The art of hitting .300

Entering action Wednesday night, the Blue Jays were ninth in the American League with a .254 team batting average. This, despite the fact that for the second straight season, Toronto was the first club to reach 100 hits in the majors. Since then, however, the bats have gone largely silent. In fact, no Blue Jay is batting over .300 with the requisite number of plate appearances to qualify for the AL leaders (Troy Glaus has a .320 mark, but is well short of the 124 required PA’s).

This is a far cry from last season, when Reed Johnson (.319), Lyle Overbay (.312) and Vernon Wells (.303) all managed to hit over .300 for the year. Meanwhile, Alex Rios (.302) and Frank Catalanotto (.300) fell just four and three plate appearances short, respectively, from qualifying themselves.

Since 1977, Toronto has had 31 players accomplish the feat. Roberto Alomar (1992-95), Tony Fernandez (1986-87 & 1998-99) and Shannon Stewart (1999-2002) each hit over .300 four times in a Blue Jay uniform. Meanwhile, George Bell, Damaso Garcia, Paul Molitor, Carlos Delgado and Wells each did it twice. But it’s a man who managed the feat just once as a Blue Jay who posted the greatest single-season mark in franchise history.

Of course that man is John Olerud, who enjoyed a special year in 1993 enJohn_olerud_autograph route to becoming the first and only Blue Jay hitter to ever win an American League batting title. In fact, Olerud made an early run at becoming the first player since Ted Williams (1941) to hit .400 in a season. The Blue Jay first baseman was at even .400 as late as August 1 before gradually falling off the pace. In the end, he would post a .363 mark along with an astounding .473 on-base percentage.

Aside from Olerud’s achievement, the big news down the stretch that season surrounded the fact that Toronto had the chance to finish with the top three hitters in the AL. Molitor did his job, finishing at No. 2 with a .332 mark. And though it came down to the final day, Alomar managed to hit safely in his first two at-bats and was removed from the game by manager Cito Gaston to ensure that his .326 average would best Kenny Lofton’s .325, thus making Toronto the first team in 100 years to boast the league’s top three hitters.

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2 Responses to “The art of hitting .300”

  1. mcdannymartin@gmail.com Says:

    I remember all the hype around John that season. I don’t think anyone will ever hit 400 tho. It’s too hard nowadays to be that consistent and too many hitter now try fot the home run.

  2. Todd Says:

    Agreed. I thought Ichiro may have had a chance, but it just seems impossible nowadays.

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