The Postseason’s Worst Hitters

Who are the weakest regular hitters on each team in the postseason?  I want to exclude the Tigers and Twins for now, though I have hinted previously at a variety of weak Twins hitters.

New York YankeesMelky Cabrera, CF – Has a .752 OPS and is at best an average center fielder.  Unfortunately, his replacement Brett Gardner has an even worse bat.
Los Angeles AngelsGary Matthews, Jr., CF – Has .697 OPS and is a subpar outfielder. Unlike Cabrera, the Angels run a variety of players through the outfield, so Matthews may not play much in the postseason.
Boston Red SoxJason Varitek, C – Has a .703 OPS, though he still has a decent OBP given a batting average of only .209. For the Red Sox sake, he needs to sit behind Victor Martinez as much as possible.
Los Angeles DodgersRussell Martin, C – OPS dropped 100 points from 2008 to 2009. Just .680 this season. The Dodgers must hope that the entire regular season was just an aberration.
Philadelphia PhilliesPedro Feliz, 3B – OPS of .694, right in line with his career averages. The Phillies desperately need a better third basemen. Feliz’s one plus is that he is a good fielding third baseman.
St. Louis CardinalsColby Rasmus, CF – OPS of .714. Was on pace to be Rookie of the Year at the All Star break and then fell back in the second half. Certainly the most promising of the weak hitters on this list, and he is also playing well in center.
Colorado RockiesClint Barmes, 2B – OPS of .743 though a solid shortstop. Horrible home-road splits, with an .834 OPS at home and .631 on the road. What batting skill he has is purely a product of Coors Field.

The postseason is a very small sample. Despite the overall weaknesses of each of these hitters, you cannot conclude that they will be a drain on the postseason roster, though it is likely. In 1991, Mark Lemke posted an OPS of .617 while playing 2B for the Braves. However in the 1991 World Series, he posted an OPS of 1.170, dominating Twins pitching. Strange things can happen in a short series.

Who do you think will be surprisingly good (or bad) this postseason?

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5 Comments on “The Postseason’s Worst Hitters”


  1. “The Phillies desperately need a better third basemen.”

    Pedro Feliz is indeed a bad hitter. His .302 wOBA this season is actually a tick below his career mark (.306), but he is actually worth the money he is paid.

    His defense at third base has been worth 5.4 runs above average this season, which is a little below where he was last season. Overall, he has been worth 1.3 wins above replacement (WAR) this season.

    The rule of thumb is that free agents are compensated at a rate of $4.5 million per win, meaning Feliz was worth $6 million. His salary for ’09 was $5 million.

    So I am not sure the Phillies absolutely need a better third baseman, as they are getting a fair return on their money and more than make up for the lost production elsewhere on the field.

    • sportsphd Says:

      It is true that he has good fileding numbers, but his best years were from 2005-2007, when he saved an average of 18 runs above average. This dropped to 7 in 2008 and 5 this year. For a solidly below average hitter, any regression at all in his fielding suggests that it is time to go.

  2. verdun Says:

    The World Series Most Valuable Player award (begun in 1955) is studded with otherwise unknown players who had a good postseason. You could start with Don Larsen in 1956 who ended his career with a losing record and pass through Ray Knight and Bucky Dent, and…
    Not exactly awful hitter or pitchers, but certainly not the kind of playerexpected to carry a team through the World Series.
    League Championship Series’ are equally bad (see Marty Barrett in the AL and Mike Devereaux in the NL).
    v


  3. [...] The Sports PhD Bringing analytical rigor to discussions of sports « The Postseason’s Worst Hitters [...]


  4. [...] Sports PhD recently ran a bit on the worst hitters on each playoff team. For the Yanks, that honor goes to Melky Cabrera and his .752 OPS. Of the players examined in the post, this is the highest OPS, meaning the Yankees have the strongest weakest link — at least according to this standard of analysis. There are a few flaws, not least of which is the use of OPS, something I’m trying to move away from. There are far better metrics, such as wOBA. The other issue is that some of the listed players didn’t exactly get regular playing time. [...]


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