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Ichiro And The Batting Title

Recently there's been a lot of chatter concerning Felix Hernandez's shot at the Cy Young, with the general consensus being that he's got a good chance despite being significantly worse than Zack Greinke. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to Ichiro's batting average. Which I guess shouldn't come as a surprise for a number of reasons, namely...

(1) He always has a good batting average

(2) He's already reached those hit milestones

(3) Joe Mauer is having one of the all-time great single-year performances

...but as long as he's got a chance for his third career batting title, we might as well talk about it. As of this writing, Ichiro's second in the AL with a .355 (.3547) batting average, with Mauer leading the pack at .373 (.3726). Each player has spent some time on the DL, but they're healthy now, and are on pace for about 50 and 40 at bats, respectively, between now and the end of the year. Those aren't exact figures, but this isn't a journal article; I just want to give you some idea of what Ichiro's looking at if he wants to climb to the top of the ladder.

Mauer's career batting average is .328. If he collects 13 hits over his final 40 at bats, he'll finish the year at .369, which means Ichiro would have to hit .540 (27-50) to win out. If Ichiro were to hit his career average of .333, meanwhile, he'd finish at .354, meaning Mauer would have to drop to .125 (5-40) to give Ichiro the top spot. And so on. What it comes down to is that, given their current paces, Ichiro needs to bat about 215 points better than Mauer over these final two weeks to be #1.

A good chance? Hardly. But a long shot is still a shot, so that's something to pay attention to as the season draws to a close. Just because Ichiro's already made history doesn't mean he can't try to make a little bit more.