Why Alpha’s Getting More Elusive

Baseball’s “modern era” began in 1903. Prior to that time, foul balls that weren’t caught weren’t considered strikes, giving hitters a major advantage. From 1903 through 1941, seven different players achieved a batting average of over .400 a total of 12 times—Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby each did it three times, and George Sisler did it twice.

The last National League player to hit .400 was Bill Terry of the New York Giants, who hit .401 in 1930. The last American League player to do so was Ted Williams, who was known as the Splendid Splinter, of the Boston Red Sox. He hit .406 in 1941. So it’s been more than 70 years since anyone has hit .400.

What Gives?

Today’s baseball players are superior athletes. They are bigger, faster, stronger, use improved training techniques and have better diets. That presents us with an apparent anomaly. Why have superior athletes been unable to achieve once in the last 73 years what was accomplished 12 times in just 39 years?

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