From BR Bullpen
Javier Méndez González
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 9", Weight 185 lb.
Méndez first led a Cuban league in a department in 1984, when he paced the Series Selectivas with 12 doubles (tied with Pedro José Rodríguez Sr.). He hit .408 in the 1986-1987 Serie Nacional to lead the league. He took home MVP honors for the first time. It would be 10 more years before he led the league in another category.
In the 1990 Central American and Caribbean Games, Javier hit only .200 as a starter for the Cuban national team. He improved to .355/.429/.548 as Cuba's main left fielder in the 1990 Baseball World Cup, with 12 runs in 8 games. He was 3 for 8 in the two Gold Medal games, both of which Cuba took from Nicaragua. It was another eight years until his next national team stint.
Méndez led the Copa de la Revolución in 1997 with a .462 average. His 72 walks in 1997-1998 tied Juan Manrique for the Serie Nacional lead. Back with the national team, he saw limited action in the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games (4 for 6 for the champs from Cuba) and 1998 Baseball World Cup (1 for 3 for the Gold Medalists, backing up Óscar Machado in left and Orestes Kindelan at DH). He also was 5 for 15 with five walks, a double and a homer in the 1998 Haarlem Baseball Week, tying for second in walks (with Adam Burton, Paul Gonzalez and Eddie Dix and behind Omar Linares). He was with Cuba for game two of the 1999 Baltimore Orioles-Cuban National Team Exhibition Series. Javier was 1 for 6 in the 1999 Pan American Games but Cuba got the Gold.
Despite having only two league-leading performances in the decade, the Industriales flyhawk finished the decade one of its most productive hitters, at .333, 4th-best behind Linares, Alexander Ramos and Antonio Pacheco.
In the 2000 Olympics, the left-hander was 1 for 3, backing up Luis Ulacia in left field. With Cuba down 4-0 in the bottom of the 9th of the Gold Medal game, he pinch-hit for German Mesa and struck out versus Ben Sheets. Cuba had to settle for a Silver.
The veteran wrapped up his career on a high note in 2002-2003, hitting .332 with a .599 slugging percentage, 19 homers and 92 RBI. He led the league in RBI and took home his second MVP award. His 16 years from first to last MVP was the longest stretch in Cuban history (through 2010) - the Martin Dihigo had gone 14 years in the old Cuban Winter League (1927-1928 to 1941-1942), but Dihigo had also captured some in between. The castro-era record was 10 years for Wilfredo Sánchez, who had also taken one in between. The longest mark between MVPs had been Willie Wells (10 seasons) in the Cuban Winter League era and 9 for Wilfredo Sánchez in the Castro era.
Méndez ended his national team career in the 2003 Pan American Games, going 3 for 11 as Cuba won it all.
He wrapped up his Cuban career as the all-time doubles leader (381) and 8th in hits (2,101). In 22 seasons, he had hit .327/.440/.488 with 1,139 runs, 191 home runs, 1,174 RBI and 1,244 walks. Through 2009, he was tied for 9th in the Castro era in seasons played, 10th in plate appearances (7,890), 10th in hits, 12th in runs, second in doubles (having been passed by Victor Bejerano), 11th in total bases (3,137), tied for 7th in RBI (even with Victor Mesa), 3rd in walks (behind Antonio Muñoz and Linares), tied for 9th in sacrifice flies (74, even with Lourdes Gourriel) and 7th in OBP (4th among retired players behind Linares, Luis Casanova and Osmani Urrutia).