Batting Among Champions
This year’s World Series matchup between the Giants and the Tigers marks the first time in 58 years, and fifth time overall, that both league batting champions have played in the Fall Classic.
Giants catcher Buster Posey led the National League with a .336 mark, and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers led the junior circuit at .330.
Fifty-eight seasons ago, this statistical rarity also involved the Giants, as center fielder Willie Mays hit .345 to win his only batting title, while Cleveland second baseman Bobby Avila hit. 341 to lead the American League.
The 1931 World Series pitted the Cardinals against the Philadelphia Athletics. Cardinals left fielder Chick Hafey batted .349 to lead the NL, and his counterpart Al Simmons paced the AL with .390, improving his average by nine points over the previous season, when he also took home the laurels.
The 1887 World Series – a precursor to the modern World Series – pitted the Detroit Wolverines of the NL against the St. Louis Browns of the American Association, a major league at the time. Both league batting titles were won by outfielders, Sam Thompson of the NL led with .372, and Tip O’Neill led the AA with a whopping .435. This was the season where walks were counted as hits for the purposes of calculating batting averages.
Interestingly, the National League has won all four previous matchups where this has taken place.
The five matchups have involved the Giants twice, the Tigers twice, and the city of Detroit three times. Of the 10 players involved, six are members of the Hall of Fame (Cobb, Hafey, Mays, Simmons, Thompson and Wagner), while two are not yet eligible (Cabrera and Posey).
Tim Wiles is the director of research for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum