Move over Mario Mendoza! The former major leaguer, whose name has been synonymous with futility at the plate for almost 30 years, could have some company in his ignominy in the form of Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds.
Interesting stat from USA Today: if Reynolds, who homered in the O's 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners Sunday, but is hitting just .198, continues to flail miserably at the plate, he could join John Gochnauer of the 1902-03 Cleveland Indians as the only major leaguers in history to hit below .200 in consecutive years in which they had at least 300 at-bats. (As we all know, Reynolds hit .198 last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks.)
Reynolds has hit a team-high seven homers. And his 24 RBI rank him third on the O's behind Adam Jones (29) and Matt Wieters (26.) But way more times than not, Reynolds looks like a guy who's beating a rug at the plate and still trying to figure out American League pitching.
"I hope they don't pick on (Reynolds) like they did me," said Mendoza. "It's tough to deal with."
He should know. Despite playing in the big leagues from 1974 to 1982 for Pittsburgh, Seattle and Texas, the former shortstop and third baseman batted under .200 in five of those seasons.
From this legacy came the enduring term the "Mendoza line," referring to a hitter struggling to bat .200.
On the other hand, Mendoza, who now coaches in the Mexican League, did finish his career with a .215 batting average.
Which, some would say, looks positively robust compared to .198.
Still, Reynolds has plenty of company. According to USA Today, there were 18 players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title hitting below .215, including five under .200.
So no fair calling it the "Reynolds line" just yet.