In baseball parlance, the Mendoza Line is a reference to hitting .200. It is so-called in honor of Mario Mendoza, a weak hitting shortstop/third baseman who played for eight seasons, spending time between the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Mendoza was definitely not a force at the plate, “hitting” .215/.245/.262 with four home runs and 101 RBI. He definitely did not get in the lineup for his bat.
Over the past few games, Mike Moustakas has flirted with the Mendoza Line. He had been close, finishing Thursday night’s game only .00066445 points below .200. Just the fact that he had gotten that close was somewhat remarkable, as Moustakas was hitting at .152/.223/.320 before being sent down to the minors for ten days. Since being recalled, Moustakas has produced a .233/.292/.449 batting line with ten home runs. While that batting line may not be spectacular, it is roughly in line with his career marks, as Moustakas was hitting at a .236/.290/.386 rate over his career heading into last night’s game.
With the Mike Moustakas Watch over the past few games, as Moose kept hovering around .200, that mark has no longer become the Mendoza line. That number, at least until he gets comfortably over .200, has been the Moustakas Line. It has become a mark of success for Moustakas, proof that he really is swinging the bat better.
Even though a .200 batting average may not seem like much, for Moustakas, that number is a true accomplishment. Even if he is just barely over .200, it still has to be a confidence boost for Moustakas to see a batting average beginning with a ’2′ instead of the ’1′ that he has seen most of the year. Just those few percentage points could make a big difference.
Mike Moustakas has also had a different approach at the plate. Even though he is still typically a dead pull hitter, Moustakas has been more apt to hit the ball up the middle or poke the ball the other way. That ability to hit the ball where it is pitched has even resulted in defensive changes when Moustakas is at the plate. Now, teams are not lining up with such a dramatic shift to the right side, as the shortstop has actually been to the left side of second.
For the first time all season, Mike Moustakas has ended a night with his batting average above .200. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.