The Quest for .400
April came to a swift close last week, and by the looks of the stat board, Ted Williams’ hallowed 71-year-old distinction of being the last person to swat a batting average of at least .400 could be threatened by slew of up-and-coming superstars. Six players finished more than ahead of the pace that Williams tallied back in 1941: Derek Jeter, Matt Kemp, David Wright, David Ortiz, Josh Hamilton and Bryan LaHair; however, there are still roughly 140 games left in the season, which makes for an interesting point. Back in 1941, the season started in the middle of April and had seven fewer game during the regular season.
Can a player in this day and age hit .400 over the 162-game schedule? While one month's performance is an admittedly small sample size, let's take a look at the strongest candidates.
Kemp: Going down the line, I have to start with the obvious “talk of the town,” Matt Kemp. The Los Angeles Dodgers slugger had an amazing April, blasting 12 home runs, driving in 25 runs and hitting a robust .417. Unreal! Kemp has one of the biggest advantages of the group in that he has established himself as the most dangerous.. Personally, I think Kemp has the best chance of getting it done.
Ortiz: David Ortiz posted the best April of his career, hitting .405 with six home runs and 20 runs batted in. And 2012 seems to be a magical year for Big Papi. His patience level has never been better, and having Adrian Gonzalez batting ahead of him has allowed him to see more pitches. As long as both players stay healthy, Ortiz should have a great chance. Who better than another Red Sox player to break it?
Hamilton: Josh Hamilton continues to prove why he’s one of the greatest players in the game: .395/9/25. Hamilton is off to one of his best season starts and is in a prime spot to see a ton of pitches as almost everyone in the Texas lineup is equally as dangerous.
Wright: David Wright has always been a bit of an enigma. He is beyond talented, but injuries have slowed down his production from time to time. This year, though, he is on fire, having finished April at .389/3/14.
Jeter: Derek Jeter is playing out of his mind this season. For a guy who most thought should retire, or at least really question it, Jeter has been playing better than he did in the late 90s at the plate. Like Wright, Jeter is posting similar numbers (.389/4/13), but the one disadvantage he has is being the leadoff hitter. But like I said, with the way Jeter is hitting right now, that doesn’t seem to plague his bat.
The last numbers I’ll leave with are these: Ted Williams himself said that in order to accomplish a season average of .400, one must draw over 140 walks during their campaign. This would certainly help; however, the last two to come close (George Brett in 1980 and Tony Gwynn in 1994) both walked fewer than 60 times.
So what do you think? Who’s got the stuff to make it happen and who will fall behind? Comment below.
Note: All Statistics are through May 1.