Table of Contents
1941 is a very important year for baseball fans. Why? Well, it was the year Ted Williams set the record for the highest batting average ever in a MLB season. Is he the greatest player of all-time? That’s a debate for another day (or article).
The former Boston slugger is the only baseball player to ever hit for over .400. His batting average in 1941 concluded at .406, the highest ever. No other player has crossed the .400 line in a season since then, and probably never will.
Highest Batting Average in a Season
Let’s break down the highest batting averages in a MLB season of all-time.
1. Ted Williams, Boston (1941)
As already mentioned, Williams’ .406 batting average is the highest off all-time while no other player has crossed the .400 mark. He also hit for .388 in 1957, which Rod Carew tied in 1977.
2. Tony Gwynn, San Diego (1994)
Mr. Padre saw a batting average of .394 in 1994, actually slumping to end the season as he was above .400 before dropping right below it. Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill actually finished 1994 with a .359 batting average and was hitting .400 later into the season too. He also won the NL batting title with a .372 average in 1997.
3. George Brett, Kansas City (1980)
Brett saw an impressive .390 batting average in 1980 which marks the latest a player has qualified for .400 since 1941. Along with John Olerud in 1993, Brett remains just one of two players on the list that played in over 100 games when batting for the record.
4. Rod Carew, Minnesota (1977)
As mentioned above, Carew hit for .388 in 1977 and actually led the league in hitting on six different occasions. He actually led MLB with a .333 batting average the very next season, only playing in 40 games. In 1977 Carew played in 85 total games and is the only player to have multiple league-leading batting average seasons with over 85 games played.
5. Stan Musial, St. Louis (1948)
Musical hit .376 in 1948 but his success hitting went beyond that. He saw 17 seasons in which he hit for over .300 which ranks third-most in the modern era only behind Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker.
6. Barry Bonds, San Francisco (2002)
Regardless of your Barry Bonds’ opinion, the man hit for .370 in 2002 and also won the batting title in 2004 batting .362.
7. Larry Walker, Colorado (1997)
As mentioned above, Gwynn won the batting title in 1997 but Walker still led the majors in OPS and won the MVP. Walker would win the title the very next year however, but clearly 1997 was the best hitting year for seasonal batting average leaders Tony Gwynn and Larry Walker.
Highest Batting Average Among Active Players
Miguel Cabrera currently leads all active players in career batting average with .308, right above both Jose Altuve and Mike Trout. Only Robinson Cano and Trea Turner represent the other two of five active players with a career batting average above .300.
Four of the top five players are also right-handed hitters, with Cano being the lefty of the bunch. Albert Pujols ranks 11th with a career batting average of .296 although he is retiring. Pujols and Cabrera are the only players with five-digit career plate appearances.
The Best Hitter of All Time
Ty Cobb is considered to be the greatest hitter of all-time, although that point is often argued to this day. Cobb finished his career with a .366 batting average which is best of all-time. In 1911 he led the AL in runs, hits, RBIs, batting average and slugging percentage and saw 400 hits in a season on three different occasions.
What is a Good Batting Average?
It’s unfortunate, but batting averages continue to decline in baseball with much emphasis put on home runs. With more players looking to hit home runs, the more strikeouts occur which is good for pitching. For hitters though, the ‘home run or bust’ approach has taken over which has seen a decline in batting averages as a result.
A good batting average is anything around the .300 range or even high-200s. To put it in perspective, Cobb hit .366 and it is the best of all-time. That means Cobb was successful hitting the ball three out of 10 times. It’s extremely difficult to hit a baseball and the sport considers players who are successful three out of 10 times in their careers to be Hall of Fame worthy.