So here I am with a bullhorn.
The guy they named as this yearâ€™s winner stank in both leagues, which might be why MLB didnâ€™t give out separate AL and NL awards. I donâ€™t think they got around to awarding a Terry Felton in the National League in 2011, anyway, and nobody cared.
Itâ€™s amazing that the man deemed this seasonâ€™s worst pitcher was tradedâ€”not that he was dealt away, but that someone gave up a live human being to get him.
That July 20 transaction mightâ€™ve been the difference for the honoree, the Rockiesâ€™ Jonathan Sanchez, late of the Royals. Itâ€™s easy for a pitcher to stink in Colorado. To precede that with a putrid performance in Kansas City proves it wasnâ€™t just the altitude.
The relevant numbers: 1 win, 9 losses and an 8.07 ERA in 15 starts, the first 12 with K.C.
He went 1-6, 7.76 with the Royals, then was traded for Jeremy Guthrie and regressed, surrendering 17 hits and nine walks in a little over 11 innings while going 0-3 with a 9.53.
Those are some bad numbers, and Sanchezâ€™s overall awfulness goes beyond those totals. Mostly, weâ€™re talking about old-fashioned pitching records, which is where Felton distinguished himself by compiling more losses (16) than anyone who never won an MLB game.
Even using more newfangled metrics, though, Sanchez was horrible. Not as horrible as last yearâ€™s winner, Brian Matusz, who was historically inept. But plenty horrible.
You think WAR is a valuable tool? Sanchezâ€™s Wins Above Replacement number (stat geeks: Iâ€™m using rWAR) was minus 1.8. That means he cost his teams about two wins when compared to a typical scrub.
Some guys were even worse WARriors. Chris Volstad had a -1.9 but somehow won three games. Tim Linecum (-2.1) had a 5.18 ERA but otherwise posted stats that werenâ€™t too terrible. Nick Blackburn pulled a -2.3 WAR–worst among pitchers who threw at least 40 innings in 2012â€”but managed to win four times.
Our old pal Ross Ohlendorf was tops in another measure of recent vintage. He had the worst ERA+ (47; the stat considers home ballpark effect) among guys who pitched as much as he did. His record: 4-4, 7.77. Lousy, but not Feltonesque.
The Felton selection shouldnâ€™t be based on just one comprehensive, incomprehensible stat. Remember: WAR and ERA+ didnâ€™t exist in Feltonâ€™s time (his lifetime WAR, by the way: -2.1), so for his award the traditional stats get a lot of weight.
Therefore you might think, What about Dice-K? He had a higher ERA than Sanchez and helped drag the Red Sox to their first losing season since 1997. And Heath Bellâ€™s misadventures were well chronicled by our Marlins guy, Scott Fendley.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was a contender, for sure. His 1-7 record was only slightly better than Sanchezâ€™s, and the two tied in ERA+ (53). Dice-K gave up more than two homers every nine innings. Bell blew eight of 27 save chances and quickly lost the confidence of his manager and teammates.
Neither was as bad as Sanchez, though, in another category. Iâ€™m going to pull out the WHIP. Yes, itâ€™s not as old a stat as wins or ERA, but fantasy (nee Rotisserie) players have been using it since 1979, the year in which Felton made his first big-league appearance.
Sanchez blew away the competition with a 2.088 WHIP. Thatâ€™s easily the worst by anybody who threw at least 20 innings and significantly worse than Dice-Kâ€™s 1.708, Bellâ€™s 1.555 and even Ohlendorfâ€™s 1.767.
So Sanchez, who in 2009 threw the Giantsâ€™ first no-hitter in 33 years, was miserable at three of the ways in which pitchers can help their teams: keeping runners off base, holding down the score, and winning ballgames.
But the arbitration-eligible Sanchez should take heart. Last yearâ€™s Felton winner, Matusz, bounced back after a poor start this season: He was sent to the minors but rejoined the Orioles as a left-handed bullpen specialist and contributed to the teamâ€™s successful stretch run.
Another reason for hope: Sanchez, too, is a lefty.
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