How many hits would an average person get over a full MLB season?
The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Cut4Cast podcast. To hear more of the Cut4 staff's weekly banterings about which position player is the best at pitching or how baseball would work in outer space, subscribe to the Cut4Cast by clicking here.
Imagine, for a moment, that you've won a contest. The prize is that you, yes, you, get to be a Major Leaguer for one full season. You will always be in the lineup, and you'll get an average number of at-bats. How many hits would you get?
Earlier this week, Fangraphs explored that very question. On this week's Cut4Cast, Dakota Gardner, Gemma Kaneko and Jessica Kleinschmidt discussed their own chances:
Dakota Gardner: If you just plucked any of us off the street and somehow forced one of the Major League managers to give us a lineup spot every single day for the whole 162-game season, could we, over 600 at-bats, get a hit? It's worth noting that I never played any organized baseball. Gemma, did you?
Gemma Kaneko: No. I washed out at tee-ball.
Dakota: Jess is actually one of the best female baseball players of all-time. I don't know if you know that. She was the star of the Yankees. Small note. I believe you broke Barry Bonds' home run record.
Jessica Kleinschmidt: I told you not to mention it because I try to stay humble.
Dakota: It's hard not to mention. I'm sorry. But Jess actually has baseball experience, so I think we'll start with you because I think you actually have the most likelihood of actually getting a hit in the Majors. Do you agree?
Jessica: I think I probably could. But I think I'd really have to, obviously, with all the chances that I would be able to get, probably. I'd have to have a lot of guts to do it just because I went from playing baseball (and then I played in the Babe Ruth League, so I'm used to like the length of the field), but then I went back down to softball, so I don't know. It might be difficult to adjust.
But I feel like if I got enough hacks, I don't see why I couldn't. If not, I would just love to get a little piece off a fastball from
Dakota: You have a full season. So you don't even have to try to get it --
Jessica: I don't think it's far-fetched at all.
Dakota: I think it's very likely that you could. Gemma, do you think that you or I could get a hit?
Gemma: No. This article is great. It talks about how your average person compares to a professional baseball player, just in terms of how fast they swing the bat, the angle.
I'm not going to get into the math, but the general point that I want to make is that ultimately the conclusion reads that your average doofus would probably mathematically get slightly over one hit. That's the calculation. But I think you and I would get slightly under one hit because we are not athletic people.
Jessica: I feel like sometimes that you have the advantage because I would try hard, and I feel like that would almost work against me in that aspect. Sometimes you just put the bat out there and you don't really care what you're doing, and then next thing you know, you're hitting a blooper. And I think I would try too hard, and I think that would ultimately be my end.
Dakota: Here's my take on this. With all respect to FanGraphs, and they answered a very specific question, the larger question of whether you could just grab somebody off the street and put them in the batter's box isn't one that can be answered with math because I think that ultimately you have to add into the fact that I have never seen a pitch. I've gone to batting cages and stuff like that, but if they start throwing off-speed stuff, I don't know that I would ever see a strike in any of my at-bats. At that point, I don't know. I would probably swing at everything or like nothing, and nothing in-between.
And I just think that there's the underlying variable that they don't really get at, which is that pitch selection is a thing. And ultimately, if who I am going against knows that I'm not a Major Leaguer or really have any baseball experience whatsoever, they can use that information to their advantage, and I don't think I would ever come close to making contact. I think there's this assumption that, well, if you make contact a certain amount of times, then perhaps you might get a hit in one of those. I don't think that I would come close to ever making contact. I think that's the key to this piece, to this question: Do you think you could get the bat on the ball?
Do you think you could get the bat on the ball? I don't believe that I could. Jess, I think you probably could.
Gemma: I absolutely think that Jess could.