A batting average of .300 or better is considered an excellent mark in Major League Baseball.
Of course, there is always some subjectivity in deciding how “good” something is, but we can look to historical norms to help us determine where a particular batting average falls in the spectrum of hitter performance.
But first, some quick basics …
What Is Batting Average?
Batting average is simply the number of hits a player collects in a given period of time divided by the number of at-bats he accumulates in that same period. So, the formula for batting average is …
batting average = (number of hits)/(number of at-bats)
Batting average (BA) has fallen out of favor as a measure of hitter effectiveness as sabermetrics and advanced statistical measures have taken root in the game, with critics pointing out the shortcomings of BA. Among those are:
- Batting average neglects other methods of reaching base, primarily walks.
- Batting average provides no real indication of power production, since it treats a single the same as a double, triple, or home run.
- Batting average is susceptible to forces largely outside a batter’s control: fielding prowess of the opposing team, park factors, luck. These tend to show up as variances from year-to-year in a hitter’s batting average on balls in play, or BAPIP.
Still, batting average has been statistical royalty for more than a century, and it’s not about to go away anytime soon.
So, back to our question …
What Is a Good Batting Average?
Over the course of baseball history, the average (mean) batting average in MLB has ranged from a low of .237 in 1968 to a high of .309 in 1894 (the “modern” high was .292 in 1930).
No matter how you slice it, then, a batting average of .300 is and always has been (aside from a couple of 19th-century seasons) a cause for celebration.
If we look at league leaders, the top batting average has ranged from a low of .301 in 1968 (Carl Yastrzemski) to a high of .440 in 1894 (Hugh Duffy).
So, while a .300 average likely won’t win a batting title, it at least gets a guy in the conversation!