Melvin No Mora: How Ever Will Arizona Survive?

Melvin Mora has officially retired. I use the word "officially", since fans here will be aware that Mora's actual "retirement" from playing major-league baseball took place some 12 months ago, shortly after signing a one-year contract with the Diamondbacks. Or maybe it just seems that way, judging by Mora's numbers for Arizona this season, which rank among the very worst of any hitter to pull on the purple/red jersey. After the jump, we'll look at where Meh-lvin ranks in the Hall of Infamy.

I ranked all non-pitchers by OPS, and drew the cut-off line at a largely arbitrary 100 PAs to qualify. That eliminated current D-back John McDonald (63 PAs, .426 OPS), though he will hopefully hit his way off this list next season. If not, it's going to be a very long two-year contract, no matter how good his glove-work... Also worthy of a dishonorable mention is Jerry Gil, who appeared in 29 games with the horrible 2004 squad, and in 88 PAs, hit .174/.182/.221, a .403 OPS. Gil deserves recognition, because that's the most career PAs without a base on balls by a non-pitcher, since the fabulously-named Overton Tremper went 94 walkless for Brooklyn in the 1927-28 season.

5. Andy Green: 2004-06, .545 OPS (.199 /280/.265, 260 PA)
Green was part of three separate Diamondbacks teams - none of them had a winning record, and they had a 51-85 record overall, in games where he appeared. Green was a much better minor-leaguer; he won the Pacific Coast League MVP award in 2005, batting .343 with 19 homers and a 1.009 OPS in 135 games for the Tucson Sidewinders - his 182 hits was the most by any minor-leaguer that year. After a mostly-injured spell in Japan, he finished his career with the Mets, going 1-for-4 in 2009. Despite his failings at the plate in the majors, he has a good rep for being baseball smart, and will be managing our farm team in Mizzoula next season.

4. Juan Brito: 2004, .544 OPS (.205/.246/.298, 184 PA)
Brito was called up mid-June in 2004 after Opening Day catcher Brett Mayne (five words which tell you a lot about that edition of the D-backs!) went on the DL with a back strain. Brito was the most active of six catchers to start for Arizona that year, starting 53 gamesand his career peaked with three hits against the Yankees, including a homer, on June 17. He stayed with Arizona, albeit down in Tucson, through the end of 2006, and was part of the Dominican Republic roster for the World Baseball Classics in both 2006 and 2009, though didn't take part in any games during the latter competition.

3. Melvin Mora: 2011, 520 OPS (.228/.244/.276, 135 PA)
In contrast to the back-ups that represent most on this last, Mora was a good deal more expensive earning $2.35 million for his "efforts" last season. Things started badly, as he went 0-for-5 with two GIDPs and a WP of -45.3% on Opening Day, a figure never close to matched by a D-back the rest of the year. Mora's complete lack of power or plate discipline were obvious problems. He hit nothing more than a double, and his 135 PAs was the most by a player in a season with two or less walks, since Rafael Belliard had 148 and two BB for the 1996 Braves. Yeah, in hindsight, this signing should have been strangled at birth.

2. Jorge Fabregas: 1998, .509 OPS (.199/.263/.245, 167 PA)
Embarrassingly, this was the Diamondbacks' first-ever catcher - he started all of the opening series against the Rockies in 1998. Fabregas was a career offensive black-hole, one of three players in the past 20 years to appear in 600+ games with an OPS below 600 (Matt Walbeck and Juan Castro being the other two). He was traded by Arizona to the Mets as part of a trade-deadline deal that year, for Bernard Gilkey; remarkably, Fabregas then proceeded to hit even worse in NY, with a .493 OPS. Still, he must have had something, as he played in the majors for five more teams, ending up with the Brewers in 2002, hitting .164 in 30 games. Some things never change.

1. Andy Stankiewicz: 1998, .493 OPS (.207/.252/.241, 155 PA)
Stankiewicz ended his career in Arizona, operating mostly off the bench - of his 77 appearances, he only started 29 games, all at second-base as back-up to Andy Fox. Pinch-hitting was exactly his forte; he went 5-for-24 in that role, with one walk and no extra-base hits. Though, hitting wasn't exactly his forte, either, going by the results of his time here. After retiring, Stankiewicz became a coach, first in the Yankees organization, then an assistant at ASU from 2007-09. He's still in Arizona, currently working as the head coach at Grand Canyon University.

Here are full stats for the bottom ten batters, by OPS (min 100 PAs) in Diamondbacks history

1 Andy Stankiewicz .493 155 1998 1998 145 9 30 0 8 7 33 .207 .252 .241
2 Jorge Fabregas .509 167 1998 1998 151 8 30 1 15 13 26 .199 .263 .245
3 Melvin Mora .520 135 2011 2011 127 5 29 0 16 2 24 .228 .244 .276
4 Juan Brito .544 184 2004 2004 171 17 35 3 12 9 41 .205 .246 .298
5 Andy Green .545 260 2004 2006 226 33 45 2 12 25 40 .199 .280 .265
6 Alberto Callaspo .552 203 2006 2007 186 12 41 0 13 13 20 .220 .272 .280
7 Tony Abreu .560 201 2010 2010 193 16 45 1 13 4 47 .233 .244 .316
8 Lenny Harris .572 121 1999 2000 114 11 27 2 20 3 6 .237 .248 .325
9 Chris Burke .582 199 2008 2008 165 20 32 2 12 27 33 .194 .310 .273
10 Rod Barajas .591 552 1999 2003 509 44 108 11 66 29 99 .212 .257 .334

Andy should perhaps take comfort. Bad though his season was at the plate, there have been much worse - both that season an since. Among players with 150+ PAs in 1998, Tim Bogar posted a .420 OPS for the Astros, with Doug Strange and Norberto Martin also below Stankiewicz. And a couple of players subsequently have even managed to crack the .400 OPS level: the Royals' Tony Pena had a .398 OPS in 225 PAs during 2008, and in 2010 the Angels' Brandon Wood - a first-round draft pick! - delivered a line of .146/.174/.208, a .382 OPS over 243 trips to the dish.

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