What Is The Highest Batting Average By A Baseball Player Not in the Hall of Fame?

What Is The Highest Batting Average By A Baseball Player Not in the Hall of Fame

Most of the greatest hitters in baseball history are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The list of players by career batting average only includes players who had at least 3,000 plate appearances, played at least 500 games, or stole at least 80 bases. The player with the highest career batting average who is not in the Hall of Fame is “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. 

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson has the fourth-highest career batting average in combined MLB and Negro League history, with .356. However, he is one of only two players in the MLB’s top 10 for career batting average to never be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Jackson led the league in hits twice (226 in 1912 and 197 in 1913), and had a career on-base percentage of .423 and a career on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .940. He was also worth 7.6 wins above replacement (WAR) per 162 games played, significantly higher than the average player in the Hall of Fame (5.1 WAR). He finished top-10 in voting for league MVP four times in his career.

“Shoeless” Nickname

According to “Shoeless” Joe himself, his nickname came about when he was a kid. He had just bought a new pair of baseball spikes, and they fit him so poorly that he didn’t feel like he could play in them. He supposedly took them off and then hit a triple, leading to the nickname “Shoeless Joe.”

Ineligibility for the Hall of Fame

So why isn’t a player as good as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in the Baseball Hall of Fame? The answer: a cheating scandal. Jackson is ineligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame because he was allegedly part of the group of 1919 White Sox players who took monetary bribes to intentionally throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. 

Jackson’s involvement in the scandal is debated. He supposedly admitted to taking the bribe but also hit very well in the series, going 12-for-32 at the plate for a .375 batting average. The Reds did, however, hit an unusually high number of triples on hits that Jackson was responsible for fielding.

Jackson was banned from playing in the MLB after the scandal, and any player who is banned from the MLB also becomes automatically ineligible to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame

Despite the possibility of his cheating during the 1919 World Series, many fans believe Shoeless Joe Jackson should be elected to the Hall of Fame. Some fans have even created the “Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame” website dedicated to sharing facts about Jackson and petitioning for his admission to the real Baseball Hall of Fame.