The 20 Worst Baseball Players Ever

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Any idiot can rank the greatest major league baseball players ever, which reminds me - soon I'll be able to put up the updated and revised list of the 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever -- but it takes some skill to rank the 20 worst baseball players ever.

The better phrasing of this list would be the most destructive 20 baseball players ever, as there are a hundred players who were "worse" than those on the list, players with a half dozen ABs, who got a cup of coffee start and never were seen again. That's not this list - to be truly destructive, truly bad - you had to accumulate some time in the Show - some hard, hard time - a couple thousand terrible plate appearances, a few hundred torturous innings pitched.

To be really "bad" - you had to convince someone, slews of someones, that you were good.

That's what makes a player bad - a player harmful - these are the players that bury your franchise, the reasons your HOF OF never won a WS. It's decision making, the inability to understand performance which gets us to real destruction in sports.

A couple of notes:
1. I may have missed someone. Unlike the top 200 list where I think I've combed over all of the potential suspects (although, occasionally I will think something along the lines of "Aw, hell, did I not check out Mark Langston?) it's a lot harder to mow through all of the bad players. Were there omissions, I apologize.

2. Of the 20, only four are pitchers. My deduction from pouring over a couple of hundred terrible careers is that bad pitchers are harder to hide than bad position players. It makes sense if you think about it - a bad pitcher might hide for awhile, say, piling up some wins while having bad peripherals - but eventually he gets exposed. But consider the first baseman or corner outfielder who might have an okay batting average without power or walks - or the no hit infielder who makes the occasional flashy play but has no range and never gets on base - or the catcher who can't do anything at all but somehow gets a reputation as a great "game caller." Those guys could linger for years, defended by their local beat writers as good locker room guys - guys with heart and guts and character that can't be quantified by the statistics - their contributions can't be measured, Jividen, with your newfangled statistics - why don't you come out of your momma's basement and watch a game sometime?!? You bloggers make me sick, by god - all the time injecting facts into a discussion. You know what you're problem is - you're in the reality business, so there aren't actually weapons of mass destruction - so global warming is actually happening -- you tell your evidence to shut up. U-S-A! U-S-A! If you don't think Brad Ausmus was a helluva catcher, you hate the troops.

3. Yes, I know the WARP numbers have changed since I wrote this in 2008.  These numbers are all smaller now than they were when I made the list.  It's all contextual, it doesn't impact the rankings. No, unlike the list of best players I'm not going through it again to change everything.  One day I'll do it.  Today is not that day. Edit - it's early 2011 and this post is solidly my most read each week.  Welcome!  Poke around!  Enjoy some tasty meats and/or cheeses.  I'm updating the numbers for you to reflect the multiple statistical advancements just in the past couple of years.  I'm cool like that.  Additionally, I've now really burrowed a little more deeply into the ugly; I've got a full 50 worst baseball players of all time.  One day, I'll rework this entire post, maybe even into a book, to reflect that - but for now, I'll just update this when I can.  I make multiple posts each week, inluding a long post every Sunday.  Consider telling whatever friends you might have who like to make donations or hire people to write snarky things about professional wrestling. 

With that.

WARP 6.8
WAR -1.7
Worst season: 1927

His nicknames were Flunky and Weeping Willie, so it's an appropriate place to start the list. Top comp. is Todd Van Poppel, who would be in the next 20. Had a good '29, won 15 games had a WARP3 of 5.4 - then lost 17 games the following year with an untranslated ERA of 7.59. That Phillie team had a total WARP3 of under 30.0 and lost 102 games. Also throwing for the Phils that year was Les Sweetland (lost 15 games, 7.71 ERA) Hal Elliott (lost 11 games, 7.67 ERA) Hap Collard (12 games, 6.80). (edit, Willoughby looks better in 2011; his career WARP is 6.8 with only two negative years - who was worse was Van Poppel, who had 7 negative WARP seasons, just a horror show - a career WARP of 1.9; a translated career ERA of over 5; an ERA+ of 80 - so that's even worse than Willoughby's but with 11 seasons and 900 IP. His career WAR {I use the baseball-reference version}, if you prefer that stat, was sub negative 2.  Yeah, TVP aces Willoughby out of that spot.  Pat Mahomes is closest to TVP in similarity scores; take a look at his numbers if you'd like to compare. 

None of those guys would make my current bottom 50 however; you're going to get almost no arms at all on that bottom 50)

OPS+ 86
WARP -10.8
WAR 3.3
Worst season: 1879

Was okay for 2 seasons, '82 and '83 where he had a total WARP3 of 9.8; he hit .342 in 1882. But the other 3900 plate appearances in his career were terrible, he put up negative WARP seasons 3 times, those 2 seasons were his only two full time years where his OBP was over .300.  His career WARP is now -10.8; his translated career line was .265/.294/.353.  In 1879 alone he put up a -4.9 WARP, which may well be one of the very worst seasons of all time; his OPS+ that year was 50 in 263 plate appearances.  Career WAR was better, 3.3, and that would take him out of the bottom 50 of all time. 

18. JESUS ALOU LF/RF Giants/Astros
OPS+ 86
WAR -2.3
Worst season 1969

I hate you Jesus Alou. An OPS+ of 86 for a corner OF who got 4500 plate appearances is unbearably bad. An excellent example of a guy who could fool someone not doing good analysis - his lifetime BA is .280 - but his lifetime OBP is only .305. He had 5 negative WARP seasons, this is a corner OF with 32 career homers in 4500 plate appearances.

I'm a Giants fan; the Giants have not won a WS since the move despite having a combined quarter century+ of two of the greatest American athletes who ever lived and the honest devotion of a bookish young boy. If you're Willie Mays and you spent the last two decades of your career chasing a second world title, it's fair to wonder why you kept falling short. (Edit, July 2011.  I'm sorry.  Did something happen?  I was probably watching Jerseylicious.  Why can't Frankie Jr. and Gigi just work it out!!  There's a link to all my 2010 Giants posts, 'cause I made some.  It's here.

All he had to do was look to the side. Jesus Alou was the starting LF or RF next to Mays from '64-68. He had approximately 2200 plate appearances in those 5 seasons. He had a total WARP, in 5 years as a starting corner OF next to Willie Mays, of 7.2. Mays, in the same span, had a WARP of just under 60.0.

In '66, Alou had an OPS+ of 61.

The Giants won 90+ games in each season between '64 and '68, save for the last when they won 88. In '64, they finished 3 games out of first place. In '65, two games out. In '66 1.5 games out.

I'm not saying that necessarily Jesus Alou was the reason we fell just short from a pennant in those three years.

But on the list of factors, he's high up. Edit - his new lifetime WARP is -9.  He had a negative WARP every single year in San Francisco.  Every one.  Jesus Alou had 2300+ lifetime plate appearances as a Giant and was always below replacement level. (career WAR was -2.3)  Yeah, I'm good with Jesus Alou being right here.  I wonder if he's the worst San Francisco Giant of all time.  Johnny LeMaster, who was "my" Giants SS as a kid in the late 70s had a SFG career WARP of -4.9; Alou's was -5.6  Alou's '66 is the worst year for a right fielder in SFG history. 

He's bad - but Alou will wind up just missing out on the all time bottom 50.

Athletics/Red Sox
OPS+ 88
WAR .5
Worst season: 1937

5000 plate appearances from a player at a power postion in the high offense 1930s. Finney had 31 career homers. As with Alou - his lifetime BA is high, .287 - but when you factor in era and ballpark, it drops to a translated .269 with a translated .314 OBP. He had 5 negative WARPs. Had one okay season - 1940, where he had a 5.1 WARP and made the All Star team. He really piled up the negative value from '33-37, where his OPS+ for each year was 78, 77, 65, 81, 60.You wonder what Jimmie Foxx was thinking about when Finney followed him to the Red Sox in '39; they were teammates on the A's from '31-35 and then on the RSox from '39 to 42. In those years Finney put up a WARP3 of 12.4 while Foxx's was near 75. When Foxx was dealt to the RSox in '35 - it was Finney who took his job. And when Foxx was cut by the Sox as he wound to a close, again, Finney picked up first base ABs. One of the worst players in major league history replaced one of the best twice. May have been a Single White Female situation.  If you ever see a picture of Jimmie Foxx where he has a weird resemblance to Bridget Fonda, then the circle gets the square. Current lifetime WARP is -8; WAR is .5  That won't be enough to stick him in the bottom 50.

16. IVY OLSON SS Indians/Dodgers
OPS+ 74
WARP -13.8
WAR 3.1
Worst season 1918
Couldn't hit, lifetime OBP under .300 and SLG at .318. Also couldn't field, 110 runs below average for his career at SS. Highest WARP3 in 14 seasons was 3.9, just consistently bad for years and years. Edit - now we break double digits with the negative career WARP numbers; Ivy's got a -13.8 that he's waving in front of your face.  He's right outside the all time bottom 50.

15. KEN REITZ 3B Cardinals
OPS+ 78
WARP -3.5
WAR -4.2
Worst season: 1975

The '77 season is the first one in my memory; I was 6. I began playing baseball by myself, either in the street or with balloons in the house - I'd use the current rosters, whatever statistics I could get, from backs of baseball cards when I started - eventually this would evolve into my creating a dice game and spending a significant percentage of my life floating inside baseball statistics instead of you know, dating and whatnot.

I recall thinking, at the age of 9 or 10, that Ken Reitz was an above average baseball player - good, he must have been good, right? I knew he had been a Giant in '76 - but that wasn't what caused me to think he could play - it was the batting average. He hit .268 and .270 in '79 and '80. Hell, Ken Reitz was an All Star in 1980 - so that clearly legitimized him in my 9 year old brain as a good baseball player.

I was lied to. The baseball media lied to me. I read the Sporting News when I was 9 years old, I read Dick Young and Joe Falls and Furman Bisher. I was told that a .270 batting average from a third baseman was good, All Star worthy - and that meant I should think of Ken Reitz as, if not an elite player, on just the next tier.

Ken Reitz!

I was lied to - in how many ways, in how many ways was the "official" line, the "accepted wisdom" wholly contrary to the weight of the evidence? Ken Reitz had a lifetime OBP under .300. 5000+ plate appearances and a lifetime OBP of under .300. Why must you fill my house with lies - every sportswriter in the 1970s?

Sad part is - you ask Joe Morgan today, he'd tell you Ken Reitz was a solid ballplayer. Good character guy. Heart of a ballclub. Hey - he hit .270 that one year - made the All Star team. Good stuff.  In 2010 (hey, an edit, fun!  The blogosophere, much like the Constitution, is a living, breathing work) there's a starting position player in the National League with 4000+ plate appearances and a lifetime sub .300 OBP.  And he's a former Giant.  Anyone?  Anyone?  I'm looking at you Pedro Feliz.  If I ever revist this list, your UZR won't save you.  Nor will an expanded view of the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Reitz isn't quite bad enough to make the final bottom 50 list; Feliz is not good, but better than Reitz, he's in the black for his career in both metrics. 

Who's the worst current player in major league baseball?  Well, let's start here - how about a vote for the runner-up for the title worst position player of the 21st century - Matt Walbeck.

His career WARP was -7.3, WAR -3.8 - that would mean he'd just miss out on inclusion in the bottom 50 baseball players of all time; but it makes him the worst position player of the century thusfar.  His career OPS+ was 54; his translated BA/OBP/SLG was .234/.279/.322.  7 of his ten seasons were negative WARP.  Both the Twins and the Angels gave him multiple 300+ plate appearance seasons and he never had a year with a 700 OPS. 

The worst pitcher of the millennium?  He's still to come. 

The worst active player?  The worst active player (as of 2010) is the worst player of the 21st century - and you'll see him on the final list for the worst 50 baseball players of all time.

Yes, there is a player, active in 2010, who is one of the 50 worst baseball players of all time.  He might even crack the bottom 25.

Do you know who it is?

It's Juan Castro.

WARP -6.1
WAR -10.4
OPS+ 55
Translated line: .234/.275/.315

14. FRANK LACORTE RHP Braves/Astros
WARP 4.6
Worst season 1977

LaCorte only pitched 490 innings in his ten year career - but they were bad ones. That AERA is the worst of any pitcher I looked at in putting together this list. In '77, his AERA was 38. He went 1-8 in '77 from the pen, he only pitched 39 innings but gave up ten homers, 67 hits and 29 walks. That's 98 baserunners in 39 innings. 98 baserunners in 39 innings. Wow. His untranslated ERA was 11.68. That Braves team had a total WARP3 of 22.7. 38 year old Phil Niekro was over a third of that total at 8.9. That's an all time bad club and LaCorte was its worst player. 98 baserunners in 39 innings. No wonder Ted Turner decided he wanted to manage.  Career WARP is now -3.9; WAR -3.7.  I referred to his '77 season in the main text - it just...his WHIP was over 2 and a half.  His H/9 was over 16 and BB/9 was over 7.  23 baserunners a game!  23 baserunners a game!  Even at only 39 innings pitched, it is an all time bad season.



OPS+ 62

BFW -15.2

WARP3 9.3

Worst season 1954 (-1.6)

And when you're talking about an adjusted OPS of 62, now you're talking about feeble bats at an elite level. He was also 50 runs below average with the glove for his career - and that's what separated Demaestri from the ordinary, rotten bat at SS. His translated lifetime BAOPB/SLG was .228/.263/.321 in nearly 3700 plate appearances. When you're looking for truly bad, bad all time bad baseball players - this is the template - minus glove, non existent bat, and a decade sucking up plate appearances. The WARP3...wait - remember what I just said about that '77 Braves team being one of the worst ever -

The total WARP3 - the total WARP3 for the '54 A's, the last ever year in Philadelphia before the move to Kansas City -- was 7.5.

I would have bet a thousand dollars there was never a team in MLB history with a WARP3 below 10.0. That means if you double - if you double the production of the entire team - it would still fall short of the very best single seasons by individual players in MLB history. 7.5 for an entire team. Wow. Demaestri was the worst player at -1.6 -- the best, actually having an okay year, was Arnie Portocarrero, whose name I had never heard before until right now, and given the years I've spent reading the baseball encyclopedia, I half believe it to be made up. Portocarrero had a 5.4 -- a 5.4 on a team with a total of 7.5. He might have been the most valuable player to an individual club in the history of baseball. There's another bar bet you can win, you're welcome.

Demaestri's best season was '57, he had a WARP3 of 3.0 - his translated OBP that year was .273 - and he made the All Star team. The next time there's a discussion of worst All Stars Ever - Demaestri in '57 needs a mention.

7.5 for a whole team season. Yikes. Absent a sortable database, I don't suppose you'll see me put together a list of the worst teams in baseball history...although I might, I might - but the leader in the clubhouse, the hard leader in the clubhouse is that last Philadelphia Athletics team from 1954.  Edit - WARP -9.5, WAR -4.9.

12. CRAIG PAQUETTE 3B Athletics/Royals/Cardinals


OPS+ 77

BFW -15.1

WARP3 8.5

Worst season: 2002 (-1)

Paquette's the worst third baseman in the history of MLB.

Of the 20 on this list - none are center fielders, so the all time worst team would have a hole in the middle, which seems fitting. For purposes of completion, the worst CF of all time, I think, would be Jerry Morales (1969-83, Padres, Cubs, OPS+ 91, BFW -15.4, WARP3 16.2).

Paquette gets to start at 3rd with his OPS+ of 77. This doesn't factor in, but in his postseason career he was 2-15 with 7 strikeouts.

He had a negative glove, 23 runs below average for his career and had a translated OBP of .270 for his career.  WARP -6, WAR -2.9

11. KEVIN JARVIS RHP Reds/Padres



PW -11.6

WARP3 3.6

Worst season 1996 (-.6)

The second worst pitcher in baseball history. The worst right handed pitcher in baseball history.

Jarvis had 10 negative WARP3 seasons, he's like Bizarro Joe DiMaggio. He should go to Anna Nicole Smith's grave every day and steal roses. He never had an AERA at 100 for even a single season, meaning that he was never once, never once in 12 years a league average pitcher. In 6 seasons Jarvis had untranslated ERAs over 10.00. Rarely do you see a guy who gets to have six years in the bigs with 4 digit ERA numbers - I mean, those aren't hard numbers to ferret out, when you look at the back of his baseball card and see 6 years with ERA's over 10.00, that's gotta make you think twice before sending him out to face the bad men with the bats. Only twice in 12 seasons did Jarvis win more games than he lost (12-11 and 1-0). Only twice in 12 seasons did Jarvis give up fewer hits than innings pitched. In 2000 and 2001, Jarvis was given the ball in a little more than 200 total innings - and gave up a total of 63 home runs.

A note - on reflection, I have Jarvis too high, or low, or whatever you'd call it - he's worse than Kekich, they can switch spots - Jarvis, with ten negative WARP seasons, is the worst pitcher in the history of baseball.

WARP -6.5, WAR -5.6 His career WHIP was over 1.5.  His translated ERA was 6 and a half.  780 innings pitched with a translated ERA of 6 and a half.  How did this happen America?

#10. EDDIE MIKSIS 2B Dodgers/Cubs


OPS+ 62

BFW -17.4

WARP3 9.1

Worst season 1944 (-.3)

Miksis had 5 negative WARP seasons; a lifetime untranslated OBP under .300 and a negative glove. He only had one year above 2.0; this is exactly what you'd expect from this list - Miksis had a 15 year MLB career, he couldn't hit and couldn't field. But he's not the worst second baseman who ever lived.  13 seasons with negative WARP - Miksis's best season - his very best season, with the Cubs in '51, his WARP was .4  Career WARP -7.7, WAR -3.8.  He got a vote for the Hall of Fame!  Eddie Miksis and his career OPS+ of 62 had one writer, in 1964 say "yes, this was one of the greatest of all time.  Miksis will get my vote today.  Miksis!  Poor little Miksis."

#9 DAN MEYER 1B/LF Tigers/Mariners/A's


OPS+ 85

BFW -17

WARP3 7.6

Worst season 1978 (-.5)

4 negative WARP3 seasons for Meyer - he had a really bad glove - negative runs above position for 3 separate positions; Meyer was -46 as a LF. Tack that onto a sub .300 OBP and you get the worst LF in the history of MLB. Had an OPS+ of 66 as the Mariner first baseman in '78, soaking up 477 lousy plate appearances. One of the worst players on terrible teams for virtually every season of his dozen year career - just a disaster. Career WARP -14.3, Career WAR -9.  Each of those numbers is the worst of anyone on this list thusfar.  9th worst of all time may be generous to Meyer. 

#8. JOE QUINN 2B/1B Braves/Cardinals


OPS+ 74

BFW -24.7

WARP3 24.6

Worst season: 1884 (-2.7)

4 negative WARP seasons; Quinn's translated OBP was sub .300 and he finished 74 fielding runs under league average; Quinn got 7300+ PA in the bigs; 18 years and over 7000 plate appearances of mostly bad.  WARP -8.4, WAR 1.6 - where we have the largest disparity is in fielding evaluation between the 19th century players, let me suggest. 




PW -11.8

WARP3 1.4

Worst season 1970 (-.3)

The worst pitcher in MLB history (except I switched him with Jarvis)

860 innings pitched, a translated ERA of over 6.00. Two years with a translated ERA over 10.00. And then there was the wife swapping.  Keikich gives Jarvis a good run with a career WARP of -7.8, and a WAR of -5.8.  They really can be 1-2 in either order nestled right around this spot in the all time list. 

#6. GARY BENNETT C Phillies

1995 - 2008

OPS+ 64

BFW -13.9

WARP3 3.2

Worst season 2006 (-1.2)

The worst active player in MLB (no longer so)

Why is it teams keep giving Gary Bennett jobs?

His translated career OBP is under .300 (he finished at .301) He's had 3 negative WARP seasons. You see his OPS+. And he is 52 runs below average behind the plate.

Gary Bennett has no value. Playing in an inflated offensive era, he has 22 career homers in over 1800 plate appearances. He's struck out twice as much as he's walked. His best ever WARP3 was 1.2. 1.2! 14 years in the bigs - a career in the 21st century - and never had a year above 1.2.

He can't do anything. Gary Bennett's never done anything. He's had a big league job since '95. It's a crime against decency. Career WARP -5.1, WAR -3.7.  Bad, of course - but not Dan Meyer bad.  Meyer's sliding all the way here.  Let's see if he can keep going. 



OPS+ 70

BFW -17.9

WARP3 4.8

Worst season 1919 (-1.6)

5 negative WARP3 seasons in a 12 year career; the everpopular translated sub .300 OBP in 2500+ PA. In that 1919 season, Janvrin's OPS+ was 37; he had 253 PA in '19 and made 190 outs. That was also his only really terrible glove year, 12 runs below average. But - the Sox won back to back WS in '15-16, so Janvrin was presumably endowed with special championship character. Granted, his OPB on those two WS was .208 in 24 PA, but he clearly had a winner's DNA that probably allowed him to do the little things it took to win. Good clubhouse guy.  Didn't take up 4 lockers to himself.  That '16 team wasn't very good, with a WARP3 that just scraped over 50; Ruth was its best player - the year before it was Speaker. Hard to win back to back titles with the fifth worst player in MLB history sucking up PA, helps to have inner circle HOF'ers picking you up.  His translated slugging knocks him over, so this isn't exactly true - but I love seeing an all 200 slash line - untranslated, Janvrin's career was .232/.292/.287.  And that's a bottom 20 all time ballplayer.  WARP -5.6, WAR -2.5

4. BILL BERGEN C Dodgers


OPS+ 20

BFW -15.7

WARP3 .5

Worst season: 1901 (-.9)

The worst hitter in baseball history.

Take a moment. Here he is.

An OPS+ of 20 means he would have needed to be a 5x more productive hitter just to be average.

Here are his translated numbers - they're shocking. .166/.193/.188

In 4200+ PA.

In 4200+ PA Bill Bergen had a translated OBP of .193 and a slugging of .188.

You know how Potter Stewart defined pornography, "I know it when I see it?" It's pornographic how bad a hitter Bill Bergen was. He violated all community standards at the plate, having no artistic, literary, or scientific value.  At best he should have gone to the plate in a brown paper bag. No one I looked at in this study was even half as bad with the stick as was Bergen. There needed to be a Comstock Act seizure of his bats.

Why is he only the 4th worst player ever - dude could glove. He finished 51 fielding runs above average for his career. Catching is hard to do, the batting standards for the position are lower than most others, you can have a mediocre bat and still be useful.

But Bergen didn't have a mediocre bat - Bergen was the worst hitter who ever lived.

Eleven seasons.  All negative WARP.  All of them.  His best season was -.4.  In his best season ever, his translated BA was .168.  His career WARP was -16.4.  His career WAR was -17.6  I already gave his translated slashline - but even his untranslated line is .170/.194/.201.  I know I have him fourth here - but if the reason you're reading this is to definitively know, once and for all, who is the worst player of all time - it's Bergen.  His bat will not be denied.  You know how in a dunk contest when someone really slams it down, everyone jumps up in the air and starts waving their arms and throwing tens all over the arena?  That's me reading Bergen's player card.  I'm making the "it's over" motion like Vince Carter back in 2000.  It's over.  It is all over. 

3. TOMMY DOWD 2B/OF Cardinals


OPS+ 82

BFW -23.9

WARP3 8.2

Worst season: 1898 (-1.7)

Bill Bergen was the worst hitter who ever lived. Tommy Dowd was the worst fielder.

'Cause you look at that 82 OPS+ and you think - well, that's pretty terrible for an OF, but he also played 2B, he looks more like a bat bat than an all time awful bat - hard to see Bergen's OPS+ of 20 and rank anyone as a worse player than he.

Then you look at Dowd's glove. Recall, Bergen was 51 runs above fielding average for his career --- Tommy Dowd was 144 runs below average. He was as bad with the glove as was Bergen with the bat. Terrible at second base (61 below in 328 games) terrible in center (56 below in 331 games) terrible in right (33 below in 349 games). But - where he could field was in left (15 runs above average in 284 games) - had he just been left in left his whole career, while his bat was really bad for a corner OF (translated career .252/.302/.373) you wouldn't see him as the third worst player who ever lived.

144 runs below - combine his glove and Bergen's bat and you have Bizarro Babe. The worst baseball player ever created.  But my man Dowd was bad too - career WARP -18.3, worse than Bergen - although Dowd did have one season in the black numbers.  His WAR is also awful, -8.4; I'm inclined to believe his glove is as bad as Bergen's bat - but I'm inclined to flip them in the final ranking.

2. DOUG FLYNN 2B Mets/Expos


OPS+ 56

BFW -27.6

WARP3 8.4

Worst season: 1977 (-1.8)

Sure, you thought I was just picking on the turn of the 20th century guys, with their handlebar moustaches and their untreated venereal diseases. No! In steps Doug Flynn.

You knew Flynn couldn't hit; he was probably referred to in every publication for a decade as sure handed or slick fielding or some other euphemism for "you know Doug Flynn can't hit - right?". His translated line is .240/.268/.290 - which would be absolutely abysmal given he got 4000+ PA to do it in, except, of course, that you just saw Bergen's line - and Flynn was effectively twice Bergen's bat (but half of an average bat).

But Flynn also couldn't field, 31 runs below fielding average for his career - almost all of that as the Mets shortstop; as the Expos second baseman, he was just slightly below average.

So - you take a bad glove and an all time bad bat - and you get Flynn - sure, Bergen had a worse bat, and Dowd's glove - GOOD LORD did Tommy Dowd have a bad glove - was much worse - but combine them both and you say Flynn ekes out the spot as the second worst baseball player who ever lived.  WARP
-11.7, WAR -12.1 -- so Flynn, with his sub 60 OPS+ and his crummy glove, mixing Bergen with Dowd, does deserve this bottom 5 ranking - but I'm going to say he's only the third worst player ever.   

Which leaves only this.




OPS+ 82

BFW -23.2

WARP3 2.9

Worst season 1882 (-2.4)

Here's what's good.

Charlie Comiskey, of course, is on the list of all time bad baseball owners as well, his refusal to pay the White Sox stars their promised bonuses is perhaps the motivating factor in their throwing the 1919 WS. The evidence suggests he then made all attempts to cover up the scandal.

Here's also good - Charlie Comiskey, of course, is in the HOF. He's Comiskey Park (RIP).

And he was terrible. Terrible. 6 negative WARP seasons; his -2.4 in 1882 is an all time bad number. Now, his bat doesn't look terrible compared to Bergen (translated: .249/.279/.356) but keep in mind this is a first baseman. A first baseman with over 6000 PA and a .279 adjusted OBP. A first baseman who couldn't field, 28 runs below average for his career.

And Comiskey, for almost his entire career, was his own manager.

So, for 13 years, he kept writing himself, and his .279 adjusted OBP into his lineup at first base.

He went to four championship series' in the 1880s, sucked up 151 ABs with a .301 OBP.

He only had one year where he even reached a WARP3 of 2.0.

He couldn't hit; he couldn't field; he wrote himself in the lineup for 6000 PA; then his ownership was a direct cause of the scandal that almost brought down the entire sport.

I began the list saying that the worst baseball players ever had to be harmful, had to cause destruction.

There's no better candidate for that slot than Charlie Comiskey. The worst ballplayer who ever lived.

And his career WARP -25.8, is the worst ever - but his WAR ain't bad, 11 - not negative 11 - but 11; here's where you get the height of the real radical defensive metric distinctions.  I'm inclined to leave Comiskey as the 4th worst player ever, maybe 5th behind Meyer.  His -4.3 WARP in 1882 is funkyfresh. 

Brand New Edit.  It's July, 2011.  I got namechecked in Deadspin and chances are, if you're reading this anytime approximating right now, that's from where you come.  

With respect, here are the 50 Worst Baseball Players of All Time:

1. Bill Bergen
2. Wally Goldsmith
3. Lou Say
4. Eddie Booth
5. Tommy Dowd
6. Charlie Sweasy
7. Doug Flynn
8. Dan Meyer
9. Jim Clinton
10. Jim Levey
11. Cub Stricker
12. Fred Warner
13. Bill Lennon
14. Harry Wheeler
15. Fred Raymer
16. Holly Hollingshead
17. George Creamer
18. Sam Crane
19. Sam Crane
20. Henry Kohler
21. Jimmy Hallinan
22. Art Croft
23. Frank Selman
24. Ecky Stearns
25. George Barclay
26. Luis Pujols
27. Skeeter Webb
28. Bob Lillis
29. Juan Castro
30. George Sutherland
31. Vic Harris
32. Charlie Comiskey
33. Scott Hastings
34. Jim Tipper
35. Ned Cuthbert
36. Oscar Bielaski
37. Charlie Pabor
38. Juice Latham
39. Art Allison
40. Jim Holdworth
41. Dalton Jones
42. Mike Kekich
43. Tuck Stainback
44. Eddie Miksis
45. Keith Jarvis
46. John Demaestri
47. Luis Gomez
48. John Guttierez
49. Jack Heidemann
50. Henry Kessler

Thanks for reading.


moonlight said...
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heobeo said...
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heobeo said...
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David W. Floren said...

Mario Mendoza is better than the top 50 worst players of all time? For me that takes the sting away from the phrase "Mendoza Line."

Chicago Chris said...

How did Comiskey get so much better after the first edition? Also...Chris Getz

blog said...

Comiskey has probably risen to the ranks of mediocre by now.

Jade Graham said...

I was cute. I think they were looking for Japanese kids to help sell the show in Japan. I don't know if they succeeded in that. Carolina

Steve Sailer said...

I met #44 Tuck Stainback once or twice when I was a child. His wife played bridge with my mother. My recollection is that all the ladies in the bridge group admired Mr. Stainback as the perfect gentleman. He was the Dodgers sales executive in charge of group sales to fraternal organizations and the like. He also ran a charity to take poor kids to the ballgame.

I suspect the reason he was in the big leagues for 13 seasons despite being not quite an MLB talent is that he was a great guy and everybody liked him so they gave him more chances than his performance actually justified.

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