By JERRY TAPP
Baseball, more than any other sport, in my humble opinion, is more stats-oriented than the other professional sports. Numbers have always seemed to drive baseball and is a tool by which we evaluate the success or greatness of a player.
Baseball stats are used to label players. A pitcher who reaches 20 wins in a season has achieved a much-desired milestone. The same with a batter who reaches 100 RBI in a season. Even career numbers are a yardstick to how well of a season a player has had.
With that in mind, a .300 hitter in baseball is not only a season milestone to hope for, but a .300 career hitter has a special place in baseball.
But what about a player who plays several seasons in the majors but ends his career with a .299 career batting average … falling one point short of reaching that .300 milestone. How many hitters have experienced that?
Based on research on baseball-reference.com, there are a dozen batters who had 1,000 or more plate appearances in their careers and ended their time in the majors with a batting average one point short of .300.
Here are those players with a career .299 batting average (also noted is the years of their careers). Note: I researched stats from 1901 through 2019.
Harry Rice, 1923-33
Buck Jordan, 1927-38
Sam West, 1927-42
Frank Demaree, 1932-44
Frank McCormick, 1934-48
Carl Furillo, 1946-60
Rico Carty (pictured above), 1963-79
Bake McBride, 1973-83
Shane Mack, 1987-98
Dante Bichette, 1988-2001
Kenny Lofton, 1991-2007
Matt Holliday, 2004-18
There was another player on this list: Dustin Pedroia. He currently holds a career .299 batting average, but was active in 2019. He has missed good portions of the last two seasons due to injury, but still remains under contract with the Red Sox through the 2021 season.
Let’s balance the “just missed it” list with those players who ended their MLB careers with exactly a .300 batting average. Of players who had 1,000 or more plate appearances, there have been 12 players whose career batting average is right at .300. They are:
Ted Easterly, 1909-15
Cliff Lee, 1919-26
Earl Sheely, 1921-31
Ethan Allen, 1926-38
Wally Berger, 1930-40
Enos Slaughter, 1938-59
Billy Goodman, 1947-62
Pedro Guerrero, 1978-92
John Kruk, 1986-95
Reggie Jefferson, 1991-99
Roberto Alomar, 1988-2004
Michael Young, 2000-13
Similar to the previous list, we had an additional name. Albert Pujols, who has played in the majors from 2001-19, has a career .300 batting average. He is considered a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and is still listed on the Angels roster. Will he end his career with a .300 average?
Taking a look at the Brewers, they have five players who have career .300 or better batting averages with the team (minimum of 1,000 plate appearances). Think you can name all five?
Well, Christian Yelich tops the list with a .327 career average in a Brewers uniform. He is followed by Jeff Cirillo (.307), Paul Molitor (.303), Cecil Cooper (.302) and Kevin Seitzer (.300).
Current Brewer player Ryan Braun, who has played his entire career with Milwaukee, has a career batting average of .298. Chances are he would love to not only end his Brewers career above the .300 mark but also have a final career batting average of .300 or better.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp