(Wire Service Report) – Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu achieved a goal that he thought was unlikely — and he went to great lengths to make sure it became possible. LeMahieu won his first National League batting title by hitting a major-league-leading .348, but his path to the crown was not exactly the stuff made of legends.
The 28-year-old sat out Colorado’s final two games — and four of its final five — to protect his one-point lead over injured Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy.
“It hasn’t been a very fun week,” LeMahieu told the Denver Post. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s pretty special.”
Colorado manager Walt Weiss defended his decision to hold out LeMahieu, who was hitless in two at-bats Friday before he was removed from the game.
“It was a weird situation with the batting title thing,” Weiss said. “It was unique in that the other guy he was battling with wasn’t playing. He was hurt. I didn’t want DJ to lose the batting title that way. So I did what I could to kind of construct that as much as possible.
“If they’re both playing and going at it, that’s one thing. But I didn’t want him to lose it that way.”
The Nationals gave Murphy a chance earn a share of the batting title, but he flied out in a pinch-hit appearance Sunday to clinch it for LeMahieu, whose previous career high was a .301 average last season.
“I wouldn’t have said (hitting .348) wasn’t possible,” LeMahieu said. “But I would’ve been surprised if somebody told me that three or four years ago when I was breaking into the big leagues.”
LeMahieu wasn’t the only Colorado player to garner individual honors. Third baseman Nolan Arenado led the majors with 133 RBIs and tied Milwaukee’s Chris Carter for the NL league with 41 homers.
Mark Trumbo of the Baltimore Orioles topped the majors with 47 homers, while retiring Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz and Toronto Blue Jays
DH Edwin Encarnacion shared the AL lead with 127 RBIs.
Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve won his second AL batting title in three seasons, hitting .338 to easily outdistance Boston teammates Mookie
Betts and Dustin Pedroia, who both finished at .318.
Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello (22-4) led the majors in wins. Washington’s Max Scherzer won his NL-leading 20th game on Sunday while leading all of baseball with 284 strikeouts — 30 more than AL pacesetter Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.
The ERA leaders were Kyle Hendricks (2.13) of the Chicago Cubs in the NL and Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez (3.00) in the AL. Jeurys Familia of the New York Mets registered a major league-best 51 saves, while Orioles left-hander Zach Britton led the AL with 47. Britton didn’t blow a save chance all season.