Pan “TAKE” Wu-hsiung claimed his place in the record books earlier this week by batting above .400 for 51 games and counting.
The slugger, who hails from renowned baseball powerhouse Pingtung Mei Ho Senior High School, opted to forego college in favor of a professional baseball career for the Uni-President Lions. He showed his true colors by storming through most of the first half of the season with a coveted .400-plus average, an accomplishment that no player has attained for the entire season in the history of the league.
“It’s hard to imagine that going two-for-five on any given night would actually drop your average, that’s how tough it is to keep a .400-plus average,” Yang Ching-long, a baseball commentator and member of the national team’s coaching staff, said about Pan earlier this week.
The record that Pan broke was Brother Elephants slugger Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min’s 49 games, set in 2004. Peng wound up with a league-best .376 average for that year.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Chia Chia’ given what he has accomplished over the years,” a very modest Pan said after he broke Peng’s record on Sunday evening.
Peng has won five batting titles in the past nine seasons, making him one of the greatest hitters in league history.
Much to Pan’s credit, the red-hot hitting has put him in a good position to take this year’s batting title to land the seventh-year veteran his second such honor. He won the distinction in 2009 with a .367 average for the season, maintaining an above-.400 average for the first 26 days of that season.
“Being better with [Pan’s] pitch selection is what it will take for him to go the distance if he wishes to have an above-.400 batting average for the entire season,” Yang said earlier this week, referring to a hitter’s ability to draw walks to cut down on the number of at-bats, which figures directly into a hitter’s batting average.
A player with two walks and a base hit on a night with four plate appearances is considered to have gone one-for-two in terms of his batting-average calculation.
Pan has seen his batting average dip in a recent “slump,” when he went two-for-16 since July 5, to watch his batting average drop from .429 (on July 5) to last night’s .403. He could be in danger of ending the impressive streak should he fail to produce any hits in the game against the Sinon Bulls tonight.
All eyes will be on his performance because every at-bat will count immensely in his quest to maintain an above-.400 batting average for the season.