Chat leftovers: The worst hitter of 2012


While discussing the value of defense in Tuesday's chat, I pointed out the defensive metrics suggest the best fielders are worth about 20-plus runs over an average defender at their position. Somebody asked what the worst hitters -- like Mark Belanger, the Gold Glove shortstop for the Orioles in the 1970s -- are then worth. In Belanger's worst season, he was 24 runs below an average hitter, according to Baseball-Reference.com; he actually had some not-awful seasons at the plate, mainly because he drew some walks and had respectable on-base percentages in his best years.

I said I'd look up the worst hitters of 2012. So here goes:

  • Using the Batting Runs category from Baseball-Reference, Drew Stubbs was the worst at -26 runs, followed by Kurt Suzuki, Alexei Ramirez and Clint Barmes, all at -21.

  • FanGraphs has a similar stat, wRAA (weighted Runs Above Average) and they have Brendan Ryan at -24, Dustin Ackley and Barmes at -22 and Stubbs at -19 (this stat isn't park-adjusted).

  • Those were all guys who played a lot. If you prefer rate stats, Stubbs comes in the worst on FanGraphs' wOBA at 64 for regulars, but among those with 300 plate appearances, Dee Gordon trails the field, followed by Josh Thole, Robert Andino and Ryan.

Overall, I give the honor of least valuable hitter of 2012 to Stubbs. He hit .213/.277/.333 in a good hitter's park -- and that doesn't even factor in that he got to play a large percentage of his games against the Astros and Cubs.

By the way, the Reds gave a lot of playing time last year to Stubbs and Wilson Valdez. Baseball-Reference has Valdez at -18 runs in just over 200 PAs. One reason to like the Reds again in 2013: No Stubbs and no Valdez chewing up outs in the lineup.