A lot of times, when looking for something to write about, the natural tendency is to focus on the good players in the league. And it's very easy to do that because, honestly, who wants to write about bad players? It's fun writing about positive storylines like guys hitting three home runs in one game for the first time, or a young player leading the league in a bunch of offensive stats. Writing about someone who can't hit water if he fell out of a boat isn't as much fun.
Or maybe it is? As I was perusing the leaderboards to see if anything stood out, I decided to go the other way and look at the poor chaps at the bottom. After doing that, I discovered that there are a lot of players who have been positively dreadful at the plate so far this season, and we are going to look at some of their awful numbers. (All numbers are through May 10. May 11th's numbers were not included in this exercise.)
I consulted the bottom of the FanGraphs leaderboard for this exercise and arranged it a few times with different stats so I could see who the worst guys were. There were quite a few repeat offenders, meaning they have bad numbers across the board. Like Erick Aybar, who comes in at 192nd on FanGraphs' wRC+ and wOBA leaderboards. Or Chris Coghlan who comes in last in batting average. Or, better yet, poor Chase Headley who has yet to get an extra base hit this season, so he's sitting at the bottom of the pack in doubles, ISO, and slugging percentage. And finally, Yan Gomes is at the bottom of the on base percentage list. Maybe we shouldn't even refer to it as a leaderboard. A loserboard?
Anyway, let's dive head-first into the misery, shall we?
Aybar's Braves aren't doing well this season, and it stands to reason that neither is Aybar. But just how bad is he? His wRC+ is 9. Yes, 9. The number before 10. A single digit number. His wOBA is also dreadful at .188, which is also the lowest on the FanGraphs leaderboard. He's batting .182/.216/.209 with an .027 ISO.
Here's that ISO in a graph. It's not pretty.
Coghlan, who is with the A's this season, is batting .165/.243/.320, and his batting average puts him at the bottom of that particular leaderboard. For his career he's batting .264/.336/.408, so he'll improve at some point. At least he has a few extra base hits—four home runs and two doubles. The next guy on the list does not.
Here's Coghlan's .165 average visualized.
That's not pretty.
Poor Chase Headley. The man makes it to second and third base only when other people have hit the ball. He hasn't had the opportunity to hang out on either base because of something he's done. That's right, Mr. Headley has no extra base hits this season. This is a dubious accomplishment for the Yankees' third baseman, who has bested Horace Clarke of the 1968 Yankees in extra base futility. That's right, Headley's 26 games without an extra base hit to start the season is the worst in Yankee history. (He just hit an RBI single as I was writing this, so still no extra base hits.)
There's a good reason the color blue is used to describe a person's gloomy mood. That reason is called Chase Headley's ISO. Look at this graph. At least Aybar's had some red in it.
Gomes, of the Indians, is at the bottom of the on base percentage list with a paltry .204. Dexter Fowler leads the league with a hefty .467. The rest of Gomes' numbers aren't great either,. He's batting .170/.204/.318, which places him in the bottom five in batting average, but at least he's also hit some home runs (4) and doubles (3).
Pitchers are really going after Gomes down and away at the plate.
And he's hitting a lot of ground balls on those pitches.
Maybe those balls will sneak through soon and he'll get his numbers up.
So what does this mean? Will these four players improve at some point this season and move from the bottom to maybe the lower portion, but not quite bottom of the leaderboards? Their career numbers say that yes, they probably will, but it, of course, remains to be seen.
. . .
Stacey Gotsulias is a contributing writer of Beyond the Box Score. She also contributes to The Hardball Times and writes about the New York Yankees for It's About The Money and BP Bronx. You can follow her on Twitter at @StaceGots.