Since 1954, thirteen players have hit .300 in more than 50 but fewer than 500 career plate appearances. Players who appeared in the majors during 2009 were not included. I chose fifty PA as the minimum because it takes at least ten starts to rack up that many times at the plate. Impressive as John Paciorek's career was, it doesn't fit the spirit of this post. By the end of this post, you'll see why I used 500 as the maximum.
The position listed is where the player spent the most time. Almost every player on the list played two or more positions.
Bob Hazle is probably the most famous name on this list. He hit .403 down the stretch in 1957 to help the Braves win the NL pennant. A slow start in 1958 doomed his career. Norris Hooper may still appear again in the majors. He played in AAA for the Reds, White Sox, and Nationals in 2009.
It's worth noting that two pitchers also qualified under the 50-500 PA criteria. Terry Forster, who pitched for five teams from 1971 to 1984, hit .397/.413/.474 over 86 plate appearances during his career. He was one for four as a pinch hitter. Renie Martin, who pitched for three teams from 1979 to 1984, hit .301 over 90 plate appearances. He was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter.
Obviously, small sample size applies to all of these players. Who knows if they would have been able to hit .300 over a longer career. The fact remains, however, that they hit well in the few opportunities they were given.
I thought it would be interesting to post the following list as well. If you take out active players, here are the .300 hitters who debuted in 1954 or later with the fewest career plate appearances (min. 400):
- Norris Hopper, 440 (.316)
- Lyman Bostock, 2214 (.311)
- Reggie Jefferson, 2300 (.300)
- Manny Mota, 4227 (.304)
- Rusty Greer, 4420 (.305)
- Hal Morris, 4443 (.304)
- John Kruk, 4603 (.300)
- Mike Greenwell, 5166 (.303)
- Ralph Garr, 5456 (.306)
- Pedro Guerrero, 6115 (.300)