Tuesday March 07, 2023
.350 Hitters By Decade
A few weeks ago, in his Pitchers and Catchers report, Joe Posnanski lamented the dearth of 140-RBI seasons by counting out their number per decade since the 1920s, and ending with this:
Yeah, that's right: zero. The most RBIs in a season was Miguel Cabrera's 139 in 2012, followed by Chris Davis' 138 in 2013. I love that Chris Davis and Khris Davis have two of the top RBI seasons of the last decade. But the point is that the big RBI seasons have mostly gone away. This is surely because fewer and fewer hitters are getting on base, batting averages have gone way down, Mike Trout and some of the other great hitters in the game can't stay healthy for a full season. But it's a little bit sad. I'm not a fan of using RBIs to judge a player's production, but I admit to getting a little thrill when I see a player with a BIG RBI total.
As with me and hitting .350. So I thought I'd do the same. To be honest, I thought I'd already done it, in the post “It's 2018: Do You Know Where Your .350 Hitters Are?” but I'd just counted up dearths, not decades. So here they are by decades:
- 1900-09: 25, led by Nap Lajoie's .426 in 1901
- 1910-19: 30, led by Ty Cobb's .420 in 1911
- 1920-29: 95!!!!!, led by Rogers Hornsby's .423 in 1924
- 1930-39: 50, led by Bill Terry's .401 in 1930
- 1940-49: 16, led by Ted Williams' .406 in 1941
- 1950-59: 8, led by Ted Williams' .388 in 1957
- 1960-69: 3, led by Norm Cash's .361 in 1961
- 1970-79: 8, led by Rod Carew's .388 in 1977
- 1980-89: 13, led by George Brett's .390 in 1980
- 1990-99: 18, led by Tony Gwynn's .394 in 1994
- 2000-09: 17, led by three players with .372
- 2010-19: 1, Josh Hamilton, .359 in 2010
- 2020-22: 2*, led by D.J. LeMahieu's .364 in 2020
First, how cool is it that Ted Williams had the highest batting average of the 1940s and 1950s? And it wasn't like it was 1949 an 1951. It was 1941 and 1957—a 16-year gap!
Second is that asterisked “2” for the 2020-22 years. Both occurred during the pandemic-shortened year when MLB teams played, at most, 61 games rather than 162. So do we count those? Not really. If you go by a full season, which is kinda what I do, no one's done it since Josh Hamilton in 2010.
But I'm thinking the new rules—particularly the banning of the shift—could swing the pendulum back again. Fingers crossed.