Best-Worst, Worst-Best and Worst of 2012
Recently I have had the misfortune of beginning a series of research heavy posts, which have been squashed before birth because they were quickly rendered irrelevant by either events, or the discovery of similar (or superior) articles on the subject. So here is an article, which, being totally irrelevant at it’s conception, is impervious to the phenomena that have been befalling my other recent attempts. I must give a huge nod to a recent Fangraphs Audio, which initiated the half-cocked train of thought that led to this article.
Every team has a best player. I wanted to know, which team’s best player was the worst. It’s that simple. By the raw numbers Houston’s Jed Lowrie had the lowest WAR (2.5), and there was a tie between Oakland’s Josh Reddick and Seattle’s Kyle Seager for lowest wRC+ (108). But owing to Reddick’s terrific defense (an AL Best 18.5 Fielding Runs Saved), he comes out with a 4.4 WAR. Second lowest by WAR was Dexter Fowler, who despite a 123 wRC+ produced just 2.9 WAR, primarily due to his defense, which cost his team 13.9 runs. When you calculate WAR produced per game you have Seager and Cleveland’s Carlos Santana tied at .023, which just slightly edge Fowler at .020.
So by this admittedly basic strategy, Congratulations Dexter Fowler! You are the Best Player on the Rockies, which means nothing! Also, Congratulations, Rockies!
Same thing as Worst-Best, but opposite, duh.
In each case I used a minimum of 300 PA as my baseline. It comes into greater effect on the Worst list, because it limits how ridiculous things can get. It should surprise nobody that the Best Worst player with a minimum of 300 PA comes from a good team. It shouldsurpriseyou to learn that it is Freddie Freeman. He actually had agood season at age 23, showing improvement and giving Braves fans and brass a reasonto believe he can be a cornerstone of their future.
Freeman led the worstees with 2.0 WAR, 115 wRC+, and .014 WAR/G. Trailing close behind and tied at 1.1 WAR each, were Cincinnati’s Scott Rolen and Boston’s Daniel Nava. Each barely made the 300 PA required to appear on the list, with Rolen missing time to injuries and Nava heavily platooned. Nava produced .013 WAR/G and Rolen managed .012.
This time of year, you’ll find a lot of shiny “Best of 2012” articles out there, and for this reason it is likely a welcome respite to delight in the ineptitude of some players. It was for me. Besides, there are several players, whose folly deserves to be enjoyed while pretending I could do any fucking better.
In the course of producing this article, I looked at a lot of crappy stat lines. Dee Gordon’s was by far the most fecal. While his defense was miserable (-13 Fielding Runs), he played offense like the path to first base was blanketed with contaminated needles (for more Dee-Gordon-is-a-very-bad-hitter jokes, just wait). By wRC+ Gordon created runs at just over half the rate of an average player. He amassed -1.1 WAR in just 330 plate appearances. Casey Kotchman soiled his career line with this year’s lowest raw total (-1.5) and that took him 500 PA.
Gordon is not without company, however.
Many teams desire a utility man that can play many positions, but the Marlins have cornered the market in those who can’t play any. At -1.1 WAR in just 342 PA Greg Dobbs eloquently summarized the 2012 Miami Marlins. While not particularly inept at the dish (84 wRC+) Dobbs managed to personally chauffeur 13.9 runs across home plate for the opposition from RF, LF, 1B and especially 3B.
If Greg Dobbs is the Leonardo DaVinci of awful defense, making contributions in many areas, then Lucas Duda is its Vincent Van Gogh. From rightfield alone Duda gave 19.8 opposing players piggy back rides around the bases, convincingly eclipsing the 15 home runs he hit in 2012. Ladies and gentlemen, the New York Mets!
Remarkably, the Royals had two players with 600PA (okay one of them had 598), that produced over -1 WAR each. First baseman Eric Hosmer (-1.1) and Rightfielder Jeff Francoeur (-1.2) teamed up to horrify Kansas City baseball fans in a season that was supposed to mark the team’s turnaround. Francoeur was a 2.9 WAR player last season and in his age 22 season, Hosmer was good for 1.6 WAR in 2011. Royals fans can enjoy more of the same with Ervin Santana joining the fray. He was 2012’s only starting pitcher with over 170 IP that managed to net a negative WAR (-0.9).
In 2012 Dee Gordon played offense like…
home plate makes all your nightmares come out your butt.
like Robin Williams’ life depended on it.
the first baseman was a pound of muscle, seriously.
a blasted out pair of Hanes.
a whistle that just don’t dang whistle no more.
a dog in a corn fight.
a member of the 2005-2011 San Diego Padres.
* I would like to dedicate the dog-in-a-corn-fight joke to my father, who I am sure is the only person capable of fully appreciating it (if anybody is).