|Image via VintageSeattle|
Take a look at that guy?
Mario Mendoza was a player back in the late 70's, early 80's. Defensively, he was serviceable at shortstop. Offensively, not so much. His career average was .215 with zero pop (only 4 HR). All too often today, the "Mendoza Line" is a barometer for the ineptitude of a hitter. Although he only had more than 100 at-bats in 4 of his 9 seasons, Mendoza managed to hit over his own line in three of those four years. The only other time batting over .200 was when he his .218 in 1978 with the Pirates, in just 55 at-bats. He peaked with the Mariners in 1980 and 1981, putting together back-to-back seasons where he batted .245 and .231, respectively.
With those numbers in mind, there are currently four players in the majors (who are qualified to be among the league leaders in batting average) hitting below the Mendoza Line.
Carlos Pena, TB - .194 average - 330 AB - 11 2B - 14 HR - 39 RBI - 121 K
Pena is a career .236 hitter with 272 career HR in 12 seasons. Tolerable.
Rickie Weeks, MIL - .197 average - 319 AB - 17 2B - 9 HR - 33 RBI - 108 K
Weeks is a career .250 hitter with 118 career HR and 106 career SB in 9 seasons. Not too bad.
Justin Smoak, SEA - .198 average - 324 AB - 6 2B - 13 HR - 38 RBI - 76 K
Smoak is a career .218 hitter with 41 HR and 272 K, in just his 3rd year in the league. Ehh.
Cliff Pennington, OAK - .199 average - 281 AB - 13 2B - 3 HR - 16 RBI - 59 K
Pennington is a career .249 hitter in 5 seasons with a .968 fielding percentage. So what?
Who'd you rather have on your team? Smoak has the smallest sample size while Pennington might pick it a little on defense, he's a bottom of the order bat, at best. That leaves Weeks and Pena, two guys with an inordinate amount of strikeouts but both with a little pop. Pena draws a lot of walks, makes the plays in the field, and stays healthy. I think Weeks can bring a little more to the table as far as being a dynamic player. He gets on base, scores runs, creates a little something on the basepaths. His issue has always been his healthy, however. But when he's right, the dude's a freak.
|Image via Zimbio|