LOS ANGELES (AP) – Michael Cuddyer ended a losing season with the Colorado Rockies in a personally satisfying way.
The right fielder won the NL batting title on Sunday, when the Rockies closed out their season with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Colorado finished last in the NL West with a 74-88 record.
Cuddyer went 1 for 5 with three strikeouts and finished with a .331 batting average to win the batting title by 10 points over Atlanta’s Chris Johnson, who was held out Sunday to rest his right shoulder.
“It was nothing that I ever expected and I really can’t wrap my head around it yet,” Cuddyer said. “It just goes to show that no matter what time you’re at in your career, something like this can happen if you continue to work hard.”
The 34-year-old outfielder had never hit better than .285 before this season.
Cuddyer credited teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez for his success.
“I got to hit behind one of the best offensive players in the game in Tulo the whole year – and Cargo when he was in the lineup – so that helps out a lot, no question about it,” he said.
Cuddyer became the sixth Rockies player to lead the NL in batting, joining Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker, newly retired Todd Helton, Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez. Cuddyer had 20 home runs, 31 doubles and 84 RBI this season.
Helton ended his 17-year career on Sunday, going 1 for 4 with a walk as Dodgers fans saluted him with three standing ovations. Vin Scully honored Helton on the stadium’s video boards before the game.
“I told him I think it’s great when the game rewards the good ones, and he’s one of the good ones,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said of Cuddyer.
“He’s worked really hard and he pours his heart and soul into it. Todd’s the same way. It’s really cool when you see the game reward guys like that.”
Having never posted such numbers before, Cuddyer isn’t sure what he can do for an encore.
“But I know one thing, I’ll continue to work hard and continue to try to improve,” he said.
By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
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