DOMINANT BATTING LEADERS
By Clifford Blau


The tables below list the players who led their league by the widest margin over the second-place finisher in the stated category. They covers the years 1876-1993 and include the American, National, and Players Leagues and the American Association. 


Category

Player

Year

Amount of Lead

Batting Average

Nap Lajoie

1901

 .086

On Base Average

Ted Williams

1941

.101

Slugging Average

Babe Ruth

1921

.240

At Bats

Harvey Kuenn

1953

55

Runs

Ross Barnes

1876

54

Hits

Stan Musial

1946

44

Total Bases

Rogers Hornsby

1922

136

Doubles

Earl Webb

1931

20

Triples

Owen Wilson

1912

16

Home Runs

Babe Ruth

1920, 1921

35

RBIs

Sam Thompson

1887

62

Walks

Babe Ruth

1923

72








Category

Player

Year

Percentage Lead

Batting Average

Nap Lajoie

1901

25.3

On Base Average

Ted Williams

1954

24.0

Slugging Average

Babe Ruth

1921

39.6

At Bats

Ivy Olson

1919

9.9

Runs

Ross Barnes

1876

75.0

Hits

Ross Barnes

1876

24.3

Total Bases

Rogers Hornsby

1922

43.3

Doubles

Honus Wagner

1904

57.1

Triples

Dave Orr

1886

82.4

Home Runs

Babe Ruth

1919

190.0

RBIs

Sam Thompson

1887

59.6

Walks

Candy Nelson

1884

94.7


Most of the record holders wouldn't surprise many people. Some of them did it while setting the season record total for the category, such as Earl Webb leading the AL in doubles by 20 when he hit 67 in 1931. Others were dominant in the 1876 NL or 1901 AL, when there was a large imbalance in talent. And there are the familiar names like Ruth, Hornsby, and Ted Williams. However, there are two names on these lists that are surprising. Ivy Olson led the NL in at bats by nearly 10 percent in 1919, and nobody really came close to that. He was the leadoff hitter for Brooklyn, which led the league in team at bats by a wide margin, despite not having a particularly good offense. Olson led the league in plate appearances by only 11, but didn't walk much, or have many sacrifice bunts, which allowed him to have a big lead in at bats.

The other surprise is Candy Nelson. He is little remembered today, but was well regarded among the early pro players, and his Major League career lasted until he was 41, which was quite unusual then. In 1884, Candy Nelson helped his team to the first World Series by drawing 74 bases on balls, a full 94.7% ahead of the number 2 walker, Billy Geer. The American Association still required 7 balls for a walk that year; the low number of walks helped Nelson to set the percentage record. Still, he was dominant. Nelson set his career high for walks that year, although the AA would drop the number of balls for a walk to 6 in 1886 and 5 in 1887 (Candy was no longer a regular in 1887.) Nelson led the AA in walks twice and the NA once; he also finished second twice.

Sources for statistics- Total Baseball Vol. 3 and Baseball-Reference.com

Contact me at CliffordBlau@yahoo.com

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