By Juan Páez
Yulieski Gurriel He continues to defy time and round out a luxurious career in the Major Leagues. On the last day of the Major League Baseball regular season in 2021, the Cuban legend added another star to his resume as a professional baseball player. With a .319 batting average, Gurriel became the American League batting champion after he left the Oakland Athletics on the field in the Houston Astros’ 7×6 victory.
In this way, the Yuli He is the first Cuban batting champion in the last 50 years, as Tony Oliva won it for the last time in 1971. Now Gurriel shares a special title with Oliva (3) as the only two West Indians to win the batting title in the Major Leagues. . Tony lifted the trophy three times: 1964 (.323), 1965 (.321) and 1971 (.337), all with the Minnesota Twins. As if that were not enough, he is the second Astros player to achieve this feat, along with José Altuve (3).
But the greatest feat – and the one that embeds Gurriel in Big Top history – is that the 37-year-old Cuban great slugger is now the fourth player since 1980 to win the batting title in his season. 37 years or older. For you to have a reference of how great the Yuli’s feat is, take a look at the other names that make up this group:
- George Brett (Hall of Fame). Brett – a legend of the Kansas City Royals – is the only player in Major League history to lead his league in average in three different decades: 1976, 1980 and 1990, his 37-year season.
- Tony Gwynn (Hall of Fame). Gwynn was a true hitting master who remains the second-highest batting title winner in Major League Baseball history. As a bonus to the kind of hitter Gwynn was, his lifetime strikeout percentage (from plate appearances) was 4.2%.
- Barry Bonds. The controversial slugger, king of the home run in the Major Leagues, is the longest-running player to lead his league in batting average (40 years and 71 days). That same year (2004), he took 45 balls out of the park and hit .362 average.
What about Gurriel, who made a big claim after a difficult 2020, is simply impressive. Despite reaching the majors at 32, he has to his credit a World Series ring, a batting title and a luxurious consistency throughout six seasons in the best baseball in the world. At this point, it is practically a given that the Astros will exercise their contract option to play in 2022 at a salary of $ 8 million.
Apart from being the new champion bat of the young circuit, the Sancti Spiritus born finished this season with 169 hits (to impose a new personal high), in addition to 31 doubles, 15 homers, 81 RBIs, 83 runs scored, 59 walks, just 68 strikeouts and a finish line of .319 / .383 / .462, with an OPS of .846.
From the team of Full swing, CONGRATULATIONS, LEGEND!