Can Joe Mauer Hit 400 Batting Mark?

Each year there seems to be one or two baseball players who catch the attention of the sports world and stir conversation about the hallowed .400 batting mark.

This year, that talk has centered around Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who is currently hitting .363. History tells us that he’ll likely fall short – it’s arguably the most difficult record in sports to break.

The last player to hit .400 was the  great Ted Williams, who achieved the feat in 1941. Williams entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .39955, which would have been rounded up to .400, making him the first man to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930.

Manager Joe Cronin gave Williams the option of not playing, but Williams opted to play in both of the day’s doubleheaders. Said Williams, “If I can’t hit .400 all the way, I don’t deserve it.” Williams went 6-8 and finished the season with a .406 average.

Players have flirted with .400 over the years but have always fallen short. Hall of Famer George Brett was hitting .394 on September 21, 1980, but ended the season with a .390 average. Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was batting .394 in 1994 when the season ended because of a labor dispute, wiping out the World Series and a chance for history. This decade, Todd Helton and Chipper Jones got people talking about the .400 mark before both cooled off.

Below is a list of the batting champions since 2000…

2000 Nomar Garciaparra/Todd Helton .372
2001 Ichiro Suzuki/Larry Walker .350
2002 Barry Bonds .370
2003 Albert Pujols .359
2004 Ichiro Suzuki .372
2005 Derrek Lee .335
2006 Joe Mauer .347
2007 Magglio Ordonez .363
2008 Chipper Jones .364


It will be interesting to see how Mauer fares over the next couple of weeks, but one thing is for certain – he has all the tools to go down in history as one of the greatest catchers ever. Not only is he a strong defensive catcher, but his hitting ability is unusual for a catcher. He’s won two of the last three American League batting titles. When Mauer won the title in 2006, he became the first American League catcher ever  to win it and the first catcher since the National League’s Ernie Lombardi won it in 1947. Mike Piazza had the best offensive season for a catcher ever in 1997 with a .362 average and Mauer may very well eclipse that.

It’s amazing to think that the best players in the game are only hitting safely in a little over 3 out of every 10 trips to the plate. That says a lot about just how difficult it is to hit a baseball.

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