The Worst Offense in Baseball
Our intrepid editor Larry just sent me a breakdown of the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup. It’s quite impressive.
Cooper Hummel, LF, .180 batting average
Jordan Luplow, DH, .238
Ketel Marte, 2B, .156
Christian Walker, 1B, .163
Carson Kelly, C, .105
Daulton Varsho, CF, .232
Nick Ahmed, SS, .258
Pavin Smith, RF, .258
Sergio Alcántara, 3B, .160
That’s, uh, something isn’t it?
For fun, I was going to compare that lineup, player by player, to the 1927 Yankees or 1999 Clevelands or 1975 Reds, but I stopped for a couple of reasons. One, I think it’s a one-hit joke that can’t sustain itself. But two, even more to the point, that Arizona lineup is not the worst in baseball so far. Being honest about it, that lineup is not even all that close to the worst in baseball so far.
Yes, the batting averages are atrocious. But we all know the dangers of judging an offense based entirely on batting average. Those Diamondbacks have hit a few home runs, and they have drawn the most walks in baseball. As such, by runs per game, the DBacks are not even among the top five worst offenses in baseball so far.
That top five would look like this:
No. 5: Chicago White Sox (3.25 runs per game)
It is pretty staggering how poorly the White Sox offense has been the first month of the season. Yes, they’ve had some injuries, but other than Tim Anderson being Tim Anderson and some early good vibes from Andrew Vaughan, this lineup has been pretty helpless. The White Sox walk less than any team in the league, and if you take away Anderson and Vaughan, the rest of the team has hit 12 home runs. That’s not too good.
Sure, you expect them to turn it around, but I suppose we have to at least bring up the possibility that the hiring of a 96-year-old Tony La Russa was every bit as big a mistake as so many of us thought it was at the start. La Russa absolutely guided the White Sox to a division title last season, no taking that away, and he even received some Manager of the Year support. But those White Sox had a lot of talent, like, a lot of it, and they did not play all that well after the All-Star Break, they got bulldozed by the Astros in the playoffs, and now they look lifeless.
No. 4: Detroit Tigers (3.19 runs per game)
The Tigers have hit 10 home runs so far this season. Ten. Half of those have come from mega-free-agent acquisition Javy Baez, who is off to a terrific start, and mega-prospect Spencer Torkelson, who is off to a so-so start. Nobody else on the team has even two home runs.
In addition to their home run outage, the Tigers are also dead last in baseball in doubles. There’s really no way around it, Detroit batters are simply not hitting the ball hard … at all. Their 31 barrels is last in the American League.
No. 3: Kansas City Royals (3.18 runs per game)
The Royals lineup is just weird. Andrew Benintendi is hitting .367 with almost no power. Salvador Perez is among the league leaders in homers but he’s hitting .174. Prospective phenom Bobby Witt Jr. might be finding the adjustment to the big leagues tougher than everyone hoped, as indicated by his 20-3 strikeout-to-walk. Whit Merrifield, the very symbol of consistency the last few years, is hitting .157. And all Carlos Santana does, it seems, is walk.
And before he got hurt, Adalberto Mondesi played 15 games without getting a single extra-base hit.
This lineup is like a Jackson Pollock painting — no idea what to make of any of it.
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No. 2: Baltimore Orioles (3.08 runs per game)
Anthony Bemboom has the name. Unfortunately, he’s hitting .129 and slugging .161. That’s pretty much the Orioles right there.
Orioles fans, just keep repeating to yourself: Adley Rutschman’s coming. Adley Rutschman’s coming.
No. 1: Cincinnati Reds (3.04 runs per game)
Last season, the Reds finished fourth in the National League in runs scored. I suppose dumping Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart, and then getting a nightmarish start from JoeBlogs Hall of Famer Joey Votto will not lead to good things. But this lineup is even more of a “Walking Dead” episode than expected.
Put it this way — they’re hitting .200 as a team, and that’s the good news. They’re only 14th in that category, thanks to the Diamondbacks. The Reds are dead last in the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Cincinnati is 3-20 so far this season — they will go 21-141 over a season if they keep playing that badly. They will not keep playing that badly, I’ll go out on a limb and guarantee that, but that’s only because baseball doesn’t work that way. It’s an absolute travesty the way owner Bob Castellini and his son and team president Phil Castellini have run this team into the ground. You might remember a few weeks ago, Phil did a disastrous interview where he basically warned the fans who want the Castellinis to sell that a new owner would move the team away from Cincinnati.
“Be careful what you ask for,” Phil Castellini warned. I’m not sure at this point that Reds fans are asking for anything at all. The Reds averaged about 10,000 fans per game in their last home series against the Padres. Pittsburgh’s coming to town on Friday. Tickets are still available.