Building MLB ‘No-Star’ teams with the worst players of 2018 so far
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The MLB All-Star Game represents a fun opportunity to see the sport’s best talents on the field at the same time. But you know what would also be fun? The exact opposite of that.
Baseball is full of dynamic superstars like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper who can dazzle the crowd. The All-Star Game, even in its current no-stakes format, is the rare chance to see those players assembled in one place at the same time. Making an All-Star team is an exclusive honor that most fall short of receiving.
So why not swing to the complete other side of the spectrum and give some love to the worst of the worst? Oh, you don’t want to watch Kole Calhoun and his .178 batting average take on Lucas Giolito’s 6.59 ERA? That explains it pretty well, actually.
But the next week in the baseball world is going to be all about praising the game’s hottest players. To celebrate, let’s look at the players who have helped their teams the least this season. Instead of an All-Star Game, here’s what a No-Star Game would look like. All statistics provided by FanGraphs.
C: Pedro Severino, Nationals, -0.7 wins above replacement
Severino’s defense is well-regarded, and he’s graded out above-average in that area this season. However, he’s batting .171 with minimal power, which has made him a huge liability in the batting order.
1B: Ian Desmond, Rockies, -0.4 wins above replacement
The 18 homers and 54 RBI look relatively good, but ballpark effects from Coors Field, terrible defense and a .299 on-base percentage crush Desmond’s value.
2B: Logan Forsythe, Dodgers, -0.6 wins above replacement
Forsythe already lost much of his second base duties in L.A. to Max Muncy, and it’s not difficult to see why. He’s posted a .262 on-base percentage and two home runs in 183 plate appearances.
3B: Jose Reyes, Mets, -1.1 wins above replacement
The Mets just lost Todd Frazier to injury recently, so they may be stuck playing Reyes more at third base for a while. As you can tell from a .246 on-base percentage and six extra-base hits in 138 plate appearances, that’s not great news.
SS: Orlando Arcia/Eric Sogard, Brewers, -1.4 wins above replacement
A package deal! Arcia and Sogard have combined to start 70 of Milwaukee’s first 93 games at shortstop. They’ve both been terrible, especially at the plate, combining to be 30 runs below average on offense.
OF: Dexter Fowler, Cardinals, -1.2 wins above replacement
Oh, you’ve heard about Fowler’s struggles already? Huh. How about that.
OF: Chris Owings, Diamondbacks, -1.0 wins above replacement
Owings’ struggles at the plate become less forgivable when most of his playing time comes in right field instead of shortstop.
OF: Austin Jackson, Giants, -0.8 wins above replacement
Jackson is batting .242 even though he’s benefitted heavily from a .396 BABiP, well above his .354 career figure. The power is gone, a 36 percent K rate is brutal and if his BABiP dips, things could get even worse.
SP: Jason Vargas, Mets, -0.5 wins above replacement
He pitched 37.2 innings and allowed 36 earned runs before going on the disabled list in mid-June. None of his starts have lasted more than five innings. Opponents have batted .337 against him.
RP: Bryan Mitchell, Padres, -0.9 wins above replacement
It’s usually a bad sign when you’ve allowed 35 walks and 39 runs while recording 23 strikeouts.
C: Christian Vasquez, Red Sox, -0.6 wins above replacement
He’s putting the ball into play at a decent clip (15.1 percent K rate) but that’s about the end of the positives.
1B: Chris Davis, Orioles, -2.1 wins above replacement
The worst player in the big leagues so far this season, it’s remarkable to think he’s just a couple years removed from a five-season stretch where he averaged 39 homers annually as one of the game’s premier sluggers. There’s not much value in a first baseman who can’t hit, field or run the bases well.
2B: Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox, -0.3 wins above replacement
Nunez has been solid in the field, grading out as roughly average defensively, but he’s batting .259 with a low walk rate and middling power. Also, shoutout to the Rangers’ Drew Robinson, who’s struck out in 45 of his 80 at-bats this season.
3B: Luis Valbuena, Angels, -0.4 wins above replacement
A familiar name to Cubs fans, Valbuena’s flashed some power with nine homers but a .256 on-base percentage undoes much of that value offensively.
SS: Alcides Escobar, Royals, -1.0 wins above replacement
Escobar has always been a glove-first shortstop, but his defensive statistics have dipped from elite to slightly above-average. Coupled with his worst batting numbers ever, including a .249 on-base percentage and three homers in 347 plate appearances, he’s been a minus.
OF: Trayce Thompson, White Sox, -1.3 wins above replacement
The White Sox already sent Thompson to the minors, but not before he put up some spectacularly bad numbers. The outfielder’s .117/.162/.211 batting line translates to an OPS+ of 4 – 4!!! – which is relative to a league average of 100.
OF: Kole Calhoun, Angles, -1.0 wins above replacement
It’s been a rough couple years for Calhoun, who has gone from an above-average hitter to a total mess. He’s still maintaining a solid exit velocity, but his launch angle has dipped from 14.8 in 2016 to just 9.3 this season.
OF: Robbie Grossman, Twins, -0.7 wins above replacement
Grossman’s .240/.320/.351 batting line is more respectable than many of his peers in this post, albeit still below-average and he’s been very poor in the field and on the base paths.
SP: Lucas Giolito, White Sox, -0.8 wins above replacement
Giolito may turn into an effective big league starter eventually, but his first full season on the South Side has been a disaster. The ongoing issues with command and allowing home runs are especially concerning.
RP: Josh Tomlin, -1.4 wins above replacement
He’s started six of his 23 appearances, but we’re slotting him in as a reliever. The Indians pitcher has allowed 21 home runs in 49 innings, and an extremely low groundball rate (29.7 percent) is a big part of that. His FIP (8.27) is even worse than his ERA (6.98).