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Monday, June 27, 2011

Posnanski: The Least Exciting Player Ever

What’s brown and sounds like a bell?

Why is baseball fun to watch? There are many answers—different ones for different people. The connection to the past. The battle of pitcher and hitter. The geometry of the field and the way fielders try to cover it. The tense moments. On and on. But at its core, for me at least, the fun of baseball comes down to the connection of ball and bat. That is where so much of the action begins. That’s what leads to triples, double plays, diving catches, plays at the plate, long home runs. Bat meets ball leads to motion, leads to action, leads to heroics and mistakes and cans of corn. Sure, there is excitement found in other places—in the fastball that brushes the outside corner, the curveball that buckles the knees, the big swing and miss. Sure, there is fun in the cat-and-mouse game between pitcher, catcher and a great base runner and in the well-earned walk. But, for the most part, the game needs a trigger. And the trigger is ball hitting bat.

Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: June 27, 2011 at 06:29 PM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds, white sox

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   1. Padraic Posted: June 27, 2011 at 09:45 PM (#3863838)
Naw...there are lots of players who have been less exciting than Posnanski.
   2. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 27, 2011 at 09:49 PM (#3863840)
I don't see Rich Becker anywhere on that list.
   3. phredbird Posted: June 27, 2011 at 10:11 PM (#3863857)
   4. Gotham Dave Posted: June 27, 2011 at 11:37 PM (#3863909)
I've seen this enough times that if I had the opportunity to put some non-essential sum of money on Dunn hitting 30 homers in a season again at some point, I'd do so in a second. That would make him more exciting!

Babe Ruth invented these kinds of seasons in 1925, of course. However, he was Babe Ruth, so for him it just looked like a good Adam Dunn year shortened by injury. No, I'm not accusing Dunn of being on a season-long bender, though that would also make him more exciting.
   5. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: June 28, 2011 at 12:20 AM (#3863932)
The least exciting player ever. And Posnanski calls himself a Clevelander. Harrumph.

My nominee couldn't field, couldn't throw, didn't hit for average, didn't hit for power, couldn't run, and was just generally blah at every phase of the sport.
   6. Into the Void Posted: June 28, 2011 at 12:36 AM (#3863938)
Kevin McReynolds
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:11 AM (#3863951)
I second the McReynolds choice.

You can't pick a scrub, because they actively suck.
And if you're TOO good, even if dull, your production is somewhat exciting.

McReynolds hits just the right sweet spot...
   8. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#3863954)
A while back I tried to think of the most generic player in baseball. I realized it was really difficult, because every player is somehow unique and notable (for good or for ill) in a given fanbase. Blake DeWitt came to mind, and John Grabow does now.
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:23 AM (#3863958)
I dunno, it seems like Steve Trachsel is a more obvious choice. He's the only player I've ever heckled at a baseball game.
   10. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:25 AM (#3863959)
Dunn hitting 30 homers in a season again at some point

Dunn might still hit 30 homers this year. 23 homers in half a season isn't beyond his abilities. He hit 21 from July through the end of the year last year.
   11. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:13 AM (#3863979)
McReynolds hits just the right sweet spot...

the only other one I can think of would be Harold Baines
   12. Sweatpants Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:20 AM (#3863984)
I showed up to say Casey Kotchman, but never mind - I can't imagine that there have been more than a handful of players less exciting than Steve Trachsel. He's the only player I can think of for whom being boring is his defining trait.
   13. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:21 AM (#3863986)
A while back I tried to think of the most generic player in baseball. I realized it was really difficult, because every player is somehow unique and notable (for good or for ill) in a given fanbase. Blake DeWitt came to mind, and John Grabow does now.

For position players I'd say either Brooks Conrad or Cliff Pennington. The most generic pitcher is definitely Kevin Correia. Did you know he's been in the majors for NINE YEARS?
   14. Raskolnikov Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:24 AM (#3863989)
How come almost all the players being named are white?

This is a racist thread.
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:37 AM (#3864001)
How come almost all the players being named are white?

This is a racist thread

Harold Baines says hi..
   16. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:40 AM (#3864005)
I showed up to say Casey Kotchman, but never mind -


No...you're right. Kotchman's a certified non-entity.
   17. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:47 AM (#3864013)
I second the McReynolds choice.

You can't pick a scrub, because they actively suck.
And if you're TOO good, even if dull, your production is somewhat exciting.

McReynolds hits just the right sweet spot...

I agree with this--the most boring player has to be above average--maybe well above average, but BORING
so here's a list of players with >5000 PAs with an OPS+ between 110 and 120-who is the most boringest?

(I still vote for Baines)

EDIT:--list since 1980
   18. PreservedFish Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:58 AM (#3864023)
Kevin McReynolds was boring because he appeared bored. But IMO he was a little bit too talented to qualify. The JD Drew of his time.

Raul Ibanez is extremely boring, but his fielding ineptitude is a little bit too entertaining.

Aubrey Huff is boring. Even last year, playing a key roll for a colorful and memorable WS winner, he exuded boredom.

I think that Steve Trachsel is an answer that's tough to beat. Probably the only name here that transcends "uninteresting" and actually makes your baseball viewing experience worse.
   19. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:11 AM (#3864032)
I agree with this--the most boring player has to be above average--maybe well above average, but BORING
so here's a list of players with >5000 PAs with an OPS+ between 110 and 120-who is the most boringest?


Strangely enough, the first guy on that list was the guy that sprang lurched to mind, when I first saw the headline...
   20. OCF Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:24 AM (#3864042)
Boring isn't exactly the same as generic. As for the latter: Alex Gonzalez was a pretty generic player.

A different version: the Whiteyball Cardinals featured a flock of skinny little black guys. Some of them, like McGee or Ozzie, were instantly recognizable from almost any angle or distance. Then there was the guy who wasn't any of the ones you recognized. That would have been Curt Ford. (OK, he only had about 800 PA.)
   21. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:28 AM (#3864045)
I don't see Rich Becker anywhere on that list.


Wow, I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to remember Rich Becker's name last week.

And its a shame whatever's happened to Dunn this year. He sure was exciting last year.
   22. Gotham Dave Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:29 AM (#3864047)
Huff's boringness is somewhat offset by his impressive year-to-year inconsistency. But yeah, Trachsel. Wow, what a boring, boring player. You only have to watch Dunn for four six-pitch PAs a game, Trachsel was in there for 18 or so excruciating outs. And in addition to being Steve Trachsel on the mound, and all that that entails, he was about as average as a starting pitcher can possibly be. I'm sure Pos himself would find it difficult to disagree with that selection.
   23. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:30 AM (#3864049)
In addition to having a generic career, Kevin Correia has a generic baseball background, growing up in San Diego, going to a baseball/football-factory high school and then one of the minor California state colleges, other alumni of which include such generic major leaguers as Garrett Olson, Bud Norris, Mike Krukow, and John Orton. And Ozzie Smith.
   24. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:36 AM (#3864056)
I think we have to define our terms here

most boring HOFer: Mel Ott

most boring VERY good player: Harold Baines

most boring good player: McReynolds

most boring average player: a cast of thousands

most boring BAD player: Ray Oyler or Jack Heidemann
   25. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:40 AM (#3864058)
I always thought Don Baylor was very boring.
   26. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:45 AM (#3864059)
the only other one I can think of would be Harold Baines


I'll give you the late-model version. But I always thought the 80s Hal was a treat to watch play.
   27. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:49 AM (#3864061)
The Pirates are constantly honoring their great stars of the late 70s, and among those greats, Al Oliver stands out as someone that nobody can ever think of anything interesting to say about. Even Bill Robinson was a local guy. Al Oliver just hit .300 with 16 homers year after year and then got traded for Bert Blyleven.
   28. Sweatpants Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:52 AM (#3864065)
For position players I'd say either Brooks Conrad or Cliff Pennington.
No way is Brooks Conrad anywhere close to the most generic position player in baseball. He doesn't wear batting gloves (and as a result has a nickname that means "unprotected sex"), he's hit a bunch of clutch home runs over the last season-and-a-half, and he became somewhat famous last season for a case of the yips that started in the last week of the season and continued into the NLDS, where I think he set a record for errors.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: June 28, 2011 at 04:02 AM (#3864071)
Geoff Jenkins was pretty boring, too.

Trachsel would be a good pick except that his constant pickoff throws to 1st base alienated him in a big way to even his own fans.

McReynolds didn't even have that "vibe."
   30. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2011 at 04:44 AM (#3864084)
Can't we just name the entire 2011 A's starting lineup and be done with it?

Jeff Francoeur should be the most boring player in baseball yet he's a constant source of entertainment -- that's what makes this game great!

Hmmm ... talk about unsatisfying ... a P-I search of expansion era seasons with 500+ PA and 1.9<WAR<2.1 doesn't turn up anybody with a long list of perfectly average seasons. I didn't see anybody with more than 3 and one of those was a good player. Still, it did pop up one boring candidate in Mark Kotsay who was pretty unexciting in pretty much every way.

By the way, in the last 50 years, only 348 perfectly average seasons ... what's up with that?

Anyway, I lowered my sights a bit and went with 1.5 to 2.1 WAR -- if we want boring, we want below-average boring. Fair enough, Pat Burrell is pretty boring. Pedro Feliz wasn't putting fannies in the seats. Bobby Knopp did not live up to his cool name. Todd Walker. But I will not accept Felix Millan (cool name and he choked up about 15 inches on the bat).

This deep, thoroughly thought out analysis does help us see that 1B is the most boring position of all. Even Derrek Lee gets 4 seasons here. And it reveals the most boring player of the last 50 years ...

Paul Konerko with a stunning 7 seasons with a WAR between 1.5 and 2.1

EDIT: also with 262 Rrep and 252 RAR, Konerko is almost dead on average for his entire career.
   31. Red Menace Posted: June 28, 2011 at 04:46 AM (#3864085)
The Pirates are constantly honoring their great stars of the late 70s, and among those greats, Al Oliver stands out as someone that nobody can ever think of anything interesting to say about.


Al Oliver smacked line drives remarkably hard. But he's from my home town so I have to stick up for him.
   32. caprules Posted: June 28, 2011 at 05:17 AM (#3864096)
Al Oliver stands out as someone that nobody can ever think of anything interesting to say about.


This admittedly isn't interesting to most people, but a few years ago I was looking through different leaderboards and saw that everybody ahead of Oliver on the doubles leaderboard was in the HOF, on a HOF track or was Peter Rose.

That probably changed at some point in the middle of the last decade with Luis Gonzalez (I should also mention Rafael Palmeiro, who was on a HOF track at one point).
   33. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: June 28, 2011 at 05:59 AM (#3864105)
This is the first guy that came to mind - fits the criteria in #17, 112 OPS+, 26.1 WAR over a 15-year career, best known for never making a mistake in the field (in a very boring way).
   34. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: June 28, 2011 at 06:18 AM (#3864108)
Still, it did pop up one boring candidate in Mark Kotsay who was pretty unexciting in pretty much every way.


This is preposterous. Younger Kotsay was a really good defender and very fun to watch.

I must say that Cliff Pennington is, in fact, entirely uninteresting, even to this A's fan. A good candidate.
   35. outl13r Posted: June 28, 2011 at 06:25 AM (#3864110)
Where's the love for David Segui? He makes it in on the criteria set forth in #17. Never made an all-star game (like McReynolds), but at least McReynolds had a 20/20 season and averaged over 20 hrs per 162 games for his career. Segui only had 1 season of >=20 hrs (2 at 19 next highest at 14) and he didn't steal any bases to make up for his lack of power.
   36. Into the Void Posted: June 28, 2011 at 06:46 AM (#3864113)
Never made an all-star game (like McReynolds), but at least McReynolds had a 20/20 season and averaged over 20 hrs per 162 games for his career.


To me this argument really has nothing at all to do with statistics. McReynolds approached the game in the same way your average office worker approaches 9 AM on Monday morning. His body language indicated that winning or losing didn't really matter- he was being paid to do a job and that's all there was to it for him. I can't recall seeing him display an ounce of emotion, ever.
   37. asdf1234 Posted: June 28, 2011 at 08:19 AM (#3864118)
I can't disagree with the Trachsel vote, but among position players, Garrett Anderson comes to mind.

And of the HOF crowd, no one was more boring than Tom Glavine. Just seeing him on the mound made NLCS games feel like split-squad ST starts.
   38. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: June 28, 2011 at 11:37 AM (#3864126)
His body language indicated that winning or losing didn't really matter- he was being paid to do a job and that's all there was to it for him. I can't recall seeing him display an ounce of emotion, ever.

I can't disagree with the Trachsel vote, but among position players, Garrett Anderson comes to mind.


I loved seeing these two posts back-to-back. But Anderson actually did convey some genuine emotion to me while watching him...I always got the impression that he truly hated baseball.
   39. BDC Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:04 PM (#3864147)
Agreed, Kevin McReynolds looked bored, which helped him bore other people.

Al Oliver, OTOH, was a wicked line-drive hitter. In terms of TEH FEAR, which I maintain is generated by the probability of an RBI double every time up, Oliver was one of the great ones, in a league with Brett, Molitor, Garciaparra – a guy you never wanted to see bat against your club, and a guy you hoped got traded to your club (and usually, Oliver eventually would get traded to your club).

Eddie Murray was someone I didn't fear and didn't enjoy watching. I don't know if he qualifies as "boring," exactly (he had an often-discussed "mystique," as if he knew something about baseball the rest of us didn't), but he was a mechanical man in terms of consistency and low-key affect. A hell of a hitter, no question; but I'd nominate him as Most Boring HOFer.

One of the more nondescript players I ever saw a lot of was Jerry White, a long-career pinch hitter for the Expos c1980. He may have been a swell guy and a clubhouse cutup or something, but on the field he was completely generic.
   40. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:38 PM (#3864167)
Eddie Murray was someone I didn't fear and didn't enjoy watching. I don't know if he qualifies as "boring," exactly (he had an often-discussed "mystique," as if he knew something about baseball the rest of us didn't), but he was a mechanical man in terms of consistency and low-key affect. A hell of a hitter, no question; but I'd nominate him as Most Boring HOFer.

IIRC, Murray usually spent time during batting practice hitting squibs and bloops by batting one handed, off-balance, etc. Part of me thinks that's really cool. Another part thinks that's incredibly boring and mechanical.

Of course, Murray was my favorite player when I was a kid, so I don't know what that says about me. I also really liked guys like Lendl and Borg and disliked McEnroe and Connors.
   41. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:41 PM (#3864168)
Garrett Anderson was pretty boring. He didn't do anything particularly well and had no personality on the field.

I disagree re Francoeur -- OFs with strong arms are never boring.
   42. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:45 PM (#3864174)
On the subject of players who were dull because they didn't want to be there and didn't care, former Posnanski subject Jeff King should get a mention.
   43. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:50 PM (#3864179)
At some point, the Orioles made dolls of their players and I had an Eddie Murray stuffed doll that I carried around as a child in lieu of a teddy bear.

My parents found this odd but let me do it anyway, although I would occasionally get some strange looks, especially when I lost the little jersey he came with and it just looked like I had a doll of a moustachioed black dude for some reason.
   44. The Good Face Posted: June 28, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3864186)
To me this argument really has nothing at all to do with statistics. McReynolds approached the game in the same way your average office worker approaches 9 AM on Monday morning. His body language indicated that winning or losing didn't really matter- he was being paid to do a job and that's all there was to it for him. I can't recall seeing him display an ounce of emotion, ever.


That's McReynolds all right. To me he always looked like a guy engaged in a necessary but moderately distasteful task... say scooping a litter box or taking out the garbage.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:04 PM (#3864194)
On the subject of players who were dull because they didn't want to be there and didn't care, former Posnanski subject Jeff King should get a mention.


Good call. And his case is aided by a boring name (that's another strike against Frency's boringness).
   46. Tracy Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#3864208)
Were it not for his nickname, Chili Davis would top my list of boring players.
   47. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:35 PM (#3864218)
Travis Lee was the poor man's Kevin McReynolds. Not very good and showed all the enjoyment of a guy bending over for a rectal exam. One of the cleverest signs I ever saw was "Travis Lee(ve)" during his last year with the Phils.

Von Hayes, in spite of his sweet swing and speed, was pretty boring. I'm surprised that he manages in the indy leagues because he never showed any joy on the field.
   48. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 28, 2011 at 02:43 PM (#3864227)
Von Hayes, in spite of his sweet swing and speed, was pretty boring. I'm surprised that he manages in the indy leagues because he never showed any joy on the field.

But Von Hayes...

(a) has a cool name
(b) had a lot of doubles and SBs, and
(c) played a bunch of different positions
   49. The Good Face Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:00 PM (#3864255)
But Von Hayes...

(a) has a cool name
(b) had a lot of doubles and SBs, and
(c) played a bunch of different positions


Plus Hayes was an odd looking guy for a MLB player. Very tall, very thin, with freaky long arms and legs. He looked like a cross between a stick figure and a praying mantis at the plate.
   50. BFFB Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:01 PM (#3864256)
Looking at McReynolds baseball cards they are like an endless procession of "meh" pictures.
   51. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 28, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3864261)
This picture of Gary Carter and Kevin McReynolds says it all about their respective personae.
   52. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: June 28, 2011 at 04:23 PM (#3864363)
Richie Sexson. Boring in every single way. Also from a boring place. Played for the most boring M's team in history, and this is a team that made a science of being boring back in the mid-late 80s. God, he was boring. His boringness was exacerbated by Jose Lopez, who was also deeply boring, and then pointed up by Ichiro and King Felix, who were anything but boring.
   53. Perry Posted: June 28, 2011 at 04:35 PM (#3864372)
Garrett Atkins. So boring I can't even think of anything else to say.
   54. BDC Posted: June 28, 2011 at 04:37 PM (#3864376)
Von Hayes did have a low affect on the field. Mark Teixeira is a little like that too, kind of slackjawed, concentration without apparent intensity. I heard Hayes once compared to James Coburn in The Magnificent Seven: he appeared to be asleep but could suddenly lash out with flair.

Hayes's informal nickname in Philly was "Five-for-One," which made him less boring from the start.
   55. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: June 29, 2011 at 04:49 AM (#3865120)
Richie Sexson. Boring in every single way. Also from a boring place. Played for the most boring M's team in history, and this is a team that made a science of being boring back in the mid-late 80s. God, he was boring. His boringness was exacerbated by Jose Lopez, who was also deeply boring, and then pointed up by Ichiro and King Felix, who were anything but boring.

But Sexson was freakishly tall, was involved in that huge Milwaukee trade, and had that bizarre freakout a couple years back where he about went apoplectic and into full-on "hold me back! no really, hold me back!" mode about an eye-high pitch three feet outside. I'll always remember him for that. Also his name has "sex" in it.

Kotsay's wife is too hot for him to be boring.

I thought Geoff Jenkins was a splendid choice.
   56. Kurt Posted: June 29, 2011 at 06:40 AM (#3865149)
Pete O'Brien.
   57. Flynn Posted: June 29, 2011 at 09:35 AM (#3865157)
I think we have to define our terms here

most boring HOFer: Mel Ott


No way. 5'7" guy with his foot in the bucket, NL record for homers until 1969, rifle for an arm, teenage prodigy is boring?

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