While it may not be an official record, I still think it’s worth discussing.
Ted Williams was the last Major League player to hit .400 in a season and it happened 70 years ago in 1941. That year he hit .406.
In some respect it still is a long standing record as no Major League ball player has been able to sustain the .400 batting mark for an entire season since “the Splendid Splinter” did so. The 1941 season didn’t start well for Williams as he broke a bone in his ankle during spring training that forced Williams to pinch hit for the first two weeks of the season. As Bobby Doer was noted as saying, the injury helped Williams that season as he had to take less pressure of his right leg.
Entering late September with an average of .39955, Williams had the option to sit out the final two games, a doubleheader against Philadelphia. His average would have rounded up to .400, but in true Red Sox fashion, Williams would play because he felt he wouldn’t deserve the .400 achievement had he sat out.
Williams would go 6 for 8 during the doubleheader and not only secure his .400 average, but raise it to .406 for the season; a truly remarkable feat.
Will this long standing record ever be broken? I have to say no. It’s been 70 years and think of some of the best hitters that have come and gone since “Mr. Red Sox” last hit over .400.
A few names come to mind: Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Bernie Williams, Larry Walker, Ichiro, Derek Jeter and Joe Mauer. Just a few names of some of the season batting champs in both the American and National leagues since 1941.
The only one who came close to .400 was Tony Gwynn who hit .394 in 1995 as a member of the San Diego Padres.
George Brett was the next closest when he hit .390 in 1980 when he was with the Kansas City Royals.
Ichiro hit .372 in 2004 with Seattle as did Nomar Garciaparra in 2001 with the Red Sox. Larry Walker hit .379 in 1999 with the Colorado Rockies and Stan Musial finished with an average of .376 in 1948 with St. Louis.
Perhaps the most opportune player to make a run at .400 would be Ichiro. He’s had 11 straight seasons with 200 plus hits (a major league record in itself) and is always ending his season well over the .300 mark. But even his best year’s are behind him and I don’t see him ever hitting .400 in a season.
Joe Mauer, the smooth swinging catcher for the Minnesota Twins has had some glorious years at the plate in his young career. He may threaten the .400 mark but in all reality I can’t see Mauer sustaining it for an entire season.
The game is once again pitcher dominated and as I’ve said before, with the amount of pressure that is relayed from the media, it would be difficult for a player not to feel the heat should he be close to achieving the historic mark in August or early September.
A poll on this topic to get a general consensus on whether someone will ever hit .400.
I welcome your comments on this one. I don’t think we’ll ever see another player hit .400 for an entire season, but after all, records are made to be broken.
Tags: AL East American League Bernie Williams Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski Colorado Rockies Derek Jeter Frank Robinson George Brett Hank Aaron Ichiro Joe Mauer Kansas City Royals Larry Walker Mickey Mantle Minnesota Twins MLB National League New York Yankees Nomar Garciaparra Pete Rose Philadelphia Phillies Rod Carew San Diego Padres Seattle Mariners St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial Ted Williams Tony Gwynn Wade Boggs