Chasing the immortals

If you were within the walls of Sovereign Bank Stadium Wednesday evening and you consider yourself any sort of baseball historian, you could smell a hint of the summer of 1941 in the air.

That was the magical season in which Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams treated the American public to two incredible records that will likely never be broken.

DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games to vault the Yankees into the playoffs and win himself an MVP award; Williams, meanwhile, chose to play a doubleheader on the final day of the season, went 6-for-8 and finished with a .406 batting average.

Both immortal feats. Both by two legendary players. Both in the same season.

Simply incredible.

Well, the York Revolution’s Chris Ashby has been pretty incredible himself lately. He set the all-time Atlantic League hitting streak at 28 games in a 6-5 win over Southern Maryland Wednesday and now leads the league batting race with a .378 average. Ramon Castro of Newark remains second with a .367 clip.

So has Ashby taken time to think he’s only halfway to DiMaggio’s streak? And what kind of pressure would chasing that kind of history bring?

“I was thinking about it the other day and I can’t imagine that,” Ashby said. “I can’t imagine what that guy was going through and how good he was. That’s just amazing.”

Amidst all the excitement Wednesday and the talk of Ashby’s streak, I started thinking about DiMaggio — of course — but I also started thinking about Williams. Ashby has hit .466 over the hitting streak, hit .398 for the month of July and has a ho hum .480 average in 13 August games so far. So why not .400?

Ashby has already raised his average 64 points during the streak. And he’s shown he’s capable of hitting the ball to all fields, with power and an uncanny consistency. So just how good would Ashby have to be over the season’s final 38 games to hit .400? Let’s test my math skills.

Ashby has 38 games left, so assuming he plays every night and gets an average of four at-bats per game, he’d have to average 1.76 hits a night to reach .400. That would mean he’d finish with 175 hits in 438 at-bats — giving him an average right at .3995, which would round up to .400.

Getting nearly two hits a night seems improbable, but when you consider Ashby has multi-hit games in 16 of the 28 games on his hitting streak, the wheels start turning in your head. Maybe this can happen. But the biggest obstacle will likely be the way opposing pitchers approach Ashby.

Southern Maryland intentionally walked him with the game on the line Wednesday night to get to Jason Aspito and the move worked. And Somerset surely won’t allow Ashby to beat them in this weekend’s series. There’s also the matter of Ashby’s rising profile — he’s not an unknown to the league anymore and there’s no hiding a guy who’s hitting the way he is right now.

But no one would have envisioned a 28-game hitting streak from this 33-year-old minor league veteran either. So again, I pose the question: Why not?

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One Response

  1. Congrats to Ashby…from a Barnstormer fan! Truly a feat to be proud of!

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