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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gleeman: And the award for the worst player in baseball goes to …

And Frenchy’s Wins Hindered Above Myers?

It’s tough to identify the worst player in baseball because technically the worst player is probably some guy with zero hits in three at-bats or some pitcher with a 15.00 ERA in two appearances. They’re so bad that they don’t get any further opportunities.

The worst player in baseball who actually plays regularly is a different, more interesting story and I thought it would be a good time examine the lowest Wins Above Replacement totals this season via Baseball-Reference.com:

                      PA      WAR
Jeff Francoeur       528     -3.2
Michael Young        575     -2.6
Joe Mather           220     -2.2
Ryan Raburn          222     -2.0
Ramon Hernandez      196     -1.7
Ty Wigginton         338     -1.7

unlike most of the other guys with negative WAR totals Francoeur and Young have played basically every day for the entire season. In fact, among the 30 players with the lowest WAR totals this season only Francoeur and Young have logged more than 480 plate appearances.

If you’re looking for the worst player in baseball this season Francoeur and Young are the most obvious candidates and right now at least my vote would go to Frenchy. Also: Francoeur is signed for $6.75 million next year and Young is under contract for $16 million.

The District Attorney Posted: September 15, 2012 at 01:30 PM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: aaron gleeman, sabermetrics

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   1. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: September 15, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4236608)
I'm skeptical. A very large chunk of Francoeur's negative value is defensive, at a rate way out of step with his career norm.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4236611)
I'm skeptical. A very large chunk of Francoeur's negative value is defensive, at a rate way out of step with his career norm.

Francoeur's a RF with a 79 OPS+ (235/288/370). Young has a 73 OPS+ (270/302/360), but can at least play 2B, 3B, and SS (I'm guessing he's pretty awful at short).

Even if Frenchy is avg. on D, instead of -15, I think he's still worse, or, at least, less useful.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 15, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4236619)
Jeff Francoeur needs to change teams every season. He might have the weirdest career split I've ever noticed.

His OPS+ in his first season with a new team (including mid-season trades) (in order): 126, 120, 121, 119.
His OPS+ in a season where he's on the same team as he ended the previous season (in order): 87, 102, 72, 67, 80, 79

Throw out his 2007 season for the Braves (the 102) and he's basically always been a good hitter in his first go-round with a team and never been worth a damn in his second (or later) go-round with a team. Maybe if the Royals can't trade him, they should change their uniforms to try to trick him into thinking he's on a new team next year.
   4. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: September 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4236633)
Breaks my heart to see Joey Bombs on this list. I had such high hopes for him.
   5.     Hey Gurl Posted: September 15, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4236634)
Wow, Ramon Hernandez. I thought he'd been out of baseball since Baltimore. Not even close.
   6. BDC Posted: September 15, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4236638)
It's interesting to try to account for why these guys have gotten so much bad playing time. Francoeur and Young, the most egregious, are easy, even aside from their charming intangibles: they were both pretty good last year. Ryan Raburn has been good in the past and has been hurt this year; his career may well be fizzling out in a disappointing but predictable way (he's 31 and peaked late). Ramon Hernandez is a veteran catcher; those guys will get a lot of rope (and Hernandez had been decent for several years).

Joe Mather is a guy I'd never heard of. A third-round draft pick and a .269 lifetime hitter in extended time at AAA, and he's 30 and he's had a Godawful major-league record. But he's on the Cubs, so I reckon that explains part of it.

Wigginton, who the #### knows why he's playing for anybody. Signing Ty Wigginton is like buying a used Impala. It's obviously unwise, but at least you're not driving some weird Albanian hybrid biodiesel thing. Oh yeah, Ty Wigginton, I've heard of him. Solid move, bro.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: September 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4236685)
I'm playing a Baseball Mogul game where some bug has made it so that almost every player in the league is best friends with Ramon Hernandez. In contract negotiations with free agents, I keep hearing that players are "lonely" and that they'd rather be playing for whatever team that Ramon Hernandez is on. Most of my players are unhappy because they miss Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez is over the hill and overpaid, but I may acquire him just for the morale boost.
   8. bookbook Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4236687)
Several M's got robbed. Smoak and Figgins most obviously, but I also find it hard to believe Olivo is positive.
   9. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4236693)
If you’re looking for the worst player in baseball this season Francoeur and Young are the most obvious candidates and right now at least my vote would go to Frenchy. Also: Francoeur is signed for $6.75 million next year and Young is under contract for $16 million.


This is an odd comment. I would think that Young being under contract for $9 million more per year would be a negative, not a positive but Gleeman adds it as a note as if to explain why Francoeur is worse. I'm probably missing something though.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4236697)
Mather was a Cardinals fill-in all over who wound up with the Cubs and impressed the brass in spring training with his "moxie." He can even pitch an inning in a desperate emergency, and did so again this year iirc.

I couldn't believe he was drafted in my deep NL-only fantasy league, even at the minimum price. That owner also liked the moxie, apparently.

Both the Cubs and this owner STILL own Mather. My rival is buried deep in last place, but the Cubs - the Cubs have the Astros for one more season to make them look "good."

As Post 6 foreshadows, Wigginton and RHernandez also lasted until last week in this league before their owners finally pulled the plug. You keep thinking, "He'll turn it around..." I guess.


   11. SteveM. Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4236700)
Any list without Chris Volstad is worthless.
   12. marty Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4236705)
The problem with Young is that he limits the Rangers options in so many ways. He forces far better up and coming players like Moreland, Gentry and Profar to sit while he grounds softly to short. He hasn't even had the good grace to get injured. For shame.
   13. Swedish Chef Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4236716)
This is an odd comment. I would think that Young being under contract for $9 million more per year would be a negative, not a positive but Gleeman adds it as a note as if to explain why Francoeur is worse. I'm probably missing something though.

I don't think it's part of the evaluation, after all it's worst and not worst value, it's just a kicker to show what trainwrecks those two are.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4236718)
Signing Ty Wigginton is like buying a used Impala.

Don't insult Impalas. I'd much rather have my '71 Impala convertible than Ty Wigginton.
   15. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: September 15, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4236722)
I'm playing a Baseball Mogul game where some bug has made it so that almost every player in the league is best friends with Ramon Hernandez. In contract negotiations with free agents, I keep hearing that players are "lonely" and that they'd rather be playing for whatever team that Ramon Hernandez is on. Most of my players are unhappy because they miss Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez is over the hill and overpaid, but I may acquire him just for the morale boost.
This was really, really, really funny.
   16. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 15, 2012 at 06:05 PM (#4236725)
Ryan Raburn 222 -2.0

In a related story, the Tigers are one game behind.
   17. DA Baracus Posted: September 15, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4236738)
I don't care what the WAR says, Dan Uggla needs to be on this list.
   18. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: September 15, 2012 at 06:45 PM (#4236759)
Wigginton's teammate Michael Martinez is -0.7 in 103 PAs. Fortunately he was injured for at least half the year. Somehow he's down for a +0.3 defensively!
   19. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 15, 2012 at 06:45 PM (#4236760)
I don't care what the WAR says, Dan Uggla needs to be on this list.

Maybe next year. Only three more years at $13 million per to go! Yay Frank Wren!

"If somebody wants to give him five years, good luck to them," Florida owner Jeffrey Loria said during the November's General Managers Meetings. "He's 31 years old."

Frenchy's defensive rep survives somewhat because of his cannon arm but his routes and jumps are wretched.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2012 at 07:35 PM (#4236790)
As bdc notes, Wigginton is probably the worst player on this list.

Francoeur was above-average last year and is positive for his career. He's having a bad year and maybe it's finally the beginning of the end but you can see why they keep trotting him out there (kinda). Young was a smidgen above-average last year and over the last 3 years and is way in the positive for his career. Hernandez looked like he was done a couple of years ago but bounced back with 2 nice seasons in Cincy and is above-average for his career. Raburn is quite borderline but was generally a decent 4th OF who got switched out of position to 2B but still positive WAR. Mather's got a case and, OK, he probably is actuall worse than Wigginton but it's in the same way that Gleeman notes that the worst guy was probably 0-3 this year. The Cubs needed a bench player (5th OF), they didn't want to waste that on a young player (not that they had any worth wasting it on) and Mather was already there.

But Wigginton? Wigginton is -2.5 WAR over the last 4 seasons. He hasn't topped a 100 OPS+ in that time, heck he's been below 90 in 3 of those years. 23 runs below average batting, 31 runs below average fielding and he tosses in below-average baserunning and DPing. So over those 4 years, he's gotten nearly 1900 PA and made $14 M. 2009-10 you could argue for him similarly to how I argued for those guys above -- he'd been a decent-good bench player for 3-4 straight years prior to 2009. But the Rox signing him (2 years, $8) and the Phils trading for him were just dumb.
   21. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 15, 2012 at 07:41 PM (#4236795)
This was really, really, really funny.


Agreed. I'm still laughing.
   22. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2012 at 07:56 PM (#4236815)
Thirded on the Baseball Mogul post.

Wigginton surprises me on this list. I've never paid a lot of attention to me but he always struck me as a fairly versatile guy with a bit of pop who was a pretty useful utility guy. I'm looking at his career right now and he's played one season in 11 for a team with a winning record. The Phillies are trying to make it two.
   23. Loren F. Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:20 PM (#4236839)
Smoak is only at -1.4 WAR but in my mind gets extra negative value for being Seattle's big "get" in the Cliff Lee trade.
   24. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4236888)
I'm probably wrong, but the impression I get about Wiggington over the past several years is that he enters camp thought to be a bench player/super utility guy who, through a combination of injuries and/or underperformance from presumed starters, he ends up with a more prominent role. Is this correct?
   25. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:15 PM (#4236922)
As charityslave says, the Rockies got Wigginton to be a RHB who could spell the lefties they had at first and third, but when Ian Stewart proved to be both hurt and terrible, Wigginton got more or less a starting job. Also, managers seem to like him because he's gritty, i.e., he makes an exaggerated grimace every time he strikes out with a man on third and less than two out, which is often.
   26. Jim Wisinski Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4236927)
For a number of years Wigginton was an extremely useful player to have around; he could handle 2B, 3B, or the corner outfield at an acceptable level*, was a serious lefty-masher, and was an extremely nice guy who was great with the fans and a good teammate (plus he hustled all the time and worked hard). As a bench player he was great, the problem is that teams either by choice or due to injuries kept throwing him out there against most righties as well or playing him extensively at positions other than 1B and so he accumulated a bunch of negative value that really dragged down his total line. Properly utilized he was probably one of the better bench players in the majors.

*By acceptable I mean that he was lousy due to limited range but was capable of making all the routine plays, he wouldn't go Dan Uggla in the ASG on you or anything.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4236929)
Frenchy's defensive rep survives somewhat because of his cannon arm but his routes and jumps are wretched.


I find it amazing that a guy who is basically lapping the league in outfield assists is so poor defensively. Eliminating 18 runners on the bases would seem like a good way to make up for some range issues. He must not be getting to anything.

   28. Howie Menckel Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4236930)
Usually, re Post 24 - or the free agent musical chairs music stop, leaving a bad team to talk themselves into the idea that Wigginton is a perfectly reasonable everyday answer.

If Wigginton is a reserve on your team, that's ok - you can double-switch him places in NL, and he has some pop.
If he gets every-day ABs, your team stinks.

dammit, Coke-d by 25 and 26
   29. Jim Wisinski Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:51 PM (#4236939)
It should also be noted that what I said above about Wigginton only applies through 2008. Since then his only decent performance against LHP was in 2011 (.259/.370/.426) and I'm sure that being in his thirties is taking its toll on his already limited defensively ability.
   30. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4236940)
Re: The Baseball Mogul post

I wonder if, in-game, Ramon Hernandez is talking himself up like Tobias in Arrested Development.

"That Hernandez is all anyone is talking about!"
   31. DL from MN Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:12 PM (#4236956)
Happened to be in a Target in Atlanta looking at buying a Chipper Jones jersey. Nada - all they had was Uggla.
   32. silhouetted by the sea Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:16 AM (#4237066)
Not sure how to do a fancy correct, so let me fix it this way.

Happened to be in a Target in Atlanta looking at buying a Chipper Jones jersey. Nada - all they had LEFT was Uggla.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:32 AM (#4237068)
I'm lonely and would be rather playing for Ramon Hernandez' team
   34. zachtoma Posted: September 16, 2012 at 03:05 AM (#4237073)

Happened to be in a Target in Atlanta looking at buying a Chipper Jones jersey. Nada - all they had LEFT was Uggla.


As the loud gentleman in the section next to me in San Diego put it, "UGGGLAAAAA! UGGGLAAAAAA! GARRRRRBAAAAGE! GAAAAARRRRBAAAGE! DON'T HURT YOURSELF, UGGLA! UGGGGLAAAA!" I couldn't have said it better myself.
   35. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:17 AM (#4237085)
I can't stop thinking about Ramon Hernandez. Wondering where he could be, who he is with, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me? and whether he'll ever return someday.
   36. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4237149)
I bet they're asleep where Ramon Hernandez is.
   37. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM (#4237150)
Ramon Hernandez is a veteran catcher; those guys will get a lot of rope (and Hernandez had been decent for several years).


Not to mention that the Rockies' other catcher, Rosario, is a solid hitter but a terrible receiver, and Jim Tracy keeps periodically benching him when he screws up on defense as some kind of half-baked motivational ploy (since Tracy, as a sociopath, has no real understanding of the workings of normal human minds).
   38. WillYoung Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4237153)
Even though he was only on the Major League roster for about a week, I still think Tsuyoshi Nishioka should win this award running away.
   39. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4237156)


I can't stop thinking about Ramon Hernandez. Wondering where he could be, who he is with, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me? and whether he'll ever return someday.


Still our game rages on into extra innings; and once again, we have run out of wine.
   40. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM (#4237513)
Worst WAR seasons ever all-star team:

1B: Hughie Miller, 1914 (-3.5)
2B: John Misse, 1914 (-3.2); Miller and Misse were actually teammates, with St. Louis of the Federal League. (No, they didn't win the pennant.)
3B: Jerry Royster, 1977 (-4.1). Worst. Season. Ever.
SS: Jim Levey, 1933 (-4.1); Levey also put up a -3.3 two years earlier. Yikes.
LF: Jim Lillie, 1886 (-4.0). The 2nd of 3 attempts to put and NL team in Kansas City. (The other teams sucked, too.)
CF: George Wright, 1985 (-3.9). Wright was more of a right fielder, but RF is taken by...
RF: Jose Guillen, 1997 (-3.4)
C: Bob Uecker, 1967 (-2.6). As if it could be anyone else!
DH: Adam Dunn, 2011 (-3.0). Heh!

So a team with this offense, assuming normal pitching and defense, would finish around 50-112. How good would their ERA+ have to be to win a pennant? 200? More?
   41. DA Baracus Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4237568)
Happened to be in a Target in Atlanta looking at buying a Chipper Jones jersey. Nada - all they had LEFT was Uggla.


As well they should. Owning a Dan Uggla jersey is a good indicator that someone makes questionable life decisions.
   42. EddieA Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:39 PM (#4237590)
Are Francouer's pitchers always throwing fly balls to right field? He has the -15 runs this year. Last year he led rightfielders in assists, putouts, and range factor but only had 1 run. Doesn't make sense to me.
   43. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:18 AM (#4237674)
As well they should. Owning a Dan Uggla jersey is a good indicator that someone makes questionable life decisions.


I saw a guy wearing a Matt Holliday A's shirt at the Coliseum today. Given that it was clear when acquired that Holliday would be an Athletic for at most a year, seems like a pretty unsound purchase at the time (of course it ended up being only half a year).

I also saw a Nomar A's shirt, but that seems a bit more defensible to me.
   44. DEF: hates freedom Posted: September 17, 2012 at 07:29 AM (#4237696)
So a team with this offense, assuming normal pitching and defense, would finish around 50-112. How good would their ERA+ have to be to win a pennant? 200? More?


Actually, that team comes up as 32 wins below replacement, not 32 wins below average. So it depends on where repalcement level is set, though I suspect that for a team that bad the negative impact of poor performance has a lower than rated impact (other wise, you could come up with a -30 WAR pitching staff to go with that lineup and come up with a team projected for negative wins.)
   45. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:50 AM (#4237734)
Not to mention that the Rockies' other catcher, Rosario, is a solid hitter but a terrible receiver, and Jim Tracy keeps periodically benching him when he screws up on defense as some kind of half-baked motivational ploy


? Rosario has played in 37 of 44 games since the All-Star break, which is about as regular as a catcher gets these days.

Rosario is legitimately terrible on defense, but the funny thing is, he throws pretty well. He's thrown out 36 percent of the runners trying to steal against him. But he is the worst catcher I've ever seen at blocking pitches; he leads the league in passed balls, and the Rockies lead the majors by a wide margin in wild pitches.
   46. BDC Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4237757)
extra negative value for being Seattle's big "get"

Justin Smoak is hitting .295/.348/.533 lifetime against Texas, with 8 HR and 23 RBI in 132 PAs; it's like suddenly adding Eddie Murray to the Mariners' lineup every time they get to Arlington. GWRBI home run late in Saturday's game, had the Mariners' only run with another HR yesterday. Maybe he needs to be hypnotized into thinking that every team in the league traded him away :)
   47. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4237766)
? Rosario has played in 37 of 44 games since the All-Star break, which is about as regular as a catcher gets these days.


He's only played that much in the second half because Hernandez has mostly been hurt, and they don't have any other real catchers on the roster.

Owning a Dan Uggla jersey is a good indicator that someone makes questionable life decisions.


Does that also count for Uggla himself?
   48. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4237790)
I saw a guy wearing a Matt Holliday A's shirt at the Coliseum today. Given that it was clear when acquired that Holliday would be an Athletic for at most a year, seems like a pretty unsound purchase at the time (of course it ended up being only half a year).

If my favorite player got traded to my favorite team, I'd get a jersey even if it was only a Piazza/Marlins situation. Not saying that this is what happened, but I could see it.
   49. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4237797)
He's only played that much in the second half because Hernandez has mostly been hurt, and they don't have any other real catchers on the roster.


Hernandez went on the DL in May, and came back right after the All-Star Break. Rosario has played that much in the second half because he's won the starting job. They don't have any other real catchers on the roster because Rosario has won the starting job.

One thing you have to say about Jim Tracy, he's not afraid to put rookies on the field, at least in his time with the Rockies.
   50. DA Baracus Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4237801)
Does that also count for Uggla himself?


Of course. Have you watched him play?
   51. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4237808)
Joe Mather is a guy I'd never heard of. A third-round draft pick and a .269 lifetime hitter in extended time at AAA, and he's 30 and he's had a Godawful major-league record. But he's on the Cubs, so I reckon that explains part of it.

Making it to 30 without acquiring the nickname, "Cotton," is a bigger surprise than Mather making the Cubs.
   52. DA Baracus Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4237809)
I saw a guy wearing a Matt Holliday A's shirt at the Coliseum today. Given that it was clear when acquired that Holliday would be an Athletic for at most a year, seems like a pretty unsound purchase at the time (of course it ended up being only half a year).


Partial blame has to go to the team for making it in the first place. For example there's an entire rack of Derrek Lee Braves t-shirt jerseys at my local Sports Authority, on heavy discount of course. What are the chances enough idiots bought them when they came out (or Matt Holliday in Oakland, although at least he was a better player) to make them money? Reminds me of when I went to a game at Fenway at the height of Eric Gagne's implosion with the Sox, I joked to my friend about if they had Gagne shirts. A woman two rows in front of us had one.
   53. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4237834)
When I was in Boston during a vacation, I had the chance to go to a Boston Red Sox game. It was less than a week after Ramirez had been dealt and Jason Bay had been added to the Boston roster. As a Canadian, I thought it would be pretty cool to grab a Jason Bay Red Sox jersey at the team store before the game. I'd wear it at the game, and have a nice souvenir of my time in Boston (and at Fenway).

They were completely sold out of them, and the salesperson indicated that they were on back order for a while.

How many Jason Bay Red Sox jerseys do you see in Fenway nowadays?

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