The Filibuster

Chipper Jones has been spraying the ball all season and his batting average shows it.  Is hitting over .400 for the year an unreachable goal in today’s game?

— Jeff


First of all let me say, ha ha ha ha. You said spray. But now that I’ve got that out of the way I’ll try to get to the more serious business of answering your question.

And the answer is yes, hitting .400 is an unreachable goal today. There is so much that goes into just simply getting a hit, a guy who can hit .300 or better is a catch. I mean, first of all you have to make contact with balls that are coming at crazy speeds and crazy angles and then you have to put it into a place where a fielder is not. In the game today, managers and players alike do their homework and positioning makes it that much harder to get a decent hit.

Every few years this question flares up again when someone has a career season. Larry Walker in the 90’s made a brief run at .400 and now here comes Chipper. But the fact of the matter is that the level of competition day in and day out in the Majors is much greater than it was back when Ted Williams was scattering the ball all over the field. Besides, he also froze his head so he can try to come back one day. Only someone who’s that kind of crazy has a chance at .400.

However, the more important matter is what does it matter if someone hits .400? Does that number show how valuable they were to their team? What if someone on the Giants hit .400 but, because they never had anyone on base and no one decent coming up to bat after them, the team still lost most of their games and that player rarely crossed the plate? Would anyone really care? It would be a nice statistic but a players’ value to their team cannot be summed up in ratio of the number of times they get on base to the number of official at-bats they have taken. I’ll take the league leader in OBP over the batting champion any day of the week.

So, I guess my final answer to your question comes in two parts. No, I don’t think .400 is an achievable goal but I also don’t think it’s all that important. And that’s all I have to say about that.



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