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Worst Catcher Seasons since 1957

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Baseball-Reference.com Play Index is saving this blog with more useless lists1 Today I list the 25 worst individual offensive seasons according to OPS+ since 1957, who qualified for the batting title in their given year. Why 1957 instead of all the way back to the beginning modern era in 1901? Because I'm lazy and because the current guidelines for qualifying for the batting title were adopted in '57. The current rule is a player must average 3.1 plate appearances per total number of games played by their team which with the 162 game schedule works out to 502 plate appearances. Here's a copy and paste of the guidelines through out the years from Baseball-Reference.com:

 

* Prior to 1920, a player must have appeared in 60% of the team's games to qualify for a title. This number was rounded to the nearest integer.

* From 1920-1937 (unclear, and previously thought to be until 1944), a player must have appeared in 100 games.

* From 1938-1944, the AL used 400 at bats and the NL stayed with 100 games as found by Paul Rivard of SABR.

* From 1945-1956, a player must have 2.6 at bats per team game. Note however, that from 1951-1954 a player could lead if they still led after the necessary number of hitless at bats were added to their at bat total.

* From 1957 to the present, a player must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game. Note however, that from 1967 to the present a player could lead if they still led after the necessary number of hitless plate appearances were added to their at bat total.

If we took into account players prior to 1957 it would be littered with early 20th century players, who many of you including myself probably never heard of and wouldn't be able to add comments like "Hey I remember him, he sucked!" In case you were wondering, the worst offensive season ever by a catcher who qualified for the batting title was Bill Bergen in 1909 who had an OPS+ of 1 (.139/.163/.156 in 372 plate appearances). Again like with my last entry a lot these guys played a lot due to superior defense (Bob Boone is on it four times) but some probably shouldn't have been playing much at all.

 

Top 25 Worst Offensive Catcher Single Seasons (per OPS+)

 

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1. Matt Walbeck, 1994 - Minnesota Twins 37 OPS+ (.204/.246/.284)

 

2. Brad Ausmus, 2006 - Houston Astros 54

3t. Brad Ausmus, 2003 - Houston Astros 55

3t. Jim Sundberg, 1975 - Texas Rangers 55

5. Joe Girardi, 1995 - Colorado Rockies 58

6t. Jason Kendall, 2007 - Oakland A's/Chicago Cubs 63

6t. Bob Boone, 1986 - California Angels 63

8. Tony Pena, 1991 - Boston Red Sox 66

9t. Michael Barrett, 2001 - Montreal Expos 68

9t. Joe Girardi, 1994 - Colorado Rockies 68

11t. Kirt Manwaring, 1994 - San Francisco Giants 69

11t. Johnny Edwards, 1970 - Houston Astros 69

13. Bob Boone, 1974 - Philadelphia Phillies 70

14. B.J. Surhoff, 1988 - Milwaukee Brewers 71

15. Bob Boone, 1985 - California Angels 72

16t. Butch Wynegar, 1978 - Minnesota Twins 73

16t. Randy Hundley, 1968 - Chicago Cubs 73

18. Joe Oliver, 1993 - Cincinnati Reds 74

19t. Pat Borders, 1993 - Toronto Blue Jays 75

19t. Bob Boone, 1980 - Philadelphia Phillies 75

21t. Benito Santiago, 2001 - San Francisco Giants 76

21t. Benito Santiago, 1993 - Florida Marlins 76

21t. Rick Cerone, 1979 - Toronto Blue Jays 76

21t. John Bateman, 1971 - Montreal Expos 76

21t. John Bateman, 1970 - Montreal Expos 76

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Brad Ausmus must be one hell of a defensive catcher, what with multiple seasons of hitting .220-.230,(not to mention he hasn't hit more than 9 HRs in a season in 16 years in The Majors), yet still keeping his job after all these years.

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Someone put in more time than needed on Matt Walbeck's entry on the BR Bullpen (the Wiki of Baseball-Reference.com). I especially like this part of his bio:

 

2003 was Walbeck's final season. In 138 games for the Tigers, he hit a career-low .174 (although he did hit .417 in four games in the minors that year).

Hey .417 in four minor league games! And he actually had 138 at bats not 138 games. I mean not even the 2003 Tigers were bad enough to have someone play 138 games and hit .174.

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If you wash out of the league with the 03 Tigers you probably shouldn't have been in the league in the first place. Huzzah Baseball-reference letting you finds these lovely tidbits.

 

Edit: And he had a stellar career OPS+ of 54. HOF BOUND! But hey that bullpen page says he's been a manager in the Tiger's minor league system, so at least things are working out for him.

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