With a .319 batting average and after connecting a walk-off single minutes ago, Yuli Gurriel just won the hitting crown in the Astros’ victory 7-6 against the Athletics to bring the regular season to an end. After a rough 2020 in which Gurriel didn’t look like himself offensively, the star first baseman became only the second Astro in history to capture a batting title, along with José Altuve, who’s done it three times.
Manager Dusty Baker wanted to preserve Gurriel’s lead over Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leaving Yuli on the bench for the final game of the season. But he came into the contest as a defensive replacement and, after the bullpen couldn’t hold the Astros’ lead, he had one last at-bat. Facing Lou Trivino with two men in scoring position, the 37-year-old was clutch again. He hit a walk-off single that also set a new season-high in hits for him (169).
As we said more than a month ago, Gurriel —also the second-ever Cuban to win a batting crown—, became the fourth player to be crowned as batting champion in their 37-age season or later since 1980. The other three are legends of the game: George Brett, Tony Gwynn, and Barry Bonds, who also happens to be the oldest player in MLB history to win the title (40 years, 71 days old).
What Gurriel has done over his short, but brilliant career is just hard to believe. Despite getting to the Majors being 32, he has a World Series ring, a batting title, and an enviable consistency across six campaigns in the Majors. To this point, it seems to be a matter of time for the Astros to exercise his club option for $8MM to play in 2022.
Besides being the new American League batting champion, the Cuba native finished this regular season with a new career-high in hits, 31 doubles, 15 home runs, 81 runs batted in, 83 scored runs, 59 walks, only 68 strikeouts, and a productive .319/.383/.462 slash line, along with an .846 OPS.