Knock-Kneed Julio Franco Captures 1991 American League Batting Title
Hitting from a unique knock-kneed batting stance with his bat held high behind his ear, the Rangers' Julio Franco hit .341 in 1991 to bag the American League batting crown. Franco was the first member of the Washington-Texas Rangers franchise ever to win the prize; he was also the first right-handed-hitting second sacker since 1954 to be a bat leader. During the last few weeks of the season, Franco's chief pursuer was Milwaukee's Willie Randolph, another righty-hitting second baseman, who finished the season with a .327 average.
Ramon Martinez Wins 17 Games for 1991 Dodgers
Ramon Martinez slipped from 20 wins in 1990 to 17 in 1991, but he was still the top winner on the best overall mound staff in the majors. In 1991, the Dodgers' 3.06 ERA paced both leagues by nearly a half-run, with Martinez, Tim Belcher, and Mike Morgan doing most of the labor. Los Angeles cemented its ERA title on the final day of the season when five pitchers blanked the Giants 2-0.
Jeff Bagwell Bags 1991 ROTY Prize
First baseman Jeff Bagwell was the crown jewel of the Houston Astros' youth corps in 1991, winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award for his frosh performance. The first player from the Astros franchise to win the ROTY, he had 15 home runs, 82 RBI, 75 walks, a .437 slugging average, and a .387 on-base average, all of which led Houston that year.
Jays' Roberto Alomar Flies High
Toronto second baseman Roberto Alomar was acquired from San Diego prior to the 1991 season and helped the Jays tighten their infield; he also gave the club a valuable offensive weapon. In 1991, Alomar hit .295 and stole 53 bases. Meanwhile, keystone mate Manuel Lee set a major league record for the most whiffs by a player without a home run (107).
Twins Soar Over Blue Jays, Take ALCS in Five Games
Twins third sacker Mike Pagliarulo jumped to spear a throw as Toronto's Devon White slid safely with a stolen base in game four of the ALCS. The Jays exited from postseason play the next day when they lost their third straight game at SkyDome. During the regular season, White hit a surprising .282 with 110 runs and 33 stolen bases.
1991 Atlanta Braves Bump off Bucs
Pittsburgh shortstop Jay Bell bowled through Atlanta third baseman Terry Pendleton in game four of the NLCS. Both Bell and Pendleton were surprising stars throughout 1991. Pendleton hit .319 to win the National League bat crown and MVP Award; and Bell, after struggling at the plate in his first five seasons, paced all National League shortstops with 164 hits. Pittsburgh won game four 3-2 in ten innings but lost the series in seven games, losing the finale 4-0.
Lonnie Smith's Blunder Kills 1991 Braves
Minnesota's Brian Harper tags out Atlanta outfielder Lonnie Smith in game four of the 1991 World Series. Ironically, it was Lonnie's timidity on the basepaths that ultimately cost the Braves the Series. With game seven still scoreless in the eighth inning, Smith hesitated in rounding second base and was unable to score on a long double by Terry Pendleton. The Twins won the unforgettable finale 1-0 in ten innings.
Jack Morris Wins 1-0 Finale
In 1991, Jack Morris had an 18-12 record but a suspiciously high 3.43 ERA. Skeptics wondered if he was merely reaping the rewards of pitching on a pennant-winner. In postseason action, Morris silenced doubters with a strong showing that culminated in a 1-0, ten-inning, complete-game win in game seven of the 1991 World Series. It was the first time in history that a fall classic was capped by a route-going overtime triumph.
1991 Atlanta Braves Take Game Four in 12 Innings
Twins catcher Brian Harper and Atlanta's David Justice awaited umpire Drew Coble's call in the bottom of the 12th inning in game three of the 1991 World Series. When Coble's decision went Justice's way, it gave Atlanta a thrilling 5-4 victory and kept Minnesota from taking a 3-0 lead in games. The 1991 Series was the first in history to go the seven-game limit and feature three extra-inning clashes. Five of the games were decided by one run, including the last two.
The next page highlights key events and details from the 1991 baseball season.
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