This is one of the strangest charts I’ve seen in some time:
This isn’t something you see every day. What I did was chart the year-on-year changes in batting average and OBP, assuming there had to be a correlation (and of course there is—batting average is a function of OBP). When I generated this chart, I had no idea to expect that OBP would march in such lockstep with batting average.
While OBP has fluctuated over this 60-year period, the gap between batting average and OBP has remained a fairly steady 60 points. This is because the walks per game has remained relatively stable in that time frame (you can see that chart in the post titled “Strikeouts in Baseball”). There are a handful of players who have OBPs 100 or more points greater than their batting averages, but fewer than you think—from 2009-12, there were only 32 seasons (out of approximately 4,000 season-years of hitting) where a batter hit at least .250 and had an OBP of at least .350—lower that gap closer to 60 points, and a player is well-advised to be hitting at least .270 or so, and this in an era where the major league batting average last year was .255. ONE person walked over 100 times last year (Adam Dunn, and with a .204 batting average, he better have). People can talk all they want about “He makes up for it by walking,” but very few do. In an era of reduced offense, it would behoove hitters to become more selective at the plate.