In 1980, Cecil Cooper finished his season with an outstanding .352 batting average that was second only to George Brett's .390 in the American League.
Cooper's mark was the highest for an AL runner-up in the batting race since Mickey Mantle hit .365 in 1957 and finished second to Ted Williams' .388 mark. During the second half of the 1980 season, Cooper hit an astonishing .372, but again, he was left in the dust by Brett, who posted a .421 average in the games after the All-Star break.
In 1980, Cooper and Brett were the only two players to have at least 250 plate appearances and a .370 batting average in the season's second half. Since then, there has been only one season -- 2000 -- during which three players hit those two bars. That year, the accolades went to Johnny Damon (.386), Sean Casey (.372) and Manny Ramirez (.371).
The 2013 season might again have three players do it, with the AL having one potential representative in Mike Trout (currently batting .372) and the National League contributing a pair, with Jayson Werth and Andrew McCutchen grabbing headlines on a nightly basis. But unlike the competition in the AL in 1980, the NL's duel between McCutchen and Werth is adding some drama to what appears to be an exciting race to the finish for the season's batting crown.
Thursday, led by another outstanding line from Werth, the Nationals defeated the Mets, 6-3. The veteran outfielder collected two doubles and a home run.
Werth owns a .370/.450/.659/1.109 line in the second half of the season in 202 plate appearances. Since 1933, only 11 players have had a second half in which they finished their work after the All-Star break with at least 250 plate appearances and a slash line that featured at least a .370 batting average, at least a .450 on-base percentage and at least a .650 slugging mark. Ramirez, in 2008, was the most recent player to accomplish it.
McCutchen had three hits and three RBIs in a 5-4 Pirates win over the Rangers, pushing his second-half slash line to .371/.457/.608. Since 1933, 52 players have had a second half in which they finished with at least 250 plate appearances and a batting average as high as .371. Among this group, 23 of them also owned a slugging percentage at or above .600. The five most recent: Buster Posey in 2012, Miguel Cabrera in '11, Ramirez in '08, Todd Helton in '03 and Barry Bonds in '02.
Huge night for Trumbo
Mark Trumbo went 5-for-5 with three doubles and a home run, leading the Angels to a 12-6 win over the Blue Jays.
The four extra-base hits tied an Angels record, accomplished nine previous times, most recently by Erick Aybar in 2011. Of the nine, one other -- Juan Rivera in '08 -- had the same allocation as Trumbo.
With five runs scored, Trumbo became the 13th player since 1916 (and the first member of the Angels), to have a five-hit, five-run line with at least four of the hits going for extra bases. The most recent player to do this had been Ian Kinsler on April 15, 2009. The others: Ross Youngs (1922), Denny Sothern ('30), Gil Hodges ('50), Joe Adcock ('54), Willie Stargell ('70), Steve Garvey ('77), Joe Carter ('86), Rondell White ('95), Edgardo Alfonzo ('99), Shawn Green (2002) and Alex Rodriguez ('05).
Van Slyke comes through
Pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke hit a game-ending two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th to give the Dodgers a 5-3 win over the D-backs.
Van Slyke was the first Dodgers pinch-hitter with a walk-off homer in extra innings since Olmedo Saenz hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the 10th against the Blue Jays' Jeremy Accardo on June 8, 2007. Saenz had eight pinch-hit home runs in his Dodgers career -- tied for the second most in franchise history.
Since the start of the 2008 season, the Dodgers have had 17 walk-off home runs -- tied with the Indians for the fifth most in the Majors in that span. The Rays lead with 23, and are followed by the Reds (21), Tigers (18) and Nationals (18).
Cuddyer keeps rolling
The Rockies defeated the Giants, 9-8, with Michael Cuddyer collecting two home runs and a single.
With his three-hit night, Cuddyer is batting .330 and is part of a tight batting race in the NL, with the Braves' Chris Johnson sitting at .330, Werth at .328 and McCutchen at .326. The most recent season in which four NL players qualified for the batting title and finished at .326 or higher was 2007, when the Rockies' Matt Holliday won the crown, leading Chipper Jones, Chase Utley, Edgar Renteria, Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols. The most in any one season in the modern era for the NL occurred in 1930, when 25 players hit .326 or better.
Pence knocks in six
Giants outfielder Hunter Pence tied a career high with six RBIs and hit his 20th home run and 35th double of the season.
With five triples added to a mix that also includes 21 stolen bases, Pence is the 10th player in Giants history to have a season with at least 60 extra-base hits and at least 20 steals. The others, with the number of seasons they reached these numbers in parentheses: Willie Mays (six), Bobby Bonds (five), Barry Bonds (five), Roger Connor (two), George Davis (one), Larry Doyle (one), Orlando Cepeda (one), Andres Torres (one) and Angel Pagan (one).
Here and there
• The Royals defeated the Indians, 6-3, getting 2 2/3 perfect innings from Luke Hochevar and Greg Holland. Hochevar went 1 2/3 innings and fanned five, becoming the first Royals reliever to face at least five batters in an appearance and to fan all of them. Among pitchers with fewer than five saves and at least 50 innings, Hochevar ranks fourth in ERA, first in WHIP, fourth in hits allowed per nine innings and 16th in strikeouts per nine innings.
• Cubs catcher Welington Castillo homered twice, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson hit one home run and allowed one run in seven innings, and Chicago defeated Cincinnati, 9-1. It was the second time this season the Cubs have had a game in which their batterymates each homered, with the first occurrence coming on July 28, when Travis Wood and Castillo accomplished the feat. Before that, it hadn't happened since May 19, 2007 (Jason Marquis and Michael Barrett).
• Red Sox closer Koji Uehara recorded four outs for his 19th save of the year, and with his 25th straight scoreless appearance, tied Daniel Bard (2011) for the longest streak in team history. Uehara has allowed one earned run in his past 35 2/3 innings, and over this stretch, batters own a .086/.102/.129 line against him.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.