Yadier Molina could challenge all-time batting average mark for catchers

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Yadier Molina

Yadier Molina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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