The worst players in baseball

[Editor’s note: This post has been moved back up to the top in case people missed it this morning.]

Matt recently ran a post analyzing two bad pitchers, Sergio Mitre and Tim Wakefield. This was a novel concept. Normally here at Yankeeist we spend our time analyzing good baseball players (Editor’s Note: This isn’t entirely accurate, but I’ll let it slide). However, we can just as easily analyze the bad ones. So, this post is dedicated to the worst players in terms of fWAR in all of baseball, in each of the past five seasons.

2006 Ronny Cedeno, SS Chicago Cubs: All baseball fans know the stereotype of the weak-hitting shortstop, but this was ridiculous. In his first full season in the Majors Cedeno’s wOBA was an anemic .259, the by-product of a pitiful .245/.271/.339 offensive slash stat line.

The reason teams put up with the weak-hitting shortstop is because they’re supposed to be good in the field. Evidently no one told this to the Cubs (there’s a reason they haven’t won the World Series in a century) because Ronny was bad with the leather as well. His UZR was a -4.2. The bad offense and defense combined for an MLB-worst fWAR of -1.7.

2007 Jermaine Dye, OF Chicago White Sox: This one is actually a little suspect. Dye, as always, was respectable with a bat. His .232 ISO helped him overcome a miserable .317 OBP en route to a respectable .343 wOBA. That’s above replacement level.

The problem is that Dye is a member of the Marcus Thames School of Outfield “Defense.” His UZR of -23.6 was bad enough that it made his overall contribution to his team net-negative, bad for an fWAR of -0.8, worst in MLB. This is suspect because not all analysts accept the defensive component of value statistics, myself included.

The next two worst players in baseball that year in terms of fWAR were Jason Bay and Ray Durham, each scoring a -0.7. Bay’s season was similar to Dye’s, featuring good power, poor on-base numbers, and miserable defense. That means the worst player in baseball was probably Durham and his .282 wOBA, even though Dye accumulated a lower fWAR score.

2008 Jeff Francoeur, OF Atlanta Braves: In 155 games with the Braves in 2008 Francoeur managed a line of .239/.294/.359 and a wOBA of .286. He was bad in the field as well. His UZR was -2.8, which isn’t awful in and of itself, but it makes one wonder why the Braves kept him around for virtually an entire season when he was hurting the team with the bat and the glove. His fWAR was -0.9.

2009 Yuniesky Betancourt, SS Royals/Mariners: If not for Cedeno, Betancourt would have the ignominious distinction of achieving the lowest wOBA of any player on this list, bad for a .271. That what happens when your slash stats were .245/.274/.351.

It should come as no surprise that the Royals and Cubs use the same measures to evaluate their shortstops. What that measure is, however, I can’t say because Betancourt was just about as bad with the leather as he was at the plate (which is impressive, when you think about it). His UZR was a -16.7. His overall fWAR was -1.7.

Honorable mention goes to Aubrey Huff. After posting a wOBA of .387 in 2008 he managed a miserable .297 mark in 2009. Never much of a fielder, Huff managed a UZR of -4.9 en route to an fWAR of -1.4, second worst in the majors. Huff, of course, would later bounce back as a key member of the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants. Betancourt would not.

2010 Melky Cabrera, OF Atlanta Braves: While many Yankee fans fondly remember a player who was league average in 2009 (.331 wOBA) with a penchant for getting big hits, Braves’ fans probably feel differently about the Melk Man. That’s because Melky was the worst player in all of baseball in 2010, accumulating a -1.2 fWAR.

Melky was never much with the bat, but the Braves probably believed he was going to improve moving over to the National League. That didn’t happen. Instead, Melky’s wOBA fell to .294. Adding insult to injury, Melky also played lousy defense in the NL. After being a better-than-replacement level fielder in 2008 and 2009, Melky produced a -15.9 UZR in 2010 with the Braves.

6 thoughts on “The worst players in baseball

  1. JGS

    Melky wasn't the worst player in baseball by fWAR, he was the worst one to accumulate enough PAs to be counted for rate stats. WAR isn't a rate stat though, and you can be worse than Melky was without getting to 502 PAs. Five position players were:Nate McLouth: 288 PAs, .283 wOBA, -14.3 UZR, -1.3 fWARLuis Valbuena: 310 PAs, .243 wOBA, -6.7 UZR, -1.5 fWARAkinori Iwamura: 229 PAs, .254 wOBA, -11.7 UZR, -1.6 fWARBrandon Wood: 243 PAs, .174 (!!!) wOBA, +1.8 UZR, -1.8 fWARand the winner…Pedro Feliz: 429 PAs, .234 wOBA, -5.8 UZR, -2.1 fWARIn the same vein, 2009's winner was Jose Guillen (312 PAs, -1.8 fWAR), 2008 was Tony Pena, Jr. (235 PAs, -1.8 fWAR), 2007 was Andy Gonzalez (215 PAs, -2.2 fWAR), and 2006…was still Ronny Cedeno.

  2. Awesome; I love laughably awful baseball stats. And good catch; I should've asked Mike to note that he was only looking at qualified players — it's even funnier to look at the players who didn't get enough PAs to qualify. Thanks for making Mike's post that much better, Jordan.

  3. Thank you Larry and Jordan for pointing out my sloppiness. While conceiving the post I decided that I was only going to use qualified players because those who didn't make enough PA's were not really like-for-like comparisons, and also because their teams had enough sense to cut them. Unfortunately, I forgot to mention this when I submitted the article. Thank you guys again for catching my error, strengthening the post, and adding a layer of hilarity to a collection of bad ball players.

  4. Davey

    What about pitchers?

  5. Matt is handling pitchers in a separate post.

  6. JGS

    "While conceiving the post I decided that I was only going to use qualified players because those who didn't make enough PA's were not really like-for-like comparisons, and also because their teams had enough sense to cut them"I hear that, but disagree. For one thing, it's not like the Braves had much of a choice–one of those players worse than Melky was another Braves outfielder. For another, more important thing, those guys were so bad that they detracted from their teams even more than Melky did, regular playing time or not. Ryan Rowland-Smith was the worst pitcher in baseball in 2010 that had any meaningful amount of innings. He still didn't come close to qualifying for rate stats though.

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