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The .400 Team

No easy outs in this lineup

Philadelphia Athletics Photo by The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images

In the mid-1990s, my Dad and I spent a lot of time simulating baseball seasons in Tony La Russa Baseball II on our Compaq Presario (25 mHz processor & 4 MB of RAM!). Baseball nerds that we were, we’d put together all-time squads of power hitters, speed demons, lefties, righties, etc. to see who’d come out on top. One unit—christened the .400 Team—we filled with as many 4-hits-out-of-10 players as we possibly could.

After former Twin Luis Arraez electrified Seattle, his chase of that magical .400 mark might be the talk of MLB. Not since Boston’s Ted Williams in 1941 has a batsman achieved such a feat. Tony Gwynn (.394), George Brett (.390), and Twins Territory’s own Rod Carew (.388) made runs at the legendary mark, but all came up a tad short.

Minnesota Twins Rod Carew...
Oh so close for Rodney in ‘77
Set Number: D95051 JGZ

This got me thinking of whether or not a legitimate MLB historical starting nine—with defensive positioning intact—could all sport a .400 BA or above. Turns out, the answer is a resounding yes (thanks Deadball Era)! So, I present to you the real .400 Team:

C: Josh Gibson (.466; 1943; Homestead Grays)

  • With MLB’s recent classification of Negro League stats as official, the premiere slugger of that circuit gets a spot behind the dish.

1B: Bill Terry (.401; 1930; New York Giants)

  • Playing for John McGraw, Terry rapped out 254 hits to begin the new decade.
Baseball Players Examining Bat
Terry and the Bambino compare notes

2B: Nap Lajoie (.426; 1901, Philadelphia Athletics)

  • Before the A’s were in Oakland (or even Kansas City), they had this phenom punching hits everywhere—48 doubles, 14 triples, & 14 home runs! Lajoie (pictured in header) was such a Deadball Era institution that he later had a team named for him.

3B: George Sisler (.420; 1922; St. Louis Browns)

  • Perhaps the only good thing to ever come from the hapless Browns. Held the MLB record with 257 hits in a single season until some dude named Ichiro got 262.

SS: Rogers Hornsby (.424; 1924; St. Louis Cardinals)

  • Once said “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do—I stare out the window and wait for spring.” All you really need to know about the Rajah.
Boston Braves George Sisler and Rogers Hornsby
Sisler & Hornsby with rare smiles upon their normally stolid visages

LF: Oscar Charleston (.433; 1921; St. Louis Stars)

  • Another black baseball star who may have truly been one of the all-time greats.

CF: Ty Cobb (.420; 1911; Detroit Tigers)

  • The Georgia Peach—whose personality was anything but—hit 24 triples that season and assuredly came into the hot corner spikes-first on every one of them.
Ty Cobb Action Frank Baker c.1910
Visual proof

RF: Joe Jackson (.408; 1911; Cleveland Naps—see, I told you!)

DH: Ted Williams (.406; 1941; Boston Red Sox)

  • In the “best pure hitter of all time” debate, only Tony Gwynn & Ichiro Suzuki could even possibly challenge the Splendid Splinter. Truly one of the game’s most iconic figures.
Ted Williams and Jimmy Fox in Locker Room
In case you were wondering how Teddy Ballgame (left) got the Splinter moniker

Generally-speaking, my Dad and I’s high-average assemblage eclipsed all virtual challengers. Here’s hoping Arraez can defy the odds in pursuit of the hallowed .400 plateau. The above list could use a post-World War II representative.