When you are a baseball player, you never want your batting average to be around the “Mendoza Line”. Coined after Mario Mendoza, a batting average of .200 is said to be the cutoff point for futility by a regular position player. Mendoza was a highly skilled defensive shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers back in the late 1970’s. Although Mendoza’s batting average was .215 lifetime, he was known as a sub-.200 hitter whose average frequently fell into the .170 to .180 range during any particular year.
Fast forward to mid-April, 2010… Players are bigger, faster, stronger and MUCH richer. Every move is under the microscope. Nowdays it doesn’t matter if you are the 5th starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the center fielder for the New York Yankees. Everyone is watching.
So here I am, flipping thru the MLB Package and I come across the Yankee game. Mark Teixeria is up, so I figure I’ll catch a glimpse of the Gold Glove Winning, home run mashing, $180 million man. The guy is everything you want in a 1B. He’s got reflexes at first base that make his glove almost seem like he’s got a hockey goalie’s catching glove on. The raw power that he has is incredible. When he’s in the batter’s box, he’s huge. Batting left-handed or right-handed, he strikes fear pitchers. But something just isn’t right. His batting average says .083. WOW. .083 is a pitchers batting average. So I keep the game on and watch him when he’s at the plate. Nothing looks right. I can’t believe what I’m watching. Lindsay Lohan coming out of the Roxy at 4am has better balance right now than “Big Tex” has at the plate. It’s almost as if he’s guessing at what pitch is coming instead of recognizing what pitch is coming his way.
To Tex’s credit, he’s not taking his at-bats out to the field with him. Every night he makes difficult plays at first base look routine. Year after year, he gets off to a slow start at the plate. But before you know it, he’s been on a fire for 3 months and is manning 1st base for the All-Star team. With the lineup that the Yanks put out every night, he’s sure to get his share of fastballs to deposit in the seats. I’m not saying that it’s time to panic, but the Mendoza Line might actually be a good thing in this case.