Stats 101: Baseball's worst hitters
Dayn Perry / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 20 hours ago
Let's talk bad. And we don't mean "bad" like the kids say.
We mean bad like raw oysters, 105-degree days or "Mind of Mencia." You know: lousy, crappy.
To bring this home to baseball, we're talking about which hitters this season have been the absolute worst in the game. We're not concerned about defense or base running. We're also not paying any heed to clubhouse bearing, popularity with fans and media or any other intangible merits/demerits. It's all about hitting and who hasn't been doing it.
So we're going negative in this installment of Stats 101 and taking a look at which hitters have been summoning the ghost of Enzo Hernandez each time they step into the box. Let's take a look, on a position-by-position basis, considering only those with a qualifying number of plate appearances ...
C — Jason Kendall, Cubs
The D-Rays' Dioner Navarro has actually been worse than Kendall this season, but he's not quite a qualifier. At the time of his being traded from Oakland, the impossibly light-hitting Kendall had a batting line of .226 AVG/.261 OBP/.281 SLG. While he's been better since becoming a Cub, his overall numbers remain beyond putrid. In fact, he's on pace to play in 144 games while managing only 24 extra-base hits.
1B — Richie Sexson, Mariners
The M's have finally wised up and are now platooning Sexson with Ben Broussard. However, much of the damage has already been done. At present, Sexson is hitting .199 AVG/.298 OBP/.390 SLG. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a premium offensive position. No first baseman with a sub-.300 OBP is doing his job. If Seattle winds up a game or two out of playoff position at the end of the season, then Sexson should carry a good chunk of the blame.
2B — Josh Barfield, Indians
In 2006, Barfield had a solid campaign, especially considering he played his home games in Petco Park, the most brutal hitting environment in the game today. This season, however, he's backslid terribly. On the year, his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is only .591, and he's hitting only .206 against the opposite side. At age 24, Barfield still has promise, but this has been a lost season.
3B — Nick Punto, Twins
Thankfully for Twins fans, Punto hasn't been playing every day of late. However, he's still a qualifier, which makes his 2007 batting line of .209 AVG/.298 OBP/.271 SLG impossibly damaging to the team's hopes. A corner defender simply cannot slug less than .300 and not be a profound liability. The Twins have also tolerated miserable production from left and DH this season, and that's a big reason they're probably not going to the playoffs.
SS — Juan Uribe, White Sox
Although Boston fans might argue for Julio Lugo's inclusion, Uribe has actually been worse. Shortstop is of course not generally a linchpin position in the lineup, but Uribe's current batting line of .214 AVG/.266 OBP/.338 SLG is awful in any context. He's put up even weaker numbers away from hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. Bottom line: No hitter should play the majority of a season and be on pace for only 10 doubles.
LF — Craig Monroe, Tigers
The Tigers have one of the best offenses in the game this season, but that's no thanks to Monroe. Monroe's been a solid right-handed power source over the last four seasons, but this year his skills have taken leave of him. Presently, he's hitting .220 AVG/.264 OBP/.375 SLG, while the average major-league left fielder is hitting .274 AVG/.346 OBP/.448 SLG.
CF — Juan Pierre, Dodgers
Sure, Pierre has his good points: he's a fairly efficient base stealer, and he's a solid defender in center. At the plate, though, he's been a wreck this season. Speed on bases is nice, but one must, you know, reach base in order to use that speed. Pierre's paltry OBP of .318 proves he's not doing that. Pierre has such limited secondary hitting skills that he really needs to hit comfortably over .300 to be useful. In 2007, he's coming up short in that regard.
RF — Austin Kearns, Nationals
When the Nats traded for Kearns last season, it looked as though they were robbing the Reds blind. However, Kearns has failed to live up to his promise. RFK's a tough park for hitters, but that doesn't excuse a .250 AVG/.332 OBP/.380 SLG line from a corner outfielder.
DH — Aubrey Huff, Orioles
Huff hasn't spent all his time at DH in 2007, but it has been his primary position. Overall, Huff is hitting .260 AVG/.302 OBP/.403 SLG, and as a DH he's hitting .243 AVG/.289 OBP/.354 SLG. That's not the level of production you want from a guy who most of the time doesn't pick up a glove.
P — Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
No, even the pitchers aren't spared from ridicule. Braving the cornucopia of banjo-hitting pitchers is challenging stuff, but it's hard to "top" what the reigning NL Cy Young winner has done in 2007. In 54 plate appearances this season, Webb has "hit" .041 AVG/.041 OBP/.061 SLG. To achieve a similar dearth of production, an every-day hitter would need to log roughly 24 hits in 600 at bats. Even the average pitcher this season beats Webb by more than 100 points in the batting-average department.
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