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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Can Troy Tulowitzki hit .400? Can Alexei Ramirez win a batting title?

So we’re just going to drop whether or not Heironymus Merkin can ever forget Mercy Humppe and find true happiness? You might. I won’t!

However, based on his career stats—Tulo is a .295 career hitter—publications like the Washington Post have projected his chances of finishing the season .400 as 1 in 889,710. While that’s obviously not something you’d bet on, is it more or less likely than Alexei Ramirez making it all the way through the season as the best hitter in the American League?

Since 1941, there have been two hitters who have had lower career batting averages than Ramirez’s .280 who have won the AL batting title. The first, Snuff Stirnweiss, was a bit of an outlier. Stirnweiss led the AL in 1945 as a member of the New York Yankees. This was during the last year that saw most prominent players fighting in World War II, and his .309 average is the second lowest to lead the league behind Carl Yastremski’s .301 average in 1968 in that time frame.

The other was Norm Cash, who led the AL as a member of the Detroit Tigers with a .361 batting average in 1961. This was a full 90 points better than his career average, his only season hitting .300 and only one of five seasons where he managed to hit above .270 at all.

And unlike Tulowitzki, there have been players close to Alexei who have won the title, like Fred Lynn and the aforementioned Yaz. In fact, while it’s a different league, as recently as last year, the batting champion in the National League had a career average below that of Alexei and managed to hit .331 to win the title.

That player? Michael Cuddyer of, you guessed it, the Colorado Rockies. And what were the chances of that?

Repoz Posted: May 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. jacjacatk Posted: May 11, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4704421)
Tulo needs to go about 153/383 (.399) the rest of the way based on his current AB and G rates. The odds of him doing that change a lot based on what you assume his true talent level is. He's actually a career .299 hitter as of today, which would come out to about 56K-1. He's hit .313 since 2010, even including the injury season, which would put him closer to 5K-1. He's hit .332 since the start of last year (exactly 162 games, coincidentally) and at that rate he'd be about 300-1 against.

Given that he's hitting in Coors for half his games, and on a pace to draw 100+ walks, I'd say he's got about as good a chance as anyone has recently. Chipper was hitting .403 after the Braves game on June 16, 2008 at 96/238. He would have needed to go 80/201 the rest of the way which made him something between a 500-1 and 200-1 shot at that point (assuming he was a .300-.310 hitter), before accounting for the fact that he was older with bigger injury concerns. I mean, I'd start considering putting money on Tulo at around 2 or 3 thousand to 1, and you'd be nuts not to put money on him at 50K-1
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 11, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4704443)
The Rockies have played 21 road games and 18 home games as of today, so that'll help a little bit. Tulo also lay down a beautiful bunt for a hit last night - the third baseman didn't even make a throw. He's not going to hit .400, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he hits .350.

Aside from the injury years, Tulo has also been remarkably consistent. In his full seasons, he's never had anything close to a bad year. As long as he can avoid his annual injury, he has to be the odds-on favorite for MVP. I'd settle for that instead of the .400 average.
   3. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 11, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4704446)
Well, we know Upton is going to hit .400, so the chances of two players doing so has got to be astronomically low.
   4. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4704458)
No; yes.

I hope that helped.
   5. SoCalDemon Posted: May 11, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4704486)
I always assumed that John Olerud had slumped pretty badly at the end of 93. He was hitting .400 on August 3rd, and ended up at .363. But he the last two months of the season he hit .290/.419/.430. Basically, he just turned back into John Olerud.

   6. StHendu Posted: May 11, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4704512)
Too Low Wits Ski is hitting .257 on the road this season, not too far from his career .275 away ave. He is hitting .608 at home this year. Even in Colorado I can't see that continuing.
   7. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4704528)
That's the hard part about hit .400: even if you're hitting .400, you still have to hit .400.
   8. puck Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4704535)
Tulo's 0-3 so far, down to .395.
   9. Publius Publicola Posted: May 11, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4704540)
.608 at home. Even considering the SSS, that's pretty impressive.
   10. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 11, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4704555)
Bryce Harper hit .406 in 2020 in my OOTP universe, for what it's worth. And played 162 games for the first time in his career. Probably not coincidentally, that was the first year he got permanently parked at 1B/DH.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: May 11, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4704594)
As of the other day, the Rox were hitting something like 355 with a 600 SLG at home.
   12. Al Kaline Trio Posted: May 11, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4704623)
An injury at the right time would help him hit .400
   13. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4704638)
Barry Bonds has come the closest to .400 since Gwynns .394 year, right?
   14. jacjacatk Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:39 PM (#4704643)
Ichiro and Helton both hit .372 (as did Gwynn himself) since then and Walker put a up a .379 (and he also peaked at .435 in mid-May).
   15. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4704646)
I felt like Bonds was just like 6 hits or so from .400 one of the years he walked a million times. Easier to do when the denominator is so low!
   16. GregD Posted: May 11, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4704649)
Bonds would have hit .400 (or really .3995) if 12 of his outs in 2002 had been hits. Or he would have needed to get 20 straight hits in additional at-bats to raise his average.
   17. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: May 11, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4704653)
I'm starting to suspect 16 year-old Davo was bad at math...
   18. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 11, 2014 at 11:09 PM (#4704698)
Wait, I thought Utley was going to hit .400 this year?
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 12, 2014 at 02:59 AM (#4704734)
Having a home park with a 120 park factor helps.

Aside from that, he's got a .396 BABIP this year, with his career high being .334. He's hit .400 in a full month exactly zero times in his career. And suddenly he's going to average .400 over the rest of the year? I think not.
   20. Booey Posted: May 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4705015)
Tulo needs a contemporary to help push him towards .400. In recent history it seems more likely to have two players enter the All Star break hitting close to .400 than it does for there to be just one (Olerud/Galarraga in 1993, Walker/Gwynn in 1997, Nomar/Helton in 2000).

Works for 60 HR seasons, too.
   21. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: May 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4705024)
It's always going to look impossible until someone does it.

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