When it comes to the big 4 professional sports in North America, a baseball team is unique in its construction. The working parts that need to function in harmony are numerous in order for a team to be successful and each player being productive. It is no surprise that the individual given the task to ensure the parts move in harmony is given the title of manager as opposed to coach. These parts need to be told how to be most effective as opposed to taught. Baseball remains to be a sport dominated by stats, despite mediocrity being celebrated on a regular basis, if a player is going to rack up runs batted in, he needs teammates to get on base. If a player is going to contribute by scoring runs, he needs his teammates to hit him in. An unproductive baseball player is not only the sole player at fault, and there is almost always a direct correlation between struggling teams and struggling players.
When labeling a player as the least productive player on a roster, certain parameters must be put into place and followed. It would be easy to look down the at-bats list and most likely the player with the least amount of at-bats have produced the least. In contrast, the player underachieving to the greatest degree may still be very productive and thus, omitted from this list. There are however telling details that will be explored to discover who the least productive player on each team is.
30 Arizona Diamondbacks: Chris Owings (OF)
Despite starting most of the games he appeared in this season (106), Owings wound up hitting .206 over 281 official at-bats, but was near the bottom on his team in hits and in total bases.
The 5-10” outfielder tallied a 9 game hitting streak at one point batting in the bottom third of the order, but had just 22 RBI.
Due to much of his contact resulting in ground balls, there is not much indication that Owings is an effective hitter.
29 Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuna (LF)
The 20-year-old left fielder has a total of 433 at-bats for his career and it only took him until his second game to get his first career home run. He also managed to tally up 123 strikeouts to 127 hits (26 doubles, 26 home runs). Despite improving as the season went on, we're talking about the 2018 season as a whole. The good news is, the Braves and Acuna are trending upward for next season, and Acuna definitely won't be in this spot again next year.
28 Baltimore Orioles: Tim Beckham (3B)
This may be a more for lack of opportunity than lack of skill on the part of the third baseman. Batting .230 mostly from the bottom of the line-up or lead off, the former 1st overall pick has tallied very few RBIs, even having runners in scoring position. His high ground ball rate of and hard contact rate are not allowing him to take advantage of the few opportunities he does get. Hopefully he'll have more next year, if the Orioles are better overall.
27 Boston Red Sox: Jackie Bradley Jr (CF)
Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn't as bad as Hanley Ramirez in RBIs on the Red Sox list, but Ramirez did not play baseball for most of the season.
The vast majority of his batting average was earned while positioned in the lower third of the line-up, but the center fielder is still slightly above average when it comes to plate appearances with runners in scoring position.
He was just slightly below average in RBI for players with the same amount of plate appearances.
26 Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ (CF)
Anthony Rizzo might be having a down year, and Tommy La Stella is not producing much, but he has only had slightly over 100 at bats, so the least productive player for the Cubs is Ian Happ, as his .233 average is accompanied by 167 strikeouts. He has had opportunity to produce despite spending the majority of the season in the bottom third of the order, but has only managed to knock in 44 RBI. He also didn't come through with runners in scoring position.
25 Chicago White Sox: Adam Engel (CF)
Engel had a .235 batting average this season with 29 runs batted in over his 429 official at-bats. His high fly ball ratio does give much hope that he will add to his home run total next year, but batting in the 8th and 9th spot for the struggling White Sox might lead to him to more of the same next season for the rebuilding White Sox. With no other center fielder in Chicago, Engel should continue to get plenty of swings in 2019 as Chicago patiently looks to improve.
24 Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton (CF)
Everybody knows Billy Hamilton is not getting paid $6.4 million to put up power numbers out of the 9th spot for the Reds. However, his 29 runs batted in, in 504 plate appearances is well under the league average for the same amount of plate appearances.
With a hard contact rate around 20% it is no wonder his 22 stolen bases is his greatest contribution.
As long as the Reds need somebody to track down fly balls, Hamilton will get chances to produce.
23 Cleveland Indians: Yan Gomes (C)
The .266 batting average is actually slightly higher than the 39th rounder’s has for his career. Having started over 100 games, the catcher accumulated 403 at-bats and his hard contact rate has aided him in his 16 home runs and in knocking in 48 RBIs. Even with many at-bats with the bases loaded, the rest of his teammates are also in the same lineup and he remained the least productive. We'll see if a strong postsseason can change things.
22 Colorado Rockies: Chris Iannetta (C)
Fewer official at bats has kept fellow Rockies’ catcher Tony Wolters from taking this spot. Ianetta manged to average .226 through the regular season, after exceeding rookie limits in 2007. The 13-year veteran has 36 runs batted in, which is less than the league average for 30 plate appearances, but he has shown power potential with just a 10% soft contact rate on batted balls. With most of his home runs coming on the road, it is possible by next season, Ianetta finds himself off this list.
21 Detroit Tigers: JaCoby Jones (LF)
Jones’ .207 batting average is eclipsing his .200 career batting average but has still managed to start in a majority of the Tigers' games this season.
With one of the most at-bats on the Tigers he has not managed to drive in a whole lot of runners, managing only 34 for the season.
Having hit everywhere in the lineup aside from 3rd and 4th, pitchers have been offering him fastballs a majority of the time, and it has been working since he led the Tigers in strikeouts.
20 Houston Astros: Josh Reddick (RF)
Josh Reddick produced more runs batted in, more home runs and more runs than Max Stassi in 2018, it took way more plate appearances to outproduce Stassi. Hitting the majority of the time anywhere from clean-up to the 7 spot has aided Reddick. Batting in a loaded lineup made it difficult to find an unproductive hitter in relation to the entire club, but Reddick unfortunately finds himself in this position. In what was overall a fairly disappointing individual season, Reddick can redeem himself in the postseason.
19 Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon (LF)
One might be tempted to say the 34-year-old left fielder had a ‘down year’, but unfortunately for the 5-time Gold Glove winner, his current .245 batting average with 54 runs batted in and 17 dingers has become the norm over the past three seasons. With the Royals essentially jettisoning their entire roster the last couple of years, it's a little surprising that Gordon didn't get traded this season, but his numbers didn't exactly increase his trade value.
18 Los Angeles Angels: Kole Calhoun (RF)
Quick lesson to the kids playing little league, when you strike out over 20% of the time, with a ground ball ratio of around 50%, you can expect to have a low batting average.
Many of his runs batted in and most of his home runs have came in his at-bats while hitting leadoff or batting last.
Ian Kinsler was on his way to making this spot for the Angels at one point this season, but he ended up being traded to a stacked Boston Red Sox team.
17 Los Angeles Dodgers: Logan Forsythe (2B)
The 8-year veteran, over the season, tallied 371 at-bats and a .232 batting average while starting. His high ground ball ratio is a major reason he did not knock in many runners from scoring position.
Dave Roberts has been unable to find him a consistent spot in the order, which might be contributing to his struggles.
Patience might aid the second baseman in adding to his 2 home run total, for he has struck out 22 more times than he has walked.
16 Miami Marlins: Derek Dietrich (2B)
The Marlins were going to be in tough this season to get production from their challenged lineup. With Giancarlo Stanton being shipped off to New York last winter, much of the Marlins lineup was expected to do more than they're capable of. Unfortunately, Derek Dietrich had a high number of strikeouts (140) in relation to his amount of walks (29). His .265 batting average is far from being the least productive on this list, but his contact rate has to be higher next season.
15 Milwaukee Brewers: Manny Pina (C)
When you have 62 strikeouts with 21 bases on balls and a good percentage of your contact ends up being an infield pop up, you can expect a subpar batting average. Such is the story of 31-year-old Manny Pina after 306 official at-bats in 2018.
The Brewers have a good line-up, so it is no surprise to see Pina batting in the bottom third of the line-up on a nightly basis. He can expect to remain there with this production.
14 Minnesota Twins: Mitch Garver (C)
There are several reasons Mitch Garver didn't start start too many games this season, and several of them was not even as a positional player.
The former 9th round selection managed to finish with a batting average of .268 with 7 home runs over 302 official at-bats.
An opportunity has been present batting 6th or lower in a line up for the struggling Twins, Garver has been at the plate plenty of times with runners in scoring position, which is above average for his particular amount of at-bats, but his 45 runs batted in is pretty disappointing.
13 New York Mets: Amed Rosario (SS)
In his second season in the big leagues, Rosario’s statistics are not that far off from his first season, except for the additional at-bats this season. The 22-year-old had 9 home runs and a total of 51 runs batted in.
Consistently batting 8th or 9th, he has struck out 119 times and when he does make contact, 21% of the time it is just soft contact. Having scored 76 runs has prevented this season from being a complete disaster.
12 New York Yankees: Neil Walker (1B)
In 2018, the 32-year-old struck out at an alarmingly high rate, which has been a major factor in his .219 batting average.
The Yankees stacked line-up scored a whole lot of runs, but Walker has only knocked in 46 of them. With 35 more strikeouts than walks, perhaps a change of surname is in order. Being in this Yankees lineup, Walker should just be aiming to get on base, because odds are, someone will be driving him in. That's just inefficiency.
11 Oakland Athletics: Matt Joyce (LF)
It took Joyce 207 at-bats in order to obtain 15 runs batted in and 7 home runs.
If his .203 batting average was not hampering enough, while at bat, there haven't been many runners in scoring position for him.
To be expected when he has hit at the top or the very bottom of the line up on a struggling Athletics team. His decent hard contact rate will be able to benefit him if he could reduce the total number of strikeouts.
10 Philadelphia Phillies: Jorge Alfaro (C)
There was going to be a Phillies’ catcher here no matter what. The Phillies had a strong start to the season but really faded down the stretch. Alfaro gets the dubious distinction for having way many more official at-bats than Andrew Knapp.
Those additional at-bats had his home run total up on Knapp. Batting .262 with 138 strikeouts and 18 bases on balls is at the root of his disappointing production this season. The Phillies will need a lot more than that next year if they want to take a step forward.
9 Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Harrison (2B)
When Gregory Polanco is leading your team in runs batted in and home runs, yet he is one of the biggest underachievers in baseball, you know it is a difficult season. Add the fact that the only reason why Sean Rodriguez is not the Pirates’ entry is that he had more production, with way fewer official at-bats than Harrison. When is comes to his overall production from an RBI standpoint (37), he is well below league average, but not the worst on this list.
8 San Diego Padres: Travis Jankowski (RF)
The left hitting right fielder has been penciled in to start more games than usual this season, with a vast majority being at the top of the order or the bottom.
His .259 batting average is not the worst on the team and his 17 runs batted in, is a direct result of benefitting from very few at bats with runners in scoring position.
His 4 home runs has put himself close to the bottom of the entire roster, despite starting in more games than several others above him.
7 San Francisco Giants: Joe Panik (2B)
Joe Panik found himself on the disabled list at various times this season, and the Giants were not missing his .254 batting average and his alarmingly high ground ball ratio on contacted pitches. For much of the first half of the season, he was hitting 1st or 2nd in the order, then since returning from injury, he was on a steady diet of being in the bottom third. With a new GM set to come in, you have to wonder what Panik's future on this team entails.
6 Seattle Mariners: Guillermo Heredia (CF)
The right-handed left fielder has tallied up 292 official at-bats while starting most of the games he has appeared in. Oddly enough, despite his .236 batting average and 5 home runs, the games he did not start, were at the beginning of the season.
With 29 runs scored and a pair of stolen bases, he was not producing in the nonpower categories either.
Reserved to hitting at the bottom of the line-up, his high ground ball ratio was concerning. We saw the surprising Mariners fade down the stretch.
5 St. Louis Cardinals: Dexter Fowler (RF)
Dexter Fowler has been disappointing since signing in St. Louis from the Chicago Cubs. With 31 runs batted in, over 289 official at-bats is not the worst stat on this list, it puts him at the bottom of the Cardinals’ production list.
His total bases were near the bottom of the roster. Not only is Fowler underachieving for the $16.5 million he is earning, he was not producing, period. The Cards will have to think long and hard about Fowler after seeing themselves fall out of the NL wild card race.
4 Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Kiermaier (CF)
Kiermaier started in the majority of games he appeared in during the 2018 season. His 332 official at-bats resulted in 72 hits, 25 walks, and 91 strikeouts, which adds up to a high strikeout ratio. After coming back on June 19th from a 57 game absence, he was put in the leadoff spot. He did not fare well from that spot and soon found himself lower down in the lineup. The Rays were a very competitive team this year, but will have to look for better production in 2019 from the top of the order.
3 Texas Rangers: Delino DeShields (CF)
When you have nearly twice as many strikeouts as bases on balls and 11 more than hits, a .246batting average and the distinction of the least productive player on your team is sure to follow.
When DeShields does not strike out, he doesn't tend to make hard contact. Jeff Banister did not put DeShields in the leadoff spot until late May, and DeShields didn't thrive in the role. DeShields wound up being demoted to the 9th spot but didn't inspire much confidence going into next season.
2 Toronto Blue Jays: Russell Martin (C)
With the disappointment that Josh Donaldson was for his time in Toronto this season, injury aside, Russell Martin barely produced at all for the Toronto Blue Jays. A .low batting average with a hard contact rate of 30%, is not good enough, even when you are batting 6th or 7th in the line-up to keep you off this list.
With more strikeouts than bases on balls, regardless of where he hits, he needs to do more. The problem is, Martin may be at the end of his career and it's clear the Jays will have to get younger going into 2019.
1 Washington Nationals: Pedro Severino (C)
After 70 games started and 190 at-bats, mostly from the 8th and 9th spot, the catcher’s .168 batting average with a 28% strikeout rate has his totals at 15 runs batted in and 14 runs scored. The 25-year-old had 68 runners in scoring position and was below the league average in knocking them in. His 2 home runs on the season have came in a short six-game stretch back in July, but he was unable to build off of that for the remainder of the season.