The good folks over at Bleacher Bloggers, an innovative daily sports video blog, invited me to appear on their show to talk some baseball on Thursday. It wasn’t a lengthy segment, but in addition to briefly discussing the World Series, hosts Brent and Dave asked me to highlight some of the most ignominious achievements of the year.
I came up with a “Bottom 10,” focused mainly on the team level, mixing some dubious accomplishments by good teams and some downright awful ones by bad teams. Many of these will be old hat to readers of my Hit List and Hit and Run columns, but for the benefit of those Bleacher Bloggers viewers who’d like a bit of detail — since there’s only so much we could squeeze into three minutes — and perhaps an introduction to our flavor of content, here’s the complete list, with some relevant links.
1. National League: based on the various run differential calculations that go into the Hit List rankings, this year’s slate of playoff teams was the weakest of any league in any year of three-division play.
2. Diamondbacks: finished with a negative run differential, allowing 20 runs more than they scored. They’re the sixth team to make the playoffs while being outscored, and the first ever to finish with the league’s best record.
4. Padres: according to Clay Davenport, their final-weekend plummet, in which they dropped from having a 90 percent shot at the postseason to missing it entirely, rates as the most sudden of all time. Worse, all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman blew two saves in that three-game span.
5. Mariners: no team as far above .500 so late in the season ever collapsed as quickly as the Mariners did via their 1-13 skid in late August and early September.
6. Devil Rays: their bullpen ranks as the worst of all-time (or at least going back to the dawn of our play-by-play stats, 1959) in dealing with inherited runners. Their -95.4 Adjusted Runs Prevented (ARP) is 17 lower than the next-worst team, the 1990 Atlanta Braves, and their Fair Run Average (FRA) of 6.80 is mere thousandths of a run off the 1999 Mariners performance.
8. White Sox: speaking of bullpens, theirs suffered 10 meltdowns in a 24-game span, effectively ending their season long before the All-Star break. Not that having Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Jim Thome shed nearly 90 VORP off their 2006 totals helped.
10. Pirates: they completed their 15th consecutive losing season, one short of the record held by the 1933-1948 Phillies. Their 2-13 finishing kick cost manager Jim Tracy his job but it just may have given them the crucial momentum to carry into next year.