The following is a list of the players with the highest single season batting averages in major league baseball history. All of these batting averages are incredibly high, and no player has come close to making this list in over 70 years.
I’ve listed every player who hit at least .420 in a season. Some of the greatest hitters in baseball history are on this list, but the top two players never came close to duplicating their record seasons.
Highest Batting Averages for a Season in Major League Baseball History
1. Hugh Duffy (1894) – .440
Hugh Duffy holds the major league baseball record for highest single season batting average at .440. Duffy hit a record .440 during the 1894 season while playing for the Boston Beaneaters.
During the 1894 season, Hugh Duffy had 237 hits in just 539 at-bats. Included in his hits were 18 home runs, 51 doubles and 16 triples. Duffy’s slugging percentage that season was .694, and that was the only season he ever slugged over .500. Duffy also never really came close to hitting .400 in any other season (he hit .363 in 1893).
2. Tip O’Neill (1887) – .435
Tip O’Neill of the St. Louis Browns hit for the second highest average in a season in major league baseball history when he batted .435 in 1887. O’Neill had 225 hits in 517 at-bats that season, and posted a slugging percentage of .691.
Like Hugh Duffy, Tip O’Neill never came close to posting another .400 batting average (he hit .350 in 1885), and he also never had another season with a slugging percentage close to .691.
If a player today posted numbers that were as far above their career norms as Hugh Duffy and Tip O’Neill did when they hit the first and second highest batting averages in baseball history, most fans would accuse them of using PEDs.
3. Ross Barnes (1876) – .429
Ross Barnes of the Chicago White Stocking (now Cubs) hit .429 in 1876. Barnes only had 322 at-bats that season, so take his average in 1876 for what you will. Barnes actually batted .430 in 1872, and .431 in 1873, but he was playing in the National Association, so those averages are not really recognized today as being major league.
4. Nap Lajoie (1901) – .426
Nap Lajoie of the Philadelphia A’s hit .426 during the 1901 season, for the fourth highest batting average in baseball history. Lajoie had an amazing season in 1901, as he scored 145 runs and had 125 RBIs in just 131 games played.
The 1901 season was the first season for the American League, and Nap Lajoie probably faced a lot of pitchers who were not that great that season.
5. Willie Keeler (1897) – .4238
Wee Willie Keeler, one of the shortest players in major league baseball history, hit .424 during the 1897 season with the Baltimore Orioles. Keeler hit .341 for his career, and he holds the National League record for the longest hitting streak.
6. Rogers Hornsby (1924) – .4235
Rogers Hornsby hit .424 during the 1924 season with the St. Louis Cardinals. For his carer, Rogers Hornsby hit .358, which is the highest average in baseball history for a right-handed batter, and the second highest overall career average.
7. George Sisler (1922) – .4198
George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns hit .420 in 1922. That was the second time Sisler hit over .400 for a season, as he also hit .407 in 1920. After the 1922 season, George Sisler suffered from double vision due to a sinus problem and he missed the the entire 1923 season, and was never the same player again when he came back.
8. Ty Cobb (1911) – .4196
Ty Cobb hit a career best .420 during the 1911 season. Ty Cobb has the highest career batting averge in major league baseball history at .366.