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Top 10 Worst Baseball Players in MLB History

In Major League Baseball (MLB), stories of star athletes and legendary performances capture the hearts of fans.

However, not every player’s career is filled with accolades and achievements. This article looks at some players who, despite their best efforts, are remembered for their struggles on the field.

Key Takeaways
  • Steve Jeltz’s low career batting average and few home runs limited his effectiveness as a player.
  • Kevin Jarvis struggled as a pitcher, particularly with a high earned run average and a tendency to allow too many home runs.
  • Tommy Thevenow experienced a significant drought in hitting home runs, which lasted most of his career.

1. Bill Bergen

Bill Bergen, who played from 1901 to 1911, is often highlighted for his exceptionally low batting average of .170, the worst among major leaguers with over 2,500 at-bats.

Despite being a superb defensive catcher, his offensive capabilities were severely lacking. In 1909, he set a record of 45 consecutive at-bats without a hit, which stood for 102 years.

Bergen’s defense was highly regarded. He often ranked among the best catchers of his time in terms of assists and fielding percentage.

2. Mario Mendoza

Mario Mendoza, known for the “Mendoza Line,” a term used to describe a batting average below .200, played from 1974 to 1982.

Despite being a solid defensive player, his batting average was often below this threshold, finishing his career with a .215 average.

The term “Mendoza Line” was popularized in the late 1970s by his teammates and caught on in the media, symbolizing poor hitting.

Mendoza’s struggles at the plate made him a frequent subject of discussion when talking about underperforming hitters.

3. Al Chambers

Al Chambers, the first overall pick of the 1979 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners, had a brief and underwhelming career in the majors, playing only 57 games from 1983 to 1985.

He ended his MLB stint with a .208 batting average and just two home runs.

Chambers felt he never received a fair chance to demonstrate his capabilities at the major league level, a sentiment he expressed in interviews after his playing days.

His lack of opportunities and minimal impact on the field makes his career one of the notable disappointments for a number-one draft pick​.

4. Jim Levey

Jim Levey’s career with the St. Louis Browns in the early 1930s is infamous for setting the record for the worst single-season Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in MLB history at -4.0.

Over his 440-game career, Levey had a batting average of .230 and managed to hit 11 home runs, but his performance got noticeably worse over time.

5. Bob Uecker

Bob Uecker, widely celebrated for his broadcasting career, had a less successful time as a player.

With a WAR of -1.0 and a batting average of .200 across 297 games, Uecker’s performance behind the plate did not mirror his subsequent success in the commentary box.

His time in the MLB was marked by his humor and self-deprecating commentary, which later defined his broadcasting style.

Uecker’s legacy in baseball is enriched by his humorous take on his playing days, often joking about his on-field struggles.

6. John Gochnaur

John Gochnaur’s career as a shortstop from 1901 to 1903 is marked by his extremely poor batting average of .187 and his defensive record, which included a staggering number of errors.

Over three seasons, he committed 146 errors and never hit a home run across 264 games. Gochnaur’s 1903 season with the Cleveland Naps is particularly infamous, during which he made 98 errors.

This unfortunate record contributes significantly to his reputation as one of the worst MLB players of all time.

7. Steve Jeltz

Steve Jeltz’s MLB career lasted from 1983 to 1990. During this time, he was known for his low batting average of .210 and minimal power, evidenced by just five home runs in over 1,700 at-bats.

His on-base percentage was relatively better at .308 due to his higher walk rate. Jeltz’s notable career moment was a two-homer game in 1989, a rarity given his overall power shortage.

Despite a long career, his offensive struggles and a negative overall WAR reflect his difficulties maintaining consistent performance at the major league level.

8. Kevin Jarvis

Kevin Jarvis, a pitcher whose MLB career lasted from 1994 to 2006, struggled with a high ERA of 6.03 over 780 innings.

His challenges on the mound were compounded by giving up many home runs and recording more losses than wins, which made his tenure as a pitcher tough.

These issues highlight Jarvis’s difficulties in finding consistent success in his roles.

9. Tommy Thevenow

Tommy Thevenow played as a shortstop in the 1920s and 1930s and is well-known for his extremely long home run drought.

After hitting three inside-the-park home runs in 1926, he never hit another over his career, spanning 3,614 plate appearances.

Despite this lack of power, Thevenow was kept in lineups primarily for his defensive skills, although injuries later hindered his career​.

10. Ralph “Putsy” Caballero

Putsy Caballero’s career lasted from 1944 to 1952. During this time, he recorded a batting average of .228 and minimal power, which contributed to his WAR of -2.5.

Known for being one of the youngest players in MLB history to appear at third base, Caballero’s career was marked by his youth but limited impact on the field.

His involvement in the 1950 World Series and various clutch pinch-hitting appearances were highlights of his otherwise underwhelming career​.

In summary, these players’ stories remind us how tough professional baseball can be. Not every player becomes a star, but each adds something unique to the history of Major League Baseball.

Their careers are full of personal challenges and moments where they had to keep trying, showing us how unpredictable and tough the sport can be.

Whether they’re known for not hitting many home runs or having trouble pitching, these players show the real challenges athletes face in the intense world of baseball.

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kevin canales
An adept sports news writer with over a decade in the industry, Kevin blends keen analysis with vivid storytelling. Recognized for in-depth coverage of diverse sports, from football to tennis, Kevin's pieces captivate fans while providing insider insights. A trusted voice in sports journalism, always on the pulse of the game.