The chase for .400
Boston's Garciaparra reaches rare July hitting plateau
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.
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.