Some Things I Read Today

Choo Choo Coleman edition:

In recent years, he has been living in Bamberg, S.C., essentially invisible. Lou Cafiero, a collector in New York, began tracing the Clarence Colemans of America, and last year he made contact. With the 50th anniversary in mind, Cafiero began reaching out to memorabilia shows.

Last week, Coleman flew into New York — his first plane ride in 35 years.

“They used to shake more,” he said, recalling the DC-6B propeller planes the Mets used to charter. When he checked into a hotel, he had never seen a magnetic room card.

As gentle and decent as ever, Coleman seemed bemused as Mets fans greeted him as an icon returned to life.

“You play for a team, you always root for them,” he said.

- George Vecsey, “The Legend of Choo Choo, 50 Years Later”
The New York Times

In honor those early Mets, here is the worst Mets player to be an everyday player, position by position, according to Baseball-Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement:

C – Brian Schneider — .244/.323/.356, 12 HR, 62 RBI
1B – Willie Montanez — .247/.303/.362, 22 HR, 143 RBI
2B – Doug Flynn — .234/.264/.292, 5 HR, 155 RBI
SS – Frank Taveras — .263/.297/.324, 1 HR, 69 RBI
3B – Ty Wigginton — .270/.327/.440, 29 HR, 131 RBI
LF – Benny Agbayani — .282/.372/.461, 35 HR, 129 RBI
CF – Brian McRae — .249/.342/.421, 34 HR, 130 RBI
RF – Jeff Francoeur — .268/.311/.423, 21 HR, 95 RBI

I’m not sure I agree with this list. It skews heavily towards players who did not rate well by defensive metrics (particularly Wigginton, and to a lesser extent the entire outfield). It’s also worth noting that a couple of players — like Brian Schneider and Benny Agbayani, who both rate above replacement level during their time with the Mets — aren’t necessarily bad players, just ones with relatively low scores in the WAR department as compared with other historic Mets. If I’ve learned anything from this exercise, it’s that the Mets have used an enormous number of poor players at second base and shortstop. Both the middle infielders are easily the worst players here.

Doug Flynn, by the way, has an insurmountable lead in the Mets career negative wins above replacement department. He’s at -6.3 wins, with the next position player clocking in at -2.8.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Some Things I Read Today

  1. What was the criteria? I am sure (without delving into actual research) that there were far worse choices. I remember fielding outfields with the likes of Don Hahn, Dave Schneck and Dave Marshall among others. Rey Ordonez never sniffed .263 as a Met SS. Charlie O’Brien never hit in the .240s. What about the likes of Bobby Pfiel, Jerry Bucheck and others in the pre-1969 period? How many games was the minimum qualifier? Also, it took me a moment to realize the stat lines were for their aggregate Met careers, not just single season averages or totals.

    • Patrick Flood

      No minimum games — the only criteria was to be a regular for a season at one position, i.e., the players needed to play 2/3rds of the Mets’ games at that position.

      You’re right, there are worse choices. But Don Hahn, picking one of your examples, started 47, 8, 63, and 84 games during his seasons with the Mets. He wasn’t ever really a regular, at least not in the sense of a regular being a guy who plays every day. Like nightfly points out below, you have to be bad, but not terrible to make this list.

  2. Since WAR is cumulative, this list actually has a bias – players who weren’t so outright terrible that they were kicked to the curb before having a chance to “accumulate” a lot of minuses. What if the list is adjusted for WAR/PA or GP?

    • Patrick Flood

      If you do it just WAR/PA, you get people like Jeff Conine and Chin-lung Hu, which isn’t quite what I was looking for.

      Let’s see. If you set it as a minimum of 500 PA, and then sort it by WAR/PA, the worst team is:

      C – Barry Lyons
      1B – Willie Montanez
      2B – Ron Kanehl
      SS – Al Weis
      3B – Matt Franco
      LF – Joe Orsulak
      CF – Don Hahn
      RF – Al Luplow

      That’s just picking the first guy to appear at any position, and a lot of those guys aren’t really regulars. If you are looking for regulars, and go by WAR per plate appearance, only one name changes:

      C – Brian Schneider
      1B – Willie Montanez
      2B – Doug Flynn
      SS – Jose Oquendo
      3B – Ty Wigginton
      LF – Benny Agbayani
      CF – Brian McRae
      RF – Jeff Francoeur

      The secret weapon comes in at shortstop.

      • Hm. Having Montanez on both lists can’t be a good sign for him.

        The 500 PA list has more of the sorts of names I try not to think of, but I see what you were trying to do. Thanks for the update.

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