Stealing an idea from U.S.S. Mariner, I thought it would be fun to construct a roster full of the worst players ever to play for the San Francisco Giants. Trying to watch the 2008 Giants has been hard. Our offense is terrible, we don’t play defense well, and our bullpen is one pitch away from total nuclear annihilation. This is a bad team with some bad players, but with seams of hope. Tiny, itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy pockets of hope.
The all-time worst roster has no hope. Only Neifi Perez. Johnnie LeMaster. Steve Scarsone. Ick. There is no hope. If hope was hitting for the all-time worst Giants team, he would ground into a double play to end the season. He would misplay the last out to ruin a perfect game. He would accidentally roll that giant rain-tarp thing over Tim Lincecum, breaking his arm in nine places. He would bat the 2002 version of Shawon Dunston third. He would do all of these things and do them with a twisted smile on his face.
Consider this a cranky narrative on how things could always be worse, dangnabbit!
- I’m looking at players from 1983-2008, or the amount of time that I’ve been on this Earth. I think I became aware of baseball and the Giants around ages 5 or 6. Since then, I’ve followed the team semi-closely to obsessively. You can adjust the time period to your liking if you don’t like my era.
- Position eligibility is set to having played 200 PA’s at the position or playing 50% of the the teams games at the position.
- Starting pitchers are defined as those who threw at least 150 innings in a season.
- Neifi Perez really is one of the worst baseball players in the past 50 years, true story.
- The EqA scores are adjusted for all-time and include all positions played, so keep that in mind.
- sOPS+, or split adjusted OPS, tells us how a player preforms in a split situation — ie: against lefty pitcher, or by position — relative to the average for that split. It follows the same idea of OPS+ in that 100 is league average. sOPS+ will be handy for us to determine how well a player performed at a certain position relative to the performance on average for that position.
The Position Players
C: 1995 Kirt Manwaring, 423 PA’s: .251/.315/.333, sOPS+ 80, EqA .231
I almost feel like this is an unfair selection, for some reason I always liked Manwaring. He was one of the first Giants catchers that I can remember being aware of. I can still recall pulling his cards out of packs of baseball cards and being excited because it was a Giants player. He was never a good hitter — career: .246/.311/.318 — but he was most likely a sturdy backstop. Defensive metrics are hard to use for older players like Manwaring, and looking at just fielding percentage doesn’t tell us much, but BP’s FRAA/FRAR defensive metric — which has it’s problems, but it can be applied to older players like Manwaring — speak favorably of Kirt’s defense. He was an above average defender, according to FRAA, at his position from 92-94, but he was a -9 FRAA in 1995. He won a gold glove in 1993 and threw out near 50% of baserunners from 92-93: 50.5%, 45.9%. But, in ’95 he dropped his CS% to 28.5%. His weak bat combined with his defensive slippings puts him at catcher on our list.
1B: 1995 J.R. Phillips, 236 PA’s: .194/.252/.355, sOPS+ 43, EqA .207
The mid-90′s were a bad time for Giants first basemen. Will Clark, a fan favorite and All-Star, left the team after 1993 and the Giants rotated players in and out of the position in an effort to find something resembling production. J.R. Phillips was probably the worst experiment at first. In ’95 the average first baseman in the National League hit: .277/.345/.458. Phillips line of: .194/.252/.355 is truly terrible and nearly 60 percent lower than league average production at first base. It almost makes you yearn for Lance Niekro. I said almost.
2B: 1996 Steve Scarsone, 260 PA’s: .230/.296/.352, sOPS+ 81, EqA .218
After running the numbers, I can say that I wasn’t surprised to see Scarsone pop up but I was surprised to see him come in as our 2B for his 1996 season in which he accumulated 260 plate appearances at that position. I never really remembered Scarsone playing 2B, it turns out my memory was wrong. Scarsone played 148 career games at 2B, the most of any position. Still, he wasn’t good and it just wasn’t because of his bat. He made 9 errors at 2B in 74 games and his fielding percentage — I know, bear with me — was .973 as compared to the league average of .981. By most accounts, he was probably a sub-average defender with a bad bat.
SS: 2008 Omar Vizquel, 226 PA’s: .197/.250/.232, sOPS+ 36, EqA .165
Where is Neifi Perez you ask? It’s true his 2004 season with the Giants: .232/.276/.295 was awful, but Omar has been really, really, really, bad with the bat this year. His sOPS+ is the lowest of any player so far on our list. Chances are that the end is here for Omar. Unless he can find a team that wants a late-inning defensive replacement at short, he might be playing ball in Japan next year. He’s still a solid bordering on very-good defender — Dewan’s +/- has him at +10 for 7th in all of baseball at short — but his bat eradicates any positives he’s adding with the leather. In 2004, Perez was probably an average to slightly-above-average defender at shortstop. BP’s FRAA has him at +5 above average. He also had a sOPS+ of 77, I can’t believe I’m defending Neifi Perez. I also feel that Johnnie LeMaster should get some love, he was before my time but still gets my respect.
3B: 1999 Charlie Hayes, 218 PA’s: .201/.298/.302, sOPS+ 54, EqA .213
Charlie Hayes was the perfect player for Dusty Baker. He was a stodgy, experienced veteran at the end of his career. He was the backup at 3B to Bill Mueller in ’99. The league average 3B hit: .275/.352/.456 in ’99 and Hayes gave the Giants whatever he gave them. He wasn’t a good defender and he didn’t hit well. For some reason, I’ll call this the Manwaring Effect, I always liked Charlie. It might have something to do with that awesome Darth Vader batting helmet he used to wear.
LF: 1992 Chris James, 210 PA’s: .244/.276/.365, sOPS+ 74, EqA .246
No offense to Chris James, but I can’t ever remember seeing him play or hearing anything about him. He played just one year for the Giants in ’92 and after that he went on to play with Astros, Royals, Rangers, and White Sox. His ’92 season wasn’t even that bad, surely not bad enough to put him on this list but since 1983, the Giants have only had 3 LF’s OPS+ under 100 in a season. James did it once and Jefferey Leonard did it twice. I couldn’t bring myself to include the Hackman on this list, so James makes the grade. Poor guy, I think after he left the team the Giants got a pretty decent LF but I can’t remember his name. Chris James, most forgettable Giant, ever?
CF: 1992 Darren Lewis, 356 PA’s: .232/.298/.274, sOPS+ 59, EqA .239
Darren Lewis isn’t the worst Giants all-time CF, just from my time period of 1983-2008. He was very fast — he stole 247 bases in his career — but he never hit much or got on base enough. You can see that even with the threshold for a valuable hitter lowered by the position he played, he was nearly 40% under league average for CF. He was a fantastic defender in ’93 — a FRAA of +20 — but in ’92 he rated a much more human +3 FRAA in center which sealed his fate. Not a bad player, but not necessarily a good one either.
RF: 2002 Tsuyoshi Shinjo, 398 PA’s: .238/.294/.370, OPS+ 78, EqA .237
OK, I know I’m cheating. Shinjo only played 6 career games in RF for the Giants but I just had to have him on my list. The orange sweat bands, the underwear modeling, his LCD belt buckle, I wanted him, no, I needed him to be on this team. You’ll notice that I just went with OPS+ instead of using sOPS+ and trying to compare him to RF since his sample size was so small and he didn’t meet our PA’s or games played standard. He was a good defender in CF and would have probably played a plus-defensive RF but his bat never played. He did well enough in ’01 with the Mets — an OPS+ of 90 — but was moved to the Giants in ’02, didn’t hit enough, went back to the Mets in the following year, OPS+’d 28, and is now back in Japan modeling the latest in fashionable underwear. Oh, Shinjo. I’d be a filthy rotten liar if I said I didn’t miss you, even just a little. Never mind what he do! You can also purchase 20 Shinjo cards for the paltry sum of $19.99!
Now that we’ve got our positions filled, let’s check out the lineup:
1. 1992 Darren Lewis, CF
2. 2002 Tsuyoshi Shinjo, RF
3. 1992 Chris James, LF
4. 1995 Kirt Manwaring, C
5. 1999 Charlie Hayes, 3B
6. 1996 Steve Scarsone, 2B
7. 1995 J.R. Phillips, 1B
8. 2008 Omar Vizquel, SS
According to the Baseball Musings Lineup Analyzer, this lineup would score 2.727 runs per game.
Tomorrow we’ll do the rotation.
Comment Starter: How many games would this team win? What’s your all-time worst Giants roster look like?