Stat of the Day: Batting Average
Abbreviation: AVG. All Time Leader: Ty Cobb (.366). Single Season Leader (Since 1900): Rogers Hornsby (.424 in 1924). Active Leader: Albert Pujols (.325). 2012 Leader: Buster Posey (.336).
Batting average, another one of the most central stats in baseball, has evolved in quite the opposite way as the home run. Before Babe Ruth popularized the round-tripper (and before MVP and Cy Young awards), the biggest achievement that a batter could obtain was the Batting Crown. It was like an unofficial MVP award. Invented by English cricketer Henry Chadwick in the 19th century as an alternate to cricket's batting average (runs/at bats), batting average was the most simple and accurate way to measure individual batting achievement with the formula of hits/at bats. Averages were obscenely high in the game's early days when walks were counted as hits and the pitching style was underhand rather than overhand (Hugh Duffy hit .440 in 1894), but as the game moved into the 20th century, we saw more of the same regulations that we see today. Averages were still high, however, and Ty Cobb never batted under .320 in any season after his rookie year, all the way up to his retirement in 1928. He also won an incredible eleven batting titles, still the record. He thrice batted over .400. Rogers Hornsby is credited with the modern record, as he hit .424 in 1924 (it is fourth all time if one includes averages from the 19th century, behind Duffy (.440 in 1894), Ross Barnes (.429 in 1876), and Wee Willy Keeler (.424 in 1897)). In 1941, Ted Williams batted .406, making him the last player to hit .400. Interestingly, with one doubleheader to go in the season, he was hitting .3996, which rounds to .400. His manager offered to sit him so his average would be protected, as was common back then, but Williams refused, claiming his average was not really .400, which it wasn't. He played, and got six hits in eight at bats, raising it to .406 to end the season. Williams maintained until his death that there will be another .400 hitter in baseball. In 1994, Tony Gwynn came closer than anybody since, hitting .394 in the strike-shortened season. Had the season been completed, he may have had a very real chance to bat .400 with fifty games left in the season. He was batting .475 in August at the time of the strike. Today, players like Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, and Joe Mauer continue to popularize the batting average. In 2004, en route to garnering a record 262 hits, Ichiro batted .372. Eight different active players have batted .350 in a season (Todd Helton, Suzuki, Mauer, Magglio Ordonez, Hamilton, Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez).
Former MLBPA leader Marvin Miller, one of the more influential labor leaders in the game's history, passed away at 95 years old.
Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz tested positive for amphetamine, a stimulant, and will sit out the first 25 games of the 2013 season.
Rays signed Evan Longoria to a six year, $100 million extension on top of his current contract ($16.67 million per season). The contract runs through at least 2022, with an option for 2023.
Free Agent Signings
Cubs signed Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.09 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) to a one year, $6 million deal.
Astros resigned Edgar Gonzalez (3-1, 5.04 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) to a minor league deal.
Giants signed Guillermo Quiroz (no hits in two at bats, 2013 age: 31) to a minor league deal.
Astros also resigned Jose Valdez (0-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) toa minor league deal.
The Cubs added a quality righty to their rotation in Feldman. He has pitched in over 200 games for the Rangers over the past eight years. His best year was 2009, when he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA, but has been inconsistent since then. He remained with the Rangers for large portions of time, making 22 starts in 2010 and 21 in 2011, but did not get his ERA under 5.00 in either season. At the time he left the Rangers, he led the team in games pitched at 204. He will join Scott Baker, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, and Travis Wood in the Cubs 2013 rotation. Feldman will have to watch his back, as players like Casey Coleman, Arodys Vizcaino, and Brooks Raley are knocking on the door to join that rotation.
A's traded Brandon Hicks (3 HR, 7 RBI, .172 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 27) to the Mets for cash considerations.
Hicks is a power hitter that has struggled so see his offensive prowess in the minors transfer to the majors. With 80 home runs in 563 minor league games and 36 over the past two years, he is just knocking on the door to break through. The Houston native hit 18 home runs and batted .244 with five stolen bases in 90 games at AAA Sacramento, and batted .172 with three home runs in a 22 game July call-up. He looks to battle Ruben Tejada, Brian Bixler, Justin Turner, and Daniel Murphy for a middle infield spot.
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage