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The 20 worst A-Braves players: #1 Andres Thomas

It was difficult omitting Corky Miller, who had 5 hits as B-Mac’s back-up in 2008 and batted .138 in 87 AB’s as a Brave. But how do you exclude Andres Thomas, the 7th SS to make our register? (Go here for the complete list.)

Stat awareness works for and against Andres, a Brave from 1985-90. I was a kid when he played, back when hitters were measured solely by batting average, homers and RBI. For infielders like Andres, it was all about errors, and he made a ton. Andres led all shortstops in errors in 1988 and was the runner-up in ’89. In ’87 he was charged with 20 errors despite appearing in only 82 games. Not good, though not as bad as it appeared at the time, as Andres ranked tops in range factor among all shortstops in ’87 and in the top 5 the next two seasons.

Conversely, Andres was generally thought of as productive bat for a SS. In the days before ‘roids became so widespread a .252-13-68 line, Andres’ line in ’88, looked pretty good. There were persistent rumblings of a Thomas for Barry Bonds swap back then, though I can’t imagine Pittsburgh ever seriously pondered it.

Andres was the anti-Bonds when it came to OBP, a basic stat today but one that was largely ignored in the ’80s. Good thing for Andres, because his was disproportionately awful.

He walked 59 times in 6 years with the Braves. Freddie, Uggla and Bourn each accrued more bases on balls in 2012. Andres was consistent, at least, never walking more than 14 times in a season, which explains his career .255 OBP, lower even than fellow 20 worsters Pat Rockett and Luis Gomez. His lifetime offensive WAR was -3.9 may not mean much until you compare it to those of Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur, who in 2012 ranked near the bottom of the league with -0.8 and -1.2, respectively.

Andres, who had become the face off the franchise’s low point in Atlanta, was released following the 1990 season. His departure and the glory days that followed were no coincidence.

 

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The 20 worst A-Braves players: #3 Luis Gomez

Luis Gomez was a poor man’s Rafael Belliard, at least at the plate. Like Raffy, Gomez was smooth, if unspectacular, defensively. But Belliard was a regular Barry Larkin on offense compared to Gomez, the only player on our list who was traded for another of the 20 worst Braves, Pat Rockett (part of the deal that brought Chris Chambliss to Atlanta).

The Braves knew what they were getting in Gomez, a utilityman who came to Atlanta with a career .216 BA. They probably didn’t think he’d do much worse, but he did, batting .192 in 156 games with the Bravos. Of Gomez’s 60 hits only 6 went for extra bases. He had no homers, triples or stolen bases. Didn’t walk much either, which accounts for his .249 OBP.

Pitchers Doyle Alexander and Preston Hanna nearly matched Gomez’s meager .451 OPS in 1980 while Knucksie had just one less double.

Baseball Reference compares his career to that of the infamous Mario Mendoza, although the final Mendoza line (.215 BA) was five points higher than Gomez’s.

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The 20 worst A-Braves players: #15 Pat Rockett

Pat Rockett, a San Antonio high school sports legend and standout wide receiver, was heavily recruited by the Texas Longhorns. Unfortunately, he decided to pursue baseball instead. Bummer. Had he chosen football the Braves might have used the 10th overall pick in the 1973 amateur draft on Eddie Murray or Fred Lynn, each of whom was selected behind Rockett. 

According to a 1988 article in the local organ chronicling what had been the team’s sorry history at SS, Rockett rarely hustled and balked at instruction, refusing to play winter ball.

“He just didn’t have the heart to play, ” longtime scouting director Paul Snyder said. “He didn’t work at it. He just didn’t want to do those things to make himself a better player.”

Nevertheless a franchise starved for stars hyped Rockett as the next big thing, tapping the 22-year-old as its starting SS in 1977. It quickly became clear that the hype was unwarranted, as Rockett hit a punchless .254 while committing 23 errors in 84 games. He was even worse in ’78, batting .141 in 142 AB, good for a .366 OPS. Paul Maholm, Med Dog, Huddy, Randall Delgado and Brandon Beachy all had a better OPS in 2012 than Rockett produced 34 years ago.

Appropriately, Rockett was pinch hit for in his final major league game. By Darrel Chaney, another candidate for this list. Rockett spent the entire ’79 season at Richmond, hitting .223.

That offseason, he was part of a package sent to Toronto in exchange for Chris Chambliss. Rockett was out of baseball before his 26th birthday.

The 20 worst A-Braves (non-pitcher edition)

Best/worst lists are not beneath the Office. We’ve plumbed these depths many times before.

Surprisingly, we’ve never counted down the all-time worst Braves.

Here’s a partial list of contenders (non-pitchers only). I’ve left out too many to count, so your nominations are welcome.

  • Damaso Garcia
  • Corky Miller
  • Ken Caminiti
  • Greg Norton
  • Pat Rockett
  • Melky Cabrera
  • Matt Young
  • Julio Lugo
  • Chris Woodward
  • Mike Hessman
  • Rey Sanchez
  • Jordan Schafer
  • Jody Davis

It’s a long offseason.