2011 Baseball Season Roster
- Cardiac Cardinals: Classic comebacks capture NL crown, then World Series championship
- Season of the Pitch: Verlander, Kershaw win pitching Triple Crowns in year of record Ks
- Brains and Braun: Small-ball tactics, slugging MVP Ryan Braun lead offenses
Many called the final day of the 2011 season the most amazing pennant-race conclusions in baseball history. Atlanta and Boston suffered historic collapses. Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria joined Bobby Thomson of the 1951 Giants as the only players to hit walk-off home runs on the season’s final day to send their teams into the post-season. And St. Louis completed its climb from eight games back in September. Then, in Manager Tony LaRussa’s swan song, the Cardinals topped that by becoming the first team to twice survive elimination when it was down to its final strike in the World Series. This was a terrible Texas Two-Step for the Rangers, who twice stumbled in its second straight World Series dance.
The final fireworks followed an explosive season that showcased Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, Jim Thome’s 600th home run, Matt Kemp’s near batting Triple Crown and the most spectacular pitching seen in decades. Detroit pitching ace Justin Verlander (24-8, 2.40, 250 Ks) was the American League MVP. He and Dodger Clayton Kershaw (21-5, 2.28, 248 Ks) won pitching Triple Crowns for leading their leagues in wins, ERA and strikeouts. Overall, runs, home runs and batting averages were at 20-year lows and strikeouts were at all-time highs. But 2011 had its share of tough outs: That Cardinals’ modern-day Murderer’s Row of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and David Freese, for instance. NL MVP Ryan Braun (.332-33-11) and slugging teammate Prince Fielder led Milwaukee to a division title. Toronto’s Jose Bautista (43 HR) and the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (41) blasted away. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (.344) and the Mets’ Jose Reyes (.337) won batting crowns. Boston had batting title runner-up Adrian Gonzalez (.344) and MVP runner-up Jacoby Ellsbury (.321-32-105).
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