A poster at MotownSports.com (TigerBomb13) asked today who had the most negative Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ever and was wondering whether Tigers right fielder Brennan Boesch had a chance to fall that far. According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been two players with -4.1 WAR since 1901: Jim Levey of the St. Louis Browns in 1933 and Jerry Royster of the Atlanta Braves in 1977.
How bad was Levey? He batted .195/.237/.241 with a 24 OPS+ while playing 152 games at shortstop. He actually did not lose any points for his defense (+0.1 defensive WAR) but he was so horrible offensively and played so much that he still hurt his team enough to be tied for number one. Not only does Levey share the top (bottom) spot on this list, he also had the seventh worst WAR ever in 1931.
Royster was a little better offensively than Levey batting .216/.278/.288 with a 46 OPS+ as a utility infielder/outfielder. You would think that a player who played five different positions would be a valuable piece on a roster. Unfortunately, he did not play any of those positions well and accumulated -2.0 WAR with his defense alone. Royster was not always that bad and managed to build a 16-year career getting as much as +2.1 WAR with the Padres in 1985.
Boesch has not yet reached the depths of Levey and Royster, but is currently last in the majors with -1.8 WAR thanks to a .232/.269/.346 batting line and a 67 OPS+. As awful as he has been offensively , he has been just as bad defensively costing his team an estimated 10 runs with his glove.
Boesch probably won't play enough to challenge Levey and Royster if he continues at the same pace, but has a legitimate shot of breaking the Tigers record. Jerry Morales accumulated the most negative WAR ever with -2.7 in 1979. Boesch is seventh on the list and the worst in the past four decades.
I don't want to single out Boesch for all the Tigers struggles this year though. After all, Tigers fan favorite Ryan Raburn is in the bottom 20 with -1.5. In case anyone was wondering, Delmon Young is looking pretty good in comparison at -0.8. That's -4.1 WAR from just three players which tells us a lot about the Tigers season.