Twins catcher Drew Butera isn’t in the majors for his bat. Or for really any reason I can tell. But there he was in Minnesota’s lineup for the 57th time this season on Thursday, and he ended up 0-for-4 in a 6-1 loss to the Orioles. He’s 6-for-55 since the All-Star break, and he’s hitting just .160 for the season.
With Thursday’s game, Butera reached 200 plate appearances for the season. Here are all of the players since 1961 to hit .160 or worse in at least 200 plate appearances:
1. Roy Oyler: .135 in 247 PA (1968 Tigers)
2. Brandon Wood: .146 in 243 PA (2010 Angels)
3. Bob Uecker: .150 in 221 PA (1967 Phillies & Braves)
4. Jim Mason: .152 in 251 PA (1975 Yankees)
5. Al Weis: .155 in 213 PA (1966 White Sox)
6. Nate Colbert: .156 in 260 PA (1975 Tigers & Expos)
7. Dick Tracewski: .156 in 240 PA (1968 Tigers)
8. Andruw Jones: .158 in 238 PA (2008 Dodgers)
9. Ken Williams: .159 in 243 PA (1988 White Sox)
10. Gus Triandos: .159 in 237 PA (1962 Orioles)
So, unless the Twins find themselves a new backup catcher tomorrow, Butera could well become the first player since 1975 to hit .160 or worse in at least 250 plate appearances. Greg Vaughn’s .163 in 297 plate appearances for the 2002 Rays is the worst mark since.
Of course, Adam Dunn, with his .165 average in 431 plate appearances, could also have something to say about all of this.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.