But while the batting title is, indeed, an individual championship, it probably falls more in line with the descriptive definition. For when you win a batting title, you get a note about it in next year’s media guide bio, you see your batting average in boldface on your online stats pages and you can tell friends and associates for the rest of your life, “Hey, did you know I won a batting title?”
There is no physical representation of this so-called championship. No trophy. No plaque. No parade.
Furthermore, the prestige of a batting title, in today’s increasingly sophisticated statistical society, has been watered down. Most of us realize that batting average is not necessarily the firmest or fairest barometer. Personally, I think leading the league in on-base plus slugging percentage is more illustrative of output than a batting average is, but the “OPS title” gets about as much attention as the “triples title” or the “intentional walks title.” It doesn’t exist in that mental framework.
The batting title does exist, and its place in history is secure. Many of us know, off the top of our heads, that Ty Cobb was credited with 12 of them.
In the present tense, though, I don’t think there’s nearly as much emphasis on batting titles as there once was. Can you name the last five batting champs in the AL and NL without consulting Wikipedia? I can’t. (And now that I’m looking at the full list, I see that Bill Mueller won the AL batting title in 2003. You could have given me a dozen guesses on that, and there’s no way I would have landed on Bill Mueller.)
Anyway, the batting title is merely a title, not a title. It’s importance, or lack thereof, is ultimately up to the beholder.
Posted: August 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM | 38 comment(s)
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