Leading the League in Anxiety
September 7th, 2011 by slangon

During yesterday’s extra-inning, rain delayed game against the Marlins, Jose Reyes went 3 for 6 with a walk to propel himself back into the top spot in the National League in batting average over Ryan Braun. The day before, Jose had actually dropped into second place by 3 points, but thanks to his 3 hits yesterday and Brauns 0-fer, he’s back on top by 1 skinny point.

At this point, the Mets have 22 games left and the Brewers have 19 remaining. I’m assuming that Terry Collins will be resting Reyes at least a couple of games due to his injuries this year, but I see no reason why Braun won’t play all 19 games left on the schedule. Let’s say that both guys will be playing 19 games from now to the end of the year. So far this season, Braun has been averaging about 3.7 at-bats per game, while Jose has averaged 4.3 in the games he’s played. By that logic, let’s say Braun has about 70 at-bats left and Reyes has about 82. By some convoluted mathematical formula that I admittedly might’ve just made up, I figure that means that Reyes will need to get 4 more hits than Ryan Braun to keep that slim margin and win the National League batting title. I’m not sure that I did that math right, but if my predictions about how many at-bat’s each guy has left, 4 hits sounds about right to me. Of course, depending on what Braun does, getting 4 more hits could be relatively easy or it could be damn near impossible. Only time will tell, but I have confidence in my shortstop.

Whether Jose ends up taking the lead or he ends up in second place, he’ll end up on next years N.L. Batting Average Leaders card, which is pretty cool. The Mets as a team have had a number of representatives on League Leader cards through the years.

During the 70’s, it was just about a given that Tom Seaver would end up on pretty much every pitching related League Leader card there was.

That tradition of pitching excellence did not only happen in the 70’s. Met pitchers showed up on League Leader cards as recently as a few seasons ago.

A Met also occasionally showed up on an offensive League Leader card as well.

To me there’s something really satisfying about having a member of your favorite team show up on a League Leader card. That feeling of satisfaction only intensifies when that member happens to be your favorite player, as Jose is for me. If he does end up pulling out the Batting Crown in the end, he will become the first Met to ever lead the league in that category.

Three times, a Met has ended the season in the Top 3, which is usually the criteria for ending up a leader card, but no Met has ever won it. In 1998, John Olerud came in second with a .354 average. He lost out to Larry Walker’s .363 mark. In 1990, Dave Magadan hit .328 which was good for 3rd. The only other time a Met sniffed the Batting Title also happened to be the year they won the World Series. In 1969, Cleon Jones hit an even .340, which was behind only Roberto Clemente’s .345 and Pete Rose’ League Leading .348 average. Coincidentally, I happened to have picked that card up last week.

By the way, if you were wondering, the Batting Title is the only one of the 6 major statistical categories that the Mets have never won, and by “major statistical categories” I mean the ones that Topps regularly makes League Leader cards for. They led the league in homers in 1982 (Kingman), 1988 (Strawberry) and 1991 (Hojo). They led the league in RBI’s only once in 1991, when Howard Johnson did it. As far as pitching, they’ve been all over those categories throughout the years. Doc Gooden led the league in wins in 1985 (his Triple Crown year) and Seaver did it in 1975 and 1969. Seaver also led the league in E.R.A. in 1970, 1971 and 1973. Craig Swan did it in 1978, Gooden did it in 1985 and most recently, Johan did it in 2008. Mets pitchers led the N.L. in strikeouts an amazing 9 times. Tom Seaver did it 5 times by himself, in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1976. Doc did it in back to back years in 1984 and 1985. Also, David Cone did it in 1990 and 1991. Interestingly, Dave Kingman also led the league in strikeouts in 1981 and 1982, but we don’t really like to talk about that.

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