Batting title race jumbled as season winds down

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The bar for the batting title is unusually low this year — and that's creating wild races for the honor in both leagues.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the majors in hitting right with a .321 average, and Trea Turner is atop the National League at .316. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the only time the leaders in both leagues were at .325 or lower was in 1960, when Dick Groat topped the NL at .325 and Pete Runnels hit .320 to win the AL title.

The lowest average to win the NL batting crown was .313 by Tony Gwynn in 1988. The lowest to top the AL was .301 by Carl Yastrzemski in the pitcher-dominated 1968 season.

These lower batting averages by the league leaders are consistent with the sense that the sport is dominated by homers and strikeouts now. Aside from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, nobody has hit over .350 since Josh Hamilton in 2010.

With nobody close to a number like that this season, there could be several players in contention for the batting crown until the final day. Houston's Michael Brantley (.315) and Yuli Gurriel (.314) aren't far behind Toronto's Guerrero in the AL. Right behind the Dodgers' Turner in the NL are another former Washington National and a current one. Bryce Harper is hitting .313 and Juan Soto is at .315.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.twitter.com/noahtrister

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Batting title race jumbled as season winds down
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