What is Batting Average in Baseball

Did you know that batting average is one of the most important stats in baseball?
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

In baseball, a batting average measures a hitter’s success rate in achieving a hit during an at-bat and is calculated by dividing a player’s hits by their total at-bats, excluding walks, sacrifices, and hit-by-pitches.

KEY
POINTS
  • A batting average is a metric used to measure a hitter’s achievements at the plate and is calculated by taking the number of hits and dividing it by the number of at-bats.
  • The average will come out to a number between 0 and 1.00, with good batting averages in the modern era falling between .240-.250.
  • Batting average is a good stat, but it only tells part of the story – it does not include walks, for example, and does not tell you when the player gets a hit.
  • Over the last several years, MLB’s average batting average has fluctuated between .240 and .250. Ty Cobb holds the career record with an average of .366 over 24 seasons; and Nap Lajoie set the single-season mark in 1901 with an average of 426.

Batting average explained

Want to know what a batting average is in baseball? It’s actually pretty simple math. A batting average is a simple metric that is used to measure a hitter’s achievements at the plate. It may be one of the oldest measurements of success used in baseball. It is so popular and easy to calculate that many kids figure it out on the sandlots

What does batting average mean?

A batting average simply means the percentage of at-bats that a hitter gets a hit. Many fans use it to guesstimate the likelihood that a player will get a hit.

Since it is an average, there will be some games where a hitter receives more hits than expected, some games where they get fewer, and somewhere they get exactly what was expected. 

How do you calculate a batting average?

Calculating a batting average is basic math. All you have to do is take the number of hits and divide it by the number of at-bats. H (hits) /AB (at-bats) = Batting Average. The average will come out to a number between 0 and 1.00. 

What is a good batting average in baseball? 

A good batting average is going to depend on the era.

In the modern era, an average batting average will be between .240-.250. Your superstars are going to hit closer to the .300 line or above it. Minor league baseball will probably be a little higher, but not much.

However, when you get into college and high school baseball, you will see some of those averages jump up remarkably. Part of this is simple math—the lower leagues play fewer games and, therefore, could have dramatically higher averages.

You should also consider that the level of competition in the lower leagues may not be as competitive, especially when it comes to pitching. 

Is batting average a good stat?

A batting average is a good stat–depending on what you are looking for. Like most statistics, the batting average is a solid statistic, but it only shows part of the picture. It has limitations regarding what it can tell you about a player, but it is dependable if you are looking for a player that can put the bat on the ball.

Is batting average a bad or misleading stat?

This will depend on what precisely you are trying to measure. The upside is that you will be able to identify players that can get a hit and reach base safely. You can also specify the opposite–the players who do not successfully get on base via a hit.

However, it is only a partial view of the player. It does not tell you if the player is likely to score. It doesn’t tell you when the player gets a hit. For example, a player could have a higher batting average when the bases are empty but have a lower average when there are runners on base.

If you depend on the batter to be a base runner to potentially drive in, then the average would be an essential indicator. If you are looking for someone who is going to hit well when there are runners on base, then the batting average metric will be insufficient. 

Average batting averages in Major League Baseball

Over the last several years, the average batting average has fluctuated between .240 and .250. The career batting average leader is Ty Cobb. Over the course of 24 seasons, he amassed a career average of .366. The single-season mark was set in 1901 by Nap Lajoie with an average of .426. 

FAQ

Does the batting average include walks?

The batting average does not include walks. A walk does not count as a plate appearance in this equation. 

Who has the highest batting average in major league baseball history?

Nap Lajoie has the highest single-season average in MLB. He hit .426 in 1901. 

Who leads the MLB in batting average?

This year’s batting average leader is Jeff McNeil. He finished with a .326 average and prevented Aaron Judge from winning a Triple Crown

What’s the highest batting average you can have?

The highest batting average you can have is a thousand (1.00). That would mean you got a hit every time you had an at-bat.

How many players hit 400?

In the history of baseball, only 13 players have hit .400 or higher. It is a rated feat that has not been accomplished in several decades. 

Is .500 a good batting average?

.500 is a fantastic average, but one that you will not see in the professional leagues. You may see averages even in the .700s in high school or little league, but you will not see averages that high in the professional leagues. 

What batting average is the mendoza line?

The Mendoza line is a .200 average. It is an unofficial measure of whether a hitter is Major League talent. It is named after a former player Mario Mendoza. Mendoza hit below .200 for over half of his 9 season career. The low average of .200 is now nicknamed the Mendoza line. If a player hits below that, they are said to be “hitting below the Mendoza line.” Some see the line as a warning, indicating that a player is either injured or needs to be sent down to the minors.

Is it better to have a higher or lower batting average?

A higher batting average is better to have, but as mentioned above–when you get hits is more important. Some hitters are considered successful even though they have a “lower” average. These are generally your power hitters or the ones that drive in runs. While having a lower average is not an advantage, it is restrictive to think that only effective players have high averages. 

Can the batting average be higher than the OBP?

Although unlikely, it is possible for your batting average to be higher than your on-base percentage. It would require a low number of at-bats and a substantial number of sacrifice flies. Once the at-bats increased, it would be considerably more difficult for that to happen. In most cases, the on-base percentage will be higher than a player’s batting average.          

One of the oldest stats in baseball

Though it is one of the oldest statistics to be used in the sport, batting average is just one of the indicators used to evaluate players. Because of its simplicity, the batting average is a fan favorite to calculate from the little leagues all the way up to the big leagues. 

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