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STATS Corner

September 28, 2008

Ryan Howard won the National League most valuable player award two years ago.

He could do it again this year, despite what would be the lowest batting average for an MVP, pitchers excepted.

In his 2006 MVP season, he hit .313 with 58 home runs and 149 runs batted in. He is hitting .250 this season, and he leads the major leagues with 48 home runs and 146 runs batted in.

The last player to lead the majors in those categories and not win an MVP award: Alex Rodriguez, who hit .300 with 57 homers and 142 RBIs for the last-place Texas Rangers in 2002. The winner: Miguel Tejada of the first-place Oakland Athletics, who hit .308 with 34 homers and 131 RBIs.

In this week's STATS Corner, the lowest batting average for MVP winners since the Baseball Writers Assn. of America started voting for that award in 1931, and the lowest batting average for the annual major league leader in home runs and runs batted in, from STATS LLC:

Lowest batting average by league MVP (non-pitchers, since 1931):

1944 NL -- Marty Marion, Cardinals: .267, 6 HR, 63 RBIs

1961 AL -- Roger Maris, Yankees: .269, 61 HR, 142 RBIs

1972 NL -- Johnny Bench, Reds: .270, 40 HR, 125 RBIs

1952 NL -- Hank Sauer, Cubs: .270, 37 HR, 121 RBIs

1955 AL -- Yogi Berra, Yankees: .272, 27 HR, 108 RBIs

1965 AL -- Zoilo Versalles, Twins: .273, 19 HR, 77 RBIs

1969 AL -- Harmon Killebrew, Twins: .276, 49 HR, 140 RBIs

1979 NL -- Willie Stargell, Pirates: .281, 32 HR, 82 RBIs

1982 NL -- Dale Murphy, Braves: .281, 36 HR, 109 RBIs

1960 AL -- Roger Maris, Yankees: .283, 39 HR, 112 RBIs

Lowest batting average by major league leader in home runs and runs batted in (all-time, includes players tied for lead):

Ryan Howard, 2008 Phillies: .250 *

Cecil Fielder, 1991 Tigers: .261

Tony Armas, 1984 Red Sox: .268

Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: .269

Johnny Bench, 1972 Reds: .270

*through Saturday's games

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