It’s been nearly 68 years since the Splendid Splinter batted .406, but despite a hot start and two batting titles, Joe Mauer has more than history working against him.
The position that he plays.
Even with watered down pitching, a strike zone designed to protect hitters and all the battle gear this side of the Stanley Cup finals, no one has been able to bat .400 in nearly seven decades. With all of those advantages, not one player has pulled it off, and no catcher has ever batted better than .362 (Mike Piazza in 1997 and Bill Dickey in 1936). And when one considers what receivers go through, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Catchers have to call games, handle pitchers, squat hundreds of times and withstand foul tips that ravage their shoulders, knees, hands, feet and arms – every night. Having to endure all of that abuse, how could anyone possibly withstand that beating and still bat .400?
Rod Carew batted .388 in 1977, then George Brett finished with a .390 mark in 1980, and there have been a smattering of .360’s over the years. The closest anyone has come, though, has been Tony Gwynn’s .394 average in the strike-shortened 1994 season. Even during Ichiro’s record-breaking 262-hit campaign of 2004, he only managed to bat .372. Unlike Suzuki, however, Mauer takes a lot of pitches, has an almost inhuman ability to work the count into his favor, and draws walks.
Mauer walked 84 times last season...CONTINUE.