On This Day in Red Sox History: Ted Williams Raises Batting Average Over .400 for First Time in 1941

On this day in 1941, Red Sox legend Ted Williams went 4-for-5 at the plate with one double and two RBI as part of a 10-3 victory for Boston over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Entering that Sunday, Williams owned a .383/.473/.606 slash line through his first 28 contests of the 1941 campaign. The four-hit showing raised his batting average on the season to a robust .404. It would never fall below the .393 mark again for the remainder of the year.

Yes, when all was said and done in 1941 and the Sox finished with the second-best record in the American League, The Kid owned the best batting average in all of baseball at .406, securing his first of six career batting titles.

Over the course of 143 games played that year, Williams led the junior circuit in hitting (.406), on-base percentage (.533), slugging (.735), home runs (37), runs scored (135), and wRC+ (221). He finished just a handful of RBI short of winning the Triple Crown, but the fact that Williams was statistically the best player in the AL did not result in an uptick in MVP votes.

Instead, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio was named the American’s League Most Valuable Player, in part because of a mid-season hitting streak that spanned 56 games, and he beat out Williams by a fairly wide margin.

That may have been the case because at the time, hitting for a high average was not exactly a rarity in baseball.

By hitting .406 in 1941, Williams became the ninth player since 1871 to surpass the .400 plateau in a single season. Since that time, as you may already be aware, no player has batted .400 or better over the course of a full season. In other words, The Splendid Splinter is the last major-league hitter to bat over .400.

“I hope somebody hits .400 soon,” Williams once said sometime after accomplishing the feat. “Then people can start pestering that guy with questions about the last guy to hit .400.”

It hasn’t happened yet, and it probably won’t happen anytime soon, either. Since the turn of the century, the closest any player has gotten to hitting .400 was Nomar Garciaparra, who batted .372 in 2000, and Ichiro Suzuki, who also batted .372 in 2004.

 

Chase d’Arnaud Is One of the Greatest Red Sox Hitters of All Time

When you think of great hitters that have donned a Red Sox uniform over the course of the franchise’s storied history, names that first come to mind probably include legends such as Ted Williams, Wade Boggs, and Nomar Garciaparra.

As revered as those three individuals are, there’s probably one former Red Sox player you weren’t thinking of. His name? Chase d’Arnaud.

You might be thinking to yourself, Chase d’Arnaud only played two games with the Red Sox a few seasons ago. How could he possibly be regarded as one of the best hitters in the franchise’s history?

Well, I’ll tell you why that is. d’Arnaud owns a career 1.000 batting average with the Red Sox. It’s that simple. According to FanGraphs, six players have accomplished that feat and d’Arnaud is the only one who wasn’t a pitcher. Boom.

Claimed off waivers by Boston from the Atlanta Braves on April 27th, 2017, d’Arnaud made his Red Sox debut on May 7th as a pinch-runner and scored a run in a 17-6 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Two days later, d’Arnaud, then 29, got his first plate appearance with the Red Sox in Milwaukee, when he pinch-hit for Drew Pomeranz in the top half of the sixth inning.

Facing off against Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, d’Arnaud reached on an infield single and came in to score on a Mookie Betts RBI double a few moments later.

The very next half inning, d’Arnaud’s day came to an end with Fernando Abad entering the game in relief of Pomeranz.

d’Arnaud did not appear in another game in any capacity for the Red Sox and on May 18th, he was designated for assignment to make room for right-hander Hector Velazquez.

In total, the California native went 1-for-1 with that single and two runs scored in his brief tenure with the Red Sox. That’s good for an OPS+ of 430 and a wRC+ of 474. Not too shabby when you don’t think about the number of plate appearances. Hall of Fame numbers, really.

So, without taking qualifications into consideration, Chase d’Arnaud really is one of the best hitters the Red Sox have ever seen.