Batting average is a key stat--BECAUSE it shows how the ratio of how many times a hitter successfully puts a ball in play when the hitter is NOT WALKED, HBP... or hitting a "sacrifice" such as scoring a runner from third base and/or bunting a ball to advance a runner.
Where batting average can HOSE or not tell the true numbers is when a runner advances a base because of an out... that is deemed as a wasted at bat, and unfortunately, that out is treated the same as a strikeout--when it is much more productive, and a fundamental part of the game.
- if you have a hitter that has a man on second base, and he comes up and hits a ground ball to the right side of the infield, the runner advances, and the hitter is out. --Now, this is no different than a sacrifice bunt; however, the hitter is charged an at bat.
- if you have a hitter, and he hits a fly ball that is caught, but the runner tags up at first and advances to second, then the result is the same thing as a sacrifice bunt; however, the hitter is charged an at bat.
- If a batter hits the ball to the shortstop, on a hit and run, and the runner advances to second, but the batter is thrown out.... again, this accomplishes the same thing as a sacrifice bunt HOWEVER, it counts for an extra at-bat.
That is what is flawed by just judging a hitter by their batting average.
For example: Let's say Adam Dunn has two games....
In the realistic game he has a man on second base with no outs each time he comes to the plate, and he strikes out every time. Now, the next hitter has to get the runner in from second with one out with a base hit. The runner really can score no other way. Thus, Dunn should be charged an 0/4 because his at bats failed to put him on base OR... move the a runner with less than two outs.
However, let's say Fantasy Adam Dunn he has a man on second base with no outs each time he comes to the plate, and he takes his full swings, and hits long fly balls to right in two at-bats.... and two ground balls to deep first, well then... Adam Dunn advanced the runner to third with one out... and now Konerko can clean-up. Advance that... and say Konerko grounds out to second base with the infield back... and the run scores... Konerko should be charged with an RBI, but no at bat... In this scenario, Dunn should be charged an 0/0 because his at bats advanced the runner with less than two outs.
Now, there are some proponents that say... a strike out is just the same as any other out. Technically, sure.. ok... they will even argue it's better because then Donkey will not hit into a double play. But, of the above, which outcome would you prefer?
What could be done is a stat that identifies these situations. They are important situations, but go unnoticed.
Batting Average could be better re-configured, and reward an overall, well rounded baseball player if it were computed in the following way:
Any time a runner advances and the defensive team makes one and only one out on the play...AND the player put out is the batter, then no at bat is charged. (Essentially, if the situation is 1st and 2nd and either the lead or trailing runner is out, then the batter gets no credit.)
This is a part of fundamental baseball that is lacking. BIG TIME.
It was a mainstay for teams in the big leagues when I was growing up, and you hear Welsh and Brennamen talk about it ALL of the time.
If the players were not penalized for at the minimum of ADVANCING a baserunner, (when there are two plays in the sacrifice bunt and sac fly that show precedence in not penalizing the hitter for moving runners over...) then it is something that could be done to show the quality of the player.