Putting the Ball in Play … MLB’s .300-hitting Teams

Fenway park photo

Photo by davidwilson1949

A team hitting .300 for the season … It hasn’t happened for 68 years, but it’s not as rare as you might think.  In fact, there have been 73  .300+-hitting teams – from the 1871 National Association Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Stockings and Troy Haymakers to the 1950 Boston Red Sox.  Let’s look at the 1950 Boston Squad, the most recent team to rake at a .300+ pace for a full season.  Note: You’ll find a full list of .300-hitting MLB team at the end of this post. 

The Red Sox’ .302 team average was 31-points above the overall American League average and 20-points above the Tigers and Yankees, who shared the second-best AL team batting average at .282.   If you take out the Red Sox’ numbers – the rest of the league hit just .266. It was not enough to bring the Red Sox the pennant, however.  That went to the Yankees (98-56).  Boston finished third, four games off the pace. Pitching was the culprit; the Red Sox led the AL in runs scored at 1,027 (the  Yankees were second at 914), but Boston finished sixth out of eight teams in earned run average (4.88).

The Red Sox offense was led by: Walt Dropo (.322-34-144); Vern Stephens (.295-30-144); Ted Williams (.317-28-97); and Bobby Doerr (.294-27-120).  But that .300 team batting average would not have been possible without Billy Goodman, who led the AL with a .354 average – and was the first (and still only) true utility (infield/outfield) player to win a batting crown.  Read Goodman’s story here.

1950 Red Sox

A few .300-hitting team tidbits:

  • Of the 73  .300-hitting teams, 40 hit that mark after 1900;
  • No team has had more .300-hitting seasons than the Pittsburgh Pirates – with seven;
  • The 1876 National League Champion Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) outhit the league average by the widest margin – 72 percentage points. The White Stocking hit .337, the league average (which includes Chicago) was .265 (without Chicago, the rest of the NL hit .254);
  • The National League has recorded the most .300+ seasons (38), followed by the American League (23), National Association (11) and American Association (1).

The highest team batting average ever recorded over a season belong to the 1894 National League Philadelphia Phillies at .350 – led by an all-.400 outfield (future Hall of Famers – Billy Hamilton, Sam Thompson and Ed Delahanty and super-reserve Tuck Turner, who outhit them all). You can read more on the Phillies all-.400 garden here.

The Phillies’ fourth-place finish should not come as a surprise – eight of the National Leagues’ 12-teams hit over .300 that season.

1894 Phillies

More .300-season tidbits:

  • Only twice has MLB seen a league average of .300+ for a season: the 1894 National League with the MLB all-time high of .309 and the 1930 National League at .303;
  • No decade saw more teams hit .300 or better for a season than the 1920s (1920-29), accounting for 26 (36 percent) of the 73 such campaigns in MLB history;
  • 1930 saw the most teams hit .300 or better at nine (of 16 MLB teams) – six in the NL and three in the AL; 1894 is second, with eight of 12 NL teams topping the .300 mark;
  • The National League Baltimore Orioles hold the record for the most consecutive .300+ seasons at five (1894-1898); the American League record is three, shared by the Detroit Tigers (1921-23) and Saint Louis Browns (1920-22); and the National Association record (five) belongs to the Boston Red Stockings (1871-75). Note: The Pittsburgh Pirates had four consecutive post-1900 seasons of .300+ (1927-30).

        .300+ Seasons (team batting) By Decade

                                    1870s … 12                       1900s … 0                         1930s … 13

                                    1880s … 1                          1910s … 0                         1940s … 0

                                    1890s … 20                       1920s … 26                      1950s … 1

                                                                             1960s forward … 0

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MLB TEAMS THAT HAVE HIT .300 FOR THE SEASON

                                                                   Avg.              Lg. Avg.

1950

Boston Red Sox (AL)                                 .302                   .271

1936

Cleveland Indians (AL)                               .304                   .289

New York Yankees (AL)                             .300

Detroit Tigers (AL)                                      .300

1934

Detroit Tigers (AL)                                      .300                    .287

1930

New York Giants (NL)                                 .319                   .303

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)                            .315

St. Louis Cardinals (NL)                              .314

Chicago Cubs (NL)                                     .309

Brooklyn Dodgers (NL)                               .304

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                                .303

New York Yankees (AL)                              .309                     .288

Cleveland Indians (AL)                               .304

Washington Senators (AL)                         .302

1929

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)                            .309                    .294

Chicago Cubs (NL)                                      .303

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                                .303

1928

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                               .309                     .281

1927

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                               .305                     .282

New York Yankees (AL)                              .307                     .286

Philadelphia Athletics (AL)                          .304

1925

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                                  .307                  .292

Philadelphia Athletics (AL)                            .307                  .292

Washington Senators (AL)                            .303

Detroit Tiigers (AL)                                        .302

1924

New York Giants (NL)                                    .300                  .283

1923

Cleveland Indians (AL)                                   .301                 .282

Detroit Tigers (AL)                                          .300

1922

Saint Louis Browns (AL)                                 .313                .285

Detroit Tigers (AL)                                          .306

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                                   .308                .292

New York Giants (NL)                                     .305

Saint Louis Cardinals (NL)                              .301

1921

Detroit Tigers (AL)                                           .316                .292

Cleveland Indians (AL)                                    .308

Saint Louis Browns (AL)                                  .304

New York Yankees (AL)                                   .300

Saint Louis Cardinals (NL)                               .308                .299

1920

Saint Louis Browns (AL)                                   .308                .284

Cleveland Indians (AL)                                     .303

1899

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)                                  .301               .282

1898

Baltimore Orioles (NL)                                       .302               .271

1897

Baltimore Orioles (NL)                                       .325               .292

Boston Braves (NL)                                           .319

1896

Baltimore Orioles (NL)                                       .328               .290

Cleveland Spiders (NL)                                     .301

Boston Beaneaters (NL)                                    .301

1895

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)                                  .330              .296

Baltimore Orioles (NL)                                       .324

Cleveland Spiders (NL)                                     .305

1894

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)                                    .350                .309

Baltimore Orioles (NL)                                        .343

Boston Beaneaters (NL)                                     .331

Chicago Colts (NL)                                             .313

Brooklyn Grooms(NL)                                         .312

Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)                                       .312

Cleveland Spiders (NL)                                       .303

New York Giants (NL)                                         .301

1893

Philadelphia Phillies (NL)                                   .301                   .280

Cleveland Spiders (NL)                                      .300

1887

Saint Louis Browns (American Assoc.)              .307                   .273

1876

Chicago White Stockings (NL)                            .337                   .265

1875

Boston Red Stockings (National Assoc.)             .321                   .254

1874

Boston Red Stockings (National Assoc.)             .312                   .273

1873

Boston Red Stockings (National Assoc.)             .340                   .290

Baltimore Canaries (National Assoc.)                 .316

Philadelphia Athletics (National Assoc.)              .301

1872

Philadelphia Athletics (National Assoc.)              .317                   .285

Boston Red Stockings (National Assoc.)             .317

Troy Haymakers (National Assoc.)                      .300

1871

Philadelphia Athletics (National Assoc.)              .320                   .287

Boston Red Stockings  (National Assoc.)             .310

Troy Haymakers   (National Assoc.)                    .308

 

Primary Resources: The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia Fifth Edition; Gary Gillette/Pete Palmer; Sterling Publishing (2008) and Baseball-Reference.com.

 

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Member:  Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

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