Miami Marlins Couldn’t Hit In 2013
They couldn’t be troubled to pick up baseballs in the batting cage either. The Miami Marlins offense was historically bad in 2013. In a year where teams averaged 4.2 runs per game, the Marlins scored 3.2. They hit just 95 home runs, with only Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano reaching double digits. They posted a .231/.293/.335 BA/OBP/SLG, easily the worst in the MLB. Stanton was the only hitter qualifying for the batting title that performed at a rate above league average.
Some notable stat lines: Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria managed a .569 OPS. Despite being a poor fielder, he somehow led the team in plate appearances, and posted an awful -2.0 WAR. Catchers Rob Brantly and Jeff Mathis, not known for their defense, teamed up for a .531 OPS, a worse line than that produced by pitching phenom Jose Fernandez. The Marlins ignored the “Do not Resucitate” signs carried by Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, and Austin Kearns and gave them nearly 800 plate appearances. All told, their hitters managed -0.8 WAR.
So, is this the worst hitting team ever? To find out, I took a look at wRC+, a league and park adjusted hitting metric where 100 is the MLB average for that year. The Marlins had a team wRC+ of 72 in 2013. The Chicago White Sox were second worst with a wRC+ of 83. Detroit Tigers pitchers mustered a better wRC+ than the Marlins.
The 1981 Toronto Blue Jays also managed a 72 wRC+, with a .226/.286/.330 slash line. They scored 3.1 runs per game when the league average was 4.0. However, ’81 was a strike-shortened year, and the Jays only played 106 games. Still, this was a team that gave 414 PA to Alfredo Griffin (.532 OPS, -2.0 WAR). Apparently they weren’t sure if they were fielding a baseball team or not, because they also gave 275 PA to future NBA All-Star Danny Ainge (.486 OPS, -1.1 WAR).
The 1965 New York Mets mustered a 71 wRC+ and a .221/.277/.327 line, scoring 3.1 runs/game against the MLB average of 4.0. Even the ’65 Mets hit more home runs than the Marlins, with 107. Catcher Chris Cannizzaro had a miserable .501 OPS. Unlike Brantly and Mathis, he could claim a reputation as a strong defender who threw out over 40 percent of would-be base stealers.
So the 2013 Miami Marlins have a pretty strong claim for the worst hitting team ever. The ’81 Jays might be worse if you consider that they had the advantage of the DH, but they didn’t play a full slate of games. The ’65 Mets edge them out by wRC+, but relative to the rest of the league, they scored runs at a better rate. It was a truly ugly amalgamation of over-the-hill veterans, overmatched rookies, and generally all-around terrible baseball players. At least owner Jeffrey Loria lined his already deep pockets. Maybe he can purchase another Picasso.