Jose Reyes won the National League batting title Wednesday, but not everyone likes how he handled the final day of the season.
(Contrast that to Ted Williams, who was hitting .400 with a doubleheader on the final day of the 1941 season — 70 years ago to the day on Wednesday. He refused to sit out, went 6-for-8 for the day and posted a .406 mark that is the last time anyone hit .400 for a full season.)
Here is a column on this year's situation from McClatchy News Services.
By Todd Rosiak
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MILWAUKEE — As if there weren't enough storylines heading into the Milwaukee Brewers' regular-season finale, the neck-and-neck race between Ryan Braun and the New York Mets' Jose Reyes for the National League batting title took a strange twist earlier Wednesday.
Reyes entered his final game leading Braun, .336 to .335, and collected a hit in his first at-bat in the afternoon against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
That's where the story took a right-hand turn into controversy.
Reyes' hit came on a bunt he dropped down the third-base line, which upped his average to .337. The shortstop then left the game in what turned out to be a pre-arranged move between Reyes and Mets manager Terry Collins, prompting boos from some Mets fans.
"We talked this morning," Collins said. "Jose, when he came in, I asked him how he wanted to go about this. I wanted to take him out at the appropriate time. He said if he got a hit his first time up, he'd like to come out.
"I said, 'You know, I want you to win this thing.' He said, 'That's what I want to do.' So it was decided then."
Braun saw his quest to become the Brewers' first batting champion fall short two at-bats into the Brewers' 7-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates and left-hander Jeff Locke, who was making just his fourth big-league start.
Needing to go 3 for 3 or 3 for 4 in order to overtake Reyes, Braun grounded out to third in his first at-bat and to shortstop in his second against Locke to quickly end any mystery. He finished the game 0 for 4 to close the season at a career-best .332.
"I'm a little disappointed, of course," Braun said afterward. "But the chances of going 3 for 4 obviously weren't likely. At the same time, I have no regrets. I don't look back and regret that I would have done anything differently.
"I've always said as long as I put my work in, as long as I prepare myself, I have no control over the results. Second place in the batting race is not a bad thing."
Braun wound up as the fifth player in team history to finish second in batting average, joining George Scott in 1973 (.336), Cecil Cooper in 1980 (.352), Yount in 1982 and Paul Molitor in 1987 (.353).
He also became the fourth Milwaukee player to finish with a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in. Ben Oglivie in 1980, Cooper in 1982 and John Jaha in 1996 were the others.
The Brewers winning their franchise-record 96th game and clinching home-field advantage for the divisional round of the playoffs superseded individual achievements for Braun, anyway.
"That was far more meaningful," he said. "I've said that the whole time; I've meant it. It's extremely challenging, extremely difficult to get to the post season. By far, it's been my top priority. It's made it really easy to not think about what's going on, not focus on some of the personal things I've had going on."
Reyes pulling himself out of the game is something players have done on the final day in previous seasons in order to preserve their lead. Others have sat out entirely.
Brewers Hall of Famer Robin Yount fell victim that that tactic on the final day of the 1982 season.
Kansas City's Willie Wilson sat to protect his .332 average, while Yount went 4 for 5 with two home runs but was hit by a pitch in his final plate appearance to finish at .331. Of much bigger concern to Yount, though, was the fact the Brewers won in Baltimore to win the American League East title.
But Reyes' bunt on Wednesday added another layer to the controversy, as some would argue that bunting with a title on the line is a cheap way to get on base.
Reyes, for his part, made no apologies for how he handled the situation.
"I don't care what people say," Reyes said. "Last year I played seven innings, and in the seventh inning I came out of the game — the last game. I don't care what people think. I was happy."
Reyes also said he was planning a party at his home in the evening to watch Braun and, ostensibly, root against him.
Braun, who didn't see Reyes' at-bat but was informed of the outcome with a flurry of phone calls and text messages, was nothing but gracious when asked about Reyes prior to the game.
"I don't think it really matters about what the ethics of it are," Braun said earlier Wednesday. "I respect whatever decision he decided to make. Ultimately he left the door open for me.
"If he had stayed in the game and gotten multiple hits, it may have not been a possibility at all. I'm not really here to judge him."
Braun also had no problem with Reyes laying down a bunt.
"That's a part of his game," Braun said. "I can't fault him for that. That's what he does. He's fast, he's an exciting player, and I bet he's gotten plenty of bunt hits this year. I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that."
While Braun lost the batting race, he still figures to be the odds-on favorite to clinch the NL's most valuable player award.
Teammate Prince Fielder, Arizona's Justin Upton and Los Angeles' Matt Kemp figure to be Braun's primary competition.