Blog Entry

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:57 pm

By Matt Snyder

The AL MVP is to be named Monday afternoon, amidst the usual sanctimony and outrage that accompanies close votes. Let's take a break from that and do something fun -- well, at least it's fun for those of us who aren't on this list.

Who was the least valuable player in the American League this season? Here are five very good candidates:

Adam Dunn, White Sox. Pretty obvious choice here. Dunn killed fantasy owners, the White Sox lineup and turned his staunchest of defenders against him with one of the worst seasons in major-league history. His strikeouts (177) were more than his batting average percentage points (.159) -- marking only the second time in history that's ever happened to a player with at least 100 strikeouts (Mark Reynolds in 2010 was the other). After averaging 40 home runs in the previous seven seasons, Dunn only hit 11 in '11. Perhaps worst of all, Dunn's slugging percentage was a pathetic .277.

Chone Figgins, Mariners. If he doesn't win, it's at least partially because Figgins only appeared in half of the Mariners' games. Because in his 81 games, he hit .188/.241/.243, good for an abysmal 39 OPS-plus. His defense was a negative value by most metrics and Figgins can't even steal bases well anymore, as he was caught six times against just 11 successful attempts.

Jeff Mathis, Angels. We probably don't need to rub anymore salt in the wound for Angels fans by bringing up the Mike Napoli trade, so we'll just focus on Mathis himself. Defense aside -- which manager Mike Scioscia has insisted is good in the past but has been disputed by many sabermatricians -- Mathis is a brutal offensive player. He hit .174/.225/.259 in his 281 plate appearances.

Brian Matusz, Orioles. The 2008 first-round draft pick still has good upside and battled injuries through parts of 2011, but that doesn't take away from how dreadful his performance was this past season. In 12 starts, Matusz was 1-9 with a 6.59 ERA and 2.11 WHIP while averaging just over four innings per start. So not only was he causing his team to lose games, he was taxing the bullpen, hurting the Orioles' chances in games he didn't even start.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins. That three-year, $9.25 million deal wasn't enough to keep Nishioka's starting job. The Twins have already signed Jamey Carroll to be the everyday shortstop and will go with Alexi Casilla at second. This was due to Nishioka's awful 2011 season. Yes, he broke his leg in the first series and only played 68 games in 2011. When he did play, he hurt the Twins more than helped them. According to bWAR (Wins Above Replacement on, Nishioka had a negative defensive value. And that's pretty bad from a player hitting .226/.278/.249. Oh, and he stole two bases in six attempts.

And the winner is ... Dunn. With all due to respect to the other guys, Dunn's season was historically futile and came on the heels of signing a four-year, $56 million contract.

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Since: May 2, 2010
Posted on: November 23, 2011 12:30 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

Solid list and hard to argue.  I would just throw AJ Burnett out there.  He was terrible and making $16.5M per year.
Burnett went 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA.
While not anything to write home about, it's certainly not in the realm of the worst.

Since: May 2, 2010
Posted on: November 23, 2011 12:27 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

Matusz killed me this year.
He had a record worst 10.69 ERA among pitchers with at least 40 innings.
Interestingly, Roy Halladay had a 10.64 for Toronto in 2000.
Is that a sign there is still hope for Matusz?
I ain't waiting around to find out.

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:53 pm

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

John Lackey has to be considered for this award. 

Since: May 27, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:44 pm

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

Solid list and hard to argue.  I would just throw AJ Burnett out there.  He was terrible and making $16.5M per year.

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:03 pm

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

As a Twins fan, my vote would be for Nishioka.  Although after seeing Dunn's stats, I think it is close.  Minnesota Star Tribune writer Jim Souhan, said Nishioka is the worst major league ballplayer he has ever seen.  I would have to agree.  The difference between the futility of Dunn and Nishioka is that Nishioka played shortstop and was as awful there as he was with the bat. 

Since: Nov 22, 2011
Posted on: November 22, 2011 11:39 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

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Since: Mar 17, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 9:39 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

You realize you were off by over 4 points on Brian Matusz' ERA right?  6.59?  Try 10.69.

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2011 9:12 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

Alex Rios should get a look on this list too. I know its redundant having two White Sox on the top of this list, but he might have been more terrible than Dunn.

145 Games Played (This might be to most shocking stat of all)
537 ABs
.227 BA
.265 OBP
.613 OPS

Between Rios and Dunn, the black hole in the middle of that Chicago lineup killed the team this season. Their pitching was pretty solid, but you can't put together anything with those rally killers in the middle of the lineup all season long. Ozzie should've benched them both in June, the team would've played a lot better.

Since: Jul 10, 2009
Posted on: November 22, 2011 8:29 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

it's not so much that dunn was an unbenchable quantity. it's that the quantity was zero.  just a couple observations from a suffering white sox fan on dunn's entry into the hearts of all south-siders. 

1) his performance was so unprofessional that even Ozzie, the master of controversy, couldn't be persuaded to play the mook after the rosters expanded.  and then, the clown has a very minor surge when IN the lineup.
2) sox fans have a way of falling in love with itinerent sluggers... ala thome, AJ and bo jackson. but hey, those guys produced.  not so with this meatwad.  i know, you know, even kenny williams knows the sox can't deal him. they're going to have to eat that big, lovely contract with all those lovely "0's" (like his daily box score).  looks like the fans on the south side will have something to distract them and boo at for the next few years--something the fan base has rarely done to a player passing through.

and finally, you would think that any palooka who put up, or didn't put up, the kind of numbers he did would feel some remorse for taking all that green and letting the home-team down--repeatedly.  the white sox went into every game this season with 3-4 fewer at-bats to play with when he was in the lineup.

dunn could do the community, and himself, a great favor by donating a percentage of his salary to a worthy Chicago-based charity.  a charity can certainly use the money; but dunn's rep could use the positive exposure more.  i watched this guy's body language, how he carried himself, in the dugout a few times this season after one of his frequent disasterous, non-productive trips to the plate.  this dude was clueless at best, just another self-center overpaid bust at worst.

the white sox do not even pretend to swim in the same free-agent pool with the Yanks, BoSox and like.  the one time they did, in a long while, they get sold by this zip.  no matter what the long-range outcome of this deal becomes, it is the worst signing since the sox inked ron (rich?) blomberg as an exclusive DH free agent the first year of the rule.

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2011 7:59 am

Choosing the AL Least Valuable Player

The entire Minnesota Twins team!

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