Have you ever wondered who had the worst offensive season of all time in a Tiger uniform? Well, I hadn’t either until this morning. I came across (via Knuckle Curve) a post at the Blue Jays blog Batters Box that looked at the worst pitching seasons in the organization’s history. This peaked my interest.
The calculation called the suckage index is really pretty simple:
Essentially it is the suckage density (how far below replacement level the performance was) multiplied by the suckage volume (IP in this case). ERA+ is used because it adjusts for the era.
I went to Baseball Reference PI to get my set of data for the Tigers. The site offers a slick tool for qualifying seasons, but so far that’s only available for batters. That’s why I’ll adapt the pitching suckage index to offense using OPS+ instead of ERA+ and plate appearances instead of innings pitched.
I filtered on and OPS+ less than 80 and at least 300 plate appearances. The resulting data can be found here.
When I applied the Suckage Index, here is how the top (or bottom) 10 season were ranked:
The full spreadsheet is also available
If you look at the bigger list, you’ll see that the 1904 and 2003 teams each had 3 of the 50 worst individual seasons. The number in 2003 shouldn’t be suprising. In 1904 the team finished 62-90 which was good enough for 7th place above the 38-113 Washington team.
Taking a look at the individual culprits on the list, Oscar Stanage and Charley O’Leary have the unfortunate distinction of appearing twice. Stanage played 12 seasons for the Tigers as a catcher and racked up a career OPS+ of 67 across more than 3500 plate appearances. It appears that catchers have always been hard to get.
O’Leary was a Tiger from 1904-1912 and manned the shortstop position. He was a starter over 4 of those years and his best season was 1907 when he posted an OPS+ of 83.
Brandon Inge was one of 7 players to appear twice on the list for his work in 2002 and 2003. It is amazing how far he’s come and it also really makes you wonder what would have happened if A) he wasn’t rushed to the Majors and B) he’d stayed an infielder all along.