If you were on time for work two out of the five days this week, at best you are looking out of the doghouse. If you got two out of every five answers on your test right, your professor is probably going to ask you about changing your career path. If two out of the five burgers you were grilling for your guests were not burned, have that pizza delivery number handy.
Two out of five is not the most impressive statistic in real life situations, but if you hit a baseball for a living that two out of five achievement has not been accomplished in the major leagues for more than seventy years. MLB history would tell you that this is as unlikely to occur again. It was also unlikely that the words “Triple Crown Winner” would be uttered again until last year when Miguel Cabrera brought those words back into modern day language. The best hitter in baseball has adjusted our thinking to expect the amazing when attending a Detroit Tiger game so to think he can simply succeed every two out of five times at the plate doesn’t seem like much to ask. He is closer to this history making mark than you think.
Ted Williams is the last major league player to hit over .400 in a complete season. Williams hit .406 in 1941 and was the first .400 hitter since Bill Terry of the New York Giants in 1930. This was only an 11 year gap between .400 hitters at that point. Preceding Terry’s 1930 year the .400 mark was posted seven different times in the 1920’s so this was not the rarified air of hitting that it would be today. Williams hit a high water mark of .436 on June 6, 1941, but dipped below .400 on July 6. He rebounded to go over the .400 mark on July 25 and never dropped below .400 for the rest of the year. Williams secured his .400 average with a .429 average in July and a .402 mark in August and hit .397 in September.
39 years after Williams’ mark, George Brett flirted with the .400 mark in 1980. After missing an entire month with a shoulder injury, Brett returned to the lineup on July 10 with a vengeance. During July and August Brett was hitless in only four games. He raised his average from .337 to .403, hitting an incredible .494 in the month of July and .430 in August. A media crush ensued, but Brett was resilient and he was still sitting at the .400 mark on September 19, but a 4 for 27 slump over the next seven games doomed the quest. Brett finished the year with an average of .390.
As of the close of play on June 23, Cabrera’s 108 hits in 292 at bats computed to an average of .370. This is less than nine hits behind hitting at a .400 clip. Projected over 600 at bats, Cabrera would have to total 240 hits to hit .400. This means that he needs 132 hits in his next 308 at bats, a .429 clip over the next three and a half months. On paper, this seems like a daunting task, but Cabrera seems to have a knack for doing things at the plate that defy the odds (and the eyes for that matter). He has only 12 hitless games this season and five of those came in April. He already has two 12 game hitting streaks and another of 11 straight so another couple of these are not out of the question. Cabrera doesn’t get a lot of infield hits, but my guess is that neither Williams or Brett did either. All of the variables involved in the chase to .400 are too numerous to be mentioned here. It is only fun to think about because the possibility of the mark being achieved sits directly in front of all baseball fans.
Detroit sports fans have had many tremendous athletes perform in our city, but they are absolutely blessed to able to watch Cabrera perform on a day to day basis. Detroit fans, and baseball fans in general, had front row seats for the assault on the Triple Crown and now can enjoy Cabrera’s attempt to alter the record book again.
Statistics provided by baseball-almanac.com and Yahoo! Sports