It’s something that has not been done in what will be 75 years come the end of the season this coming Sunday – finishing a single season with a .400 batting average. That feat belongs to one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Boston’s Ted Williams.
Williams entering this day, 75 years ago that is, was hitting an even .400 on the season with just a doubleheader remaining on the docket for his Red Sox. Normally, most players in that position today would consider sitting out the games to help preserve the batting crown, or some incredible accomplishment like a .400 BA. But Williams opted to play in the doubleheader against then then Philadelphia Athletics, putting his .400 batting average on the line.
And he delivered.
— 56 and .406 (@TheStreak) September 28, 2016
Williams proceeded to go 6 for 8 on the day with a home run, two runs batted in and two runs scored, finishing the season with a .406 average. To this day, no one has been able to catch Teddy Ballgame. Many have come close though. The late great Tony Gwynn posted a .394 average in the 1994 campaign. Some pin an asterisk next to that line, however, because it was a strike-shortened season and many wonder and believe that Gwynn may have very well surpassed The Splendid Splinter.
Among active players, 42-year-old and professional all-time hits leader Ichiro Suzuki recorded a .372 BA in the 2004 season. Ichiro is one of three players this century to make a bid for .400. Both former long-time Rockie Todd Helton and 14-year big leaguer Nomar Garciaparra each hit .372 in the 2000 regular season. And Ted Williams himself made a bid at his own record, when he hit .388 in 1957.
This year in baseball, barring some sort of major slump, Houston’s superstar second baseman Jose Altuve will be the American League batting champion while also making a bid for AL MVP. Meanwhile in the senior circuit, it’s a two-horse race between Colorado’s (and Birmingham Brother Rice H.S. product) D.J. LeMahieu, and Washington’s Daniel Muprhy, both of whom also play second base.
MLB Network will be presenting a documentary on Sunday at 8p.m. ET surrounding Ted Williams’ .406 season as part of their ‘MLB Network Presents:‘ series.