after three innings and two hitless at-bats Friday.
“It’s a relief. It’s pretty cool,” LeMahieu said. “Hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
Murphy pinch hit Sunday in his first appearance since Sept. 20 and flied out.
“It was unique in that the other guy he was battling with wasn’t’ playing,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “If they’re both playing and going at it, that’s one thing. I didn’t want him to lose it that way.”
Murphy said he wasn’t concerned about the batting title.
“We won the NL East and we’re hosting a division series, as well. So no, the batting title is not something I gave a lot of thought,” he said.
Playing half their games at Coors Field, Rockies players have won batting titles in nine of the last 19 seasons.
“It’s a good place to hit, obviously,” LeMahieu said.
Houston’s Jose Altuve hit .338 and won his second AL batting title in three years. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia was a distant second at .318.
“I have to thank all the guys on the team,” Altuve said. “They went outside to the field and played hard, and that kind of encouraged me and pushed me to keep playing hard every day.”
Mark Trumbo led the major leagues with 47 home runs, the fourth straight Baltimore player to hit the most in the big leagues. That is the longest stretch for one team’s players to top the AL since the Yankees from 1923-31 with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel.
Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and Milwaukee’s Chris Carter tied for the NL lead with 41. Arenado led the NL with 133 RBIs, and Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion tied for the most in the AL at 127 with Boston’s David Ortiz, who is retiring after this season.
Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez won the AL ERA title at 3.00, allowing one run over seven innings Sunday to beat Boston and clinch the league’s second wild-card berth. Sanchez’s ERA is the highest for any league leader since the Los Angeles Angels’ John Lackey at 3.01 in 2007.
Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs led the major leagues at 2.13.
Boston’s Rick Porcello topped the major leagues in wins at 22-4, and Washington’s Max Scherzer led the NL, beating Miami on Sunday to finish 20-7. Scherzer had the most strikeouts in the major leagues with 284, and Detroit’s Justin Verlander had 254 to lead the AL for the fourth time and first since 2012.
Jeurys Familia led the major leagues in saves with 51 and Baltimore’s Zach Britton topped the AL with a perfect record in 47 chances.
Milwaukee batters struck out a record 1,543 times, eight more than the 2013 Houston Astros.
Jonathan Villar of the Brewers led the major leagues with 62 steals and Cleveland’s Rajai Davis’ 43 were the most in the AL. Baltimore had just 19, the fewest since the 1972 Detroit Tigers swiped 17.