Nowlin/Krabbenhoft: Carved in stone? Revisiting the 1949 AL batting race

From SABR members Bill Nowlin and Herm Krabbenhoft at The National Pastime Museum on March 14, 2017:

In 1949, George Kell won the American League batting race with a batting average of .34291, edging out Ted Williams (.34276) by a very, very narrow margin—.00015. While Kell of the Detroit Tigers did not have any other first-place finishes in the various batting categories, Williams of the Boston Red Sox led the league in homers (43) and runs batted in (159, tied with teammate Vern Stephens).

Thus, Teddy Ballgame just missed winning the Triple Crown—leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. Williams, who played in each of Boston’s 155 games, also led the league in slugging percentage (.650), runs scored (150), doubles (39), walks (162), and total bases (368). He also reached base safely nearly 50 percent of the time (his on-base percentage was a league-leading .490—a distant second was Luke Appling’s .439).

Williams had won the Triple Crown twice, first in 1942 and again in 1947. He remains the only AL player to win two Triple Crowns. The National League also has only one player to win two: Rogers Hornsby (1922 and 1925). Since 1901, only 13 players have ever won a Triple Crown.

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Originally published: March 15, 2017. Last Updated: March 15, 2017.