Migel Tejada finally ‘broke out’ of his season long slump in last night’s game, going 3-4 with a single, double, and 1 RBI. /cue majestic trumpets
You would be hard pressed to use the term ‘breaking out’ when a player goes 3-4, but this is Tejada we’re talking about. After last night’s game, Tejada’s batting average rocketed from .195 to a robust .213 — breaking the oppressive .200 batting average mark for the first time since May 5th. Tejada has been getting BABIP’d to death for most of the season, but using my eyes, it’s not hard to see why: most of his contact has seemed weak and aimed to the opposite field. Rarely has Tejada pulled anything to his pull-field lately. Two of Tejada’s base hits last night were pulled into LF, maybe a good sign of better days, or at least a dead cat bounce, to come. Tejada’s double off of Armando Galarraga in the bottm of the 6th inning was his first extra-base hit since April 15, 2011.
Tejada’s start to his Giants career has been bad. But, how bad has it been? As usual, I’m in love with BB-Ref’s Play Index Tool, and I decided to run a search for the worst SS seasons of all-time by a Giant. The seasons run from 1901 to 2011.
Rk Player WAR/pos OPS+ Rfield Rbat Year Age PA 1 Johnnie LeMaster -2.8 51 -15 -30 1982 28 474 2 Hal Lanier -2.5 46 -6 -35 1970 27 463 3 Johnnie LeMaster -1.7 56 -11 -27 1984 30 493 4 Jose Uribe -1.5 69 -10 -22 1990 31 448 5 Johnnie LeMaster -1.5 59 -10 -22 1980 26 442 6 Jose Pagan -1.4 56 -9 -23 1964 29 415 7 Roger Metzger -1.3 68 -14 -10 1978 30 255 8 Tim Foli -1.2 53 -3 -25 1977 26 387 9 Johnnie LeMaster -1.0 16 -2 -17 1977 23 152 10 Omar Vizquel -0.9 45 3 -23 2008 41 300 10a Brian Bocock -0.9 12 -1 -10 2008 23 93 10b Bob Heise -0.9 49 -5 -12 1970 23 165 10c Hal Lanier -0.9 38 8 -34 1968 25 518
Ah, LeMaster. You knew he would make the list multiple times. Sorted by WAR, LeMaster’s 1982 season ranks as the worst all-time season by a Giant shortstop. He was brutal in the field (-15 runs) and at the plate (-30 runs) and yet, somehow, managed 474 PAs. Dark times indeed for the SS position on the Giants. LeMaster’s 82 OPS+ of 51 indicates that he was nearly 50% below the league average hitter that year. He also holds the #3, #5, and #9 position on the search. I always found it funny that Total Zone — the fielding component of bWAR — never, ever, liked LeMaster on defense. He accumulated -61 runs on defense over his career. LeMaster’s era was a different time for shortstops, you could live with the light-hitting offense, but you at least expected your SS to be able to field his position well. It looks like LeMaster struggled in that regard, too.
Hal Lanier is a little like LeMaster in the fact that he never hit, ever, in his career. His career OPS+ of 49 should give you an idea of what he brought to the plate. Lanier’s season in ’70 almost dethrones LeMaster for ‘worst of all-time’. Only Lainer and LeMaster break the -2 win barrier, Lainer with -2.5 wins and LeMaster with -2.8 wins.
Roger Metzger played 2.5 seasons with the Giants from 1978-80. His ’78 season was the worst; Metzger hit a paltry .260/.294/.294 with the Giants after being purchased from the Astros. Notice the slugging percentage on that slash-line. Metzger had 61 hits for the Giants in ’78, all but seven were singles. In 1980, Metzger’s last season with the Giants, he produced a negative OPS+ (-29) over 31 PAs before the team released him in August.
10th place on the list is a four-way tie between Omar Vizquel, Brian Bocock, Bob Heise, and Hal Lanier. However, if I had to pick a 10th worst, I would give the honor to Brian Bocock. Bocock is impressive in that he accumulated -0.9 wins in just 93 plate appearances — the fewest of any player on our list. You can’t really blame Bocock for struggling, the Giants rushed him to the majors after it was found out that Omar Vizquel would need knee surgery before the season. That surgery would shelve Vizquel for 4-6 weeks and the Giants needed somebody, anybody, to stand in at SS. Bocock was a solid defender in the minor leagues, but his bat needed a lot of work. Before ascending to the majors (straight from A+ ball, too) Bocock had never posted an OPS of greater than .675 at any level. He was set up for failure and I can still recall watching his at-bats in the majors. He was always late on everything, every swing was defensive, and it was sad to watch him go to the plate with the only intention to try and work a walk (he did walk 12 times in his brief time in the majors, but also struck out 29 times). That was the Brian Bocock experience. Vizquel eventually returned, but he was terrible when he did, and it marked his last season in San Francisco. The resilient Vizquel is still playing in the majors and he’s actually had a few productive seasons since his disastrous 2008.
Tejada could end up breaking into this list before the season is over, but his current bWAR of -0.2 tells us that while he’s been bad, he hasn’t been historically bad. Hooray for small victories!
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