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The chase for .400

Boston's Garciaparra reaches rare July hitting plateau

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  Nomar Garciaparra hit .357 in 1999 en route to his first AL batting title. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

By Ryan Hunt, CNNSI.com

We've all heard the cliché "baseball is a marathon, not a sprint". That must make the chase for .400 seem like a never-ending journey.

It's been 59 years since Ted Williams hit .406, the last player to reach the plateau in a season. But few players in recent years have reached the .400 mark this late in the season, let alone challenge it.

By going 4-for-4 against the Mets on July 14, Garciaparra became only the seventh player since 1980 to reach .400 in July or later. Then following a 1-for-7 stretch in the ensuing two games, a 3-for-3 night on July 17 pushed his average back to .400.

Since Williams' 1941 season, only three players -- George Brett (1980), John Olerud (1993) and Larry Walker (1997) -- have had a .400 average or better this late in the season.

Chasing Ted Williams
Latest dates to be hitting .400 since 1980
Date  Player  Team  Year 
Sept. 19  George Brett*  KC  1980 
Aug. 2  John Olerud*  TOR  1993  
July 18  Larry Walker  COL  1997  
July 17   N. Garciaparra   BOS   2000  
July 14  Tony Gwynn*  SD  1997  
July 7  Rod Carew  CAL  1983  
July 5  Andres Galarraga*  COL  1993  
June 29  Tony Fernandez  TOR  1999  
June 16  Paul O'Neill*  NYY  1994 
June 10  Todd Helton  COL  2000 
June 10  Lenny Dykstra  PHI  1990  
June 9  Roberto Alomar  BAL  1996  
June 7  Wade Boggs*  BOS  1986  
June 4  Carney Lansford  OAK  1989  
* Won batting title
 
 

In that trio, however, only Brett finished the season at higher than .370 -- hitting .390 in 1980.

Last season, Toronto's Tony Fernandez was hitting .400 as late as June 29. He finished the season at only .328 and finished seventh in the American League batting race.

Garciaparra, however, is a rarity in that he is right-handed. He is only the second right-handed hitter in the span to reach .400 in the month of July, joining then-Rockies first baseman Andres Galarraga in 1993.

The Red Sox shortstop, who could become the first right-handed hitter to win back-to-back batting titles since Joe DiMaggio in 1939-40, is hitting .443 since May 28.

 
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