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Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Did Yadier Molina have worst game ever?

By David Schoenfield

In Wednesday's 6-4 loss to the Dodgers, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, grounded into a double play with runners at the corners and one out in the third, struck out in the sixth and then struck out in the ninth with a runner on.

FanGraphs grades Molina's Win Probability Added at -.326, which is pretty bad. (WPA attempts to measure how much each plate appearance influences the team's chance of winning the game, based on the game situation and outcome of the PA.) FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference might calcuate WPA a little differently, but using the B-R search engine I find 99 individual postseason games where a hitter had a WPA of -0.3 or worse.

So Molina's game was bad Wednesday, but it wasn't even the worst in this series -- in part because his two double plays came early in the game. Here are the eight worst WPA games in postseason history with -0.5 WPA or worse.

8. Bert Campaneris, A's, 1972 World Series, Game 5 (-.501 WPA)
In a 5-4 loss to the Reds, he went 0-for-5, including popping into a game-ending double play with runners at the corners. (The play went 4-2, with Blue Moon Odom trying to score on a foul pop.)

7. Jose Canseco, Red Sox, 1995 ALDS, Game 1 (-.503)
In a 5-4 loss in 13 innings, Canseco went 0-for-6, including lining into a double play with two on in the 10th and striking out with two on to end the 12th.

6. Michael Young, Dodgers, 2013 NLCS, Game 1 (-.523)
Young only had two at-bats, but they were killers, as you should remember since they happened just a few days ago on Oct. 11. In the 10th inning, he flew into that inning-ending double play. In the 12th, with two runners on he grounded into another double play.

5. Ron Gant, Braves, 1993 NLCS, Game 5 (-.532)
A 2-1 loss for the Braves, Gant went 0-for-5, the biggest play being a game-ending double play in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on.

4. Jeff Kent, Astros, 2004 NLDS, Game 4 (-.542)
Kent went 1-for-5 in a 6-5 loss, but he grounded into a double play in the seventh and a game-ending double play in the ninth with runners at first and third.

3. Reggie Sanders, Reds, 1995 NLCS, Game 1 (-.543)
As you can see, these types of results all come in close games, when one at-bat can swing victory. The Reds lost 2-1 in 11 innings and Sanders had another one of those game-ending double plays with runners at the corners.

2. Cliff Bolton, Senators, 1933 World Series, Game 4 (-.547)
Bolton pinch hit in the bottom of the 11th, down 2-1, bases loaded, one out. He grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. WPA doesn't factor in the pitcher: Carl Hubbell, who went all 11 innings to get the win for the Giants.

1. Felix Millan, Mets, 1973 World Series, Game 2 (-.563)
Millan struck out in the first, grounded out in the third, grounded out with a runner on in the fifth, was intentionally walked in the sixth, flew out in the eighth, flew out into a double play to end the 10th and popped out with runners at first and third and one out in the 12th.

Here's the kicker: The Mets ended up winning the game. After Millan popped out, Willie Mays singled in a run and then Oakland second baseman Mike Andrews made two errors that allowed three more runs to score. (This was the famous incident when A's owner Charlie Finley tried to "fire" Andrews after the game.)