10 Horrible Individual Seasons in MLB That No One Is Noticing
It only seems fair.
Now we're going to flip the script and call your attention to 10 silent but deadly stinkers.
These names may have become curse words to hometown fans, and you've been avoiding them like the plague in your fantasy baseball leagues.
It's time for the casual fans of the game to discover just how bad these players have been.
*All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com and Fangraphs.com and are accurate through the start of play on Monday, June 3.
Criteria and Honorable Mentions
Here's how we whittled the list of over 800 players down to the final 10.
1) Must have a minimum of 100 at-bats or 20 innings pitched in 2013.
2) Must have a minimum of 750 career at-bats or 100 career innings pitched.
3) Cannot currently have a WAR better than -0.6 (according to fangraphs).
4) Must have been taken outside the top 200 in ESPN fantasy drafts.
The first three criteria ensure we're dealing with guys that are making enough appearances to actually have a detrimental effect on their team while also making sure we aren't just hating on a bunch of rookies that are still figuring out how to play at this level.
The fourth criterion gets rid of the guys like Matt Kemp and Fernando Rodney who we all know have been terrible this season.
This got us down to 13 players, from which I removed the following three:
Jason Marquis: Terrible WAR (-1.1) and terrible BB/9 (5.09), but he somehow has a 6-2 record.
Brett Myers: He's only appeared in four games this season, and given the number of times he's bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen over the past few seasons, it's not surprising that he struggled.
Skip Schumaker: For whatever reason, WAR tends to skew against utility guys who get regular at-bats because of their willingness to play anywhere on the field and their ability to get on base somewhat regularly. I can't in good conscience put a guy with a .260 batting average on this list.
No. 10: Alex Sanabia
2013 Stats: 3-7 record, 55.1 IP, 4.88 ERA, 5.87 FIP, 5.04 K/9, 4.07 BB/9, one spitball
Sanabia shouldn't have even been given a spot in the rotation to start the season. Unfortunately, Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi have been on the disabled list all season and the Marlins needed to cobble together a five-man rotation from somewhere.
With Alex Sanabia currently on the DL, this is what the Miami Marlins starting rotation looks like.
Jose Fernandez: A 20-year-old with a 3.34 ERA who should eventually be the ace of the staff. Nothing to complain about here.
Ricky Nolasco: A better-than-average pitcher, but he shouldn't be getting paid more than four times as much as anyone else on the roster.
Kevin Slowey: Did not pitch in the big leagues in 2012 and has an ERA of 8.87 over his last five starts—none of which lasted longer than 5.1 innings.
Jacob Turner: The ninth overall pick in 2009 still needs some time in the minors. He had a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A, but got the call to the big leagues when Sanabia hit the DL.
As poorly as he has performed, Sanabia is probably still the third-most qualified starting pitcher the Marlins have, and will thus have a starting job waiting for him when his groin heals.
No. 9: Nolan Reimold
2013 Stats: .188/.257/.327, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 26.5 K%
I feel badly for Nolan Reimold. As soon as he starts getting regular playing time, an injury sends him right back to the drawing board. We're not talking about sprained ankles or bruised knees either. In the past four years, he has had surgery on his Achilles tendon as well as surgery for a herniated disk in his back.
He's once again sidelined with an injury—this time of the hamstring variety—but it doesn't change the fact that he was playing terribly before his setback.
Reimold's .188 batting average is the eighth-worst among American Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances, and his BABIP is better than any of the seven guys "ahead" of him on that list—which indicates that he has actually been luckier than guys like Josh Reddick and Aaron Hicks to have approximately the same horrible batting average as them.
No. 8: Brandon League
2013 Stats: 11/14 saves, 20.1 IP, 5.31 ERA, 5.53 FIP, 4.43 K/9, 2.21 BB/9
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting rumors that Don Mattingly is perpetually moments away from losing his job as the manager of the Dodgers, and yet he refuses to remove Brandon League from the closer role.
It's hard to argue that a beleaguered (get it?) closer in a city like Los Angeles could possibly be crapping below the radar, but everyone seems so caught up in Matt Kemp's struggles and injuries that they won't even mention how awful the ninth-inning pitcher has been.
Let's briefly travel to a make-believe world in which Bobby Parnell is pitching poorly for the Mets, and not only is Frank Francisco healthy, but he has a K/9 of 12.71 and an ERA that is nearly half of Parnell's. Don't you think the national media would be losing their mind if Terry Collins kept letting Parnell blow games?
Yet, Mattingly continues to stand by League as his closer while Kenley Jansen and his 25 saves from 2012 just keeping mowing down opponents in the eighth.
No. 7: Maicer Izturis
2013 Stats: .216/.252/.311, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, -1.2 WAR
Maicer Izturis has never been a home run hitter, but he's typically been a slightly speedy source of average and positional flexibility.
Izturis batted at least .246 and stole at least seven bases in each of his previous eight seasons with the Angels. He wasn't exactly Brooks Robinson with the glove, but his fielding runs above average was at least a positive number in six of those eight seasons, ranging from a low of -2.5 to a high of 6.9.
This season, his batting average is 30 points below his previous worst and his on-base percentage is 54 points lower than we've seen. He has been caught stealing in his only two attempts and his fielding runs "above" average is a negative 7.3.
By all accounts, he's having the worst season of his career, and it has amounted to him being the second-worst player in 2013 according to WAR.
No. 6: Clayton Richard
2013 Stats: 1-5 record, 34.1 IP, 7.86 ERA, 7.38 FIP, 4.72 K/9, 4.72 BB/9
Coming off three consecutive seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA, Richard's numbers are a bit surprising.
The low strikeout rate was to be expected. Richard hasn't averaged better than 5.0 K/9 since 2009.
His walk rate, however, is nearly triple the 1.73 number he put up last season.
His home-run rate has also skyrocketed. Richard entered the season allowing one home run for every 9.1 innings pitched. He's currently allowing a round-tripper for every 3.1 innings of work. Coupled with the increased number of walks, it's no wonder his ERA is through the roof.
You can't even blame the home-run balloon on the moved-in fences at Petco Park, either, as eight of his 10 home runs were ceded on the road.
No. 5: Jeff Francoeur
2013 Stats: .213/.246/.319, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, 24.6 K%
I ripped into Jeff Francoeur pretty strongly this past Friday, so we'll try to keep this to a less-vitriolic minimum today.
In 2011, Francoeur batted .285 with 20 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 123 strikeouts. It looked like the move to Kansas City was going to finally help him fulfill on some of the promise he showed in 2005-07 with Atlanta.
Quite the contrary, he's exactly on pace to match those 2010 strikeout numbers this season, but he's also on pace for just six home runs and six stolen bases.
The only full-time outfielder (at least 450 plate appearances) who failed to hit 10 or more home runs or steal 10 or more bases in 2012 was David DeJesus, who finished the season with nine home runs and seven stolen bases. At least DeJesus batted .263 and only struck out 89 times.
In 2013, Francoeur has the worst on-base percentage among outfielders not named B.J. Upton. Aside from Melky Cabrera—who is presumably still trying to learn how to play without PEDs—Francoeur has the lowest ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) among outfielders with fewer than four stolen bases.
That's just a fancy way of telling you that he is arguably the worst combination of power and speed that you can possibly have in your lineup.
No. 4: Mike Fiers
2013 Stats: 1-4 record, 22.1 IP, 7.25 ERA, 7.19 FIP, 6.04 K/9, 2.42 BB/9
Brewers fans might argue that every member of their pitching staff deserves to be on this list, but Fiers is somehow the only one who meets the WAR criteria. The Brewers are the only team without at least one starting pitcher having a WAR of 0.5 or better, though, so there's that.
If home runs counted as outs, Mike Fiers would be a much better pitcher. Thirteen of the 18 earned runs he has allowed to score this season were courtesy of the eight home runs he's given up.
Of the 294 pitchers who have pitched at least 20 innings this season, Fiers' 3.22 HR/9 rate is the third-worst. This is a far cry from last season in which his 8.6 HR/FB ratio was good for 20th best among pitchers who logged at least 120 innings.
Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel reported a rumor on Monday morning that he'll be sent down to Triple-A after a particularly dreadful outing against the Phillies on Sunday, but here's hoping Fiers will be back and pitching like a serviceable fourth starter in no time.
Heaven knows the Brewers need something to go right on the pitching mound, because they are completely wasting some great seasons by Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura.
No. 3: Jeff Keppinger
2013 Stats: .231/.237/269, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 0 SB, 1.10 BB%
You may have heard that Jeff Keppinger did not draw a walk until his 142nd plate appearance of this season (and, of course, it came with the bases loaded in a tie game) because of the media's apparent obsession with pointing out when guys fail to draw a walk for a long stretch of time (see: Brown, Domonic).
However, Keppinger probably dropped off of your radar once he finally got that monkey off his back.
Let's just say he didn't suddenly evolve into an unstoppable walking or hitting machine.
Keppinger has the lowest WAR of all 169 qualified batters, coming in at a stellar negative 1.3. He is in dead last in wRC+, which is essentially a bell curve of runs created that tells us literally the worst thing the Baltimore Orioles could do right now is trade Chris Davis straight up for Jeff Keppinger.
He's gradually coming around. He has hits in 13 of his last 16 games, including half of his doubles, more than half of his RBI and all of his home runs on the season; but he has a long, long way to go.
No. 2: Carlos Marmol
2013 Stats: 2-3 record, 22.1 IP, 5.64 ERA, 6.43 FIP, 9.27 K/9, 8.06 BB/9
Both Carlos Marmol and the guy on the next slide have no doubt received their fair share of hate mail from Chicago fans over the past few years, but 2013 might be the worst year yet for each of them.
First, a little bit of context on how bad Carlos Marmol has been.
From 2009-2012, Marmol's BB/9 rate was 6.73. Not only was that the worst rate among the 327 pitchers with at least 180 innings pitched over that four-year span, but it is 25 percent worse than the next-closest guy—Andrew Miller at 5.37.
If we change our view to split season numbers over the last four years, there are 1,307 instances of a pitcher throwing at least 50 innings in a season. Marmol has four of the 24 worst seasons, including a tie for worst with a 7.91 BB/9 rate in 2009.
Jonathan Sanchez and Kyle Drabek are the only other pitchers to have multiple seasons in the "top" 50. Neither Sanchez nor Drabek is currently in the major leagues.
Despite all that, Marmol's BB/9 is currently higher than in any of the previous four seasons. He's on pace to break his own record in futility.
At this point, you're probably wondering how in the world someone that erratic can still be a major league pitcher. Well, his 12.88 K/9 ratio over the past four seasons leads all pitchers with at least 180 innings pitched.
And despite all the walks, wild pitches and hit batsmen, he has had a very respectable ERA thanks in part to incredibly low home run ratios.
That's all gone out the window this season. His K/9 ratio is the lowest it has been since his rookie year, and a career-worst 16 percent HR/FB ratio is contributing heavily to a near-worst 5.64 ERA.
No. 1: Adam Dunn
2013 Stats: .160/.246/.387, 12 HR, 29 RBI, 35.0 K%
In his first season with the White Sox in 2011, Adam Dunn was an absolute dumpster fire.
After seven straight seasons of hitting at least 38 home runs, he managed just 11 round-trippers and posted the worst strikeout rate, batting average and on-base percentage in his then-11-year career. In terms of wins above replacement, it was the worst season since the turn of the millennium. (No, seriously.)
You could very legitimately argue he's been even worse in 2013.
Certainly not in terms of home runs, considering he would have to hit negative one home runs over the next 100 games to match his 2011 output. But his walk rate is at an all-time low and his strikeout rate is nearly at an all-time high.
His batting average is only one point better than it was in 2011—which was easily the worst batting average in over a century—and his on-base percentage is 46 points worse than it was in 2011. If he maintains his current on-base percentage, it would be the fifth-worst single-season OBP since 1969 and the worst since 1989.
Stay tuned, because this could get historically awful.