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Batting average
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Batting average

Batting average is a statistic in both baseball and cricket.

Table of contents
1 Batting average in baseball
2 Batting average in cricket

Batting average in baseball

In baseball, the batting average is defined as the ratio of hits to at bats.

The Major League Baseball batting average championship is awarded to the player in each league who has the highest batting average with at least 3.1 plate appearances per game that his team has played.

First devised by Henry Chadwick in the 19th century, batting average is a measure of a player's ability to hit. In modern times, a batting average over .300 is considered to be good, and an average over .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last player to do so, with enough at bats to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who hit .406 in 1941.

For non-pitchers, a batting average below .250 is poor, and one below .200 is totally unacceptable. This latter level is known as "The Mendoza Line", named for Mario Mendoza, a stellar defensive shortstop who hit .215 over his Major League career. The league batting average in Major League Baseball is currently (2001) in the range of .260 to 275.

Sabermetrics considers batting average a weak measure of performance because it does not correlate as well as other measures to runs scored. BA does not take into account walks or power.

The decline of the .400 hitter

Many scientists believe that the range of a given species will tend to decrease over time. That is, the average difference between the tallest and shortest members of a species will tend to decline over time; the difference between the fastest-running and the slowest members will tend to decline; and so on.

In the same way, as biologist and baseball fan Stephen Jay Gould argued in one article, in baseball the difference between the strongest hitters and the weakest hitters has declined over time. Not only has the .400 hitter disappeared; so has the .150 hitter. Thus the evolution of baseball players can be said to mimic other evolutionary groups.

See also

Batting average in cricket

In cricket, the batting average is defined for a batsman as the total number of runs scored divided by the number of times out. Most players have batting averages in the range 10-40. An average above 30 is considered respectable for a batsman, while bowlers generally maintain career averages below 30.

Career records for batting average are usually subject to a minimum qualification of at least 20 innings played. This is because it is easy to sustain an artificially high average over a career spanning few matches. Under this qualification, the highest Test batting average is Australia's Sir Donald Bradman, with 99.94. Given that a career batting average over 50 is generally regarded as qualifying the player as of legendary status and only four other players have averages (just barely) over 60, this is an outstanding statistic.

Batting averages in one-day international cricket are generally somewhat lower than in Test cricket, because of the need to score runs more quickly and the lesser emphasis on building a large innings.

Some cricket followers have noted that the batting average is inflated by the number of not out innings played, and argue that a better measure of a batsman's value to his team is the number of runs scored divided by the number of innings played. This proposed statistic has never been given an accepted name and remains an obscure concept amongst most cricket fans.

See also