But only the 2012 squad's ineptitude has a chance of being dubbed statistically historic, and such a legacy rests solely on the lumber of Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak--not to mention the ghost of former Mariner Mario Mendoza (pictured).
The Mendoza Line, meant to demarcate any hitter who finishes a season with a batting average under .200, is named for former Mariner shortstop Mario Mendoza, who batted .198 for the Mariners in 1979 and finished with a career average of .215. Of the 10 teams on ESPN's list, half featured a regular starter with a batting average under the Mendoza Line. But none featured a pair of Mendoza men. That's where Smoak and Ryan come in.
Prior to last night's game, Ryan was hitting .191 and Smoak, in the midst of a hot streak (for him), .200 on the nose. With 14 games to play, Smoak's bat will have to cool a bit in order for the 2012 M's to make Mendoza history. It's a tough thing to root for, but a morbidly intriguing footnote nonetheless.
Whether or not they end up shrouded in statistical infamy, the M's have made at least a modest leap forward this year, and will be positioned to make a major free-agent splash prior to the 2014 season, when fellow Mendozer Chone Figgins comes off the rolls. As for the man for whom the Line is named, he hit a career-best .245 with the M's in 1980--so expect big things from Ryan next year. And by big, we mean like .225.