McNeil, LeMahieu chasing ultra-rare feat
Two batting crowns in one city hasn't happened since 1942
New York, New York. Those are the city names you’ll see if you look up who’s currently leading each of the two leagues in batting average. The Mets’ Jeff McNeil leads in the National League and the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu is atop the American League. That’s one city, with the potential for two batting titles in the same year.
Just how rare is that cross-city batting average prowess? Let’s take a look.
The last time that two players from teams in the same city each won a batting title was in 1942.
That year, Ted Williams won in the AL with a .356 average for the Boston Red Sox, and Ernie Lombardi won for the Boston Braves, hitting .330.
Before then, it had happened three other times dating back to the inception of the American League in 1901. In 1933, Jimmie Foxx won AL honors for Philadelphia’s Athletics, hitting .356. Meanwhile, Chuck Klein of the city’s Phillies won the NL title, hitting .368. In 1922, George Sisler hit .420 for the St. Louis Browns to win the AL batting title, while the Cardinals’ Rogers Hornsby hit .401 to win in the NL.
That duo of Sisler and Hornsby had been the first to win batting titles for the same city in the same year, doing so initially in 1920, when Sisler hit .407 and Hornsby hit .370.
Batting champions from teams in same city, single year
1942: Boston -- Ted Williams (BOS) & Ernie Lombardi (BSN)
1933: Philadelphia -- Jimmie Foxx (PHA) & Chuck Klein (PHI)
1922: St. Louis -- George Sisler (SLB) & Rogers Hornsby (STL)
1920: St. Louis -- George Sisler (SLB) & Rogers Hornsby (STL)
Now, McNeil and LeMahieu are looking to join this list -- consisting of six Hall of Famers -- and add New York to the mix.
Mets and Yankees and batting titles
The Mets and Yankees have never swept their respective league’s batting titles in the same year, as McNeil and LeMahieu are on track to do in 2019, but they've come close.
The closest that the two teams have come to both having a batting champ in the same year was in 1998. That year, Bernie Williams won the American League batting title with a .339 average, just barely edging out the Red Sox's Mo Vaughn, who finished at .337. In the National League, Larry Walker took home the title with a .363 average, but the Mets’ John Olerud was second, at .354.
The only other time that players from each of those two teams have finished even top-five in the same year was in 1986. That year, Don Mattingly finished second in the AL race with a .352 average, behind the Red Sox's Wade Boggs. In the National League, Tim Raines took the title with a .334 average, but Keith Hernandez finished fifth at .310.
New York, New York
Of course, the Mets haven’t always been the Yankees’ National League counterpart in New York. From 1903, when the Yankees were established, through 1957, the National League teams accompanying the Yankees in the Empire State were the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.
But even they never won batting titles in the same year. The Dodgers and Giants couldn’t, since they were in the same league, but there was never a year where the Yankees and either the Dodgers or Giants won.
The closest the Yankees came to sharing a batting title year with either of the two other New York teams was a trio of first and second finishes, much like the Mets' and Yankees' closest.
In 1934, Lou Gehrig won the AL title, hitting .363. In the National League, the Giants’ Bill Terry hit .354, finishing second behind the Pirates’ Paul Waner, who hit .362.
In 1930, Gehrig hit .379, but finished second to the Athletics’ Al Simmons who hit .381. In the National League, Terry won, hitting .401. What’s more? The Dodgers’ Babe Herman finished third behind Terry, hitting .393.
The first close call was in 1924. That’s when Babe Ruth won the AL batting crown with a .378 average and the Dodgers’ Zack Wheat hit .375 to finish second behind the Cardinals’ Rogers Hornsby, who hit a casual .424.