A week ago, before the awakening of his bat this weekend in Boston, I was despairing about Mark Reynolds, his lack of hitting and his woeful glove. I wondered how bad he really was and hypothesized that he must be the worst player in baseball based on his simultaneous poor performances in the field and at the plate. I went to Fangraphs.com and sorted all batters in terms of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) which puts value on players while incorporating thier offense and defense.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Reynolds was not the worst player in Major League Baseball, not by a long shot. And that made me feel better. No, it didn’t change how poorly Reynolds has played thus far but, like it or not, seeing someone worse off than you makes you feel better. And there are some fans out there who have had to watch these guys who are as bad or worse than Mark Reynolds and his .1 WAR this season.
Mark Teixeira, 0.1 WAR - Teixeira is famous for his slow starts and this season has been no exception. His .217/.270/.380 slash line is wretched for any player, let alone a first baseman and only his excellent fielding puts him in positive WAR territory.
(As an aside, how big a disappointment has Teixeira been for the Yankees? Outisde of his first year with the team, he’s been very average in terms of production for his position and salary. (An .825 OPS since the start of the 2010 season.) Maybe Oriole fans should start cheering him when he comes to Baltimore. We don’t have to pay him $22.5 million for each of the next five seasons.)
Jose Reyes, -0.1 WAR - Reyes signed for big money with Miami after coming off of his career season in 2011. But he’s gotten out of the gate slow posting a .234/.320/.336 slash line and surprisingly, his defense may be even worse than his bat at this point with a -3.3 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced measure of quantifying defense). Actually, maybe that shouldn’t bee surprising and he hasn’t posted a positive UZR in 4 seasons.
Albert Pujols, -0.7 WAR - Pujols has famously gotten off to a bad start for the Angels after commanding an enormous contract as the premier free agent last offseason. He has but a single home run to his credit, an awful .532 OPS and has reached base only 32 times in over a month of games.
Chone Figgins, -0.8 WAR - Oh, Orioles fans were clamoring for The Warehouse to back up the Brinks truck to Figgins’ house and bring him to Baltimore when he hit free agency after the 2009 season. You know who you are. But his tenure in Seattle has been marked by injury and just a general disappearance of all the skills he once held. This season, his .198/.250/.305 slash line is, obviously, one of the worst in baseball and is pretty much in line what he did last year. His range is now so poor, he can’t even manage to be a serviceable defensive left fielder.
Ike Davis, -0.9 - Davis is one of the most disappointing young players in the game right now. After a promising rookie campaign and an injury shortened 2011, many pointed to 2012 as a potential breakout season but he has been slow to get back into the swong of things with a .499 OPS and he’s playing a terrible defensive first base.
Other regulars who have been less valuable than Reynolds include Brennan Boesch, Justin Smoak, Eric Hosmer, Adam Lind, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, Shin-Soo Choo, Rickie Weeks and Jose Bautista.
Lots of those players will come around and it is likely that Reynolds will, too. And although it is popular to bash Reynolds’ glove - and deservedly so - he fielding thus far is way better than it was last season (-10.8 UZR/150 in 2012, -30.3 UZR/150 in 2011).
He’ll come around, and even though it may seem like it, he’s not even close to being the worst player in baseball.
Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey’s Army. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.