Batting is an integral part of baseball as hits produce the scoring runs that win baseball games. In the history of the sport, we’ve seen some of the greatest hitters ever. The likes of Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, and Tony Gwynn among others.
Last year, Boston’s Mookie Betts led the Majors with his .346 batting average while it was Christian Yelich who led the National League with his .326 clip. This year, seven players are currently batting better than Yelich and these batters are led by Cody Bellinger who is off to a historic start with his bat.
Here are Major League’s batting leaders as of May 24, 2019:
Cody Bellinger .394
Cody Bellinger was the Dodgers’ 4th round pick in 2013 The 23-year old from Scottsdale, Arizona played in the 2007 Little League World Series and played high school baseball at Hamilton High School in Chandler. Bellinger was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and was the NLCS MVP last season. This year, he is off to a hot start. Bellinger’s total of 97 bases, 37 RBIs and 47 hits before May 1 are all Major League records. His current .394 batting average may also be record-breaking.
The last .400 hitter was Ted Williams in 1941. The closest to follow him was Tony Gwynn in 1994 who ended up three hits short of being the next .400 hitter. The question now is whether Cody Bellinger will be next. Even then, only four hitters since 1941 have hit .380 in a season so there are still other records to chase for Bellinger this year.
Jorge Polanco .339
Jorge Polanco signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2009 as an international free agent. The 25-year old from the Dominican Republic He was suspended for 80 games in 2018 for testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug and was also ineligible to play in the postseason. He came back to play 77 games where he batted at a .288 clip with six home runs and 42 RBIs. Last April 5, 2019, Polanco went 5-5 and hit for the cycle during a 4-10 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Melky Cabrera .336
Melky Cabrera is the second hitter from the Dominican Republic in the list. The 34-year old from Santo Domingo was originally signed by the New York Yankees in 2001 at the age of 17. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2009 and he also spent time with the Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, and Toronto Blue Jays. He won the World Series in 2009 and was the MVP of the All-Star game in 2012. Cabrera signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates last February. Included in the contract was an invitation to Spring Training. He made the Pirates’ opening day roster and has rewarded the team with 45 hits so far.
Jeff McNeil .333
Jeff McNeil was the New York Mets’ 13th round pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. Known as “Squirrel”, McNeil was promoted to the Big League in 2018. He batted .329/.381/.471 in 225 bats last season and he led the Majors in batting average against right-handers at .345. Early in his career, McNeil has developed a reputation of being a throwback hitter because he has a high-contact but low-strikeout rate.
Josh Reddick .331
Josh Reddick was the Boston Red Sox’s 17th round pick of the 2006 MLB Draft. The 32-year old from Savannah, Georgia made his Major League debut for the Red Sox in 2009. He also played for the Athletics and Dodgers before signing a four-year deal with the Houston Astros in 2016. He won the Golden Glove in 2012 and was a world champion in 2017. In April 2018, he became only the second player from the Houston Astros to hit two grand slams in a single calendar month.
Josh Bell .329
Josh Bell is the second hitter from the Pittsburgh Pirates on this list. The 26-year old first baseman was the 61st pick overall in the 2011 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut in 2016 as a pinch-hitter. He drilled a grand slam in his second career at-bat. In 2017, he broke the rookie record for most home runs by a switch-hitter. Last May 8, 2019, Bell became the fourth player in PNC Park history to hit a baseball directly into the Allegheny River. Two weeks later, he drilled a home run directly into the Allegheny River, the 5th in Stadium history.
DJ LeMahieu .329
David John LeMahieu was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft. The 30-year old from Visalia, California made his debut in 2011 and was traded to the Colorado Rockies in 2012. He was a Golden Glove winner in 2014, 2017 and 2018 and was an All-Star in 2015 and 2017. Being one of the league’s top batters isn’t new to LeMahieu because he was the NL batting leader in 2016. LeMahieu signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 2019.
Elvis Andrus .325
Elvis Andrus was signed by the Atlanta Braves as an international free agent at the age of 16. The now 30-year old shortstop from Maracay, Venezuela was traded to the Texas Rangers in 2007 and he became the Rangers’ starting shortstop at the age of 20. He was the second-youngest player in the National League at that time. He was named an All-Star in 2010 and 2012.
Freddie Freeman .325
Freddie Freeman was drafted by the Atlanta Braves as the 78th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, straight out of high school. He was called up to the Big League in 2010 and became Atlanta’s starting first baseman in 20111 He is a three-time All-Star, getting the nod in 2013, 2014 and 2018. Freeman won the Golden Glove and the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018. His powerful swing has been compared to a tennis forehand while his hand-eye coordination and ability to adjust to pitchers from one plate appearance to another is impressive.
Christian Yelich .325
Christian Yelich was drafted by the Miami Marlin out of high school. He was the 23rd overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft and made his MLB debut in 2013 for the Marlins. He was traded to the Brewers in 2018 and had a breakout season last year. Yelich was voted All-Star in 2018 and was named as the winner of the NL Hank Aaron Award as the top hitter in the National League. He was also voted as NL MVP and hit the cycle twice last year. Last March, he became the sixth player in MLB history to hit a home run in his team’s first four games of the season.