Baseball’s Mr. Average is the future First Ballot Hall of Famer

There is no such award officially in the sport of baseball, but if there were, the plaque should be presented in honor of Pat Meares. He spent his nine-year career as the regular shortstop for the Minnesota Twins and later the Pittsburgh Pirates, a mediocre but fairly adequate infielder who was just average.

At no time was this more true than in 1997, when Meares’ top offensive stats exactly matched the stats of the average player in baseball. He hit .276, which was the exact overall batting average in both leagues combined, as were the ten home runs Meares racked up that season.

Those numbers would be far from average for the player who would win the Pat Meares Award at this point in the season, as his .276 mark is more than twenty points higher than the current overall batting average. On the other hand, his ten home runs would be significantly less than the league average, which is on track to hit nearly twenty.

So far in 2018, players have a collective .247 batting average in the American League and just .244 on the Senior Circuit, alarmingly low numbers compared to the decade Meares played. In fact, no team has a batting average as high as Meares’s in 1997, and the league-leading Boston Red Sox (.265) trail him by more than ten points. Surprisingly, four clubs have team averages below .230, surpassed by the Arizona Diamondbacks’ .220 overall average.

Although no one exactly matches the Mr. Average Meares was three decades ago, one guy in the American League comes pretty close. Oh, and it turns out that he’s not only a perennial All-Star, but also a future member of Cooperstown’s first Hall of Fame ballot.

With a .247 batting average, Albert Pujols is hitting the exact percentage of the typical player. The eight hits Pujols has amassed this year are just half a percentage point more than the average American League player.

Several guys in the National League are hitting .244, the exact overall average so far in 2018. Third baseman Evan Longoria of the San Francisco Giants is one of them, but his ten home runs have put him three above average. The other .244 hitter is Atlanta Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte, who is however three home runs shy of the NL average.

Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini is hitting the exact average, not for the league he plays in, but for the team he belongs to. His .228 batting average is the same mark he is hitting in Baltimore overall, tied with the Texas Rangers for the lowest in the American League.

There’s a Mancini equivalent in the other league, a player whose batting average is exactly equal to his team’s overall mark. Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer started the day at .255, which is also the collective average for the Pirates as a club.

Meares patrolled Pittsburgh’s middle infield fifteen years before Mercer, but the game they’re a part of has changed dramatically. A guy who scored twenty points above the current league average never made an All Star team or made the playoffs, and that season Meares earned $225.00 for being “Mr. Average.”

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