Luis Arraez has a shot at history.
The Miami Marlins second baseman is going into the second half of the season with a .383 batting average, putting him in striking distance of finishing the season at .400. It's hard to overstate just how much of an accomplishment that would be, as no player has hit .400 over a full season since Ted Williams in 1941. He'd be doing so against pitchers who throw 100 mph on a regular basis, defenses which have all of his batting tendencies on video, and in an environment where power and patience are emphasized far more than contact.
Only 10 players have managed to maintain a batting average above .380 until the All-Star break since 1980, and none since the 2000 season. For an idea of just how high a mountain Arraez still has to climb, here's a look at what happened to each of them in the second half:
2000: Nomar Garciaparra (.389), Darin Erstad (.384), Todd Helton (.383)
The 2000 MLB season was not exactly a pitcher's heaven writ large. Teams batted .270 as a whole (compared to .248 in 2023), which explains in part why three players were flirting with .400 at the All-Star break. In all three cases, their second halves were merely very good instead of potentially legendary. Garciaparra and Helton won the AL and NL batting titles with .372 averages, while Erstad finished at .355.
1999: Larry Walker (.382)
Say what you want about Colorado Rockies players getting a Coors Field boost, but Larry Walker could hit. Walker had a 1.410 home OPS in 1999 -- in the realm of the absurd for sure -- but his .894 road OPS was nothing to sneeze at. In this case, instead of the surge he needed to hit .400. Walker's second-half average declined to a mere .374. Not too shabby.
1997: Larry Walker (.398), Tony Gwynn (.394)
Both Walker and Gwynn came achingly close to batting .400 at the break in 1997, bringing up the very real possibility that the barrier could be shattered twice in the same season. As is often the case in this sort of chase, however, both players didn't so much slump as come back to Earth a bit. Walker hit .328 in the second half and Gwynn batted .344, bringing their respective season-ending totals to .366 and .372, respectively.
1994: Tony Gwynn (.383), Frank Thomas (.383), Paul O'Neill (.382)
This one hurts. The 1994 MLB season ended on Aug. 11 with a strike that lasted all the way until the beginning of the 1995 campaign. Thomas and O'Neill fell off in the beginning of the second half, both posting averages below .300, but Gwynn was on fire. From the end of the All-Star break to the beginning of the strike, Gwynn hit an astounding .423, bringing his final average to .394. Who knows where he would have ended if the season had played out?
1993: John Olerud (.395), Andrés Galarraga (.391)
Both Olerud and Galarraga had career averages below .300, but they were hitting things all over the place in 1993. Olerud fell off to a .324 average in the second half, and Galarraga hit .342. They'd have to settle for merely winning the batting titles in their respective leagues.
1983: Rod Carew (.402)
Carew was one of the greatest contact hitters in history and had hit .388 in 1997, but at 37 years of age in 1983, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was unlikely for him to challenge the .400 barrier. He clearly had a lot left in the tank, however, and at the All-Star break his average was two points over that sainted mark. Sadly, his second-half mark of .280 cut his final average to .339, a distant second in the American League to Wade Boggs' .361.