Luis Arraez has a shot at history.
The Miami Marlins second baseman goes into the second half of the season with a .383 batting average, putting him within striking distance of ending the season with a .400 batting average. Can’t overstate what an accomplishment that would be, as not a player has surpassed .400 in a full season since Ted Williams in 1941. He would pull this off against pitchers who regularly throw 100 mph. Defenses that show all of his batting tendencies on video, and in an environment where strength and patience are far more important than contact.
Since 1980, only 10 players have managed to maintain an .380 batting average through the All-Star break, and none since the 2000 season. To get an idea of just how high the mountain Arraez still has to climb, here’s a look at what happened to each of them in the second half:
2000: Nomar Garciaparra (.389), Darin Erstad (.384), Todd Helton (.383)
The 2000 MLB season wasn’t exactly pitcher’s heaven by and large. Teams batted .270 overall (compared to .248 in 2023), which partly explains why three players flirted with .400 on the All-Star break. In all three cases, their second halves were merely very good and not potentially legendary. Garciaparra and Helton won the AL and NL batting championship titles with a .372 batting average, while Erstad finished with a .355 batting average.
1999: Larry Walker (.382)
Say what you will about Colorado Rockies players getting a Coors Field boost, but Larry Walker might blow. Walker had a 1.410 OPS at home in 1999 – certainly in the realm of absurdity – but his 0.894 OPS on the road was nothing to scoff at. In this case he had to hit .400 instead of the climb. Walker’s second-half average dropped to a mere .374. Not too shabby.
1997: Larry Walker (.398), Tony Gwynn (.394)
Both Walker and Gwynn came very close to hitting .400 at break in 1997, raising the very real possibility that the barrier could be broken twice in the same season. However, as is often the case in chases of this nature, both players didn’t sag so much, but came back down to earth a bit. Walker averaged a .328 second-half batting and Gwynn averaged a .344 batting run, bringing their season-ending scores to .366 and .372, respectively.
1994: Tony Gwynn (.383), Frank Thomas (.383), Paul O’Neill (.382)
This hurts. The 1994 MLB season ended on August 11 with a strike that lasted until the start of the 1995 season. Thomas and O’Neill fell early in the second half, both averaged under .300 but Gwynn did on fire. From the end of the All-Star break to the start of the strike, Gwynn averaged a staggering .423, bringing his final average to .394. Who knows where he would have ended up if the season had ended?
1993: John Olerud (.395), Andres Galarraga (.391)
Both Olerud and Galarraga had career averages below the .300, but in 1993 they were successful across the board. Olerud dropped to a .324 average in the second half and Galarraga hit a .342 average. They would have to be content with merely winning the batting championships in their respective leagues.
1983: Rod Carew (.402)
Carew was one of the best contact hitters in history, having a .388 batting average in 1997, but at the age of 37 in 1983, you’d think he was unlikely to break the .400 mark. However, he clearly had plenty left, and on the All-Star break his average was two points above that sacred mark. Unfortunately, his .280 second-half rating brought his final average to a .339, a comfortable second in the American League to Wade Boggs’ .361.