Posnanski: Chasing .400: When George Brett nearly reached the unreachable plateau

From SABR member Joe Posnanski at NBC Sports on September 9, 2015:

Batting average, like Kodak, video stores and professional boxing, has seen better days. In the last few decades, more and more people have looked at the ingredients of batting average and realized, yeah, it has a few flaws as an all-encompassing  baseball statistic. For one thing, batting average treats walks and hit-by-pitches as non-events — never happened. It also treats bunts that move runners over as non-events but considers grounders that accomplish the exact same thing to be common outs. Fly balls that score runs get a batting-average exemption. Ground balls that score runs do not.

Also: Batting average can call you out even if you are safe; this depends on whether or not and official scorer deems that the defender should have caught the ball and awards an error. And all hits count the same — a seeing-eye single, a wall-rattling double or a titanic home run off the scoreboard — they’re all equal in the eye of batting average.

But batting average is pure Americana now — hits divided by at-bats has long been the first mathematical equation of childhood — and the statistic still thrives in the national language. Stockbrokers talk about their batting averages; so do lawyers and sales people and crass guys reminiscing about how well they did trying to meet women in bars. The other day, a mother — talking about how two of her five children had become doctors — told me she batted .400. She is not a sports fan. She instinctively knew, though, that batting .400 means something.

Read the full article here: http://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/george-brett-400-season-1980/

Originally published: September 9, 2015. Last Updated: September 9, 2015.