5. Brett’s run at .400
The last player to finish a season with a batting average at or above .400 was Ted Williams when he hit .406 back in 1941. That mark has been threatened several times over the subsequent 65 years, but no one has reached that mythical plateau since Williams did all those years ago. However, George Brett came very close in 1980.
With the Kansas City Royals en route to their first World Series appearance later that season, Brett cemented his place as a superstar. In 1980, Brett led the league in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage, while being the only player in the American League to post an OPS+ over 200 from 1962 through 1992. Brett finished off the season by wining his only MVP award, but his 1980 campaign was far more notable for his run at history.
At the start of the season, it did not appear as though Brett would be threatening history. As of May 30th, he had a .287/.370/.504 batting line, a solid year, but nothing that would invoke images of Williams. Then, he went on a tear, getting 91 hits in his next 190 at bats, producing a .479/.519/.795 batting line as his batting average climbed over .400 for the first time that season on August 17th. Brett would continue to flirt with that line, batting over .400 as late as September 19th, before ultimately ending the season at .390.
While Tony Gwynn may have gotten closer to that mark, batting .396 in the strike shortened 1994 season, Brett’s quest to reach that magical number was one of the first true threats to that mark. His chase captivated the fanbase, and helped push Brett into the national consciousness as a true star.
Next: The punch