Dragging the bottom

We’ve already talked plenty about the stars of 2022, the players who are likely to win baseball’s highest awards next month.

What about the guys who suffered through miserable seasons? The name of this newsletter, after all, is Baseball’s Best (and Worst).

Hence this story, which is about the year’s underachievers. It contains lists of 2022’s tailenders in six major categories — the batters with the lowest averages, smallest numbers of home runs, and fewest runs batted in, and the pitchers with the highest earned run averages, most losses, and highest totals of walks.

Players must average 3.1 plate appearances or one inning pitched per game to qualify for first place in a given statistical category — the equivalent of 502 appearances or 162 innings.

But those standards don’t work at the opposite end of the standings. Anybody with a horrible batting average or astronomical ERA is likely to spend a good bit of time on the bench, so I’ve sliced the benchmarks. It takes 324 appearances or 100 innings to qualify for these rankings.

The new standard of 324 PAs applies to all three of the batting categories. Ties are broken by the number of plate appearances. Myles Straw and Nicky Lopez were the only qualifying batters who didn’t hit any home runs at all. Straw went to the plate 596 times, compared to 480 appearances for Lopez. Straw clearly demonstrated less power, given that his total of homer-less PAs was 116 higher. That’s why he’s listed first on the list below.

The pitching standard of 100 innings applies only to ERA. The other two categories — losses and walks — are open to all comers. Ties are broken by innings pitched, with the fewest IPs coming first. Madison Bumgarner and Marco Gonzales both lost 15 games, but Bumgarner is listed first because he piled up his total in a shorter period of work.

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Batting average

Joey Gallo finally seemed to be coming into his own in 2019. The outfielder for the Texas Rangers hit 22 home runs in 70 games, batted a decent-enough .253, and made the American League All-Star team.

Subsequent years brought a serious regression. The Rangers dealt Gallo to the New York Yankees in the midst of a 2021 season in which he batted just .199 and suffered 213 strikeouts. And 2022 was even worse, with Gallo getting traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His combined batting average of .160 was the worst for any big leaguer who went to the plate at least 324 times this year, the equivalent of twice per game.

These were the bottom five players (with at least 324 PAs) in batting average for 2022:

And these were the worst batting averages in the previous five seasons, limited to players with at least two plate appearances per game:

Home runs

Nobody ever claimed that Myles Straw was a slugger. The outfielder spent five years in the minor leagues, going to the plate more than 2,100 times. He never hit more than one homer in a season. His grand total was four.

Straw flashed a bit more power after the Houston Astros called him up for good in 2019 and then traded him to Cleveland in 2021. His big-league total stands at five homers in 1,458 appearances, though all of his blasts occurred prior to 2022.

This year’s line showed Straw with no homers in 596 PAs, the weakest record in the majors. Nicky Lopez of the Royals was also shut out, though he made only 480 appearances, putting him in second place.

The following were the batters who hit the fewest home runs in at least 324 appearances this season. Ties were broken by the parenthetical number of PAs:

And these were the power-free leaders in previous years, confined to batters who averaged at least two appearances for every game their teams played:

Runs batted in

Luis Guillorme once drove in 55 runs in a minor-league season — not an outstanding total, but respectable enough for a solid middle infielder. He topped 40 RBIs on two other occasions in the minors.

Guillorme was unable to duplicate that productivity for the Mets in 2022. He went to the plate 335 times, yet drove home only 17 runs. The latter was the lowest total for any big-league batter with at least 324 PAs. Nick Allen of the Oakland Athletics was the only other qualifying player to drive in fewer than 20 runs.

These were this year’s bottom five batters in RBIs, with ties broken by the number of appearances:

  • Luis Guillorme, Mets, 17

  • Nick Allen, Athletics, 19

  • Nicky Lopez, Royals, 20

  • Gilberto Celestino, Twins, 24 (in 347 PA)

  • Jose Siri, Astros-Rays, 24 (in 325 PA)

And these were the worst RBI producers over the previous five seasons, out of each year’s pool of batters with at least 324 PA (or 120 PA in 2020):

Earned run average

Remember when Patrick Corbin was one of the better starting pitchers in the majors? He notched a combined total of 25 victories for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017 and 2018, then signed a massive free-agent contract with the Washington Nationals. Corbin paid immediate dividends, posting a 14-7 record in 2019 and supplementing it with two postseason victories as the Nats rolled to a world title.

But that was then, and this is now. Corbin has struggled badly ever since the Covid-shortened season in 2020. His earned run average has tracked higher each year, soaring to 6.31 by 2022, the highest ERA for any pitcher who worked at least 100 innings. The runner-up on this year’s unhappy list, Erick Fedde, also pitched for Washington.

These were the five highest earned run averages among those with at least 100 innings pitched in 2022:

And here are the ERA tailenders among pitchers with at least 100 IP in previous years (or 40 IP in 2020):


Patrick Corbin once again finds himself in the undesirable position of topping one of these lists. Corbin led the majors in 2021 with 16 defeats, then repeated his feat in 2022, losing 19 games this time.

No other pitcher in the big leagues suffered more than 15 losses in 2022. Madison Bumgarner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Marco Gonzales of the Seattle Mariners tied at 15. Bumgarner piled up his defeats in fewer innings, so his performance is ranked as slightly worse than that of Gonzales.

The following were the biggest losers of the year, with ties broken by innings pitched. Hunter Greene was deadlocked with several others at 13 losses, but he made this list because he pitched the fewest innings:

  • Patrick Corbin, Nationals, 19

  • Madison Bumgarner, Diamondbacks, 15 (in 158.2 IP)

  • Marco Gonzales, Mariners, 15 (in 183.0 IP)

  • Brad Keller, Royals, 14

  • Hunter Greene, Reds, 13 (in 125.2 IP)

And these were the loss leaders in previous seasons:


The Chicago White Sox endured a disappointing season in 2022. Experts expected them to walk away with the American League Central, but the Sox actually struggled just to play .500 ball.

Dylan Cease was an exception to the gloomy news on Chicago’s South Side. He ran up a 14-8 record with an impressive 2.20 ERA. His only real flaw was a tendency toward wildness. Cease issued 3.8 walks per nine innings. His total of 78 walks was the highest for any major leaguer. Nick Pivetta of the Boston Red Sox was the only other pitcher to exceed 70 walks.

These were the five highest walk totals for 2022:

And these were the season-by-season walk leaders in the previous five seasons:

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