Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen was so hot a couple of weeks ago, it looked like his batting average would just keep climbing forever into the stratsophere. Well, he's come back down to Earth a bit recently, and his average has been hovering in the .370 range. Still pretty impressive, but while Cutch is a strong candidate to win the NL batting crown, it's highly unlikely that he'll approach that magical .400 plateau that Ted Williams made so famous when he .406 back in 1941.
Williams was considered by many to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. It's hard to argue with that sentiment, and in-fact, of all the major professional sports, baseball puts its past heroes on the highest of pedestals.
In baseball, when a record is broken by a modern-day player, it's quite common for fans and media to look at it with a bit of disdain. Back during the steroid era of the 90's and 00's, it was hard to argue with that thought-process.
Going back even further, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record by hitting 61 during the 1961 season, people said there should have been an asterisk next to Maris' record because the American League had expanded its schedule to 162 games that season--Ruth had set the previous record of 60 home runs during a 154 game season. Again, hard to argue with that thought-process. As I said, in baseball, records are held in high-esteem, so when you break one, it better be on the up-and-up. If you're going to break the single-season home run record, you better do it in 154 games (Maris), and there better not be any suspicions of steroid use (Mcgwire, Sosa, Bonds).
The ironic part of Roger Maris' legacy is that now people think he should be considered the single-season home run king because his record was broken three times during the steroid era. Just like Ruth, Maris became a home run martyr, but he had to wait until after his death to achieve such a status.
Yes sir, it's hard to argue with what baseball players did in years gone by.
However, what if a player did reach that magical number of a .400 batting average in today's era of a 162 game season? Wouldn't that be more impressive than what Williams did in 154 games? I mean, after all, the more at-bats that a player has and the more games that he plays, the harder it is to maintain a certain average, right?
In my opinion, I think a .400 batting average in today's era of 162 game seasons, pitching specialists and heightened media coverage would be much more impressive.
You could call it the reverse-Maris effect.
Oh, who am I kidding? The sanctimonious baseball purists would still try to spin it in Ted William's favor.