Batting average (baseball)

Last updated
Reggie Jackson batting at Yankee Stadium in 1979; Jackson batted .297 that season. Reggie Jackson bats at Yankee Stadium.jpg
Reggie Jackson batting at Yankee Stadium in 1979; Jackson batted .297 that season.

In baseball, the batting average (BA) is the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually rounded to three decimal places and read without the decimal: A player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken beyond the .001 measurement. In this context, .001 is considered a "point," such that a .235 batter is 5 points higher than a .230 batter.

Contents

History

Henry Chadwick, an English statistician raised on cricket, was an influential figure in the early history of baseball. [1] In the late 19th century he adapted the concept behind the cricket batting average to devise a similar statistic for baseball. Rather than simply copy cricket's formulation of runs scored divided by outs, he realized that hits divided by at bats would provide a better measure of individual batting ability. This is because while in cricket, scoring runs is almost entirely dependent on one's own batting skill, in baseball it is largely dependent on having other good hitters on one's team. Chadwick noted that hits are independent of teammates' skills, so used this as the basis for the baseball batting average. His reason for using at bats rather than outs is less obvious, but it leads to the intuitive idea of the batting average being a percentage reflecting how often a batter gets on base, whereas hits divided by outs is not as simple to interpret in real terms.

Values

Ted Williams is the most recent MLB player to hit .400 or better in a season (1941). 1939 Ted Williams.png
Ted Williams is the most recent MLB player to hit .400 or better in a season (1941).
Ty Cobb has the highest MLB career batting average (.366). Ty Cobb 1916-restore.jpeg
Ty Cobb has the highest MLB career batting average (.366).

In modern times, a season batting average higher than .300 is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last Major League Baseball (MLB) player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who hit .406 in 1941. [2] Note that batting averages are rounded; [3] entering the final day of the 1941 season, Williams was at 179-for-448, which is .39955 and would have been recorded as .400 via rounding. [4] However, Williams played in both games of a doubleheader, went 6-for-8, and ended the season 185-for-456, [5] which is .40570 and becomes .406 when rounded. [4]

Since 1941, the highest single-season average has been .394 by Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres in 1994. [2] Wade Boggs hit .401 over a 162-game span with Boston from June 9, 1985, to June 6, 1986, [6] but never hit above .368 for an MLB season. [7] There have been numerous attempts to explain the disappearance of the .400 hitter, with one of the more rigorous discussions of this question appearing in Stephen Jay Gould's 1996 book Full House .

Ty Cobb holds the record for highest career batting average with .366, eight points higher than Rogers Hornsby who has the second-highest career average at .358. [8] The record for lowest career batting average for a player with more than 2,500 at-bats belongs to Bill Bergen, a catcher who played from 1901 to 1911 and recorded a .170 average in 3,028 career at-bats. [9] Hugh Duffy, who played from 1888 to 1906, is credited with the highest single-season batting average, having hit .440 in 1894. [10] The modern-era (post-1900) record for highest batting average for a season is held by Nap Lajoie, who hit .426 in 1901, [10] the first year of play for the American League. The modern-era record for lowest batting average for a player that qualified for the batting title is held by Chris Davis, who hit .168 in 2018. [11] While finishing six plate appearances short of qualifying for the batting title, Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox hit .159 for the 2011 season, nine points lower than the record. [12] The highest batting average for a rookie was .408 in 1911 by Shoeless Joe Jackson. [13]

The league batting average in MLB for the 2018 season was .248, with the highest modern-era MLB average being .296 in 1930, and the lowest being .237 in 1968. [14] For non-pitchers, a batting average below .230 is often considered poor, and one below .200 is usually unacceptable. This latter level is sometimes referred to as "The Mendoza Line", named for Mario Mendoza (a lifetime .215 hitter), but a good defensive shortstop. [15]

Sabermetrics, the study of baseball statistics, considers batting average a weak measure of performance because it does not correlate as well as other measures to runs scored, thereby causing it to have little predictive value. Batting average does not take into account bases on balls (walks) or power, whereas other statistics such as on-base percentage and slugging percentage have been specifically designed to measure such concepts. Adding these statistics together form a player's on-base plus slugging or "OPS". This is commonly seen as a much better, though not perfect, indicator of a player's overall batting ability as it is a measure of hitting for average, hitting for power and drawing walks.

Anomalies

In 1887, bases on balls were counted as hits by the major leagues in existence at the time. This inflated batting averages, with 11 players batting .400 or better, and the experiment was abandoned the following season. Historical statistics for the season were later revised, such that "Bases on balls shall always be treated as neither a time at bat nor a hit for the batter." [16]

In rare instances, MLB players have concluded their careers with a perfect batting average of 1.000. John Paciorek had three hits in all three of his turns at bat. [17] Esteban Yan went two-for-two, including a home run. Hal Deviney's two hits in his only plate appearances included a triple, while Steve Biras, Mike Hopkins, Chet Kehn, Jason Roach and Fred Schemanske also went two-for-two. A few dozen others have hit safely in their one and only career at-bat.

Qualifications for the batting title

The MLB batting averages championships (often referred to as "the batting title") are awarded annually to the player in each league who has the highest batting average. Ty Cobb holds the MLB and American League (AL) record for most batting titles, officially winning 11 in his career. [18] The National League (NL) record of eight batting titles is shared by Honus Wagner and Tony Gwynn. Most of Cobb's career and all of Wagner's career took place in what is known as the Dead-Ball Era, which was characterized by higher batting averages by star players (although the overall league batting average was historically at its lowest during that era) and much less power, whereas Gwynn's career took place in the Live-Ball Era.

To determine which players are eligible to win the batting title, the following conditions have been used over the sport's history: [19]

From 1967 to the present, if the player with the highest average in a league fails to meet the minimum plate-appearance requirement, the remaining at-bats until qualification (e.g., five at-bats, if the player finished the season with 497 plate appearances) are hypothetically considered hitless at-bats; if his recalculated batting average still tops the league, he is awarded the title. This is officially Rule 10.22(a), but it is also known as the Tony Gwynn rule because the Padres' player won the batting crown in 1996 with a .353 average on just 498 plate appearances (i.e., he was four shy). Gwynn was awarded the title since he would have led the league even if he'd gone 0-for-4 in those missing plate appearances. His average would have dropped to .349, five points better than second-place Ellis Burks' .344. [20] In 2012, a one-time amendment to the rule was made to disqualify Melky Cabrera from the title. Cabrera requested that he be disqualified after serving a suspension that season for a positive testosterone test. He had batted .346 with 501 plate appearances, and the original rule would have awarded him the title over San Francisco Giants teammate Buster Posey, who won batting .336. [21] [22]

All-time leaders

Major League Baseball

Different sources of baseball records present somewhat differing lists of career batting average leaders. There is consensus that Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby lead this category, at number one and number two, respectively. Further rankings vary by source, primarily due to differences in minimums needed to qualify (number of games played or plate appearances), or differences in early baseball records. The below table presents the top ten lists as they appear in four well-known sources, with the rankings and degree of precision (decimal places) as provided in the source. The main article linked above is sourced from Baseball-Reference.com, which is also presented here. None of the players listed below are still living; each is an inductee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, with the exception of Lefty O'Doul, Pete Browning, and Shoeless Joe Jackson (who is ineligible due to his alleged role in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919).

Baseball-Reference.com [8] Baseball Almanac [23] ESPN [24] MLB.com [25]
RankPlayerAverageRankPlayerAverageRankPlayerAverageRankPlayerAverage
1 Ty Cobb .36621Ty Cobb.366361Ty Cobb.3661Ty Cobb.367
2 Rogers Hornsby .35852Rogers Hornsby.358502Rogers Hornsby.3582Rogers Hornsby.358
3 Shoeless Joe Jackson .35583Shoeless Joe Jackson.355753Shoeless Joe Jackson.3563Ed Delahanty.346
4 Lefty O'Doul .34934Ed Delahanty.345904Ed Delahanty.3464Tris Speaker.345
5 Ed Delahanty .34585Tris Speaker.344685Tris Speaker.3455Ted Williams.344
6 Tris Speaker .34476Ted Williams.344416Billy Hamilton.3446Billy Hamilton.344
7 Billy Hamilton .34447Billy Hamilton.34429Ted Williams.3447Dan Brouthers.342
Ted Williams .34448Babe Ruth.342068Dan Brouthers.3428Babe Ruth.342
9 Dan Brouthers .34249 Harry Heilmann .34159Harry Heilmann.3429Harry Heilmann.342
10 Babe Ruth .342110 Pete Browning .34149Babe Ruth.34210 Willie Keeler .341

Minor League Baseball

The highest recorded single-season batting average in Minor League Baseball is .462, accomplished by Gary Redus in 1978, when he played for the Billings Mustangs, [26] [27] an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds in the Rookie Advanced-level Pioneer League. Redus was 117-for-253 in 68 games, [28] as the Pioneer League only plays from June to early September. Redus went on to play in MLB from 1982 through 1994, batting .252 during his MLB career. [29]

Nippon Professional Baseball

Nori Aoki is the NPB career batting average leader. Gk ryoDSC 8882.jpg
Nori Aoki is the NPB career batting average leader.

In Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the leader in career batting average is Nori Aoki, an active player who has hit .326 in his NPB career, as of September 2019. [30] Aoki played in MLB from 2012 to 2017, where he compiled a .285 average. [31] Ichiro Suzuki batted .353 in NPB, [32] but does not have enough NPB career at-bats to qualify for that league's title.

See also

Related Research Articles

Plate appearance in baseball, a players turn batting

In baseball statistics, a player is credited with a plate appearance each time he completes a turn batting. Under Rule 5.04(c) of the Official Baseball Rules, a player completes a turn batting when he is put out or becomes a runner. This happens when he strikes out or is declared out before reaching first base; or when he reaches first base safely or is awarded first base ; or when he hits a fair ball which causes a preceding runner to be put out for the third out before he himself is put out or reaches first base safely. A very similar statistic, at bats, counts a subset of plate appearances that end under certain circumstances.

George Brett American baseball player

George Howard Brett is an American former professional baseball player who played 21 years, primarily as a third baseman, in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Kansas City Royals.

Matt Stairs Canadian former professional baseball player

Matthew Wade Stairs is a Canadian former professional baseball outfielder, first baseman, and designated hitter, who holds the record for most pinch-hit home runs in Major League Baseball (MLB) history with 23. His pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 in the 2008 National League Championship Series off the Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton was called "one of the most memorable home runs in Phillies history".

Tony Gwynn American professional baseball right fielder; 1960-2014

Anthony Keith Gwynn Sr., nicknamed "Mr. Padre", was an American professional baseball right fielder, who played 20 seasons (1982–2001) in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Diego Padres. The left-handed hitting Gwynn won eight batting titles in his career, tied for the most in National League (NL) history. He is considered one of the best and most consistent hitters in baseball history. Gwynn had a .338 career batting average, never hitting below .309 in any full season. He was a 15-time All-Star, recognized for his skills both on offense and defense with seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. Gwynn was the rare player in his era that stayed with a single team his entire career, and he played in the only two World Series appearances in San Diego's franchise history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility.

Larry Walker Canadian baseball player

Larry Kenneth Robert Walker is a Canadian former professional baseball right fielder in Major League Baseball (MLB). During his 17-year career, he played with the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals. In 1997, he became the only player in major league history to register both a .700 slugging percentage (SLG) and 30 stolen bases in the same season, on his way to winning the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player Award (MVP). The first player in more than 60 years to record a batting average of .360 in three consecutive seasons from 1997 to 1999, Walker also won three NL batting championships. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2009, and was named the 13th-greatest sporting figure from Canada by Sports Illustrated in 1999. In 2020, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Miguel Cabrera Venezuelan baseball player

José Miguel Cabrera Torres, commonly known as Miguel Cabrera and nicknamed "Miggy", is a Venezuelan professional baseball player. He is the first baseman for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB). Since his debut in 2003 he has been a two-time American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner, a four-time AL batting champion, and an 11-time MLB All-Star. He has played at first and third base for most of his major league career, but primarily played left and right field before 2006. He claimed the 17th MLB Triple Crown in 2012, the first to do so in 45 seasons.

Tony González (baseball) baseball player

Andrés Antonio "Tony" González is a Cuban former professional baseball outfielder, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cincinnati Reds (1960), Philadelphia Phillies (1960–1968), San Diego Padres (1969), Atlanta Braves (1969–1970) and California Angels (1970–1971).

Matt Murton baseball player

Matthew Henry Murton is an American former professional baseball outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, and Colorado Rockies. Murton also played in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Hanshin Tigers.

Calvin Wayne Emery, was a professional baseball first baseman and batting coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies. He also spent the 1970 season with Hankyu Braves of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). During his playing days, Emery stood 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall, weighing 205 pounds (93 kg); he threw and batted left-handed. Emery attended Penn State University.

Gregory Mark LaRocca is a former professional baseball player. He was a second baseman for the Orix Buffaloes in the Nippon Professional Baseball league Pacific League. LaRocca also spent three years in Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians.

Richard Ryan Short is an American former professional baseball second baseman who is currently the Hitting coach for the Jackson Generals. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Washington Nationals and in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He bats and throws right-handed. He is an alumnus of Western Illinois University and Larkin High School in Elgin, IL.

Asdrúbal Cabrera Venezuelan-American baseball player

Asdrúbal José Cabrera, is a Venezuelan-American professional baseball utility infielder for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Texas Rangers. Cabrera, a switch hitter, is a two-time All-Star. He was primarily a middle infielder for most of his career, but transitioned to playing more third base during the 2017 New York Mets season.

Robert Richard "Bobby" Rose is an American former professional baseball player and current hitting coach for the Frederick Keys. He played on the California Angels in the Major League Baseball (MLB), and on the Yokohama BayStars of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

The Houston Astros' 1994 season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Houston Astros attempting to win the inaugural season of the National League Central division; they finished in second place. First baseman Jeff Bagwell was a unanimous selection for the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Despite nearly the last two months of the being cancelled due to the 1994–95 strike, Bagwell set a then-club record for home runs with 39 and a club record for batting average (.368) and slugging percentage (.750).

Dae-ho Lee South Korean baseball player

Dae-ho Lee is a South Korean professional baseball player who plays as a first baseman for the Lotte Giants of the KBO League. Lee has previously played for the Orix Buffaloes and Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), and the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Batting average is a statistic in cricket, baseball, and softball that measures the performance of batsmen in cricket and batters in baseball and softball. The development of the baseball statistic was influenced by the cricket statistic.

References

  1. Schiff, Andrew (2008). "Henry Chadwick". SABR . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  2. 1 2 "MLB Single-Season (Post-1900) Batting Leaders". ESPN . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  3. Scott, Paul; Birnbaum, Phil (February 2010). "Do Motivated Players Have Higher Batting Averages?". SABR . Retrieved September 13, 2019. recorded batting averages are rounded to three decimal places
  4. 1 2 Nowlin, Bill (2013). "The Day Ted Williams Became the Last .400 Hitter in Baseball". SABR . Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  5. "Ted Williams". Retrosheet . Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  6. Spaeder, Ryan (May 26, 2016), "Wade Boggs: 26 incredible Red Sox stats for No. 26", Sporting News , retrieved September 13, 2019
  7. "Wade Boggs". Retrosheet . Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  8. 1 2 "Career Leaders & Records for Batting Average". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  9. Dittmar, Joe. "Bill Bergen". SABR . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  10. 1 2 "Single Season Leaders for Batting Average". Baseball Almanac . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  11. Axisa, Mike (September 29, 2018). "Chris Davis finishes 2018 with the worst batting average in MLB history after Orioles shut him down". CBS Sports . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  12. Reiter, Ben (June 4, 2012). "Death, Taxes And Adam Dunn". Sports Illustrated . Retrieved April 28, 2019 via si.com/vault.
  13. "Batting Average Records". Baseball Almanac . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  14. "Major League Baseball Batting Year-by-Year Averages". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  15. Landers, Chris (May 22, 2018). "How did Mario Mendoza become a shorthand for batting futility?". MLB.com . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  16. Thorn, John (May 4, 2015). "Why Is the National Association Not a Major League … and Other Records Issues". ourgame.mlblogs.com. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  17. Keith, Ted (July 9, 2012). "The Perfect Game". Sports Illustrated . Retrieved April 28, 2019 via si.com/vault.
  18. "Year-by-Year League Leaders for Batting Average". Sports Reference, Inc. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  19. "Leaderboard Glossary – Baseball". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  20. Kovacevic, Dejan (August 16, 2012). "Can't crown cheating Cabrera". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review .
  21. "Cabrera, Posey are MVPs". The State. Associated Press. 16 November 2012. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  22. Baggarly, Andrew. "Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown". CSN Bay Area. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  23. "Career Leaders for Batting Average". Baseball Almanac . Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  24. "MLB Career Batting Leaders". ESPN . Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  25. "Statistics". MLB.com . Retrieved May 29, 2019. All-Time Totals, sorted by AVG
  26. Czerwinski, Kevin T. (August 2, 2006). "Redus' .462 in 1978 still Minor League best". MiLB.com. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  27. Williams, Doug (April 16, 2013). "In '78, Redus hit .462, a season for the ages". ESPN.com . Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  28. "Gary Redus Minor Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  29. "Gary Redus Stats". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  30. "Aoki, Norichika". npb.jp. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  31. "Nori Aoki". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  32. Lutz, Eric (March 21, 2019). "Ichiro Suzuki Retires at 45: Inside His Stats, Teams, and Legendary MLB Career". Men's Health . Retrieved April 28, 2019.

Further reading