The biggest black holes in baseball

Don't be fooled by this picture, Cody Asche can't actually field a baseball. - Mitchell Leff

Every team in baseball has a hole or two in the lineup, but some holes are especially glaring.

The baseball season is in full swing and as the days roll on, it becomes harder and harder to say that it's too early to evaluate players and teams. While in many cases, sample sizes remain too small to make definitive judgments, the season is starting to take shape. As this process takes place, we can examine the greatest weaknesses and strengths of teams around the MLB.

Given that across the internet there's an infinite amount of power rankings that focus on which teams or players are the best, I figured I would be more unique (and possibly mean-spirited) and focus on the weakest links in the game by position. Without further ado, let's take a look at the top three worst individual positions in baseball, as ranked by FanGraphs WAR—the biggest black holes in the game today.

#3: Minnesota Twins Right Fielders

The Line:

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BsR UZR WAR
.206 .248 .347 63 -2.3 -5.5 -1.7

The Culprits (10+ PA):

Player PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP wRC+ BsR UZR WAR
Oswaldo Arcia 61 .267 .279 .500 .317 114 -0.6 1.1 0.3
Darin Mastroianni 12 .000 .083 .000 .000 -79 0.2 0.9 -0.1
Chris Parmelee 61 .175 .213 .333 .175 48 -0.3 1.3 -0.2
Chris Herrmann 44 .122 .182 .122 .161 -16 -0.2 -1.8 -0.7
Chris Colabello 161 .232 .280 .377 .320 83 -1.4 -7.7 -0.9

Outlook: Encouraging-ish. Colabello was the real problem here and he was sent down to Triple-A in late May. With Josh Willingham back,  Arcia can play in right and seems likely to avoid being one of the worst players in the league. His -0.4 WAR in 378 MLB plate appearances last year was not encouraging, but that was largely driven by poor defensive metrics in a small sample. There is a fair amount of evidence in his minor league track record to suggest he is capable of wielding the bat, and at 23 he's a guy who also could be improving.

#2: Arizona Diamondbacks Left Fielders

The Line:

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BsR UZR WAR
.195 .232 .322 46 -1.6 0.2 -1.8

The Culprits (10+ PA):

Player PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP wRC+ BsR UZR WAR
Senger Peralta 10 .400 .400 .500 .571 149 0.0 0.0 0.1
Mark Trumbo 87 .210 .264 .506 .192 104 -1.3 -1.1 0.0
Alfredo Marte 22 .227 .227 .264 .417 53 0.0 0.1 -0.1
Ender Inciarte 62 .190 .217 .207 .220 10 -0.7 4.4 -0.2
Cody Ross 113 .178 .221 .224 .231 18 0.4 -2.3 -1.2

Outlook: Once again this is largely the doing of one man. Ross has been just appalling this year and given the fact that Trumbo has been bitten by the injury bug, the Diamondbacks haven't really had anywhere else to turn. Trumbo is on his way back, and when he returns he should make left field more respectable again for this team. Given his poor defensive abilities and plate discipline he's hardly a knight in shining armor, but with his power he's far from a black hole either.

#1 Philadelphia Phillies Third Basemen

The Line:

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ BsR UZR WAR
.241 .309 .370 87 -1.9 -11.3 -2.0

The Culprits (10+ PA)

Player PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP wRC+ BsR UZR WAR
Reid Brignac 35 .267 .353 .333 .444 89 -0.2 -0.9 0.0
Jayson Nix 43 .154 .214 .231 .250 23 -0.8 0.8 -0.3
Cody Asche 136 .258 .346 .425 .317 113 -0.3 -9.2 -0.3
Cesar Hernandez 56 .180 .255 .260 .250 39 0.1 -1.3 -0.5
Freddy Galvis 46 .048 .109 .048 .065 -61 0.3 -0.6 -0.9

Outlook: This one is a mess. The Phillies have thrown a lot of terrible options at the wall and none of them have stuck. To be fair, Cody Asche has impressed offensively, but he has been very poor in the field and he might be better off in the outfield. Asche, who is currently struggling with a hamstring issue, is likely to stick in the lineup as the only young, promising hitter this squad has, but it remains to be seen if his offensive value will outweigh the runs he gives up at the hot corner.

In theory, the savior here is Phillies top prospect Maikel Franco. However, Franco is hitting .222/.296/.352 at Triple-A at the moment. The third baseman is only 21, so this is no time to panic about his long-term potential, but he's not looking like a guy who is likely to help in the immediate future. 2014 is unlikely to be the Phillies' year for a variety of reasons but their situation at third base is foremost among them.

None of the teams listed above are contenders, perhaps by coincidence or perhaps because it's hard to be a top tier team with a gaping chasm in your lineup. Whatever the case may be one ninth of the Twins, D-Backs, and Phillies are disastrously awful. Truth be told, probably more than one ninth in these cases. That being said, one would have to think that things are only going to be on the upswing from here.

Truth be told, that's what they always say.

. . .

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

Nick Ashbourne is an Editor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Ashbourne.

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