In baseball, batting average (AVG) is a measure of a batter's success rate in achieving a hit during an at bat, and is calculated by dividing a player's hits by his at bats. The achievement of a .400 batting average in a season is recognized as "the standard of hitting excellence", in light of how batting .300 in a season is already regarded as solid. Twenty players have recorded a batting average of at least .400 in a single Major League Baseball (MLB) season as of 2018,[A] the last being Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox in 1941. Three players – Ed Delahanty, Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby – have accomplished the feat in three different seasons, and no player has ever hit over .440, a single-season record established by Hugh Duffy in 1894. Ross Barnes was the first player to bat .400 in a season, posting a .429 batting average in the National League's inaugural 1876 season.
In total, 20 players have reached the .400 mark in MLB history and five have done so more than once. Of these, ten were right-handed batters, nine were left-handed, and one was a switch hitter, meaning he could bat from either side of the plate. Two of these players (Terry and Williams) played for only one major league team. The Philadelphia Phillies are the only franchise to have four players reach the milestone while on their roster: Delahanty, Billy Hamilton, Sam Thompson, and Tuck Turner, all of whom attained a batting average over .400 during the 1894 season. Three players won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in the same year as their .400 season. Tip O'Neill, Nap Lajoie, and Hornsby are the only players to have earned the Triple Crown alongside achieving a .400 batting average, leading their respective leagues in batting average, home runs and runs batted in (RBI). Although Shoeless Joe Jackson's .408 batting average in 1911 did not earn him the American League's batting title, it established a major league record for a rookie that stands to this day. Fred Dunlap has the lowest career batting average among players who have batted .400 in a season with .292, while Cobb – with .366 – recorded the highest career average in major league history.
Due to the 75 years that have elapsed since Williams became the last player to achieve the feat and the integral changes to the way the game of baseball is played since then – such as the increased utilization of specialized relief pitchers – a writer for The Washington Post called the mark "both mystical and unattainable". Consequently, modern day attempts to reach the hallowed mark by Rod Carew (.388 in 1977), George Brett (.390 in 1980) and Tony Gwynn (.394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season) have generated considerable hype among fans and in the media. Of the seventeen players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame who have batted .400 in a season, fourteen have been elected and two were elected on the first ballot. Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they have played in at least 10 MLB seasons, and have either been retired for five seasons or deceased for at least six months. These requirements leave two players ineligible – Barnes and Turner – who did not play in at least 10 seasons. Shoeless Joe Jackson is ineligible for the Hall of Fame because he was permanently banned from baseball in 1921 for his involvement in the Black Sox Scandal.
|Year||The year of the player's .400 season|
|Player (X)||Name of the player and number of .400 seasons they had at that point|
|Team||The player's team for his .400 season|
|AVG||The player's batting average in that season[B]|
|Career AVG||The player's batting average in his MLB career[B]|
|§||Denotes batting average that was part of a Triple Crown season|
|Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|1876||Ross Barnes||Chicago White Stockings||NL||.429||.360|||
|1884||Fred Dunlap||St. Louis Maroons||UA||.412||.292|||
|1887||Tip O'Neill||St. Louis Browns||AA||.435§||.326|||
|1887||Pete Browning||Louisville Colonels||AA||.402||.341|||
|1894||Hugh Duffy||Boston Beaneaters||NL||.440[C]||.326|||
|1894||Tuck Turner||Philadelphia Phillies||NL||.418||.320|||
|1894||Sam Thompson||Philadelphia Phillies||NL||.415||.331|||
|1894||Ed Delahanty||Philadelphia Phillies||NL||.404||.346|||
|1894||Billy Hamilton||Philadelphia Phillies||NL||.403||.344|||
|1895||Jesse Burkett||Cleveland Spiders||NL||.405||.338|||
|1895||Ed Delahanty (2)||Philadelphia Phillies||NL||.404||.346|||
|1896||Jesse Burkett (2)||Cleveland Spiders||NL||.410||.338|||
|1896||Hughie Jennings||Baltimore Orioles||NL||.401||.312|||
|1897||Willie Keeler||Baltimore Orioles||NL||.424||.341|||
|1899||Ed Delahanty (3)||Philadelphia Phillies||NL||.410||.346|||
|1901||Nap Lajoie||Philadelphia Athletics||AL||.426§||.338|||
|1911||Ty Cobb||Detroit Tigers||AL||.420||.366|||
|1911||Shoeless Joe Jackson||Cleveland Naps||AL||.408||.356|||
|1912||Ty Cobb (2)||Detroit Tigers||AL||.409||.366|||
|1920||George Sisler||St. Louis Browns||AL||.407||.340|||
|1922||George Sisler (2)||St. Louis Browns||AL||.420||.340|||
|1922||Rogers Hornsby||St. Louis Cardinals||NL||.401§||.358|||
|1922||Ty Cobb (3)||Detroit Tigers||AL||.401||.366|||
|1923||Harry Heilmann||Detroit Tigers||AL||.403||.342|||
|1924||Rogers Hornsby (2)||St. Louis Cardinals||NL||.424||.358|||
|1925||Rogers Hornsby (3)||St. Louis Cardinals||NL||.403§||.358|||
|1930||Bill Terry||New York Giants||NL||.401||.341|||
|1941||Ted Williams||Boston Red Sox||AL||.406||.344|||
The Phillies' outfield in 1894 had four players that hit .400 or better, Delahanty (.404, 116 games), Thompson (.407, 102 games), Hamilton (.404, 132 games) and Tuck Turner (.416, 82 games).
George Harold Sisler (March 24, 1893 – March 26, 1973), nicknamed "Gorgeous George", was an American professional baseball player for 15 seasons, primarily as first baseman with the St. Louis Browns.
Sisler played college baseball for the University of Michigan. He then started his major league career in 1915 and became one of the game's stars. In 1920 and 1922, Sisler had batting averages over .400 and won the American League batting titles. His 257 hits in 1920 set an MLB single-season record that stood until 2004. An attack of sinusitis in 1923 caused Sisler's play to decline, but he continued to play in the majors until 1930. After Sisler retired as a player, he worked as a major league scout and aide. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.Jesse Burkett
Jesse Cail Burkett (December 4, 1868 – May 27, 1953), nicknamed "Crab", was an American left fielder in Major League Baseball from 1890 to 1905. He batted over .400 twice. After his playing career, Burkett managed in the minor leagues. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.List of Major League Baseball career batting average leaders
In baseball, the batting average (BA) is defined by the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually reported to three decimal places and pronounced as if it were multiplied by 1,000: a player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." A point (or percentage point) is understood to be .001 . If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken to more than three decimal places.
Outfielder Ty Cobb, whose career ended in 1928, has the highest batting average in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. He batted .366 over 24 seasons, mostly with the Detroit Tigers. In addition, he won a record 11 batting titles for leading the American League in BA over the course of an entire season. He batted over .360 in 11 consecutive seasons from 1909 to 1919. Rogers Hornsby has the second highest BA of all-time, at .358. He won seven batting titles in the National League (NL) and has the highest NL average in a single season since 1900, when he batted .424 in 1924. He batted over .370 in six consecutive seasons.Shoeless Joe Jackson is the only other player to finish his career with a batting average over .350. He batted .356 over 13 seasons before he was permanently suspended from organized baseball in 1921 for his role in the Black Sox Scandal. Lefty O'Doul first came to the major leagues as a pitcher, but after developing a sore arm, he converted to an outfielder and won two batting titles. The fifth player on the list, and the last with at least a .345 BA, is Ed Delahanty. Delahanty's career was cut short when he fell into the Niagara Falls and died during the 1903 season.The last player to bat .400 in a season, Ted Williams, ranks tied for seventh on the all-time career BA list. Babe Ruth hit for a career .342 average and is tenth on the list. A player must have a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances in order to qualify for the list.Shoeless Joe Jackson
Joseph Jefferson Jackson (July 16, 1887 – December 5, 1951), nicknamed "Shoeless Joe", was an American star outfielder who played Major League Baseball (MLB) in the early 1900s. He is remembered for his performance on the field and for his alleged association with the Black Sox Scandal, in which members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox participated in a conspiracy to fix the World Series. As a result of Jackson's association with the scandal, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Major League Baseball's first commissioner, banned Jackson from playing after the 1920 season despite exceptional play in the 1919 World Series, leading both teams in several statistical categories and setting a World Series record with 12 base hits. Since then, Jackson's guilt has been fiercely debated with new accounts claiming his innocence, urging Major League Baseball to reconsider his banishment. As a result of the scandal, Jackson's career was abruptly halted in his prime, ensuring him a place in baseball lore.
Jackson played for three Major League teams during his 12-year career. He spent 1908–1909 as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics and 1910 with the minor league New Orleans Pelicans before joining the Cleveland Naps at the end of the 1910 season. He remained in Cleveland through the first part of 1915; he played the remainder of the 1915 season through 1920 with the Chicago White Sox. Later in life, Jackson played ball under assumed names throughout the south, including the 71st Service squadron in 1934 and winning the league title.
Jackson, who played left field for most of his career, currently has the third-highest career batting average in major league history. In 1911, Jackson hit for a .408 average. It is still the sixth-highest single-season total since 1901, which marked the beginning of the modern era for the sport. His average that year also set the record for batting average in a single season by a rookie. Babe Ruth said that he modeled his hitting technique after Jackson's.Jackson still holds the Indians and White Sox franchise records for both triples in a season and career batting average. In 1999, he ranked number 35 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. The fans voted him as the 12th-best outfielder of all-time. He also ranks 33rd on the all-time list for non-pitchers according to the win shares formula developed by Bill James.Tuck Turner
George A. Turner (February 13, 1867 – July 16, 1945) was a 19th-century Major League Baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Browns.Willie Keeler
William Henry Keeler (March 3, 1872 – January 1, 1923), nicknamed "Wee Willie", was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball who played from 1892 to 1910, primarily for the Baltimore Orioles and Brooklyn Superbas in the National League, and the New York Highlanders in the American League. Keeler, one of the best hitters of his time, was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. One of the greatest contact hitters of all time and notoriously hard to strike out, Keeler has the highest career at bats-per-strikeout ratio in MLB history: throughout his career, on average he went more than 60 at bats between individual strikeouts.
Major League Baseball players who have batted .400 in a season
Major League Baseball records
Baseball statistics (types of records)