Houston Astros’ first baseman Yuli Gurriel locked up the American League batting title in the team’s final game Sunday against the Oakland A’s, and he did so in an interesting way. Gurriel entered the day with a .318 average, well ahead of teammate Michael Brantley (.313) and Vlad Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays (.311), and he was scheduled to have the day off. However, Astros’ manager Dusty Baker pulled Carlos Correa in the top of the ninth (with Houston up 6-3) to let the fans give him an ovation, and that meant putting in Gurriel. And the A’s then scored three to tie it, which led to Gurriel hitting this walk-off single to give Houston the win and boost his average to .319, locking up the batting title.
Yuli Gurriel, the 2021 American League batting champion, with the walk-off hit as the Astros win 7-6. pic.twitter.com/i1vT2luftM
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) October 3, 2021
Gurriel (seen in the middle of the celebration above) wound up at .319, ahead of Brantley (.311 after an 0 for 2 day) and Guerrero (also .311, but behind Brantley on further percentage points). He became just the second Cuban player to win a batting title (behind Tony Oliva, who won the AL crown with the Minnesota Twins in 1964, 1965, and 1971), and the second Astros’ player to win one (behind Jose Altuve in 2014, 2016 and 2017). And, at 37, he became the sixth-oldest player to ever win a batting crown, behind Barry Bonds (2004), Tony Gwynn (1997), George Brett (1990), Ted Williams (1957 and 1958) and Honus Wagner (1911). That’s pretty impressive, and it speaks to what Gurriel accomplished overall this season.
[Mark Berman on Twitter, photo from Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports]