A different perspective

I’ve devoted the past three Tuesdays to a rundown of the best performances during 2022’s major-league season.

It’s now time to address the parenthetical part of this newsletter’s name, the “(and Worst)” part. Hence the following list of the year’s most disappointing showings.

Each of my previous three installments focused on a trio of awards named after Hall of Famers. That’s nine in all. (If you missed them, click these links for the newsletters from November 8, November 15, and November 22.)

I’m following the same structure today, covering all nine categories at once. The only difference is that I’m looking at the bottom of the rankings, not the top.

Each summary offers a definition of an award, the players with the worst performances in the American and National Leagues, a brief commentary, and then a restatement of the award winners who were announced in previous weeks.

All listings for best performances are limited to hitters who made at least 502 plate appearances (the official threshold for the batting title) or pitchers who worked at least 162 innings (the minimum for the earned-run-average title).

But the same limits can’t be applied at the bottom of the scale. If a player suffers an especially bad season, he’s likely to spend considerable time in the dugout, preventing him from reaching the 502/162 thresholds. So I’ve dropped them by a bit more than a third — to 324 plate appearances or 100 innings — to encompass the performances that truly were the worst in each league.

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Ted Williams Award (overall batting)

  • Definition: Goes to the batter who reaches the most bases per out (BPO), reflecting the related abilities to hit for average, hit for power, and get on base in any way possible.

  • AL worst: Austin Hedges, Guardians, .439 BPO

  • NL worst: Maikel Franco, Nationals, .472 BPO

  • Notes: Hedges piled up more than twice as many outs (271) as bases (119) in the 105 games he played for Cleveland. His lack of productivity stands in stark contrast to the best performance in the majors, Aaron’s Judge’s 529 bases against 415 outs for the Yankees.

  • AL best: Aaron Judge, Yankees, 1.275 BPO

  • NL best: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals, 1.063 BPO

Lou Gehrig Award (scoring)

  • Definition: Goes to the batter who generates the most runs, as determined by adding runs scored and runs batted in, then subtracting home runs (since an HR is counted in both the R and RBI columns). The abbreviation for scoring is SC.

  • AL worst: Yasmani Grandal, White Sox, 37 SC

  • NL worst: Luis Guillorme, Mets, 48 SC

  • Notes: Grandal scored only 15 runs in 99 games for the White Sox. He did better in RBIs, with 27, but his final scoring total was just 37 after his five homers were subtracted. Nobody else who went to the plate at least 324 times generated so few runs.

  • AL best: Aaron Judge, Yankees, 202 SC

  • NL best: Freddie Freeman, Dodgers, 196 SC

Babe Ruth Award (power)

  • Definition: Goes to the batter who has the highest average for isolated power (ISO), which is calculated the same way as batting average, though you substitute extra bases for hits. A batter gets one base for each double, two for each triple, and three for each homer. Add them up, then divide by at-bats.

  • AL worst: Nicky Lopez, Royals, .046 ISO

  • NL worst: Luis Guillorme, Mets, and Geraldo Perdomo, Diamondbacks, .067 ISO

  • Notes: Lopez was the everyday second baseman for the Royals, going to the plate 480 times in 2022. But his extra-base production was astoundingly anemic. He hit only 12 doubles and four triples all year — and not a single home run.

  • AL best: Aaron Judge, Yankees, .375 ISO

  • NL best: Kyle Schwarber, Phillies, .286 ISO

Nellie Fox Award (contact)

  • Definition: Goes to the batter who excels at putting his bat on the ball, based on contact rate (CT), which is the percentage of at-bats that do not end in strikeouts.

  • AL worst: Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox, .628 CT

  • NL worst: Chris Taylor, Dodgers, .602 CT

  • Notes: A swing and a miss. That was a familiar refrain for Taylor in 2022. He suffered 160 strikeouts in 402 at-bats for the Dodgers, giving him a horrendous contact rate of .602. Or, to flip the perspective, he struck out nearly 40 percent of the time.

  • AL best: Luis Arraez, Twins, .921 CT

  • NL best: Jeff McNeil, Mets, .886 CT

Rickey Henderson Award (batting eye)

  • Definition: Goes to the batter who demonstrates the best knowledge of the strike zone, as shown by batting-eye rate (EY). It’s calculated by dividing unintentional walks by the number of plate appearances after intentional walks have been subtracted.

  • AL worst: Luis Rengifo, Angels, .033 EY

  • NL worst: Luis Garcia, Nationals, .027 EY

  • Notes: The concept of laying off a pitch outside the strike zone is a foreign one to Garcia, a shortstop for the Nationals. He struck out 84 times, but drew only 10 unintentional walks. The latter figure translated to the lowest EY in the majors.

  • AL best: Jesse Winker, Mariners, .152 EY

  • NL best: Juan Soto, Nationals-Padres, .196 EY

Willie Mays Award (fielding-batting combination)

  • Notes: This is a special award, given to the Gold Glove winner with the best BPO at the plate. Eight position players, a utility man, and a pitcher win Gold Gloves in each league, which removes everybody else from consideration. It clearly would be unfair to relegate one of these excellent fielders to last place, so I won’t.

  • AL best: Andres Gimenez, Guardians, .865 BPO

  • NL best: Mookie Betts, Dodgers, .889 BPO

Juan Marichal Award (overall pitching)

  • Definition: Goes to the pitcher who allows the fewest bases per out.

  • AL worst: Yusei Kikuchi, Blue Jays, .859 BPO

  • NL worst: Patrick Corbin, Nationals, .876 BPO

  • Notes: Corbin once was a star, but he endured a rough season in 2022, going 6-19 for Washington with a 6.31 ERA. He surrendered 408 bases while inducing 466 outs. Compare that to the best record in the majors: Justin Verlander’s 220 bases against 526 outs for Houston

  • AL best: Justin Verlander, Astros, .418 BPO

  • NL best: Max Fried, Braves, .473 BPO

Randy Johnson Award (strikeouts)

  • Definition: Goes to the pitcher who averages the most strikeouts per six innings. (Not nine innings. Six.)

  • AL worst: Zack Greinke, Royals, 3.20 SO/6

  • NL worst: Dakota Hudson, Cardinals, 3.35 SO/6

  • Notes: Greinke was a strikeout machine in his youth, but the magic is fading as he nears the age of 40. His ratio of 3.20 strikeouts per six innings was the lowest in the majors in 2022, yet he still fashioned a respectable 3.68 ERA for Kansas City.

  • AL best: Shohei Ohtani, Angels, 7.92 SO/6

  • NL best: Carlos Rodon, Giants, 7.99 SO/6

Warren Spahn Award (durability)

  • Definition: Goes to the pitcher who averages the highest number of innings per appearance.

  • AL worst: Jeffrey Springs, Rays, 4.10 IP/G

  • NL worst: David Peterson, Mets, 3.77 IP/G

  • Notes: This category gets a bit wonky at the bottom, a region populated with journeymen who mixed starts and relief appearances. So I limited my rankings of the worst performances to pitchers who piled up more than 100 innings while relieving fewer than 10 times. Peterson lasted more than six innings in only one of his 19 starts for the Mets. Nine relief stints helped pull his average down to 3.77 innings per game.

  • AL best: Framber Valdez, Astros, 6.49 IP/G

  • NL best: Sandy Alcantara, Marlins, 7.15 IP/G

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