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Fans new to baseball sometimes struggle with calculating batting averages, so BaseballScouter.com created a quick and easy-to-use online tool to simply plug in at bats and hits to get instant results.
What is Batting Average in Baseball?
A baseball batting average is a percentage ranging from 0.000 to 1.000 that indicates a batter’s success in terms of number of base hits compared with how many at bats the player had over a certain period.
The batting average can be computed by starting with the number of base hits, and then dividing it by the number of at bats. Because the number of at bats always is higher, the result is a percentage.
Batting averages are displayed with a decimal point followed by three digits, such as .300, which is the generally accepted dividing point between hitting excellence and very good. A perfect 1.000 batting average never occurs after more than a game or two, because no one gets a base hit every single at bat over many games or a season.
Reading Batting Average Data – What is Good, Bad, or Ugly
Baseball players typically aspire to “hit .300” – at least. So getting at least 3 hits (or more) every 10 at bats helps make a baseball hitter successful. Here are general rules when looking at what statistical charts might call BAs:
.000 – Total failure, no hits at all. In Major League Baseball this only occurs when a player gets a very limited number of at bats in a season, such as a minor leaguer getting called up to play on the big league team for only a game or two.
.115 – Average BA of pitchers mid-season 2018. Only the National League forces pitchers to hit (whereas in the American League, all the minor leagues, college play and most youth leagues utilize a designated hitter instead). Because pitchers do not get much batting practice time nor consistent game at bats to become comfortable or better at batting, almost all of them are poor hitters. (Side note: For the shortened 2020 season the NL allowed a designated hitter to bat for pitchers, and there is momentum to make the change permanent going forward).
.200 – The Mendoza Line. Named for the light-hitting shortstop Mario Mendoza, who played from 1975 to 1979. Some refer to .215 as the Mendoza Line, because that was his true lifetime batting average.
.245 – The average BA in the major leagues in 2020.
.254 – The average BA in the major leagues in 2015. The .250 mark is generally the demarcation between above- and below-average hitters. League-wide average batting averages have been declining in recent years, mainly due to many more hitters swinging for the fences and striking out, and increased use of specialty relief pitchers often inserted into games just to face certain hitters they have had success with.
.270 – The average BA in the major leagues in 2000.
.300 – The cutoff for very good hitting.
.335 – The general range of top-10 batters in the MLB over the years.
.350 – Extremely good hitting.
.400 – Out-of-this-world hitting excellence. This figure has not been surpassed in the major leagues since 1941 when Ted Williams hit .406. Most baseball experts do not believe the major leagues will see another .400 hitter, due to the above-mentioned use of specialty relief pitchers.
.500 – Not something a batter records over a season. It’s a term denoting success half the time, as in a player getting 2 hits in 4 at bats. The term “batting five hundred” is applied to other elements of American life, like when someone succeeds half the time or every other time.
1.000 – Perfect batting average, as in 200 hits in 200 at bats.
In general, when viewing a player’s batting average, start with the first digit after the decimal point; followed by the second. As in, see a 3 at the start and know he hit, or is hitting, very well. For the second number, numbers 6 or higher means he or she is approaching the next plateau of hitting excellence.
For instance, hitting .275 is pretty darn good. Push .280 and a player might toy with batting .300 in the end.
Why Don’t Walks, Sacrifices or Other Hitting Actions Count as At Bats?
Today when a batter is awarded first base once 4 balls are called, or a hitter knocks a sacrifice bunt or smacks a sacrifice fly, those at bats are not counted when calculating batting average. The reason: While not a base hit per se, those actions caused a positive action that helped push baserunners forward and help a team toward scoring runs.
It wasn’t always the case. In the late 1800s, walks were counted as base hits – a reason why so many batters hit .400, or way above .400 back then. As with many rules in the last decades of the 19th century, that rule was changed, and later the walk was taken out of the batting average equation altogether.
For sacrifice bunts, rule-makers did not think it was right to penalize a batter who bunted to give himself away as an out at first base, in order to move a runner or runners to second, third or even home base. Later, the sacrifice fly was given the same designation. For detailed information about this, see
Read more: Why Don’t Walks and Sacrifice Bunts Count as At Bats?
Has Any MLB Player Ever Batted .400 or .500 for a Season?
No MLB player has ever come close to batting .500 for a season. A .500 season is achieved, albeit rarely, in college or high school ball. But for major leaguers the ceiling is the .440 by High Duffy in 1894.
Since the start of what today is called Major League Baseball in 1876, the .400 average was reached in a season only 20 times – and 5 players did it more than once. In fact, the very first to do so accomplished it in the very first year, when Ross Barnes hit .429 for the season in the fledgling National League.
Since Ted Williams cracked .400 in 1941, very few players have come close. The most notable were Rod Carew’s .388 in 1977, George Brett’s .390 in 1980 and Tony Gwynn’s .394 during the 1994 season that was cut short by a player’s strike. Many baseball experts believe Gwynn – an 8-time batting average champion – had a legitimate shot at ending that season at or above .400.
Which Player Had the Highest Batting Average in 2020?
DJ LaMahieu of the New York Yankees led all batters in the shortened, 60-game MLB season in 2020 with a .364 batting average. He also won the National League batting title in 2016, while then with the Colorado Rockies, after hitting .348.
Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals won the National League batting title in 2020 by hitting .351.
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