Not too long ago, FanGraphs editor Carson Cistulli was watching a broadcast of a baseball game during which the announcer remarked offhandedly that the pitcher’s batting average of .231 was equivalent roughly to a .400 mark for a position player. His interest piqued, Cistulli asked his FanGraphs colleagues: if not .231 precisely, then what is the equivalent of a .400 batting average for a pitcher? After nobody else expressed any interest in doing the same, I endeavored to answer the mostly frivolous question.
The easiest way to go about solving the problem is probably to look at percentile ranks — that is, at seasons from position players, broken into percentiles by batting average, compared to the same percentiles for pitchers. That’s where I started, at least. I looked at all qualified position players from 1986 to 2015, finding nearly 5,000 player-seasons. Then I turned to pitchers. Because no pitchers qualified for the batting title during that time range, I chose a threshold (a somewhat random figure of 50 plate appearances in a season), yielding nearly 1,500 pitcher player-seasons.
I created percentiles for both groups and set them at 10%, 33%, 50%, 67%, and 90% to yield averages. The table below shows the results:
|AVG Pitcher||AVG Pos Player|