Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina through games of June 20 leads the majors with a .366 batting average. This mark is 81 points above Molina’s career batting average of .285 and 51 points above his best season when he hit .315 last year. This 2013 MLB season is a little short of being half complete, but Molina could be approaching some historic numbers if he keeps up this pace.
If Molina finishes the season above .350, he would become the ninth catcher in major league history to have a batting average of .350 or higher for a season. But what’s even more interesting is what Molina could accomplish if he can raise his average a few points and end the season at .368 or above: If he finishes at .368 or above, he would have the highest batting average for a catcher in a season in baseball history. (Note: This is based on the player playing 50% or more of his games as a catcher and having enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.)
Here’s a look at the catchers who have had the highest single season batting averages in baseball history.
Batting Average, Catcher, Team, Year
.367 Babe Phelps, Brooklyn, 1936
.365 Joe Mauer, Minnesota, 2009
.362 Mike Piazza, Los Angeles, 1997
.362 Bill Dickey, N.Y. Yankees, 1936
.358 Chief Meyers, N.Y Giants, 1912
.357 Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia A’s, 1930
.354 Gabby Hartnett, Chicago Cubs, 1937
.353 Bubbles Hargrave, Cincinnati, 1926
Let’s widen the parameters a bit. If we drop the batting average down to .320 or better, Molina would become the 38th catcher to finish the season with a batting average over .320 if he can keep that mark. A catcher batting .320 or above in a season has happened 77 times in baseball history by 37 different players. Mickey Cochrane had the most seasons with a .320 or above batting average with seven. He is followed by Bill Dickey with six, Ernie Lombardi, Joe Mauer and Mike Piazza with five each, and Spud Davis, Gabby Hartnett, Jason Kendall and Ivan Rodriguez with three each.
Since 2000, there have been 11 times when a catcher finished the season with a batting average of .320 or above. So far this season, we have three catchers above .320: Molina, Mauer and Buster Posey.
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With his 13-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks in the third quarter of the Giants’ 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on November 25, 2012, Eli Manning reached a couple of milestones in his career:
* Manning’s TD pass to Nicks gave him 200 for his career and moved him ahead of Phil Simms (199 TD passes) for most TD passes by a New York Giants QB.
* Manning became the 33rd QB in NFL history to reach the 200-TD mark.
In addition, Eli became the 19th QB in league history to throw 200 or more touchdown passes for one team, making the Giants the 15th franchise to have at least one QB with 200-plus TD passes.
Here’s a rundown of the teams with one (or more) QBs with 200-plus TD passes with their franchise:
3: San Francisco (Joe Montana, 244; Steve Young, 221; John Brodie, 214)
2: Indianapolis (Peyton Manning, 399; Johnny Unitas, 287)
2: San Diego (Dan Fouts, 254; John Hadl, 201)
1: Arizona (Jim Hart, 209)
1: Buffalo (Jim Kelly, 237)
1: Denver (John Elway, 300)
1: Green Bay (Brett Favre, 442)
1: Kansas City (Len Dawson, 237)
1: Miami (Dan Marino, 420)
1: Minnesota (Fran Tarkenton, 239)
1: New England (Tom Brady, 334)
1: New Orleans (Drew Brees, 232)
1: New York Giants (Eli Manning, 211)
1: Philadelphia (Donovan McNabb, 216)
1: Pittsburgh: (Terry Bradshaw, 212)
There are 14 QBs who have thrown for 200-plus TDs in their career, but do not have 200 or more with one team. Those QBs are: Warren Moon, Vinny Testaverde, Sonny Jurgensen, Drew Bledsoe, Dave Krieg, Boomer Esiason, Y.A. Tittle, George Blanda, Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner, Randall Cunningham, Jim Everett, Roman Gabriel and Matt Hasselbeck.
It’s also interesting to note that four current quarterbacks are approaching the 200-TD mark for their teams and will likely change the landscape of the list above in various ways. For example:
* Dallas’ Tony Romo last season surpassed Troy Aikman for most TD passes in Cowboys’ history. Romo now sits atop the Cowboys’ list with 177 TD passes. Will Romo be in Dallas long enough to become the first Cowboys’ QB to throw 200 TD passes?
* The Packers Aaron Rodgers during the 2012 season passed Bart Starr (152) for second on the team’s list for most TD passes with the franchise. He now has 171 TD passes and could become the Pack’s second 200-TD QB in this upcoming season.
* Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers missed three games in 2012 but was still able last year to up his career TD pass total with the team to 191. He will likely join Terry Bradshaw as Pittsburgh’s 200-TD quarterbacks sometime in the first half of the 2013 season.
* San Diego’s Philip Rivers has 189 career TD passes with the Chargers. He will probably join Fouts and Hadl with 200 when he reaches that mark early this season. That will make the San Diego franchise only the second in league history to have three QBs with 200-plus TD passes.
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