Wins Above Replacement, WAR, is a stat showing basically how much better a certain player is than an average, replacement-level player. Click here for a better explanation. Basically, a 0.0 WAR player is no better or no worse than the everyday player. He won’t make an All-Star team, but he’s hitting above the Mendoza Line. Note that I’m not that stat-oriented, but I’ll give it a shot.
Examples of today’s players who were about average last season (via Fangraphs… and I’m trying to use basic stats to give a more fungible idea):
Jorge Cantu, 0.0 WAR – .256 avg/11 HR/.304 OBP
Ryan Theriot, 0.0 WAR – .270/2/.321
Carlos Quentin, 0.0 WAR – .243/26/.342
Three of the best:
Josh Hamilton, 8.0 WAR – .359/32/.411
Joey Votto, 7.4 WAR – .324/37/.424
Albert Pujols, 7.3 WAR – .312/42/.414
So this made me wonder… if we can use WAR to measure the players who have been the best, why can’t we use it to figure out who has been the worst?
According to WAR, last year’s worst player with enough ABs to qualify? The Melk Man.
Melky Cabrera, -1.2 WAR – .255 avg/4 HR/42 RBI/.317 OBP
The scary part? Cabrera might open the year as a starting center fielder… granted, for the Royals, but… here… I’ll let Joe Posnanski explain.
Then (Brewers manager Ned Yost) started talking about (prospect Lorrenzo) Cain, talked about his athleticism, how he and Escobar can help the Royals offense “just with their legs alone.” Then it all took a terrible turn.
“He’s a center fielder,” Yost told Bob about Cain. “But we’ll see where it fits in. I’m not projecting anything right now. We’ve signed Melky Cabrera (to play center field), and Lorenzo Cain only has (147) big-league at-bats.”
Uh oh. Bob asked Ned Yost about Cain … and the words “Melky” and “Cabrera” were in the answer? Melky Cabrera of the 83 OPS+ and .317 on-base percentage last year? Melky Cabrera of the minus-21 on the Dewan Plus/Minus for outfield defense last year (minus-9 in center fielder where he only played 385 innings)? Melky Cabrera of the minus-1.2 WAR last year — which made him by Fangraphs ratings the worst everyday player in baseball? That Melky Cabrera?
So I decided to dig a little deeper. Below the cut are the worst players from 2000-2010.
Angels: Brandon Wood, -2.6 WAR
Astros: Pedro Feliz, -1.5 WAR
A’s: Antonio Perez, -1.3 WAR
Blue Jays: Dave Berg, -1.5 WAR
Braves: Melky Cabrera, -1.2 WAR
Brewers: Marquis Grissom, -1.5 WAR
Cardinals: Roger Cedeño, -1.5 WAR
Cubs: Aaron Miles, -1.4 WAR
Diamondbacks: Jose Cruz, -1.1 WAR
Dodgers: Jason Grabowski, -1.5 WAR
Giants: Jose Vizcaino, -0.7 WAR
Indians: Josh Barfield, -1.6 WAR
Mariners: Matt Tuiasosopo, -1.1 WAR
Marlins: Reggie Abercrombie, -1.1 WAR
Mets: Anderson Hernandez/Jay Bell, -0.7 WAR
Nationals/Expos: Peter Bergeron, -4.1 (wow)
Orioles: Lou Montanez, -1.4 WAR
Padres: Chris Gomez, -1.6 WAR
Phillies: Kevin Jordan, -1.6 WAR
Pirates: Jose Castillo, -1.6 WAR
Rangers: Ricky Ledee, -2.0 WAR
Rays: Damion Easley, -1.3 WAR
Red Sox: Tony Clark, -1.4 WAR (Scott Hatteberg is 3rd, -1.1 WAR)
Reds: Ray Olmedo, -1.6 WAR
Rockies: Brent Butler, -1.8 WAR
Royals: Dee Brown, -3.6 WAR (Neifi Perez, -3.4 WAR)
Tigers: Craig Paquette, -2.2 WAR
Twins: Rondell White, -2.1 WAR
White Sox: Andy Gonzalez/Timo Perez -2.2 WAR
Yankees: Tony Womack, -2.3 WAR
The five worst A’s in that time period:
1. Antonio Perez, -1.3 WAR
2. Eric Karros, -1.0 WAR
3. Esteban German, -0.8 WAR
4. Jose Ortiz, -0.8 WAR
5. Mark Bellhorn, Keith Ginter, Chris Singleton, Ron Gant, Barry Zito, John Jaha all had -0.7 WAR.
Barry Zito was more valuable with a bat in his hands than Antonio Perez. Sounds about right.
The five worst Giants from 2000-2010:
1. Jose Vizcaino, -0.7 WAR
2. Ricky Ledee, -0.6 WAR
3. Brian Bocock, -0.6 WAR
4. Ivan Ochoa, -0.6 WAR
5. Alex Sanchez, -0.6 WAR … Note: John Bowker was probably the worst Giants batter to see major PT, with -0.5 WAR
Best qualifying players since 1871?
1. Babe Ruth, 177.7 WAR
2. Barry Bonds, 169.7 WAR
3. Ty Cobb, 163.9 WAR
4. Willie Mays, 163.2 WAR
5. Hank Aaron, 150.5 WAR
And the worst in that timeframe?
Jim Lillie, who played outfield from 1883-1886 for the Buffalo Bisons (which once employed Old Hoss Radbourn) and the Kansas City Cowboys of the National League. In Lillie’s best year, 1884 with the Bisons, he hit for a .223 avg., had a .231 on-base percentage, batted in a career-high 53 runs… all for a WAR of 0.0. Average. He was also good in the field.
His worst year was his last, with the Cowboys. In 427 PA’s, Lillie hit .175, had an OBP of .197, struck out 19.2% percent of the time, hit 0 home runs and had 22 RBI. Though he did swipe 13 bags. Altogether? -3.3 WAR that season.
Career WAR? -5.0