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The National League Fail-Stars

Next week in New York, the best and brightest stars of major-league baseball will be honored. But what of those whose first halves have not gone so well? Let's give them credit where it's due too!

Clayton Richard: worst player in the NL so far
Clayton Richard: worst player in the NL so far

Much though I'd like simply to present to you the Dodgers, with a smattering of Giants for flavor, I suppose I should try to be what they call "objective" on this. So, the metric being used is the average of fWAR and bWAR, with no adjustment for playing time: if you manage to convince these stats that you are the worst player at the position in the major leagues in 30 games, then the only thing I can say is, to quote Eddie Izzard: "Well done! You must get up very early in the morning! I can't even get down the gym..." For each position, I've chosen a Fail Star and a backup, just in case the first choice gets hurt. Thereby probably making their team better.

Catcher. Michael McKenry (Pirates), -0.55 WAR,
Rob Brantly (Marlins), -0.50 WAR

There are worse hitting catchers than McKenry, who is currently at .189 - former Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto is batting .179 for the Rangers, for instance. But it's McKenry's defensive issues that seal his spot, with an Fld of -4.9 so far. To put that into context, you know how bad Wilin Rosario is on defense? He has played almost three times as much, and his Fld is still only -4.8.

First base. Yuniesky Betancourt (Brewers), -1.45 WAR,
Alex Gonzalez (Brewers), -1.05 WAR

And you wonder why Milwaukee have the second-worst record in the National League. Both fWAR and bWAR award their top spot to Betancourt in a virtual landslide. He's hitting .201 and isn't getting on-base any either way, with just 10 walks in 277 plate-appearances, and a mere two in 29 games since June 4. Alternate Gonzalez just beats out the Mets' Ike Davis, who had the same WAR, but got a lot more playing time. Did you know Davis went to ASU?

Second base. Josh Rutledge (Rockies), -0.95 WAR,
Danny Espinosa (Nationals), -0.70 WAR

Some disagreement here, as fWAR classifies the Dodgers' Skip Schumaker as qualifying at this position, but he has been more an outfielder, so we'll get to him later if he deserves it. Instead, Rutledge gets the nod: a .586 OPS would be bad anywhere, but is just woeful at Coors. A dishonorable mention to Brent Lillibridge, who managed to accumulate -0.55 WAR over only 9 games for the Cubs, largely through hitting .042 in his time with them.

Shortstop. Starlin Castro (Cubs), -0.95 WAR,
Ruben Tejada (Mets), -0.60 WAR

An All-Star last year, Castro's offense has evaporated this season: he was a career .761 OPS coming in, but has hit only .624 in 2013. His glove was never good, but could be overlooked when he was hitting well: now, he's just bad at every aspect of the game. The Cubs may be ruing the seven-year deal they signed with Castro last August, and that club option for 2020 (!) may not end up being exercised.

Third base. Chad Tracy (Nationals), -0.70 WAR,
Luis Cruz (Dodgers), -0.50 WAR

At one point, Martin Prado would have been in the running here, but he has played a lot better of late, and is now in positive territory, at 0.1 WAR, safely out of contention. Instead, it's a former D-back who gets the dishonor. Tracy's .136 average is the worst in the majors by any player with more than 50 PAs. Hell, National League pitchers this year are collectively hitting better than that, at .137.

Outfield. Mark Kotsay (Padres), -1.35 WAR;
Tyler Moore (Natonals), -1.30 WAR;
Tyler Colvin (Rockies), -1.10 WAR

Skip Schumaker (Dodgers), -0.95 WAR;
B.J. Upton (Braves), -0.90 WAR;
Cameron Maybin (Padres) -0.70 WAR

There's probably a bigger disparity between fWAR and bWAR here than any other position. B.J. Upton, for instance, rates -1.5 bWAR, but Fangraphs looks on him a lot more kindly, at only -0.3 fWAR. Conversely, Matt Kemp is a whole win worse off at Fangraphs than, and consequently just misses the cut for the roster, with a combined WAR of -0.6, the same as that of nomadic former Diamondback Scott Hairston.

But there is agreement on the top three, all of whom rate at least a -1.0 WAR on both sites. If only Kotsay would change his first name to Tyler, we could have an entire gurgling outfield vortex of suck with that name. Both the "real" Colvins and Kotsay have an OPS in the .470 range, which combines with poor defensive skills and base-running that might reach mediocre on a good day. In case you're interested, Jason Kubel comes in at -0.1 WAR, so that'll give you some idea of how really bad the above-named have been this year.

Starting pitchers. Clayton Richard (Padres), -1.55 WAR;
Ryan Vogelsong (Giants), -1.15 WAR;
Matt Magill (Dodgers), -0.9 WAR;
Roy Halladay (Phillies), -0.8 WAR;

Again, there's a sharp difference of opinion in some cases, because bWAR uses ERA+ as the basis, while fWAR comes off xFIP. Jason Marquis has been the worst pitcher in baseball at -1.7 fWAR. Or, alternatively, has been better than replacement level, at 0.2 bWAR. It takes a special level of suckitude to stink in both metric, so a round of applause for Richard and Vogelsong, who really stepped up their game. Remember when the NL West was flush with pitching talent and deep rotations? How long ago it seems now.

Relief pitchers. Mitchell Boggs (Cardinals), -1.05 WAR;
Brandon League (Dodgers), -1.05 WAR;
Shawn Camp (Cubs), -0.85 WAR;

Robert Carson (Mets), -0.80 WAR;
Carlos Marmol (Cubs), -0.65 WAR;
Chad Durbin (Phillies), -0.60 WAR

For our final category, I know you're wondering. The worst Diamondback bullpen pitcher is Heath Bell, at -0.45 WAR. The Cubs have no less than three relievers who have been worse that that: the two listed above and also Hector Rondon at -0.55 WAR, so you imagine how much fun their fans have had this year. The volatility of relievers is well-demonstrated here. Boggs had a 2.21 ERA in 78 games last season, and from 2008-2012, League had a 120 ERA+. There's a lesson to be learned here.

You'll note there are no Diamondbacks mentioned, but who would you nominate as the team's biggest disappointment over the first half? There are a few credible candidates, I think, in almost all areas of the team. Let us know in the comments who you would elect to the Fail-Stars.