The numbers for Mookie Betts so far this season border on the ridiculous: a .453/.492/.717 batting line with 24 hits in 13 games. It’s a miniscule sample, but on the heels of so much success the year before, it validates the belief that Betts is one of the best hitters in the Red Sox system. So here’s a crazy thought: could Mookie Betts hit .400 this season?
Before dismissing the idea out of hand, keep in mind that outstanding minor league performances have been the norm the last few years. Billy Hamilton shattered the minor league stolen base record in 2012, and George Springer missed the minor league’s first 40/40 season last year by three home runs.
Betts struggled in April of last season, but has hit .350 over three minor league levels since May 1st of 2013. That’s still a big gap to .400, so I took a look at what numbers he would need to reach that mark.
He averaged 3.64 at bats per game in 2013. Portland plays around 140 games, which comes out to 510 at bats this year. He would need 204 hits in those 510 at bats to reach a .400 batting average. Even with his fast start (24 hits in 53 at bats), he would need to hit .395 the rest of the season to do it.
Despite his hot start, these numbers are showing it would be highly unlikely for Mookie to maintain a .400 average the whole season. A 13 game 50 at bat sample just doesn’t have much impact on the overall numbers. Let’s all try to keep that in mind before freaking out over the slow start of the Red Sox.
A return to hitting .350 for the rest of the season would get him up around .360 by the end of the year. That’s still an outstanding batting average, but not really close to the .400 mark. To really challenge .400, he would have to sustain his current level of production, and it’s unrealistic to expect that to continue.
It turns out there’s a reason why no one has hit .400 since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1946. It’s really, really, crazy hard to do. If Mookie Betts doesn’t hit .400 I’m not going to hold it against him. He’s still reached base in 43 straight games dating back to last year, and he’s still one of the best second base prospects in the minor leagues.