By the Numbers: Some of these players were so bad they were awful

Greg Jayne: By the Numbers

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

Published:

 

Over the past 20 years or so, Juan Castro has been the anti-Alex Rodriguez, which might make this only article that has ever mentioned Juan Castro and Alex Rodriguez in the same sentence.

Rodriguez likely has been the best player in baseball during the time he has been in the major leagues, but Castro has established an equally unique stature as the worst player.

Well, determining the worst player in the major leagues presents a conundrum. The actual worst player would be somebody who never gets off the bench and isn’t long for the major leagues.

Castro, an infielder, managed to get into 1,103 games from 1995-2011 for some unknown reason. Perhaps his managers never noticed his .229 batting average, .268 on-base percentage, .327 slugging percentage, and poor fielding.

That’s some all-around failure. He’s a zero-tool player.

Yet despite Castro’s woeful performance, he has managed to avoid the ignominy of Bill Bergen.

A catcher who played in the major leagues from 1901-11, William Aloysius Bergen batted .170 with a .194 on-base percentage and .201 slugging percentage. He hit .227 in 1903, and no higher than .190 in any other season.

His Offensive Winning Percentage, according to baseball-reference.com, was .126, yet he managed to remain a regular or semi-regular for 11 years.

According to a biography of Bergen from the Society for American Baseball Research, “One other peculiar statistic stands out: In 3,028 at-bats he was never hit by a pitch, which may be indicative of his approach to hitting -- and lack of success.”

Yet while Bergen was an awful player by professional baseball standards, he could not approach the level of infamy achieved by his own brother.

Marty Bergen was a major-league catcher from 1896-99, being an effective player despite displaying increasing signs of mental illness. On Jan. 19, 1900, in his family’s farmhouse outside Boston, he murdered his wife, son, and daughter with an axe, and then killed himself with a razor.

For this, Marty Bergen has forever achieved an unprecedented spot in the annals of baseball, making his brother’s failings as a player positively forgivable.

Juan Castro, so far as we know, has never murdered his nor anybody else’s family. He’s simply been an awful major-league player, but one who managed to appear in more than 1,000 games.

With modern scouting and player evaluation, that is unusual. Teams typically have the resources these days to avoid putting a truly awful player on the field game after game.

Because of that, Castro stands alone as the anti-ARod of recent decades.

Questions or comments for By the Numbers? You can reach Greg Jayne, Sports editor of The Columbian, at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at GregJayne@Columbian.com. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne