Worst Position Players
A Lot of Tough Years
At the start of his career, Ryan Howard was one of baseball’s most feared sluggers. It seemed as if he had the ability to launch balls over the fence at will. Although his final three years with the Philadelphia Phillies included at least 20 homers in each campaign, that was about all the value he brought to the table.
Upon first looking at the worst position players of the decade, I was surprised to see Howard had produced one measly win. But then I remembered how tough the downturn of his career was. While he was never an asset on defense, Howard just couldn’t keep up at the plate — between 2012 and 2016, he produced a positive fWAR and a wRC+ above 100 just once (in 2013 with a 111 wRC+ and 0.6 fWAR).
He was truly never the same after injuring his Achilles during the 2011 postseason. Despite it not being in this decade, what he did in the decade before will always keep him endeared to Phillies fans. It’s impossible to forget the four straight years of 40-plus homers and 130-plus RBI, which also included a World Series title, a Silver Slugger award, four top-five National League MVP finishes, and one MVP award.
Thank Goodness for the Glove
For players not categorized as being one of the best in the game, there are certain characteristics that keep them in the big leagues. Adeiny Hechavarria is clearly the worst hitter in the above group when using wRC+, but his glove has kept him in demand.
After spending most of his career with the Miami Marlins, they traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2017 season. Hechavarria started 2018 in Tampa, but ended up donning two more jerseys before the year finished (Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees). Why was he passed around so much despite little-to-no-offense? Well, just about every team — especially contenders — could use a glove-first middle infielder.
Since 2015, the soon-to-be 30-year-old has posted 26 Defensive Runs Saved, most of which have come at shortstop. He’s currently on the free-agent market, and he’ll likely get scooped up by someone despite posting a 67 wRC+ through 321 plate appearances this past season.