Is it worth playing for batting average this late in the season?
The top two teams in my A.L.-only league entering tonight's action also happen to be in a fight down-to-the-wire in batting average.
6th place team: .2654, 3rd, 3rd in BA (1484/5591)
1st place team: .2647, 4th in BA (1496/5651)
2nd place team: .2637, 5th in BA, (1550/5878)
That's a close batting average race...and that average point between the 1st and 2nd place teams could be one of those huge two-point swings that teams looking up at the top covet. How feasible would it be to turn that point?
Assume hypothetically that the 2nd place team has a dead spot and can pick up a hitter who will get 75 AB from today until the end of the season. What kind of impact can that hitter make?
If the rest of the 2nd place team's hitters keep pace in H/AB, they would finish with 6,692 AB and 1,765 hits.
Adding a .333 hitter (25/75) would move this team's average to .2645. This wouldn't quite be enough to push the team into first.
Obviously, this is something of a canard. The hitters on the second place team almost definitely won't hit .2637 the rest of the way. As a group, they will probably do better or worse. But that's all the more reason not to add a hitter for the sake of improving batting average.
Here are some small sample sizes to chew on from the last 14 days:
David Murphy .449 (22/49)
Carlos Lee .432 (19/44)
Salvador Perez .381 (16/42)
Ben Zobrist .149 (7/47)
Curtis Granderson .217 (10/46)
Shane Victorino .196 (9/46)
If you picked up Carlos Lee two weeks ago knowing that he'd go on a .432 tear congratulations...and I'd like to borrow your crystal ball to play the lottery please.
Average is a difficult enough category to predict over the course of a full season. Trying to play for average with two or three weeks left in the season is more of a guessing game than anything else.