With the Texas Rangers being crowned as World Series champions, baseball is officially in Hot Stove mode. However, this is also a good time to look back on the year that was. For instance, who were some of the worst MLB hitters this season?
We go over the 10 worst hitters in 2023 below. There are a couple of stipulations to this list, though. The first is that position players had to accumulate at least 250 plate appearances during the regular season to be considered. The benchmark used to determine which hitters were the worst is "weighted runs created plus" (wRC+).
If you're curious as to what exactly wRC+ is, here's the definition from FanGraphs:
"Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) is a rate statistic which attempts to credit a hitter for the value of each outcome (single, double, etc.) rather than treating all hits or times on baseball equally, while also controlling for park effects and the current run environment."
Essentially, wRC+ helps put players who hit in hitter-friendly environments and those who hit in pitcher-friendly environments on a singular scale based on offensive production. The league average is 100. The following 10 hitters were at the very bottom of the barrel in 2023.
Worst MLB Hitters of 2023: No. 10-6
10. Jacob Stallings: 57 wRC+
In 276 plate appearances for the Miami Marlins, Jacob Stallings hit .191/.278/.286 with three home runs, 20 RBI and 22 runs scored. It seemed as if he was on the upswing at the plate in 2021 when he posted a 92 wRC+ and 2.5 fWAR (FanGraphs' wins above replacement). He's followed that with consecutive -0.8 fWAR seasons and a constantly declining wRC+ (68 in '22, 57 in '23).
It didn't help that Stallings dug himself a hole to start the year. By the end of May, he had accumulated 91 plate appearances. That led to a .150/.225/.213 line and just five extra-base hits (all doubles). His wRC+ settled in at a measly 20.
9. Nick Allen: 55 wRC+
Nick Allen made his MLB debut with the Oakland Athletics in 2022. Unfortunately, his performance (.207/.256/.291, 60 wRC+) just about mirrored what he did in 329 plate appearances this past year (.221/.263/.287, 55 wRC+). Who knows how much worse it could've gotten in 2023 if Allen hadn't picked up the pace after the All-Star break?
He didn't light the world on fire at the plate following the midsummer classic, but there was a noticeable uptick in production. Allen posted a .478 OPS and 37 wRC+ in the first half before watching those numbers increase to .593 and 66, respectively, in the second half.
8. Nick Fortes: 53 wRC+
Nick Fortes posted a 97 wRC+ for the Marlins in 2022. That eventually led to him getting increased playing time in 2023 (72 games played to 108). Unfortunately, it also resulted in him watching his overall offensive production take a nosedive.
Fortes slashed .204/.262/.299 in 323 plate appearances, and it was his power that really evaporated. Having a slugging percentage under .300 is never fun, especially when it was up at .392 the year prior. The right-handed-hitting catcher also struggled against right-handed pitchers, producing a 26 wRC+ in that scenario.
7. Oscar Colas: 53 wRC+
The White Sox were a huge disappointment in 2023. Oscar Colas, a 24-year-old outfielder, made it memorable for himself by making his MLB debut. His first taste of big-league pitching was probably humbling to a degree. He never posted a wRC+ below 100 in the minors before having that number settle in at 53 for Chicago.
What was interesting here is he produced a .303 average and 74 wRC+ on ground balls, as well as a .157 average and 57 wRC+ on fly balls. That's the opposite of typical results for hitters.
6. Jean Segura: 52 wRC+
This is the third (!) player who spent at least part of the 2023 season in Miami with the Marlins. Makes it even more impressive to know they made the playoffs (even though they got swept by the Phillies in the Wild Card Round). Between 2016 and 2022, Jean Segura posted a below-average wRC+ just once — it was 91 in 2019. So, that's why his 52 wRC+ and .219/.277/.279 triple slash is even more surprising.
Although loanDepot park is more of a pitcher-friendly environment, that's where Segura had most of his 2023 success with Miami. He posted a .599 OPS (on-base plus slugging) and 66 wRC+ at home, compared to a .504 OPS and 35 wRC+ on the road.
Worst MLB Hitters of 2023: No. 5-1
5. Kolten Wong: 48 wRC+
Kolten Wong has typically been more highly regarded for his defense than what he does at the plate. However, his performance in 2021 and 2022 for the Milwaukee Brewers was quite solid overall. He produced consecutive campaigns with at least 2.4 fWAR, a .770 OPS and a 108 wRC+. Those numbers settled in at -0.9, .519, and 48, respectively in 2023 while splitting time with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers.
This was a lost year for Wong overall, but it's worth noting that he did find himself a bit in Los Angeles. His tenure was short (34 plate appearances), but he slashed .300/.353/.500 with a 130 wRC+ in 20 games played.
4. Joey Wendle: 47 wRC+
Would you like to guess which team employed Joey Wendle for the 318 plate appearances he accrued in 2023? That's right — he played for the Marlins. In addition to a career-worst 47 wRC+, Wendle also produced a .212/.248/.306 triple slash.
Wendle's 32.2% hard-hit rate and 11.4% soft-hit rate are among the best single-season marks of his career. However, it was accompanied by a 54.5% ground-ball rate. This comes after setting a career-high mark in that category the year prior (55.0% in 2022). Ground balls are a necessary part of the game, but they typically result in the lowest results. Unsurprisingly, Wendle's .413 OPS and 6 wRC+ on grounders were both his lowest among all batted-ball events.
3. Harold Castro: 43 wRC+
Harold Castro has never been an excellent big-league hitter, but he's had his moments over the years. He spent 2023 in Colorado with the Rockies, which is usually a good thing for position players. However, it resulted in a career-worst year for Castro. Across 270 plate appearances, he hit .252/.275/.314 with that 43 wRC+ and a -1.6 fWAR.
In fact, it was hitting at Coors Field that really torpedoed his numbers. He posted a 33 wRC+ at home, which pales in comparison to the 53 wRC+ he posted on the road (although they were both pretty terrible).
2. Brenton Doyle: 43 wRC+
Brenton Doyle is a terrific fielder. His work in the outfield earned him a Gold Glove Award as a rookie in 2023. However, the Rockie watched his overall value plummet because of a lack of offense. His 43 wRC+ was the second-worst among players with at least 250 plate appearances. It was accompanied by a .203/.250/.343 line in 431 plate appearances.
Doyle's monthly wRC+ progression is somewhat tough to look at, too: 25, 84, 36, 10, 3, 82. His final month at the dish is something to hopefully build upon, though.
1. Eric Haase: 42 wRC+
Drum roll, please ... the honor of being the worst MLB hitter in 2023 belongs to Eric Haase. He spent all but 11 of his 293 plate appearances with the Detroit Tigers. And, obviously, the results were less than desired. Haase posted a 110 wRC+ and 1.3 fWAR in 2022, only to watch those numbers drop to 42 and -1.4 the following year. His triple slash also landed at .201/.247/.281.
Probably one of the most shocking negative regressions from 2022 to 2023 for Haase was his performance on fly balls. In 2022, he posted a 1.058 OPS and 187 wRC+ on that batted-ball event. This past year, those stats settled in at .533 and 31, respectively.
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