I wrote earlier this week about how Mike Trout is blowing away the competition in terms of Wins Above Replacement this season and is the first position player to reach double-digit WAR since Barry Bonds in 2004.
There’s a flip side to that coin, of course. It’s tough to identify the worst player in baseball because technically the worst player is probably some guy with zero hits in three at-bats or some pitcher with a 15.00 ERA in two appearances. They’re so bad that they don’t get any further opportunities.
The worst player in baseball who actually plays regularly is a different, more interesting story and I thought it would be a good time examine the lowest Wins Above Replacement totals this season via Baseball-Reference.com:
PA WAR Jeff Francoeur 528 -3.2 Michael Young 575 -2.6 Joe Mather 220 -2.2 Ryan Raburn 222 -2.0 Ramon Hernandez 196 -1.7 Ty Wigginton 338 -1.7
Wouldn’t you know it, a couple of longtime HBT “favorites” top the list. (And yes, those are negative numbers.)
Jeff Francoeur has followed up a strong 2011 season that got him a $13.5 million contract extension from the Royals by hitting .233 with a .286 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage in 129 games. According to WAR he’s been 3.2 wins worse than a replacement-level corner outfielder, which is pretty tough to do. For comparison, he had a WAR of +2.7 last season.
Michael Young has followed up a strong 2011 season in which he hilariously received a first-place MVP vote from a Dallas writer by hitting .269 with a .299 on-base percentage, .359 slugging percentage, and 23 double plays in 137 games. According to WAR he’s been 2.6 wins worse than a replacement-level DH/first baseman/infielder. Not only did Young have a WAR of +2.1 last season, he posted a positive WAR total in each of his first 11 seasons.
Both players have been terrible and unlike most of the other guys with negative WAR totals Francoeur and Young have played basically every day for the entire season. In fact, among the 30 players with the lowest WAR totals this season only Francoeur and Young have logged more than 480 plate appearances.
If you’re looking for the worst player in baseball this season Francoeur and Young are the most obvious candidates and right now at least my vote would go to Frenchy. Also: Francoeur is signed for $6.75 million next year and Young is under contract for $16 million.