Batting Average

This one is purely for non-baseball fans who nevertheless feel they need to keep up with the conversations. Here is what you should already know.

The Batting Average is an indicator of a batter’s performance in baseball and softball. The average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by the number of at bats, calculated to three decimal places (more if needed to break ties). Batting averages can run from 0.000 (no hits) to 1.000 (a hit every time). “Points” (a “point” is 0.001) are used to compare batting averages, e.g. .362 is two points higher than .360. Although batting averages are decimals, they are reported as whole numbers, e.g. a batter with a 0.300 average is considered to be batting three hundred. This terminology has crept into our everyday speak where “batting a thousand” means you’re crushing it.

Long-term batting averages are generally in the .200 to .400 range, where below .230 is often considered poor performance. The Major League Baseball average for for 2018 was .248. The top-ten highest career batting averages run from .34206 (Babe Ruth) up to .366 (Ty Cobb). There are instances of players having batted a career thousand, but only because they had one, two or three at bats in their entire career and hit on all of them.

Sabermetrics, the alternative statistical approach to baseball performance made famous by the book and movie Moneyball, considers the batting average a poor indicator of batting performance because it does not correlate well enough to runs scored. Other statistics such as on-base percentage and slugging percentage are considered better indicators of a batter’s contribution to winning games.

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