1) Yuniesky Betancourt
Walk rate: 3.4%
Worst year: 2007 (2.7%)
Yuniesky Betancourt enjoyed three okay seasons in Seattle before being traded to Kansas City last year. Turns out the Mariners had the right idea. Since becoming a Royal, Betancourt has played below replacement level.
In 2010, he suddenly discovered some power, hitting 16 home runs. His career OBP is in the red at .296 and with poor defense and no speed, he’s not long for this game.
2) Shea Hillenbrand
Walk rate: 3.7%
Worst year: 2007 (2.5%)
Remember him? He debuted at the age of 26 and was out of baseball when he was 32. It wasn’t just the lack of plate discipline that ran him out of the game after parts of seven seasons. It was his personality.
Complaints about a lack of playing time, among other things, ran him out of Toronto, then San Francisco, then both L.A. teams.
At the end of the day, Hillenbrand managed to hit .284 through 3816 plate appearances. In his second to last season he hit 21 home runs. He never learned discipline though with a career-high of 26 walks in 2005.
3) Jose Lopez
Walk rate: 3.7%
Worst year: 2005 (3.0%)
With a walk rate percentage points better than Shea Hillenbrand’s, the Mariners’ second baseman Jose Lopez. When he hits .297 he still gets on base at a below-average rate. When he hit .239 in 2010, his OBP was .270.
That’s especially horrible for a guy who collected 622 plate appearances. Unlike the two players above him, Lopez plays plus defense.
That, along with 10-15 HR power, should keep him in the game for another half decade or so. He’s probably more a .260 hitter than the .239 he showed us in 2010.
4) A.J. Pierzynski
Walk rate: 3.9%
Worst year: 2002 (2.8%)
A.J. Pierzynski has been somewhat productive over the years. He is about to turn 34 and has just signed up for his 14th season, his 11th of full-time duty. A career .284 hitter, A.J. has never managed 30 walks in a season. He doesn’t bring much else to the table except for 10 home run power and the fact that he can catch.
Pierzynski is not a good enough hitter to move to any other position when he can no longer catch. He has balanced his lack of discipline with a refusal to strike out. His 8.2% K-rate in 2010 was the second best mark of his career.
5) Christian Guzman
Walk rate: 4.2%
Worst year: 2002 (2.6%)
Christian Guzman is only two years removed from being a .316 hitter. His career slash line of .271/.307/.383 is quite bad. His batting average on balls in play has been above average since 2007, so as long as the hits keep falling in, he’ll have a job.
His strikeout rate spiked in 2010 though so I think his time as a productive hitter is running out. Interestingly, he and A.J. Pierzynski were teammates on the Minnesota Twins during their worst BB-rate seasons.