Firstman: Braves’ “Mendoza Line” hitters could make history not seen since 1917

From SABR member Diane Firstman at Value Over Replacement Grit on August 11, 2013:

The Atlanta Braves are running away with the National League East.  They’re first in the league in walks and homers and second in runs scored.  This helps hide the fact that they’re running out two sub-.200 hitters practically every night.

Dan Uggla is one of the two “Mendoza Line” batters, as his average has declined for the third season in a row, down to .188 as of Sunday morning.  He’s joined by B.J. Upton, whose HIGHEST batting average at any point this year is .198.

Due to games missed because of injury, Upton is currently 15 plate appearances under the threshold for batting title qualification.  Assuming he makes up those PAs during the last 45 games (he needs to average 3.42 PA/game), he could help the Braves tie a very rare record.

There have been only seven instances of a team having two batting title-eligible players bat under .200 in the same season.  The last time it happened?  96 years ago . . . when the Cleveland Indians (who finished a respectable 88-66) and the Washington Senators (who ended up 74-79) each did it.  And it wasn’t like offenses were much less potent in those days.  Batters hit .249 in 1917, versus .254 this year.

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Originally published: August 12, 2013. Last Updated: August 12, 2013.