Bill Bergen

This afternoon, we talked about the raising of the acceptable level of offense in baseball in the last 20 years. Alfredo Griffin simply wouldn’t be allowed to play full time for 12 years anymore – he was that bad of a hitter. However, Griffin’s -286.7 wRAA isn’t quite the worst in MLB history.

That belongs to Bill Bergen, who nudged Griffin by -1 wRAA – but needed 4,000 less plate appearances to do so. Bergen, a catcher from 1901 to 1911, was an unbelievably bad hitter, even in an era of bad hitting.

He got 3,228 plate appearances over 11 years. His career average was .170/.194/.201. That’s not a typo. He really posted a .189 wOBA for his career.

He hit two home runs. Two. In 3,200+ plate appearances.

His wRAA per 600 PA stands at a staggering -53.4. Remember, Griffin’s was -23. Over a full season, he was 30 runs worse than one of the worst hitters of all time.

Baseball has obviously changed quite a bit since Bergen played, so numbers can’t be compared straight across, but even for his day, Bergen was a miserable hitter. And yet, he was sent to the plate 3,228 times in his career.

Pretty amazing.

We hoped you liked reading Bill Bergen by Dave Cameron!

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I would like to see how Rafael Belliard fits into this equation. He had over 2500 career PA’s with an OBP of around .270 and played in a much more offensive era. He also hit just 2 homers lifetime and he played in a home run era. Bergen played in an era before Ruth when homers weren’t prevalent.
If Bergen really is the worst hitter, Belliard can’t be far behind.


The higher offensive environment actually hurts Belliard’s case as each run was about 15% less impactful than in Bergen’s era, per Baseball Reference’s runs-to-win converter. Adjust further for quality of opposition and Belliard doesn’t stand a chance.