Dear Mr. Baseball:The Sunday Sun lists the best and worst...

MR. BASEBALL

August 04, 1994

Dear Mr. Baseball:

The Sunday Sun lists the best and worst of the week for American League batters with a minimum of 25 plate appearances. Yet, of the players listed among the highest averages, one has 21, two have 24 and one has 22. How can you bat 22 times and have 25 plate appearances?

Kitty Gresdo

Middle River

Dear Kitty Gresdo:

Typographical errors occasionally creep into this newspaper, but not this time. Instead, the explanation you are seeking has to do with the difference between "plate appearances" and "official at-bats."

A plate appearance occurs each time a player comes to the plate. A hit is a plate appearance. So is a strikeout, a fielder's choice, a hit-by-pitch, a walk and a popout to Floyd Rayford, though this is a rare occurrence.

Official at-bats are different. A walk isn't an official at-bat. Neither is a hit-by-pitch. In summary, a player who singles twice and walks twice in a game accrues four plate appearances but only two official at-bats.

Dear Mr. Baseball:

A question about the baseball strike: If games are canceled, does Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak end?

Dana Seibert

Baltimore

Dear Dana Seibert:

As you know, a players strike raises lots of intriguing questions, including one you didn't ask: What becomes of Mr. Baseball? In case you wondered, the possibilities include packing the column into mothballs until the games start again or changing its name to "Craft Corner with Dick Ravitch."

A lot of people are worrying about the fate of Cal's streak, but they don't have to. Just as the streak is safe when Orioles games are rained out -- and wasn't disturbed by a falling roof at the Kingdome -- it also would survive a players strike.

The key thing to remember is that to protect the streak, Cal only has to appear in Orioles games that are played. It wouldn't be fair to Cal or anybody else to look at it any other way.

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