clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who are the Worst Position Players in Baseball?


Roughly 850 different Major League Players have stepped into the batter’s box at some point this season. Contributions range from simply otherworldly (See: Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton, who leads the universe in Wins Above Replacement) to absolutely minuscule (I.e.: Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler who has one official plate appearance).

In order to discover the worst position players I populated the current lists of WAR from the three major sites that track such statistic: Baseball Reference (rWAR), Fangraphs (fWAR), and Baseball Prospectus (WARP). I took fifteen names off the bottom of each list so that we can, to put it mildly, compare them and see who the worst players in baseball have been this year. These are players who not only have contributed simply nothing to their respective clubs, but actually cost them wins.

It’s one thing to merely contribute at a replacement level, it’s completely another to be worse than that.

Rk Baseball Reference Age Tm PA WAR ▴
1 Ike Davis 25 NYM 185 -1.6
2 Tyler Pastornicky 22 ATL 157 -1.6
3 Rickie Weeks 29 MIL 220 -1.5
4 Ryan Raburn 31 DET 135 -1.4
5 Brennan Boesch 27 DET 216 -1.4
6 Chone Figgins 34 SEA 134 -1.3
7 Chris Parmelee 24 MIN 92 -1.2
8 Chris Coghlan 27 MIA 86 -1.2
9 Danny Valencia 27 MIN 103 -1.1
10 Xavier Nady 33 WSN 89 -1.1
11 Coco Crisp 32 OAK 119 -1.0
12 Endy Chavez 34 BAL 80 -1.0
13 Jason Bartlett 32 SDP 98 -1.0
14 Chris Nelson 26 COL 89 -0.9
15 Emmanuel Burriss 27 SFG 116 -0.9


Rk Fangraphs Age Tm PA WAR ▴
1 Ike Davis 25 NYM 185 -1.4
2 Ryan Raburn 31 DET 135 -1.2
3 Brennan Boesch 27 DET 216 -1.2
4 Tyler Pastornicky 22 ATL 157 -1.1
5 Endy Chavez 34 BAL 80 -1.1
6 Casey Kotchman 29 CLE 182 -1.0
7 Marlon Byrd 34 2TM 149 -1.0
8 Chone Figgins 34 SEA 134 -1.0
9 Xavier Nady 33 WSN 89 -0.9
10 Chris Parmelee 24 MIN 92 -0.8
11 Dee Gordon 24 LAD 207 -0.7
12 Adam Lind 28 TOR 132 -0.7
13 Wilson Valdez 34 CIN 50 -0.7
14 Erick Aybar 28 LAA 200 -0.7
15 Chris Coghlan 27 MIA 86 -0.7


Rk Baseball Prospectus Age Tm PA WAR ▴
1 Ike Davis 25 NYM 185 -2.0
2 Coco Crisp 32 OAK 119 -1.5
3 Ryan Raburn 31 DET 135 -1.4
4 Brennan Boesch 27 DET 216 -1.1
5 Endy Chavez 34 BAL 80 -1.0
6 Chone Figgins 34 SEA 134 -1.0
7 Xavier Nady 33 WSN 89 -1.0
8 Justin Smoak 25 SEA 213 -1.0
9 J.D. Martinez 24 HOU 195 -0.9
10 Brent Morel 25 CHW 125 -0.8
11 Clint Barmes 33 PIT 158 -0.8
12 Bobby Wilson 29 LAA 86 -0.8
13 Kurt Suzuki 28 OAK 176 -0.8
14 Erick Aybar 28 LAA 200 -0.8
15 Danny Valencia 27 MIN 103 -0.8

The Consensus (players on all three lists)

Well, hats go off to Ike Davis who at -1.6 (BR), -1.4 (FG), and -2.0 (BP) WAR is quite possibly the most negative contributor to a Major League Baseball team this year (so far!). We’re trying to keep the embarrassment level to a minimum, so I’ll simply give props to the Mets for sticking with him this long. As an appitite suppresant check out fellow BtB writer Bryan Gosnick's post about some possible replacements.

Ryan Raburn (-1.2, -1.4, -1.2) and Brennan Boesch (-1.2, -1.4, -1.1) are not only on all three lists, but both are also in the top five (bottom five?) of each one. Raburn is now performing his baseball related duties for the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Toledo Mudhens, in hope that he will somehow re-discover his historically productive second-half bat. Boesch, somehow, has eluded serious criticism (up to this point, wink, wink) and is still finding his name written in Jim Leyland’s lineup card every night. This could possibly be because there is literally no one who can play right field for the Tigers right now, though, as some suggest, even a cold body could produce more at this point than he has in the first two months of the season. A cold body could accidentally take a few walks.

While Endy Chavez (-1.0, -1.1, -1.0) only has 80 plate appearances, they’ve been 80 brutal ones. I suppose that he’s getting playing time due to his glove, but I always believe a horrible bat, even in small doses, is much more costly to a team than a good glove can be beneficial, especially one producing as poorly as this one.

Chone Figgins (-1.3, -1.0, -1.0) lost his everyday job in Seattle way back in the beginning of May, which was expected, as there is more range in the way people pronounce his first name than he has in his glove (well, his bat was horrible as well, but that sentence was fun to come up with).

Xavier Nady (-1.1, -0.9, -1.0) probably shouldn’t be playing as much as he is over in Washington. Even though 89 plate appearances isn’t too much exposure, he certainly has made the worst of each one. Of course, this is what happens when Jayson Werth gets hurt, all sorts of bad things happen. Imagine what the Washington Nationals outfield would look like without Bryce Harper. Sheesh.

The Plain Bad (Players who show up on one or two lists or are close to being on all three)

Chris Coghlan (-1.2., -0.7, -0.6), Chris Parmelee (-1.2, -0.8, -0.7), Danny Valencia (-1.1, -0.7, -0.8), Coco Crisp (-1.0, -0.4, -1.5), Tyler Pastornicky (-1.6, -1.1, -0.4), and Erick Aybar (-0.8, -0.7, -0.8), show up in the bottom fifteen of two of the three lists, and aren’t far off from appearing on a third. They’ve all just been bad. Parmelee, Valencia, and Pastornicky are all back in the minor leagues with their respective clubs, Aybar, Crisp, and Coghlan are all everyday players with their organizations, though only Aybar has been in the lineup every day since the season began as Crisp has been injured and Coghlan has been platooning some.

Emmanuel Burriss (-0.9, -0.6, -0.7), Dee Gordon (-0.4, -0.7, 0.0), Marlon Byrd (-0.6, -1.0, -0.5), Adam Lind (-0.7, -0.7, -0.6), Wilson Valdez (-0.7, -0.7, -0.6), Brent Morel (-0.6, -0.6, -0.8), Jason Bartlett (-1.0, -0.4, -0.6), Clint Barmes (-0.6, -0.2, -0.8), Casey Kotchman (-0.7, -1.0, -0.7), Chris Nelson (-0.9, -0.2, -0.2), Bobby Wilson (-0.4, -0.4, -0.8), and Kurt Suzuki (-0.6, -0.2, -0.8) have all produced at varying degrees of horrible this year and all are at least on one of the three graphs. Most of them are everyday players and all of them are in the bottom 75 players on all three sites.

The Outliers (one site has a bias!)

Justin Smoak (0.2, 0.3, -1.0) must have run over the dog of ever single statistician at Baseball Prospectus. As you can see, he is slightly above replacement level at Baseball Reference and Fangraphs and his statistics don’t particularly add up to a player as bad as Prospectus suggests he is. A bit of an oddball on this list, but I suppose perhaps the fact that he’s supposed to be producing at an All-Star level is what gets him here.

J.D. Martinez (-0.1, 0.2, -0.9) is the other name that Prospectus has declared as an outlaw. His on base percentage is .340, but his TAv is a mere .250, (low like Smoak’s is). Martinez hasn’t been all that fantastic, but he certainly isn’t producing at a -0.9 War rate. Another oddball on the bad list, and he doesn’t even have lofty expectations!

The Result

Taking all 26 names mentioned above, who are the absolute worst? We obviously can’t list players like Smoak or Martinez, as there is a disagreement in the stats. We can’t list players like Raburn, Pastornicky, or Parmelee, as their play has earned them bus tickets to the minor leagues. Players like Gordon have provided some positive qualities, such as speed. Other, haven’t played full time and therefore haven’t had the opportunity to cost their teams more wins.

Based on the total contributions to their respective teams, playing every day, the worst players in baseball have to include the names: Ike Davis, Brennan Boesch, Erick Aybar, Emmanuel Burriss, Marlon Byrd, Jason Bartlett, and Casey Kotchman.

Congrats, guys. Too bad there isn’t a worst place trophy in Major League Baseball.