The Cubs have signed Carlos Pena, who hit .196 last season, to a one-year, $10 million contract. Let's first get a few things out of the way: no, .196 is not a very good batting average, but 48.4% of his hits went for extra bases, and he drew a good number of walks. His OPS+ was 102, or just barely above average, and his Offensive Wins Above Replacement number was 1.5.
For the money, and because 32-year-olds who hit under .200 give me the creeps, I might have taken a closer look at fellow free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, but that's neither here nor there. Pena's batting average and contract have provided us with several pieces of statistical trivia:
- Within the last 60 years, Pena is one of seven players to hit under .200 and still have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. He's joined by Mark Reynolds, who hit .198 in 2010.
- No player, following a sub-.200 season, has received $10 million the following season.
- Pena's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .222. This is the 18th-worst among all players since 1970 to qualify for a batting title. This suggests, among other things, that Pena ran into some bad luck.