Written by Joe Kleinsasser Tuesday, 21 June 2011 14:27
ow must it feel to be the worst of the best?
Just making the roster of a Major League Baseball team obviously means a player is in an elite group. But making it to the big time is different than being successful in the big time.
Royals pitcher Kyle Davies is one of those who somehow has hung around the Major Leagues without much, if any, success.
One measure of ineptitude might be losing 20 games in a season, but that really isn’t fair because it takes an entire team to lose a game, not just the pitcher.
Not only has Davies had little success, his career numbers aren’t pretty.
Craig Brown, who writes a blog called Royals Authority, notes that Davies’ numbers are frightening. Brown proceeds to put Davies’ performance in historical perspective using the Baseball Reference Play Index as a guide.
The findings are not kind to the Royals pitcher.
Brown starts by examining all pitchers who started at least 90 percent of their appearances and pitched at least 700 innings. Using that as the backdrop, Brown says that going all the way back to 1901, no starting pitcher has thrown more than 700 innings with a worse ERA (earned run average) than Davies. In fact, only five pitchers in baseball history meet the workload criteria and have an ERA greater than 5.00: Kyle Davies 5.54, Jason Bere 5.14, Daniel Cabrera 5.10, Mike Maroth 5.05, Sidney Ponson 5.03.
It isn’t too surprising that the highest career ERAs are in recent years. Before the expansion era, pitching staffs weren’t watered down. In addition, with the American League using the designated hitter, one wouldn’t be surprised if scoring would be higher.
When Brown looks at walks plus hits per innings pitched, Kyle Davies tops that list as well at 1.611.
Brown writes, “Make no mistake. It is quite possible that every time Kyle Davies takes the mound we are witnessing the worst starting pitcher in the history of the game. Never before has a pitcher so awful been given so many chances. Sure, he’s capable of throwing a ‘gem’ like he did on Monday (in April) where he went six scoreless innings. Unfortunately, those performances are extremely rare.”
For what it’s worth, Davies is in his final year under club control and will be a free agent following this season.
“Normally, a pitcher as bad as Davies has been ends up either in the bullpen or out of baseball altogether well before he’s allowed to throw 700 innings as a starter,” writes Brown.
Sadly, the Royals haven’t reached the point where they feel they can move him out of the rotation. To be fair, Davies made a third of his starts for the Atlanta Braves.
Brown claims he didn’t intend to do a hatchet job on Davies. He figured there had to be starters who were worse.
“I was kind of caught off guard at his complete and thorough grip on horribleness,” Brown said.
I thought about comparing Davies to Charlie Brown in the old Peanuts comic strip, but that would be unfair because Davies made it to the Major Leagues and poor Charlie never made it out of the neighborhood.
Davies has actually had a couple of decent starts this year, but if it’s true that numbers don’t lie, then Davies is, as Brown points out, “the worst starting pitcher in the history of the game.”
Don’t ask me why, but that’s enough to make me want to root for the guy.