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2010 Least Valuable Player

Posted by Andy on October 21, 2010

Who was the least valuable player in the majors this year?

Let's start with the following list of 23 players. These are the players who qualified for the batting title and had an OPS+ of 85 or worse:

Rk Player OPS+ Age Tm BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Cesar Izturis 50 30 BAL .230 .277 .268 .545 *6
2 Alcides Escobar 67 23 MIL .235 .288 .326 .614 *6/798
3 Ryan Theriot 70 30 TOT .270 .321 .312 .633 *46
4 Jose Lopez 71 26 SEA .239 .270 .339 .609 *5/D
5 Nyjer Morgan 73 29 WSN .253 .319 .314 .633 *8
6 Elvis Andrus 75 21 TEX .265 .342 .301 .643 *6
7 Erick Aybar 76 26 LAA .253 .306 .330 .636 *6/D
8 Orlando Cabrera 78 35 CIN .263 .303 .354 .657 *6
9 Juan Pierre 78 32 CHW .275 .341 .316 .657 *7D
10 Aaron Hill 79 28 TOR .205 .271 .394 .665 *4/D
11 Yunel Escobar 80 27 TOT .256 .337 .318 .655 *6
12 Ronny Cedeno 82 27 PIT .256 .293 .382 .675 *6
13 Kurt Suzuki 82 26 OAK .242 .303 .366 .669 *2/D
14 A.J. Pierzynski 83 33 CHW .270 .300 .388 .688 *2
15 Kevin Kouzmanoff 83 28 OAK .247 .283 .396 .679 *5
16 Melky Cabrera 83 25 ATL .255 .317 .354 .671 *789
17 Skip Schumaker 83 30 STL .265 .328 .338 .667 *49/78D
18 Jorge Cantu 83 28 TOT .256 .304 .392 .695 *53/D4
19 Yadier Molina 84 27 STL .262 .329 .342 .671 *2/3
20 Chone Figgins 84 32 SEA .259 .340 .306 .646 *4
21 Denard Span 85 26 MIN .264 .331 .348 .679 *8
22 Alberto Callaspo 85 27 TOT .265 .302 .374 .675 *54/D7
23 Jeff Francoeur 85 26 TOT .249 .300 .383 .683 *9/7D
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/21/2010.

Straight away, let's drop Suzuki, Pierzynski, and Molina from consideration. As catchers, these guys clearly provided value with more than just their bats, and I can't imagine any of them being the absolute worst player.

Here are the remaining 20 ranked by WAR:

Rk Player WAR/pos
1 Juan Pierre 2.0
2 Yunel Escobar 1.9
3 Alberto Callaspo 1.8
4 Jose Lopez 1.6
5 Chone Figgins 1.3
6 Kevin Kouzmanoff 1.2
7 Elvis Andrus 1.0
8 Aaron Hill 0.8
9 Jeff Francoeur 0.7
10 Erick Aybar 0.5
11 Skip Schumaker 0.4
12 Ronny Cedeno 0.4
13 Orlando Cabrera 0.4
14 Jorge Cantu 0.1
15 Denard Span 0.0
17 Melky Cabrera -0.4
18 Cesar Izturis -0.4
19 Alcides Escobar -0.7
20 Ryan Theriot -0.8
21 Nyjer Morgan -1.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/21/2010.

(The above list actually has 20 names---#16 is skipped for some reason.)

Many of the guys at the top of the list had either good defensive WAR contributions or at least played at a challenging defensive position and got some WAR credit for that.

I am inclined to drop anybody with at least a 1.0 WAR--even if they were terrible with the bat and not great with the glove, they at least filled an important defensive position and did it well enough to be worth something to their teams.

Of the remaining 13 guys, I am further inclined to drop guys from playoff teams. I figure they couldn't have done too much damage, even though their numbers are bad, if their teams made the playoffs. That would remove both Cabreras and Span from the above list. Cantu and Francoeur were both traded to Texas. Cantu was really bad with the Rangers and Francoeur was really good. I'm inclined to leave Cantu on the list.

Another guy I'd take off is Schumaker, thanks to the fact that the played a bunch of games in the outfield and helped his team out by filling different defensive positions.

That leaves Izturis, Escobar, Theriot, Morgan, Aybar, Hill, Cedeno, and Cantu.

Who would you pick, and why?

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010 at 12:30 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

64 Responses to “2010 Least Valuable Player”

  1. Seems like a no-brainer to me --- Izturis' numbers are beneath everyone on the list across-the-board. Being a Mariner fan, I am shocked that Lopez did not make the final cut. I would probably have chosen him simply from having witnessed the awfulness of his overall season.

    I also know for a fact that no one in either of the 2 Fantasy leagues I play in, ever touched Izturis all year long. I doubt his name ever crossed anyone's minds.

  2. Nyjer Morgan. Not only was his performance poor as evidenced by his last-place WAR, but his on-the-field altercations eventually became a distraction.

  3. Well, Izturis's jaw-dropping .268 slugging pct is the worst in 20 years for a player with 500 PA. It's even the worst in 19 years for 400 PA! But he's a shortstop and an above average one. Morgan gets my vote as he managed to have negative offensive and defensive WAR while playing a corner outfield position.

  4. Nyjer Morgan definitely warrants some strong consideration, but by limiting it to someone who qualified for the batting title, you lose some serious contenders. Luis Valbuena is a serious contender, being atrocious offensively and being dreadful at two positions. In the end, I'd give Grady Sizemore the award, since his inability to play led to an entire season of Trevor Crowe (who would also warrant serious consideration).

  5. As a Cub Fan, I gotta go with Theriot. The guy's a quintuple threat -- he can't get on base, he can't hit for power, he can't run the bases, he can't cover his position, and he can't throw.

  6. Lol @ 3 of those were recent Cubs shortstops. Another reason to wait till next year. Is this a bad omen for Starlin Castro?

  7. I agree with #2, you took the words right out of my mouth it is definitely Morgan, for me at least.

  8. He's not on the list, but Garrett Atkins managed a -1.0 WAR and a 54 OPS+ in only 30 games and 152 PA, playing 1B. He outslugged Izturis by 18 points. He was so unvaluable that the Orioles ate his $4.5M contract mid year.

  9. wow, the cubs progression of SS has been staggeringly inept. cedeno, izturis, and theriot have all logged way too many innings at that position. i bet if you cut starlin castro in half (in any direction!) he's still a better SS than any of those guys...

  10. @5

    Neither could Stanky, and he was "the best"

  11. As a Brewers fan, I vote Escobar. The guy was supposed to be a no-hit all-glove guy, but he was supposed to "develop" with the bat in the majors. Oh, and by the way, he has a crappy glove and an inaccurate arm, so... yeah. Worthless.

  12. If I was starting a team, I would take any of these players over Ryan Theriot. Though, Izturis is a close second. That said, if you look at the salaries paid to the above players, and consider value per dollar paid, I think Figgins would have to be called the least valuable player of 2010.

  13. I might vote for Tony Gwynn Jr. If MVPs "have to" be from postseason teams, shouldn't an LVP be from a team who just missed the postseason? The teams of the guys mentioned wouldn't be in the playoffs anyway. Gwynn probably cost his team a place in the postseason.

  14. As a Nats fan, I say Nyjer Morgan. Hands down.

    Batting average is the lowest ever, OBP, slugging, SO, all career lows. The 5 errors don't even begin to show all the missed cut-off men, throwing to the wrong base and just pig-headed decisions that cost runs but aren't stat specific.

    Trying to show his manager up by decapitating a catcher when he weighs 100 lbs and was out by 5 feet. Attempting to prove that he knows what he's doing when a simple slide probably would have scored a run.

    It's was a season of pain watching him. You could pretty much guarantee Nyjer is going to make a noticeable Baseball 101 gaff every 2 days.

    My co-worker who is a Cubs fan also agrees with Bob @ 5. It all depends on the subtle nuances of awfulness you see every day I guess.

  15. [...] Baseball-reference.com today looked at candidates for the 2010 Least Valuable Player. And when posting the list of those with the worst OPS+, Cabrera comes in at #8. Sure, his .263 average doesn’t look terrible, but he only has a 78 OPS+! And that’s not the eighth worst on the Reds…that’s the eighth worst IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES. [...]

  16. As someone who watched Cesar Izturis every day, he's the runaway winner. You've gotta get up pretty early in the morning to be the worst-hitting Izturis in the major leagues. My lying eyes also tell me that his defense is starting to slip...but really, he'd have to be a Robot Ozzie Smith to justify those offensive numbers.

    But guess who allowed his only home run of 2010?

    Cliff Lee. Go figure.

  17. Andy, as a Mets fan, I'm disgusted that you found a way to remove Francoeur from the list. It's amazing that the guy is going to take a 50 game stretch 2 years in a row and turn it into a contract for at least the following year.

  18. I know a lot of people attribute the Cubs playing better late in the season to Mike Quade. Evidently, ther are a lot of people here who agree with me that it had as much to do with getting Ryan Theriot out of the middle of the infield and the top of the order. I liked Lou Piniella as a manager in his early years, but his inablility to write any other name than "Ryan Theriot" into the SS spot on his lineup card explains a lot of the Cubs failures over the past couple of years. I understnad people like his hustle and versatility, but giving him a bat 700 times a season and sending him out to play SS 155+ games year after year is the reason a lot of us don't trust what "baseball" people tell us.

    Theriot has 4 seasons as a regular, with a 162 game average of nearly 700 PA's and 30 EBH's. And his numbers seriously declined when he went to Dodger Stadium. Nyjer Morgan may indeed be the LVP of 2010, but Ryan Theriot gets my vote for LVP of the decade.

  19. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    I would have to give the nod to Morgan, simply on the basis of the difference between his pre-season potential versus his performance. To flop is one thing -- to do so as loudly as Morgan only serves to drag everyone else down as well. In a year that he was expected to carry the team, he managed to be an albatross.

  20. Not Izturis, anyone who watched the merry-go-round of Juan Castro, Alex Cintron, Freddie Bynum & Luis Hernandez the Os used at short in 2008 would understand the value of Izturis's defense.

  21. Maybe this is just the Yankee hater in me, but the Captain racked up a 90 OPS+ in a league-leading 739 PAs and a WAR of just 1.3. He was a shortstop on a playoff team, so overall, he's not quite as putrid as these other guys. But when you factor in his salary, he's worth putting in the discussion.

    To the guys on the list, I would also add another exception: young prospects. Some guys go through growing pains and/or are thrusted into a role before they are ready. If it's reasonable to suspect that they will contribute mightily down the road, then it's probably worth it to have them during an otherwise fruitless year. A 30-year-old Morgan, on the other hand, has no excuse.

  22. Mark Reynolds deserves at least a shout out for striking out 211 times with a .198 avg. That's not just bad, it's never-done-in-history bad

  23. Looking through the outs made leaders in the NL, my eyes settled on one name: Carlos Lee. His OPS+ was "too high" to make this list at a whopping 93, but toss in the fact that he plays a corner OF position and he's not a good defensive player (I think both the naked eye and the stats would agree there) and I think he wins the LVP. Though he came relatively cheap at $19,000,000 this year.

    PS: His -1.6 WAR also does not look so good. Worst in the league?

  24. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Will there be a followup for the Anti-Cy Young award? Where will Brian Tallet come on that list?

  25. I saw Cesar Izturis play as a Dodger and I can tell you that he has really good defense at SS. Especially during his days with the Dodgers. He would be on Web Gems on SportsCenter all the time. Both him and Adrian Beltre. I miss those days.

  26. bluejaysstatsgeek:

    I would nominate Charlie Haeger as the worst pitcher in baseball this season.

  27. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Dodgerdave, I dunno if Haeger can match up with this year's favorite: Oliver Perez.

  28. @22

    Reynolds still managed to have the highest OPS ever for someone below the Mendoza line. That's gotta count for something!!!

    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/8WwsN

  29. As a Jays fan I have to go with Aaron Hill, even though I like his play a lot. He, out of all those players, came in with the highest expectations given his outstanding 2009. He was truly a disappointment this year at the plate and in the field. His only saving grace was 26 home runs.

  30. RedsOctober Says:

    I have to agree with djibouti on this one. Reynolds hit under .200 with poor defence (in my opinion) and didn't hit nearly as many homeruns as last year.

  31. ChapelHeel66 Says:

    Gotta be Izturis. You can't justify a bat like that.

    Hill shouldn't be on the list. An all-star last year and top 12 in MVP voting . Yeah, he had an awful season, but he did hit 26 homers, and he was severely punished by an incredibly low BABIP. It's hard to have a BABIP below the Mendoza line.

    Escobar and Hill were huge disappointments, but Denard Span really fell off the cliff. He was an up-and-coming young center fielder. He hit like Nyjer Morgan after June.

  32. Mike Felber Says:

    A Reynolds or Jeter are worth mentioning in their context, but the question is who is the least valuable. Not relative to expectations or salary. Also, while it is less likely the worst guy would be on a post season team, there are a bunch of ways it could occur; all should be looked at on their own (de)merits!

  33. Izturis is basically a glorified version of Rey Ordonez. If Izturis could get his offense back on track to the level of 2004 and the first couple of months of 2005 and play his usual slick defense, then he could still have a solid career. But his career has been marred by injuries the last 5 years or so.

    I've always been a big fan of Izturis, which is why I'm sort of biased to not choosing him as the least valuable player for this season. But yes, I am disppointed with the .230/.277/.268 line that he posted this season for the Orioles.

    One thing that I noticed is that both Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith are on Izturis' Similarity Scores through age 30 for offense. But similarity scores can't be taken so seriously. After all both Mike Schmidt and Cory Snyder are on Mark Reynolds' Similary Scores through age 26. And of course Schmidt and Snyder had very little in common as players.

  34. I agree with #13...the LVP should be someone that hurt his team, either just missing the playoffs or causing an early exit in the postseason, a la Orlando Cabrera. I suppose we shouldn't place the entire blame on him...after all his manager had to make the idiotic decision to put him in the lineup when he was hurt.

    By the way, Orlando Cabrera gets my vote.

  35. First thing that jumped off on the list(s)?

    If Texas wins it all, three of the "worst" players in baseball will be fitted with World Series rings.

  36. Is there a way to get lists beyond the Top 10 for a given season? I know we can go to the seasonal leaders, but I want to try to get the guy with the lowest WPA. The more I learn about the stat, the more I love it, even with all the limitations. I might be inclined to vote for the guy with the lowest WPA, because that would show a guy who had the greatest negative impact on his team's chances of winning. Any tips?

  37. That list is too skewed towards up the middle defenders for my taste. Cantu has no defensive value so I'd lean towards him, but Morgan is not a bad choice either especially considering the distractions.

    Brandon Wood did more damage in his limited playing time than these guys did all year though.

  38. Ryan TheRiot sucks the most. He has no above average skill and deserves to have TOOTBLAN named for him.

  39. I would have to think pitchers should get a lot of consideration here. People always say pitchers shouldn't win the MVP which implies that they are less valuable than position players. So the least valuable pitcher would likely be less valuable than the least valuable position player. That said, my vote (as a Mets fan) goes to Oliver Perez. Not only was he absolutely, unbelievably terrible on the mound, but he refused to go to the minors to work out his problems, costing us a roster spot and making $12 mil.

  40. Johnny Twisto Says:

    BSK, that's what Play Index is for.

    Worst WPA of 2010, batters:

    Theriot -3.6
    E. Aybar -3.3
    A. Escobar -3.3
    Kendall -3.2
    C. Izturis -3.1

  41. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Re: Roger {#39}:

    My own reasoning on that aspect would be that if a pitcher is less veluable than a position player, the reverse must logically also hold true; that he also has less opportunity to gum up the works than his everyday counterpart. For every Oliver Perez that screws his teammates twice a week, there is a Nyger Morgan who has the opportunity to do so on a daily basis.

  42. I vote for Aaron Hill, because of how high his expectations were and the type of player he's proven to be in the past. He just swings for the fences now it seems, Rob Deer style and went from being a .300 hitter to a .200 hitter. He needs to go back to hitting line drives.

  43. It's got to by Nyjer Morgan. Low OPS, negative WAR, and he plays RF. Plus, he's an assbag on and off the field.

  44. Mike Felber Says:

    A worst player EVER would be fun. It would have to be a combination of bad & a lot of playing time. Even more fun would be most OVERRATED. Because then we could look at marginal players, mediocre ones who were overvalued due to a misguided emphasis on traditional & context dependent stats, total game not well considered, & GOOD players who were mistakenly thought excellent. It would be engaging to decide who was the most over valued amongst so different "types", though how valuable someone was thought is somewhat subjective. Awards would give some indication, for those not too bad to be considered for them.

    'Course, it would be properly humbling to realize that the overwhelming majority of men on the planet, if somehow given a full career in MLB, would be the Worst Ever. And that includes almost all of us, I presume.

  45. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Bill Bergen, game over.

  46. JT-

    Thanks. Still need to get my subscription. Looks like it is ultimately a two horse race between Isturis and The Riot.

  47. I had "The Riot" on my fantasy team this year. Maybe that's why I finished 10th out of 12 and lost to the last place team in our "consolation" round of the playoffs. I am ashamed.

  48. [...] Baseball Reference takes a look at the Least Valuable Player of 2010. This is one award that Joey Votto won’t win but, yes, [...]

  49. @24

    Since the Cy Young is suppposed to be the pitcher with the most wins,
    pitcher on a playoff team,
    best pitcher in the league, for the Sigh Old Award, I nominate Charlie Morton and Ryan Rowland-Smith (he had to have two last names to help lug around his ERA)

  50. As an O's fan, it's incredibly frustrating that there is a strong possibility that Izturis might come back. The media in Baltimore love this guy because despite his stats, they "see" that he's a great SS. Dan Connoly of the Baltimore Sun gave him a "C-" for the season. Are you kidding me?! Izturis played below replacement level. That my friend is an immediate "F". He's a good SS, not a great one. Still, there is no level of defense in existence to make up for his historically abysmal hitting from 2010. When there are several pitchers in the league that hit better than an every day position player, it's time for an organization to consider whether or not said position player has any business being on a major league roster.

  51. 67ToppsRule Says:

    Andrus being on the list really surprises me. Yes, he's a modern day Otis Nixon (light hitting, but fast around the bases), but I think he's on his way up, not down, like most of these guys. He's only 20, after all. Once he learns to make better contact, he'll be a much better player.

  52. Dangerous Dean Says:

    I agree that some metrics help us see the obvious worth (or lack thereof) of a player. But you can't dismiss defense and can't always measure it effectively. I am not saying The Riot or Izturis are good players, but when I saw Yadier Molina on the list, I had to do a doubletake. Sure, Yadier isn't great at the plate. But he absolutely stonewalls the other team's running game. I am not sure how you quantify that in regards to evaulating player worth.

    He has only an 84 OPS+, but I would take that from a player who allowed only 35 SBs in 130+ games behind the plate. His ratio of 35 SBs to 33 SBs is the best in the game. I hadn't realized it until I looked him up, but he has the best CS rate of any active catcher at 46% http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/molinya01.shtml

  53. I think Artie Z hit it right on the head with comment #23, Carlos Lee, no doubt.

    Lee made $19 million dollars this year and put up a .246/.291/.417, (-1.6WAR), while playing horrible defense in Left Field. Also put in context that Lee's salary made up 20% of the Houston Astros opening day payroll.

    After Lee, my Top Five in the N.L would be:

    Pedro Feliz: (-2.3WAR), (429PA), .218/.240/.293. He never was much of a hitter but at 35 it appears he can't play defense anymore. He cost the Astros about $4.5 million before they traded him to the Cardinals. Basically the Astros paid Lee & Feliz about $25 million and received about (-3WAR).

    Andy Laroche: (-1.5WAR), (270PA), .206/.268/.287. What a disappointment, especially when you consider he was the Pirates big prize in the Jason Bay trade.

    Juan Castro: (-1.2WAR), (140PA), .194/.237/.233. He must be a nice guy because I can't understand how he's been in the Majors for 16 seasons? At one time he was a slightly above average fielder who couldn't hit, Now he's 38 and hasn't been able to field for a few years.

    Tommy Manzella: (-1.5WAR), .225/.267/.264. The Astros had 3 of the lowest WAR NL players on their team in 2010 and that's not even counting Kaz Matsui.

    American League:

    Brandon Wood: (-1.8WAR), (243PA), .146/.174/.208. Above average fielder but had a ops+ of (5)! I didn't even know that was possible.

    Adam Moore: (-1.4WAR), (218PA), .195/.230/.283. Defensive statistics for Catchers are kind of sketchy but he couldn't hit either. Just one of the many things that went wrong for the Mariners.

    Jeff Mathis: (1.3WAR), (218PA), .195/.219/.278. Mathis is a career .199 hitter with a career ops+ of 53. How is he still in the Majors? I've never seen any type of stat that says he's a great defense catcher. I guess Mike Scioscia really likes him or something? Imagine the times when Wood & Mathis would bat back to back, Oh My.

    Casey Kotchman: (.9WAR), (457PA), .217/.280/.336. Terrible numbers for a full-time 1B. Just another thing that went wrong with the Mariners.

    Garett Atkins: (-1WAR), (152PA), .214/.276/.286. Never adjusted to life outside of Colorado.

  54. Mathis and Kotchman should be listed as negative (-) WAR, my mistake.

  55. Is there a way to quantify disappointment? Aaron Hill is your answer, certainly, if there were. No one expected most of those guys to hit .280 with 30 HRs, but Hill was supposed to -- and had the contract to prove it. Instead he batted .205, with, okay, 26 HRs.

    The Jays wouldn't have made the playoffs if he had reached expectations, but they would have been closer, and made for a more interesting August/September. He was a big letdown.

  56. Good point @55Ken, Hill went from a 5.4 WAR in 2009 to a .8 WAR in 2010. That has to be one of the biggest disappointments/disparities from '09-10.

    Theoretically, if Hill would have maintained his production from last year, the Jays could have won 90 games in 2010.

  57. Cesar Izturis could win every year, so I'm throwing him out.

    Aaron Hill and Chone Figgins were easily the two most underachieving players on this list, dropping 25-30 points, and Ryan Theriot was bad for two possible playoff teams.

    I'd choose Theriot.

  58. I don't know. A list of least valuable players including a guy who shows up to play almost every game, hits .275, gets on base better than 1 out of 3 PAs, steals almost 70 bases and scores almost 100 runs... I mean, who would want him to lead off for their team.

  59. #59, I did drop Pierre from consideration above as the player with the highest WAR among the bunch. In fact Pierre had one of the best years of his career this season, based on WAR at least.

  60. Justin Garland Says:

    Interesting that you didn't opt for a pitcher for LVP. A bad pitcher can do far more damage to his team than a bad field player, with the added distinction of typically not adding any offensive threat. If I were to name a Least Valuable Player, I'd start with a list of pitchers with an extremely high ERA and IP numbers.

  61. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I'll go with Nyjer Morgan, for reasons others have cited.

  62. I thought the LVP was hands down Miguel Tejada, who is not on your list. When Tejada was with Baltimore, they had the worst record in baseball and San Diego was cruising along in first place in the NL West. Then after Tejada was traded to San Diego, the Padres had a losing record for the rest of the season, and lost first place, while the Orioles had a winning record for the rest of the season. You can't get more unvaluable than that. (And as a Yankee fan, I think Lance Berkman should be on this list too. The team started to suck once they acquired him.)

  63. @62

    Shortstop Tejada had a higher OPS+ than 1B Berkman, so I'm guessing Tejada was not the problem

  64. [...] 2010 Least Valuable Player (Baseball-Reference). Former Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff makes the short list, although my vote probably would go to Nyjer Morgan, who managed to play lousy baseball and be a world-class idiot in the process. [...]