Mendoza Line of Snagging


My recent/pathetic one-ball performance at Shea Stadium has inspired some talk of the Mendoza Line (which, for those who don’t know, is a .200 batting average…named after infielder Mario Mendoza who finished below the mark five times in his nine-year career).
To recap the brief discussion (from the comments on my previous entry)…

Richard got things started by asking, “Is there a Mendoza line in snagging?”

“Perhaps averaging under one ball per game?” I suggested.

Greg thought that sounded good. “If,” he said, “you have less baseballs than the number of games you’ve been to (as long as you are trying to snag, of course), you should be under the Mendoza Line of Snagging (or MLS).”

Then I had a change of heart: “I’m thinking that perhaps the MLS should be two balls per game, since the Mendoza Line in real life is a TWO hundred batting average.”

“Oh no,” protested Nick, “don’t make the MLS 2 balls! I’m at 1.8! 1.89 at Camden lifetime, though.”

Nick then asked what my career average is.

I’m actually not sure. Although I know exactly how many balls I’ve snagged, I didn’t count all my early games as closely. Still, I’ve done the math and made all sorts of calculations and guesses and assumptions, and I estimate the number of games I’ve attended to be 628.

2,910 balls in 628 games = 4.63 balls per game. So I’m in good shape as far as the “MLS” goes. I really think the mark should be two balls per game. I know that can be a difficult average to maintain, but who says this should be easy? Is it easy to bat .200 in The Show? For some people, yes. And for others, two words: Minor Leagues.

Any thoughts?

(Here’s a thought…the Mendoza Line should be called the Uecker Line; check out the man’s career batting average.)


  1. Nick

    Two balls is fair. You have my vote for two.

    Look at what this blog has created:


    Competition Factor


    Nice work everyone.


    Following is from a Google search. FYI, my uncle played for the Twins and then coached Minnie Mendoza (not Mario), and still believes the following is true, which is why I believe the Mendoza Line originates with Minnie rather than your pictured Mario:

    Many theories abound on who first described the mythical line that separates decent hitters from marginal hitters. Pirates’ fans claim legendary announcer Bob Prince came up with the term while Mario Mendoza was batting .140 one year; I doubt it. Another source credits Johnny Bench. There is even a minority, insisting that Christobal (Minnie) Mendoza is the actual Mendoza referred to in “Mendoza line.” Minnie Mendoza, a consistent .300 hitter in the minor leagues during the ’60s, finally made it with the Minnesota Twins in 1970. At age 36, Minnie hit .188 in 16 games with the Twins that year. Though Minnie Mendoza truly hit below .200 for his brief Major League career, no documented evidence supports the claim of anyone using the term “Mendoza line” in the ’60s and early ’70s.

  3. Zack

    Huh. I never heard that before. I always thought it was a given that the Line was named after (not-so-super) Mario. Cool.


    I understand the reasoning behind putting the MLS at two balls per game in terms of the fact that it’s extremely hard to get one ball or less. It is such a rare occurence to snag less then two balls at a game for anybody who knows what they’re doing. Since I started actually trying for balls, I’ve only had two games of one ball or less. I only have a career total of 64 balls, but I’ve only started trying this year, during which I’ve snagged roughly 55 (in 18 games, for an average of just over three per game).

    In fact, now that I think about it, I’m leaning towards an MLS of 1.5, or something along those lines. That way, you can never be “sitting on” the Mendoza Line for any single game, since it is impossible to snag half a ball (I think). While getting one ball at a game is bad, two would be considered decent/bad. Therefore, somewhere between one and two would be a sensible MLS. What do you think, Zack?

    By the way, I do find it a little odd that this benchmark of balls per game is named after a man who was a notoriouly bad hitter, and not after someone who was a notoriously bad snagger. (I mean, there are no confirmed reports that Mario, or Minnie, Mendoza ****** at snagging.) But that’s because the world of snagging is one of relative anonymity aside from Zack and a few others.


    Great…I’ve spawned yet another stat for Zack to create in the world of ball snagging. ;-)

    Since I’m not an avid snagger, my vote really doesn’t matter, but here are my two cents…

    1. One ball per game should not be a hard average to remain above for anyone attempting to snag…much like a full-time multi-season player staying above the “Mendoza Line” over his career.

    2. One ball per team per game should not be that difficult for a “pro” snagger, so two per game would make a good line…however, I guess it could depend upon how tough it is for someone to snag at their home park.

    3. Perhaps splitting the difference and making it 1.5 balls per game average as the snagging “Mendoza line.” That makes a fair number for all sorts of snaggers. Seeing as how you get minor league snaggers in the same stadium as the “pro” snaggers.

    4. Another way to look at it would be this. The highest career batting average in history(according to record books) is Ty Cobb at .366. Zack- we would say that you’re the cream of the snaggers.(Don’t blush) If we take your average of 4.63 as the career record and equate that with Cobb’s .366 and make a fraction using the .200 Mendoza line, [(4.63x.200)/.366]=2.53. 2.53 is the snagging Mendoza line. Round it off, and you get 2.5 balls per game for the “pro” snaggers.

    5. How are you gonna decide upon who you name the bottom snagging line after? Not me…I’m in rookie league. LOL.


    Richard, that is a good idea but I don’t understand math well at all so i’m confused after you just explaining. Were you saying the avg. should be 2.5 bpg?


    zack or anybody, can anyone tell me how the marlins are, like who signs and whos nice?


    hey Zack! my dad told me about your site and upcoming book this morning, so I just wanted to express my admiration for both – your blogs are really interesting, and I’m sure your book will be as well. I hope that you’re having a wonderful day! oh, and I’m an advocate for having it be at 2 bpg


    Sounds good to me! maybe your career snagging average should be .463(4.63 balls/game)? And who did the Jays play while you were in Toronto?


    I move to have the line at 2 for all stadium except for Yankee Stadium, where it should be 0.5. Also, URGENT QUESTION FOR ZACK!!! I am probably going to the game tomorrow, and the field level is sold out, and rain is in the forcast, meaning probably no BP. How do I get on the field level? I mean, I know to check all of the entries because usually 1 is unguarded early, but do you have any other suggestions?


    hey zack how about making the line like .8 then i can eb above it :) lol but seriously i just got back from teh jays royals game with 1 ball. not bad by my standards but i gotta get a multi ball game before the season is over. I got it from ambroix burgos teh royals closer. almost had a 2nd one from benjie molina but a **** kid knocked it out of my glove but alistair did end up with it after it rolled on the dugout. it was a great game though we were on the jumbo tron 3 times :)

  12. Zack

    You’re right that’s it’s usually easy to get more than one ball if you’re REALLY trying and paying attention. But what’s wrong with sitting on the MLS line? If a player goes 1-for-5 in a single game and sits ON the Mendoza Line, who cares? I mean, I see what you’re saying, but you’re gonna have to try harder to convince me.


    Maybe we should name it the Shindle Line? (In 1890, Philadelphia Quakers shortstop Billy Shindle made 119 errors…but the fields weren’t too good back then, and he probably didn’t even have a glove, so I forgive him.)


    Good point. Park Factor could be an issue…BUT…that doesn’t come into play for the real Mendoza Line, so should it matter here? I think I see what you’re getting at with the math (I *am* blushing), but I think 2.5 might be a bit high. You’ve created a monster here. So much to consider. I like all the suggestions, though.


    I’m with you. The math is rather tricky.


    The Marlins are babies. Literally. They’re all, like, 22 years old. I haven’t seen them this year, so I can only offer these dueling theories:

    1) Since they’re so young, they’d be honored to be recognized and would therefore be quick to reward you with balls.

    2) Since they’re so young, they’re not allowed by management to give balls away.

    One thing I can tell you is that Matt Treanor is supernice.


    Hello! Wow. It’s been a little while, eh? I actually haven’t revealed anything about this “book” yet, at least not publicly, but I think the time has come. Perhaps later tonight. Anyway, I’m glad you agree about the MLS being two BPG. (Ha. So many acronyms.) Don’t be a stranger!


    .463 is more of an on-base percentage than a batting average, don’tcha think? What about Toronto? I hope that question was meant for someone else because I haven’t been there since 2000.


    You know we can’t have a different MLS for each stadium. Or even ONE different MLS for ONE (horrible) stadium. But I’m with you. I pity you in advance for going to Shea later today. There is a way that you can get into the Field Level, but you have to be really slick about it. I don’t want to get in trouble for publicly sabotaging the stadium’s security on my blog, so send me an email, and I’ll tell you privately about my can’t-miss technique.


    0.8? Oh come on. Let’s not lower the Line. Let’s just increase our snagging by sharing even more strategies and stories than ever before. Congrats on the one ball, but yes, a multi-ball game is definitely in order for you. Do it, baby.


    We could make a group attempt to stay above the Line on a given day. We’d just add up all of our snagging totals and then divide by the number of games. When’s my next game? I don’t know. But maybe we could make our first group attempt that day.


    So, what do you do If you have only kept track of how many games you have gone to… about three years ago?

    Also, You have only tried for a ball… since this year?

  14. Zack

    I’ve documented everything more and more as time has passed, but back in the early days of my collection, I hardly kept any stats or records. You just have to start keeping track of everything as soon as you can and try to fill in the gaps where possible. Or you can just start from scratch when the 2007 begins. It’s really up to you. There isn’t ONE way to do this. You can also have different categories/stats that start at different times, as you come up with them. I don’t know if I answered your questions. It’s late. I’m rambling. Why am I still awake?


    I was just saying that 1.5 sounded better to me than 2, not that the you couldn’t “legally” be sitting on the MLS line. I would have no problem with the line being at 2; it was just a suggestion. But anyway, I like your suggestion of setting the MLS at a certain number based on a series of people going out to the ballpark and doing some group math. But would we then lower the line based on that average? Because I’m sure that the average average in MLB history is over .200. I would bet the all-time average for everybody combined is somewhere around .240 or something. So whatever the average BPG snagged by this group, we would have to lower it to compensate for those theoretical 40 points, wouldn’t we? Now I’m confusing myself.


    I just couldn’t resist posting this: As a former season ticket holder of the 1981 Miami Orioles, I was very pleased that someone mentioned their manager (Minnie Mendoza).


    PS…Zack–A very belated (but very hearty) congrats to you on the Bonds HR ball!! And best wishes with the new book! I look forward to it.

  17. Zack

    You might be confusing yourself, but I understand you perfectly. I wasn’t suggesting that we do our group snagging in order to determine what the MLS should be…but rather just for fun. In other words, we’ll establish the line first (I still think it should be exactly two balls per game), and THEN we’ll all go out and combine our efforts and see if we can stay above it. See what I mean?

    By the way, no need to say “line” after “MLS,” right? That’d be like saying “Mendoza Line of Snagging Line.”



    The Miami Orioles? I never even heard of ’em. Was that their affiliate in the Florida State League, or something?

    Belated congrats are always welcome. I appreciate it.


    Indeed, you are correct…the FSL it was. The Miami O’s had a long and complicated history–WAY too long for this entry. But, in a nutshell, they were known as the Miami Marlins for many years, both before AND after the franchise held the Orioles monicker. They still exist today as the Ft. Myers Miracle. (I was a fan of their’s in Miami when I was a kid and later worked in their front office for a couple years in Ft. Myers.)

    I bet that’s probably MORE than everyone wanted to know about Miami’s Minor League history, but were afaid to ask!

  19. Zack

    Not too much info at all. I love hearing that kinda stuff, and I can only assume that anyone reading the comments on an entry about a made up statistic for ball-collecting feels the same way.


    Yeah, I guess so. (I hope.)Well,with that in mind, I should add that a few pretty famous dudes have played for the Miami Orioles/Marlins franchise over the years, including Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and Ferguson Jenkins. With their list of alumni in the HOF at three (soon to be four, of course), the Miami/Ft. Myers franchise already has more players in The Hall than any other franchise in FSL history.

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