THE MENDOZA LINE

Mendoza Line

Definition:

If you are hitting below .200, you are known to be hitting below the Mendoza line.

But where did the Mendoza Line come from and when did it originate? Below are some theories on the subject:

"We all know it's named for former shortstop Mario Mendoza, but nobody I've talked to knows who came up with the phrase-a sportswriter? a broadcaster? a teammate? Chris Berman? It's lasted so long that it's now too good to go unacknowledged. (Incidentally, Mendoza is managing in the Texas League these days)."

"My understanding is that George Brett made some comment as a throwaway line during an interview, and that the reporter saw a good thing and made the most of it. As a Pirate fan, I still think of Mario Mendoza as a slick, dependable shortstop first of all. It's a shame he gets credit for being so bad with the bat, but that's baseball."

"The Mendoza line is actually named after Minnie Mendoza, a career minor leaguer, who finally made it with the Minnesota Twins in 1970 At age 36. Mendoza hit .188 in sixteen games with the Twins that year. I remember seeing the term Mendoza Line first mentioned in The Sporting News in either 1970 or 1971. It mentioned that some hitters could not even get their averages above the Mendoza Line. It then stated that the term was named after the Twins light hitting infielder Minnie Mendoza. Mario did not come along until 1974. It burns me every time I hear an announcer Mention Mario instead of Minnie when referring to the Mendoza Line. Long live Minnie!"

"Seems to me that Lasorda started using the term about ten years ago. Sounds like a Tommy kind of thing, doesn't it? There should be some kind of term concerning the "Lasorda Line" as well, but now that my OWN waist line has hit middle age, perhaps that should be left alone."

"Yeah, I remember Minnie Mendoza. Helluva player for the White Sox, led the league in steals and triples a few times, got a hit at age 53, and has the same birthday as I do. If your memory is correct about the real Minnie Mendoza, this is definitely a breakthrough in baseball trivia. Now all we need is some documentation. However, it seems implausible that the Sporting News (or anyone else) would elevate someone with only 16 career plate appearances to the status of a benchmark for poor hitting. How many hundreds of players have come to the plate a dozen or 20 times and not managed hit .200? Why focus on Minnie Mendoza, a one-season wonder?"

"I have always heard the expression the Mendoza line as originating with George Brett. He supposedly looked at the weekly batting averages in the Sunday paper and saw that his was lower than Mario Mendoza's, causing him to say something like "I knew I was off to a bad start when I saw my average listed below the Mendoza line" which was usually around 200. This must have happened very early one year since I cannot imagine George Brett being below the Mendoza line except during the first couple weeks of the season."

"I seem to remember Bob Uecker once saying that it should actually have been named after him since he actually hit .200 on the nose while Mendoza was over it."

"He didn't have much power (67 lifetime home runs), but Minnie was no out man as he broke .300 six times in a fourteen-year career, including a league-leading .316 with Charlotte in the Southern League in 1971.


Now for the facts:

Only five Mendoza's have ever played Major League Baseball: Minnie, Mario, Mike, Carlos and Ramiro. While Carlos did hit below .200 at .182, he only had 22 career at bats; and Mike and Ramiro were pitchers. Only Minnie really finished with what you would call a less-than-.200 career average. See for yourself.

MINNIE MENDOZA

YR

Team

G

AB

R

H

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

1970

MIN

16

16

2

3

0

2

.188

.188

.188

Totals

--

16

16

2

3

0

2

.188

.188

.188

MARIO MENDOZA

YR

Team

G

AB

R

H

HR

RBI

AVG

OBP

SLG

1974

PIT

91

163

10

36

0

15

.221

.262

.252

1975

PIT

56

50

8

9

0

2

.180

.226

.200

1976

PIT

50

92

6

17

0

12

.185

.219

.239

1977

PIT

70

81

5

16

0

4

.198

.226

.235

1978

PIT

57

55

5

12

1

3

.218

.283

.291

1979

SEA

148

373

26

74

1

29

.198

.219

.249

1980

SEA

114

277

27

68

2

14

.245

.287

.310

1981

TEX

88

229

18

53

0

22

.231

.257

.266

1982

TEX

12

17

1

2

0

0

.118

.118

.118

Totals

--

686

1,337

106

287

4

101

.215

.247

.262




Mike Mendoza pitched for the Astros in 1979. Only for a single inning, but with an ERA of 0.00, with no hits or walks allowed.

Ramiro Mendoza pitched for the Yankees in 1996, and actually won 4 games, though he lost five and had an ERA of 6.79.