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  1. I would like to see how Rafael Belliard fits into this equation. He had over 2500 career PA’s with an OBP of around .270 and played in a much more offensive era. He also hit just 2 homers lifetime and he played in a home run era. Bergen played in an era before Ruth when homers weren’t prevalent.
    If Bergen really is the worst hitter, Belliard can’t be far behind.

    Comment by Chris — February 10, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  2. Belliard’s -38.5 wRAA per 600 PA is atrocious, no doubt, but still quite a bit worse than Bergan’s -53. And remember, wRAA is scaled as average compared to the league at that time, so it takes the different run environments into account.

    Belliard was as bad as any modern major league hitter, but that’s probably why he only got 2,500 PA.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — February 10, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  3. Maybe there should be a “Bergen line”–an OBP less than .200. Of course, not many players would actually achieve that distinction.

    Comment by b_rider — February 10, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

  4. The higher offensive environment actually hurts Belliard’s case as each run was about 15% less impactful than in Bergen’s era, per Baseball Reference’s runs-to-win converter. Adjust further for quality of opposition and Belliard doesn’t stand a chance.

    Comment by buttsecks? — February 10, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  5. Bill Bergen stuck around through 1911 despite his awful hitting on the sheer strength of his defensive skills.

    By my metric, and roughly comparable to defense runs saved above replacement level, Bergen’s catching career looks like this:

    1901: +17.90
    1902: +26.16
    1903: +20.77
    1904: +28.05
    1905: +25.25
    1906: +22.76
    1907: +29.74
    1908: +25.07
    1909: +40.10
    1910: +47.70
    1911: +33.84

    My own efforts to reconstruct a caught stealing rate for catchers in an era where such specific stats were not kept, Bergen averaged @ 48%, exceeding 50% three times and never falling below 43%.

    Comment by tom — February 12, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

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