What Do Batting Averages Mean?

Baseball player batting

Hitting a baseball traveling in excess of 90 mph is one of the most difficult actions in all of sports. Professional baseball players spend hundreds of hours with batting coaches in order to hone their batting skills. The result of all this practice is represented in three small numbers called the batting average. Batting averages are among the most important of all baseball statistics.

What is a Batting Average?

A batting average is simply the number of hits a player has divided by the number of at-bats he has had during the season, according to The Internet Hitting Coach. The simplest way to calculate batting average is number of hits divided by the number of batting attempts. For example, if, in a game, a batter has four at bats, or attempts to hit, and records two hits, then his batting average is two divided by four, or .500.

What does Batting Average Mean?

Batting averages are used to predict the chances that a batter will get a hit each time he attempts to bat. A hit occurs when a batter hits the ball within the field of play and successfully reaches at least first base. Getting hits is the best way for teams to score and win games. Higher batting averages often equate to higher scores and a higher winning percentage. The best hitters in baseball invariably have high batting averages.

What is a Good Batting Average?

An analysis of the Baseball Almanac suggests that any batting average above .300 is considered excellent. Many batter fall below this level, but are still considered effective hitters. However, if a hitter’s batting average falls to .200 or below, then the batter is often considered to be a poor hitter. Often, batting averages fluctuate throughout the season as players go through hitting streaks and slumps. Aside from rigorous training, many batters use subtle tricks to improve their chances of getting a hit, according to Rick Bundy, an experienced baseball coach. Players will often try to swing at fastball pitches that come early in the at-bat. They also try to avoid getting two strikes against them because this significantly lowers their chances of getting a hit. Knowing when to swing the bat and the best time to not swing is what separates a good hitter from a great hitter.

Not All Batting Averages are Equal

Despite the statistical importance, not all batting averages are equal. Imagine two batters who both have a .300 batting average. On initial inspection, you might assume that they are both great batters. However, if the first player has three hits in 10 at-bats, while the second players has 120 hits in 400 bats, then the two batters are not equal at all, according to Middle School Math and Science. In this case, the hitter with more at-bats is actually more likely to get a hit than the first batter.