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.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.