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.