Oh, Frenchy. When you were 23, in 2007, it seemed like you might be a star. You posted a whopping +20 fielding runs while playing right field for the Braves. Your hitting was good enough and would probably improve. Right?
Despite early promise, the bat of Jeff Francoeur didn’t develop as hoped. Since his rookie year of 2005, he’s put up -86 batting runs, including 7 different seasons of at least -10. But in 2011, his first year with the Royals, he put it all together on offense. He had career highs in OBP and SLG, and also stole more than twice as many bases as in any other season.
Even that year, he didn’t walk enough and struck out too much, but his 71 extra-base hits in 153 games made a big difference. Unfortunately, his days of being an above-average fielder were behind him, and his total WAR for the season was “only” 3.1. Had he played the field as well as in past years, he could have posted the only 5+ WAR season of his career.
This is part of a series of posts. Please read our methodology here
Greg Myers spent 18 years in the majors. He mostly played as a backup catcher, and he mostly hit as a backup catcher too. Before 2003, he appeared in 100 games in a season just twice (107 games in 1991, -4 batting runs and 108 games in 1993, -11 batting runs.) Through the 2002 season, Myers averaged 65 games played a year and amassed a total of -80 batting runs.
Then, in 2003, something weird happened. Myers became the Blue Jays’ starting catcher. Ken Huckaby was expected to hold the job (you might recall this was the year he injured Derek Jeter in spring training) but Myers was the starter from the beginning of the regular season.
And you know what? Myers hit. In a career-high 121 games, he posted career highs of 15 HR, 52 RBI, 51 runs, 101 hits, 37 walks, plus career highs in all 3 slash line categories, coming in at .307/.374/.502. His +13 batting runs was second in the AL among catchers, though well behind leader Jorge Posada with +37. Next best were A.J. Pierzynski with +10 and Jason Varitek with +9.
Even more impressive, Myers’ 2003 was the 5th-most batting runs ever by a catcher in his Age 37 season. bested only by Ernie Lombardi (1945, +21), Mike Piazza (2006, +14), Earle Brucker (1938, +14) and Posada (2009, +14).
That was Myers’ last hurrah, though, as he played in just 14 games over the next 2 years before retiring. He finished with -83 batting runs in the rest of his career outside of his +13 2003.
This is part of a series of posts. Please read our methodology here)
Charlie Hayes played 14 years in the majors and was liked enough to do two tours of duty with 3 different franchises–the Giants (1988-89 & 1998-99), the Phillies (1989-1991 & 1995) and the Yankees (1992 & 1996-97). By virtue of playing an important position, third base, and being a consistently above-average defender, he turned out a career WAR of 10.5 despite being a below-average hitter for a corner infielder.
Hayes posted by far his best offensive season when he joined the Rockies in their inaugural season of 1993. And this season wasn’t just a “Coors effect”–his 118 OPS+ was 4th in the NL among 3Bs, just behind Gary Sheffield (120) and Dave Hollins (119), who all trailed leader Matt Williams (137) by a good chunk.
In 1993 Hayes had career bests in all of his slash-line categories, posting .305/.355/.522 vs career numbers of .262/.316/.398. He posted career highs in just about every offensive statistic, including hits, HR, 2B, SB, RBI, and R.
All this translated to +12 WAR batting runs that season. In his 13 other seasons, he totaled -92 batting runs, with every season being negative save a +3 in 1998.
Like many players on this countdown, Hayes is probably remembered as a better offensive player than he actually was, thanks to substantial value in his defense and his deserved longevity in the majors.
In this upcoming series of posts, we look at great batting seasons by players who were otherwise among the worst of their contemporaries, at least with the bat.
Before we dive in, let me explain the methodology and the meaning.
- The “worst hitters of the last 30 years” were the 200 batters, excluding pitchers, with the worst WAR batting runs totals from 1986 to 2015. To give you a sense, the first 3 in this list are Ozzie Guillen (-279 runs), Neifi Perez (-278 runs), and Omar Vizquel (-244 runs) and the last 3 are Tom Foley (-63 runs), Rafael Santana (-63 runs), and Peter Bergeron (-63 runs.)
- These players are, of course, not the worst players to play MLB during that time. The worst players all had much shorter careers and were, in most cases, even worse hitters but didn’t have enough time to accumulate a negative enough batting runs score to make the list. In other words, most of the 200 players had at least 500 games in the majors and the median number of games was about 990. These are all guys who were at least perceived as “quality major-leaguers”.
- For one thing, my analysis doesn’t include anything about defense or any of the other components of WAR, such as base running or positional scarcity. It’s no coincidence that Guillen, Perez, and Vizquel all played a lot of shortstop (and mainly played it well). Much of their overall value as ballplayers was in their defense and is not considered in this study.
- Among that list of 200 players, I found the best individual WAR batting run seasons, tweaked it a bit using my opinions, and created the top 10 list.
We’ll start with entry #10 on the list in a few minutes.
Another day, another crazy ALCS game. Here are some notes:
- Cliff Pennington became the first position player in post-season history to pitch in a game. This excludes, of course, 3 games by Rick Ankiel and 3 by Babe Ruth, all coming before their careers primarily as position players.
- RA Dickey became the first Blue Jays’ starting pitcher to fail to go at least 2 IP in a playoff game. The previous shortest outing was 2.0 IP, by Todd Stottlemyre in the insane Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
- Dickey’s Game Score of 28 was only the 6th-lowest by a Blue Jay in a playoff game. The 5 lower scores were all in the 1991-93 postseasons.
- The Blue Jays are now 25-25 in 50 all-time playoff games. They are 17-10 in games in which they homered and 8-15 in games without a homer.
- The Royals’ 14 runs in a franchise high for the playoffs, besting by 3 runs their total of 11 from the Game 7 drubbing of the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. Interestingly, the Royals went more than 4 years between regular-season games of 14+ runs until finally breaking the mark twice in September of this year.
- Alcides Escobar set the single-game playoff record for RBI by a Royals’ leadoff batter, with 4. The only other leadoff Royal to have even 3 in a game was George Brett, in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS.
- LaTroy Hawkins is closing in on the worst playoff ERA in history. He has a 6.75 ERA over 22 career postseason appearances. Among pitchers with at least 20 games, only Tom Gordon (7.06 in 21 games) and Rick Honeycutt (6.93 in 30 games) are worse.
- I don’t have good stats on this, but the Royals had 5 hits in 5 plate appearances from the 9-hole last night. That was 3 PAs by Alex Rios and 2 by Paulo Orlando. No single batter has ever had more than 4 hits in 4 PAs from the 9-hole (done by Adam Kennedy, Game 5 2002 ALCS & Spike Owen, Game 6 1986 ALCS) but I’m not sure about 2 combined batters from the 9-hole.
- Liam Hendriks’ 4.1 IP relief appearance is now the longest in Blue Jays’ post-season history, topping two different 3.2 IP appearances by Dennis Lamp in the 1985 ALCS and one by Todd Stottlemyre in the 1992 ALCS.
- If you’re paying attention, until yesterday Todd Stottlemyre held (or co-held) the Blue Jays’ post-season records for both shortest starting effort and longest relief effort. AND he saw both records broken in the same game. Weird.
(Note: we’re still updating the theme on HHS, so please ignore all the silly formatting issues. They will get resolved in the coming days.)
2015 ALCS Game 3: Blue Jays 11, Royals 8
That was quite a game. Here are a bunch of stats:
- The Royals had lost 31 previous post-season games in franchise history, but none while scoring more than 6 runs (until last night).
- The Royals were also involved in the last AL playoff game in which the losing team scored 8+ runs–that was the crazy ALWC card last year vs the Athletics that the Royals won 9-8.
- Teams that hit for a team cycle (all players together have a cycle) are now 144-44 (.766) with this loss by the Royals.
- Alcides Escobar is just the 8th leadoff batter in post-season history to post 4+ hits in a game his team lost.
- Teams are now 22-8 in the post-season when their leadoff batter has 4+ hits.
- Ben Zobrist is just the 4th batter in post-season history to post 3+ doubles in a game his team lost.
- Teams are now 12-4 in the post-season when one of their players hits 3+ doubles.
- Toronto’s 11 runs is their most scored in a post-season game, except of course Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, in which they beat the Phillies 15-14.
- In 41 franchise playoff games before 2015, the Blue Jays had never hit 3 homers in a game. Now they’ve done it twice in 8 playoff games this year.
- Yesterday’s win put the Blue Jays back above .500 all-time in the post-season, with a record of 25-24.
- Johnny Cueto is the first starting pitcher in MLB playoff history to allow 8+ ER while pitching 2 innings or less. Two relievers have done it: Steve Reed (CLE, Game 4 1999 ALCS vs BOS) and Jay Witasick (NYY, Game 6 2001 WS vs ARI).
- The Royals won all 3 Game 3’s they played last year. They’ve lost both Game 3 they’ve played so far this year. Until this year, they hadn’t lost a Game 3 since the 1984 ALCS vs the Tigers.
- Marcus Stroman’s 12 baserunners is the 2nd-most allowed by a post-season Blue Jays’ winning pitcher. The most was 15, by Juan Guzman in Game 1 of the 1993 ALCS vs the White Sox. Guzman allowed just 2 ER in 6 IP but also walked EIGHT.
- Incredibly, Kris Medlen’s 5-inning relief appearance was just the 4th-longest post-season relief stint in Royals’ history.
- Ryan Goins is the first player in Blue Jays’ history to play both 2B and SS in the same playoff game. For all teams, that’s happened only 16 times, although that includes twice this season by Starlin Castro for the Cubs.
- Liam Hendriks’ 40.50 ERA is the worst for all 36 pitchers to appear in the playoff for Toronto. That includes Gary Lavelle, who has an undefined ERA by facing one batter and giving up a walk but no runs.
- If you’re curious, most post-season appearances by a Blue Jays pitcher belongs to Duane Ward who had a 4.74 ERA over 19 playoff games. Tom Henke is next, with a 1.83 ERA in 15 games.
- Cueto recorded only 5 swing strikes in yesterday’s game, but that’s not even the fewest in a game by a Royals’ pitcher this year. Yordano Ventura got just 2 in Game 1 of the ALDS vs the Astros. The Royals have not been good and getting swings and misses this year in general.
- In the 2015 regular season, the Blue Jays went 4-15 in games when they allowed 8+ runs. Their .211 W-L% was 3rd-best in MLB behind the Giants (5-16, .238) and the Cubs (3-11, .214).
- The Blue Jays have now had two different starting shortstops (Troy Tulowitzki and Goins) drive in 3+ runs in a playoff game. The only Blue Jay to do that before 2015 was Tony Fernandez, in that infamous Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
Sorry for the site outage. I don’t know the cause but our ISP has fixed things.
Going forward, we are going to change some things here. Within the week, I will be changing to a new streamlined theme that will eliminate ads and other bells and whistles that slow things down.
Without ads, the site will no longer pay for itself. If someone has a good no-cost hosting option, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll have to revisit options down the road to cover costs.
In the next several months, I will be adding new writers to the site. These will be different voices than we’ve heard from in the past and should lead to some new interesting conversations.
Sorry again and thanks for your patience.
I am about to change over the website to a new theme that will run substantially faster and resolve some of the bugs that folks have been seeing. I will be getting rid of advertisements and also using fewer plugins.
Please bear with me on Monday evening as I get these changes in place.