Friday, December 25, 2009

Can you name the .400 hitters in MLB history?

(I got 22/35 -- didn't know a lot of the earlier ones)


  1. You probably didn't anticipate this response, but this kind of question raises more important questions: what is a legitimate .400 season and what is just fluff from the past?

    It's damn impressive you named 22 of the seasons/players, and I hope you take my response in the spirit it's intended.

    I would guess you actually agree with me.

    Don't get me wrong, I love baseball from the very first ball thrown to the very first glove, but lists of stats are highly contextual, and if left to stand without qualification, are insulting to far superior players.

    Carew's .388 ba and Brett's .390 season completely surpassed almost everyone on that .400 batting average list. As did seasons as common as Boggs hitting .368 in 1985.

    The .400 ba list is nearly irrelevant. More so than almost any other list of its type.

    22 of the 35 seasons occurred in the 1800s. The rules were quite different in that time frame.

    10 of those 35 seasons occurred in 1887. Why? Because for that season only, walks counted as hits. Using that rule Bonds would have hit nearly .600 one season and over .500 many seasons.

    Numerous players would have trumped people on the .400 list. To put those 10 players on the list in perspective, using that rule, Jack Cust's .256 batting average in 2007 would have been .406.

    The real question is, how many legitimate .400 seasons exist in the history of baseball?

    To quote someone who analyzed this:

    There have only been 28 seasons with a .400 average since 1876. Many of these occurred in expansion seasons or a league's first seasons- 1876, 1884, 1901. Many occurred just after major changes to the game- 1894-1897. Many occurred after changes to the ball (it's construction, cleanliness, and condition)- 1911, 1912, 1920-1925, and 1930. Some occurred in a season in which there was a major change in the relationship between pitcher and hitter- 1887. The only two that did not happen in such a season were Delahanty in 1899 and Williams in 1941.

    (The discrepancy between 28 and 35 seems to be there were 28 players but 35 seasons in which .400 or better occurred.)

    The interesting thing is, the rule that made walks count as hits did a good job at showing true value. It reveals that players like Jack Cust and Adam Dunn are undervalued.