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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Boys, Meet Mario

Let's take a little Tuesday morning stroll to look at some Astros batting statistics, shall we? Sorting by batting average, the following three statistics jumped out at me:
Adam Everett
.208
Jason Lane
.196
Orlando Palmeiro
.189
Through 52 games, then, the Astros sport three position players--of whom two have started the majority of games--flirting with the Mendoza Line.

Much has been made of the legendary "Mendoza Line," a phrase coined by Hall of Famer George Brett in reference to Mario Mendoza, a slick-fielding, crappy-hitting shortstop with the Pirates, Mariners, and Rangers in the 70's to early 80's.

Traditionally, the "Mendoza Line" refers to players whose batting average hovers at or around .200, although Mendoza himself actually batted .215 for his career. (There has therefore also been discussion of a .215 Mendoza line. If one omits his anomalous 1980 season--in which he crushed the ball to a tune of .245 while still sporting a sub-.300 OBP--his career batting average is actually .206. He also batted below .200 in three straight seasons and five times in his nine-year career.) In any event, lore of the .200 "Mendoza Line" has long outlasted memories of Mario's actual career batting line.

That Mario Mendoza was also a "slick-fielding shortstop" seems to have been largely forgotten. Are you listening, Adam Everett? (Career comparisons between the two may be unfair; Adam is actually a .248 hitter over his five-plus seasons.) The point remains that we cannot expect to compete with two regulars struggling to best a pornstache-wielding shortstop from the 70's.

I'd probably give Orlando Palmeiro a bye from this discussion, given how little playing time he's received. At the same time, however, I do query why we're spending some $1.9 million on a backup who almost never plays and, when he does, rarely musters better than yesterday's pinch-hit foul pop-up to Scott Rolen, given the presence of some pretty promising prospects down on the farm.

As was noted sarcastically on the radio this morning, it's not like the competition to be one of the Astros' corner outfielders is all that stiff: "Whose place are you going to take: Private Punchout (Preston Wilson), or Private Mendoza (Jason Lane)?"

I plan to do a bit more research to determine Adam Everett's overall impact on the team's run differential. (I think there have been some recent books that quantify a player's contribution to keeping the other team from scoring.) Adam Everett may perform decently in this analysis; I hardly expect Jason Lane to fare as well.

How much more patience should we have with Jason? I'm a bit weary of hearing, "He's young, he's having good at-bats, he'll adjust," given that this is a bit of a results-oriented business that's measured in wins and losses, not in "quality at-bats." (No matter the supposedly high quality of Jason's at-bats, by the way, the guy hitting ahead of him in the lineup will always ensure that the net effect of this dubious "quality at-bats" statistic is, at best, zero.)

Let's hear your thoughts, all two of our loyal readers.

1 Comments:

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12:09 AM  

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