Through the Oakland Athletics’ April 19 game against the Blue Jays, Khris Davis had hit 20-for-81, good for a .247 batting average. For most players, his .920 OPS might have been more notable. Ten home runs in mid-April is certainly a more eye-catching figure than a middling batting average. But Davis is special. Observe.
Khris Davis 2015
97/392, .247 batting average
Khris Davis 2016
137/555, .247 batting average
Khris Davis 2017
140/566, .247 batting average
Khris Davis 2018
142/576, .247 batting average
A power hitter averaging in the mid-.200s won’t draw anyone’s attention. A power hitter hitting for the same mid-.200s average four years straight? That’s implausible enough to gawk at, which is why the whole baseball internet took a look at Davis’ 20-for-81 and chuckled to itself. The streak continues.
Getting 24.7 hits every hundred at-bats on a consistent basis is difficult enough, but averaging .247 also requires some help from maths. Due to rounding conventions (baseball’s, mercifully and surprisingly, follow the normal rules), it’s not even possible to hit .247 for every given number of at-bats. Here’s a quick and dirty chart of how to do it for all at-bats up to 700:
Not only are there a few large “dead” zones, there are at-bat totals for which it’s impossible to finish on .247 no matter how many hits a player might have. Last season, Davis finished with 576 at-bats. Taking one more would have destroyed his run — 142 for 577 is a .246 average; 143 for 577 gives us .248. Traps are everywhere!
The limited combinations of at-bats and hits that can get baseball players to a .247 average make Davis’ recent line stand out even more: going 20-for-81 turns out to be the third-fastest way to get to that average. That’s impressive, but is it the fastest run Davis has managed?
Baseball-Reference’s game logs provide the help we need. In 2018, Davis first reached a .247 average in September, and he managed it in June in both 2016 and 2017. But in 2015, when he was still a part-time player with the Milwaukee Brewers, Davis finished April 29 hitting .247/.329/.370. Given his limited playing time that year, this seems like a candidate to go up against 2019’s run.
And indeed it is. At the end of play that day (the Brewers won 8-3), Davis, then relatively unknown, had compiled 18 hits in 73 at-bats, the fastest possible route to .247. He also managed another quick run in 2014, finishing April 28 at 23-for-93, the sixth-quickest combination. Turns out he’s been a master of the weird stats genre for far longer than anyone had even known. The man is a genius.