The Woody Allen Line

Woody Allen is known for witty one liners, but here’s a line even he wouldn’t have predicted: a baseball statistic.

Named in his honor, the statistic springs from his one-liner that, “80-percent of life is showing up.”

The statistic may someday become as popularized as the Mendoza Line. That stat came from Mario Mendoza, a light-hitting Shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. It stands for the batting average of .200 which, if a batter should fall below that mark at the plate, means that – regardless of defensive prowess – the hitter does not belong in Major League Baseball.

So I introduce to you: the “Woody Allen Line”!

It means that if a player has played 80% or more of his team’s games that year, he is above the Woody Allen line. In a 162-game season, that correlates to 130 games. Having a player play 130 of 162 games means the player is valuable to the team and can resist the wear and tear that a MLB schedule puts on its players.

Of the 1,051 players to don a MLB uniform and head out on the diamond last year, only four players had a perfect season of 1.000 Allen. They were Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto, San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence, Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler, and Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder. All four of those players are very good at their jobs in baseball, so the team receiving their services are spending money well – getting all these games played back for their buck. Pence’s achievement is particularly notable because he’s the only player of that group who plays a position other than First Base.

In the days of Tommy John and nagging injuries and over-cautious behavior, this is a remarkable achievement. For the local connection, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox played 160 games, ending the season with a .988 Allen.

The days of Iron Men like Cal Ripken, Jr. – 17 straight seasons of playing every day – are over. Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers holds the current record, at 505. Woody Allen would’ve loved these two guys.

By the way, a special shout-out to David Ortiz, who still has a phenomenal .842 Allen Line, even while his teammates from the ’04 Sox are eating at their desk in the broadcast booth.

The days of platoons, simple rest and healing banged-up injuries are upon MLB, but there’s still value in the “Allen Line.”


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