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Mendoza Line: Baseball Terminology

Beware of the Mendoza Line

Mendoza Line

Mario Mendoza‘s batting average is where the Mendoza Line originates from

The Mendoza Line is something that hitters do not want to hear in association with their name. It has to do with batting average – a bad batting average. The Mendoza Line refers to an average of .200. It is referred to as a reference point for players who are hitting at or around that mark.

While traditionally it has been said that a career batting average of .300 would get a player into the Hall of Fame, that is no longer the case. What is very much certain is that an average hovering around the Mendoza Line will most likely keep a player off of a roster, or at least a starting lineup.

The term, Mendoza Line, refers to Mario Mendoza and his batting average. Mendoza played in the 1970’s and had a career .215 batting average. It is rumored that the term came about because newspapers would print the current batting averages of players and normally cut off around .200, or where Mendoza’s name fell on the list.

Some players have been given credit for giving Mario Mendoza the unpopular association with his name, but regardless of how it came about, nobody wants to see their batting average near the Mendoza Line.  Carlos Pena and Dan Uggla are two power hitters who have sacrificed their batting average for power numbers in their careers.  Both players have always had low batting averages and are typically in danger of falling below the Mendoza Line.

Opposing pitchers would love to face a hitter who is batting a mere .200. Managers cringe at the thought of having a position player in the lineup that has an average that low. Batters are embarrassed by it and can only hope they find some hits to get away from it. The Mendoza Line is a scary thing in baseball and should be used cautiously when speaking to a hitter about his batting average.

Comments

  1. Michael Narmour says:

    This is the most common misunderstanding of anything that I see on a regular basis. Even professional announcers make this same mistake because it’s been bastardized for so long. The actual origin of the Mendoza Line comes from the early seventies when the AP would publish a list of all players batting statistics every Sunday in one long list, sorted by average. The list would include all players with enough ABs to qualify. The Mendoza Line was named for the line occupied by Mario Mendoza, and it did not have to be .200, it was whatever his average was at the time. He was jokingly used as the barometer of bad hitting.

    • Travis Coverston says:

      This isn’t a common misunderstanding. The Mendoza Line is the common reference point of a .200 batting average.

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