Chris Gomez: One of a Kind

The "Similarity Scores" on Baseball-Reference have been dead to me for a while. Now that B-R added WAR components to the Play Index, I roll my own similarity search when I'm curious about a player. For example, if I want to find players similar to Ken Boyer, I head to the Play Index and search for third baseman with similar WAR batting runs and WAR fielding runs. Why? They are era- and park-adjusted so they actually mean something.

In doing these types of searches I love finding really unique players. And that's what I have for you today.

100 WAR batting runs is an impressive total. 515 hitters have done it, from Babe Ruth (1430) to Max Bishop (100).

100 WAR fielding runs is also impressive—and even more rare. 73 players have done it, from Brooks Robinson (292) to Terry Pendleton (100).

If you're curious, just 29 players have done both. The only one who is retired and not in the Hall of wWAR is Robin Ventura. Willie Randolph, Keith Hernandez, Buddy Bell, Graig Nettles, Bill Dahlen, and Jack Glasscock are in the Hall of wWAR but not the Hall of Fame.

But let's look at the other side of this. How many players have been worth –100 runs at the plate? 438 players (311 non-pitchers) have done it, from Rube Lutzke (–100) down to Larry Bowa (–320).

Just 16 players have been worth –100 runs in the field, from Jeff Burroughs (–104) to Gary Sheffield (–178). Derek Jeter is second worst with –143. Ouch.

When you look at a list like this—sixteen absolutely terrible fielders—you assume they must hit a ton. Manny Ramirez (662 batting runs) leads the list. Sheffield, Dick Allen, Frank Howard, Derek Jeter and Bernie Willliams all have 300+.

There are, however, four players on the list who were below average hitters. Each was an infielder, so at least they had some positional value. Ty Wigginton has been worth –8 runs at the plate and –110 in the field. Juan Samuel was worth –11 at the plate and –113 in the field. Ricky Gutierrez was pretty awful (–80 batting runs, –110 fielding runs).

But just one player in Major League history is on both of these "–100 lists". Chris Gomez, a utility man and occasional starter in 16 big league seasons, was worth –119 runs at the plate and –110 in the field. Ouch. Add in –13 on the bases, –6 for double plays, and even –3 for the enigmatic "ROE" stat and you get a player worth –3.6 WAR in 5148 plate appearances.

Chris Gomez: the ultimate futility infielder.

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