The Milwaukee Brewers hold a 4-3 lead in the top of the 9th against the Colorado Rockies. Ex-Brewer great, Mark Reynolds, walks up to the plate with two outs. Two things come to young Sven’s mind as Reynolds approaches the batters box : “This would be so funny that I wouldn’t even be angry” being one of them. The other being “Reynolds had to be one of the worst everyday first basemen for the Brewers in recent memory”. This inspired the young man to dive into the worst seasons by Brewer players in franchise history in terms of Wins Above Replacement.
Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an imperfect statistic used by baseball nerds (me) to evaluate players based on one number (PLEASE ALWAYS USE MORE THAN ONE STATISTIC TO EVALUATE PLAYERS!). The resulting number from the massive WAR equation (theoretically) will give you a number that represents the amount of wins that player gives a team through the course of a 162 game season.
0>-x = Below replacement level player
0-1 = Replacement level player
1-2 = Role player
2-3 = Starter
3-4 = Good Starter
4-5 = All-Star
5-6 = Superstar
x>6 = MVP caliber player
You can dive into this so much deeper, I am not the right person to explain the whole jist of it however. Fangraphs has a fantastic article that dumbs it down for idiots like me to understand completely.
Speaking of Fangraphs, there are two different equations for WAR. They are referred to fWAR (Fangraphs WAR) and bWAR (Baseball Reference WAR). I will be using fWAR because it is far easier to look up than bWAR. With that being said, player x may have a different WAR on the varying sites.
Lets dive in!
It was difficult to find extremely bad pitchers in terms of fWAR as their equation is a bit more kind to pitchers than bWAR. Therefore, my roster is made up of 7 pitchers and 18 position players. Let’s start with my honorable mentions.
Outfielder Dick Davis twice produced a fWAR of -0.7 in 1978 and 1981. Nothing too outrageous, but his name warrants a spot on this list.
Gary Sheffield was one of the most hated Brewers of all time. In 1991 Sheffield produced a -1.1 fWAR. Milwaukee met his trade demands and shipped him to San Diego where he finished 3rd in MVP voting in 1992. Thank you Gary. Very cool!
SS Enrique Cruz had 76 plate appearances for the Brewers in 2003. He batted .085 with a .243 OPS. He produced a -1.3 fWAR in his 60 games with Milwaukee.
Pat Listach had a very promising start to his career after winning the ALROY in 1992. He was never close to that same player again. In 1996 Listach ended his Brewer career by producing a -1.1 fWAR.
I will now assemble to worst 25 man roster in Milwaukee Brewers history. Buckle up!
Starting on the mound, we have 1983 Jim Slaton who produced a -1.6 fWAR. Slaton holds a ton of Brewers pitching records. In his last season with the club Slaton pitched 112 innings out of the bullpen and only struck out 38 batters. His WHIP was near 1.5 and his FIP was in the 5’s. Meaning, he was very lucky to have 14 wins to his name and an ERA in the low 4’s.
Behind the plate, we have 2004 Chad Moeller (who managed to hit for the cycle this year). In 349 plate appearances, Moeller slashed .208/.265/.303. He produced a fWAR of -1.1.
Starting at 1B is 1999 Sean Berry who put up a stellar -2.2 WAR. Having a WAR that low as a first baseman is extremely hard to do as 1B is arguably the easiest position to play in sports. He hit 2 homers as a first baseman and had an OPS of .582. He didn’t do anything on the defensive side of the ball either as he was worth -1.2 WAR on defense.
Starting at 2B we have the legend Ronnie Belliard, who went on to have a decent career after his terrible 2002 season. Belliard showed promise in his first few seasons with the Brewers until 2002 came along. Belliard produced a -2.1 fWAR and a slash line of .211/.257/.287 in 317 plate appearances. This was coming off a season where he produced a 3.0 fWAR as well.
Our third baseman is a man of which I posses their bobblehead, none other than 2004 Wes Helms. Helms was good for a -1.6 fWAR. In 306 plate appearances Helms slashed .263/.331/.361 which ins’t absolutely dreadful like some of our other heroes on this list. However, his fielding% at 3B was .904 and was worth -17 defensive runs saved which is absolutely horrifying.
At shortstop we have the legend Yuni B from 2013. Yuniesky Betancourt’s swan song with the Brewers did not go well. He was one of the worst defensive SS I have ever laid my eyes on. To add to that, he produced a .595 OPS. I’m willing to sacrifice offense for defense at the SS position. Yuni B could not do either in 2013.
Our outfield consists of 1977 Von Joshua (-2.1), 1970 Russ Snyder (-1.4) and 2000 Marquis Grissom (-1.8).
Joshua had an OPS of .671 which wasn’t horrible for a CF in the 1970’s. However, if you aren’t a big bat in centerfield you’d better be able to defend and Joshua could not. He was worth -2.1 fWAR on defense alone in 1977 which is otherworldy bad.
Russ Snyder was basically Von Joshua with a worse bat but could actually play the position of outfield.
Marquis Grissom was really surprising to find on here. He had a very solid MLB career, but of course his worst years came during his 3 year tenure in Milwaukee. In his last season as a Brewer Grissom slashed .244/.288/.351. His career average? .272/.318/.415. Grissom like the other outfielders on here, Grissom was not a great defensive outfielder.
Our DH is easily the best all time player on this list. He produced a fantastic 50 fWAR in his 21 year career and that man is Ted Simmons. Simmons had a truly awful 1984 season where he mostly DH’d for the Brewers. He produced a -2.4 fWAR and a slash line of .221/.269/.300. This guy was being paid only to hit and he did not do that whatsoever.
Here’s our lineup :
- Marquis Grissom (LF)
- Von Joshua (RF)
- Wes Helms (3B)
(This is where it gets really tough)
- Yuniesky Betancourt (SS)
- Ronnie Belliard (2B)
- Ted Simmons (DH)
- Sean Berry (1B)
- Chad Moeller (C)
- Russ Snyder (CF)
P) Jim Slaton
This lineups total fWAR? -18.1.
To fill out the rest of the roster :
1993 Billy Spiers 2B (-1.9)
1997 Jeff Huson 1B (-1.4)
1973 John Vuckovich 3B (-1.3)
1977 Jamie Quirk DH (-1.4)
1977 Jim Wohlford OF (-1.4)
2016 Ramon Flores OF (-1.3)
1997 Mark Newfield OF (-1.2)
1982 Jerry Augustine P (Love you on TV, sorry man) (-1)
1971 Jim Hannon P (-1)
1998 Doug Jones P (-0.9)
1979/1981 Reggie Cleveland P (Great name) (-0.7)
1999 Erik Plunk (Great name) (-1)
2008 Eric Gagne (-0.9)
Now again, I’d like to reiterate that WAR is an imperfect statistic. It’s just very interesting to look back on these players to see how bad of a team we can make.