Brad Hawpe drops a fly ball / Icon SMI

Recently (you know, on the only other real post I’ve written on the new blog so far) a couple of readers mentioned Brad Hawpe’s awful 2008, which was worth -41 Fielding Runs. That is, in fact, the worst defensive season of all time as measured by Baseball-Reference.com’s data set. Click through for a full list, including a number of other fascinating seasons.

Rk Player Rfield Rbat Year Age Tm G PA BA OPS Pos
1 Brad Hawpe -41 14 2008 29 COL 138 569 .283 .879 *9
2 Jason Bay -35 31 2008 29 TOT 155 670 .286 .895 *7
3 Ryan Braun -35 33 2007 23 MIL 113 492 .324 1.004 *5
4 Dante Bichette -34 -1 1999 35 COL 151 659 .298 .895 *7/D
5 Adam Dunn -33 34 2009 29 WSN 159 668 .267 .928 379/D
6 Chris Gomez -33 -16 1997 26 SDP 150 586 .253 .652 *6
7 Gary Sheffield -32 13 1993 24 TOT 140 557 .294 .837 *5
8 Michael Young -31 27 2005 28 TEX 159 732 .331 .899 *6/D
9 Kirby Puckett -29 14 1993 33 MIN 156 682 .296 .824 *89D/7
10 Joe Carter -29 -14 1990 30 SDP 162 697 .232 .681 *873
11 Alan Bannister -29 -12 1977 25 CHW 139 630 .275 .672 *6/487
12 Ty Wigginton -28 -7 2003 25 NYM 156 633 .255 .714 *5
13 Jose Guillen -28 -13 1997 21 PIT 143 526 .267 .712 *9/8
14 Carlos Lee -27 23 2006 30 TOT 161 695 .300 .895 *7D
15 Ron Gant -27 19 1991 26 ATL 154 642 .251 .834 *8
16 Rick Monday -27 19 1974 28 CHC 142 617 .294 .842 *8
17 Trevor Plouffe -26 -3 2011 25 MIN 81 320 .238 .697 *649/D73
18 Orlando Cabrera -26 -11 2009 34 TOT 160 708 .284 .705 *6
19 Brian Giles -26 -15 2009 38 SDP 61 253 .191 .548 *9
20 Jorge Cantu -26 4 2005 23 TBD 150 630 .286 .808 *45D
21 Ken Griffey -26 29 2005 35 CIN 128 555 .301 .946 *8/D
22 Tony Womack -26 -17 1997 27 PIT 155 689 .278 .700 *4/6
23 Jeff Burroughs -26 21 1977 26 ATL 154 671 .271 .882 *9
24 Billy Urbanski -26 -30 1935 32 BSN 132 566 .230 .572 *6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/1/2012.

Ahh, yes. Hawpe and Jason Bay joined the club at the top in 2008.

Some other observations:

  • Ryan Braun and Adam Dunn in their respective years are sort of the classic slugger–huge offensive contributions (over +30 Batting Runs) with little regard to what they are doing with their gloves. Hard to believe that looking at just batting/fielding plus/minus, both guys were worth about nothing in those years.
  • Four of these top 24 players changed teams during the seasons listed. It’s an extremely small sample, of course, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a correlation there (of a poor defender being more likely to switch teams.)
  • Herein lies the difference between Kirby Puckett and Joe Carter–both make the top 10 with a -29 fielding run season, but Puckett provided 14 with the bat while Carter cost another 14.
  • Trevor Plouffe made the list last year, but he deserves a bit of extra credit for playing all over the field. Of course, maybe that’s why his defense was so bad, or maybe his bad defense is why he played all over the field…
  • Dante Bichette in 1999…yup. I recall reading recently that he’s one of the most overrated players of all time.
  • I hadn’t heard of Billy Urbanski before. With -56 runs between offense and defense, I guess we know why.

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