1990 National League batting title
In 1990, the player with the best batting average in all of major league baseball did not win the batting title despite having the requisite plate appearances. The Dodgers' Eddie Murray had a .330 average for the 1990 season, but he didn't win. In fact, the player with the sixth best average in baseball, won the 1990 National League batting crown.
In 1990, Willie McGee started the season hot. He was also in a contract year. On August 29, he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland A's for three young players. McGee went from the middle of the National League East to the top team in the American League.
With the trade, McGee's National League statistics froze. His average was .335. He also had 542 plate appearances, more than the required 502 to qualify for the batting title. On August 29, Lenny Dykstra was leading the league with a .340 average, followed by McGee. Behind McGee were Dave Magadan at .333, Tony Gwynn and Eddie Murray at .312, and Mark Grace at .308.
In Oakland, McGee was good but not exceptional, he hit .274 in 29 games. These statistics did not count in the National League. McGee finished the season with a .324 batting average between both leagues. Murray went on a tear and posted with a .395 average after the trade. Dykstra fell off, hitting .269 down the stretch; he finished at .325.
So Willie McGee won his second batting title without playing in the league, while finishing with a lower overall average than three players in the league where he won the title. And Eddie Murray became the only player in the modern era to lose a batting title to the leagues' separate record keeping. Just another one of baseball's oddities.
Major League Batting Leaders
- Eddie Murray (NL), .330
- George Brett (AL), .329
- Dave Magadan (NL), .328
- Lenny Dykstra (NL), .325
- Rickey Henderson (AL), .325
- Willie McGee (NL), .324
National League Batting Leaders