Tracking Infante's March Toward the Batting Title

Major League Baseball takes an interesting approach toward accomplishments like the batting title, allowing a player with fewer than the required minimum plate appearances to qualify by treating the extra plate appearances as outs. So what does this mean for Omar Infante?

As of 8/25/2010, Omar has had 342 plate appearances (321 at-bats) with 112 hits, 17 walks, and 4 sacrifice hits. The minimum number of plate appearances needed for the batting title is 502, so Omar needs an additional 160 PAs to qualify, or an average of about 4.4 appearances in each of the Braves' remaining 36 games.

What if he doesn't make it to 502? What would he have to do to win the batting title? Joey Votto, the next highest batter with a realistic shot at the title, is batting .323. By considering the worst-case scenario, let's imagine that every one of Omar's remaining plate appearances is considered an at-bat (otherwise the numbers come out even more in his favor). To bat .325 in 481 ABs (321 now + 160 more), Omar needs a total of 157 hits, or 45 more hits. That comes out to 5 hits in every 4 games, and that's if he doesn't get a single walk in those games.

(Over the 98 games Infante has played this year, he's averaged about 3.5 PAs per game, and he's walking about 5% of the time. This projects to about 6 more walks over the last 36 games. Taking those into account only drops the number of hits needed by 2, so we can safely ignore walks for the rest of the season, unless he starts walking more.)

Here's a quick table showing how many more hits Omar would need to reach a given batting average, given the assumptions above. Note that his actual batting average would probably be higher, since his total ABs at the end of the year will likely be less than 481.

Batting average Total hits needed
.320 42
.325 45
.330 47
.340 52
.350 57

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