The 10 worst teams of the last 25 years: ’96 Tigers

In honor of the ’88 Braves, we present this look back at the 10 worst teams of the last quarter-century. Obviously the ’88 Braves are on that list, but were they worst of the worst? A look back, in no particular order, though we will decide on the very worst.

1996 Detroit Tigers

On the mound, they were the antithesis of the 2013 Tigers. Instead of Justin Verlander, the ’96 Tigers counted Omar Oliveras as their ace. The Double O’s 7 wins and 4.89 ERA led the team, and check out these ERAs for Detroit hurlers with at least 15 starts that year: Greg Gohr, 7.17; Brian Williams, 6.77 and Felipe Lira, 5.22. The bullpen, led by Gregg Olson’s 8 saves, was equally woeful, but no Tigers pitcher was worse than Todd Van Poppel, who walked 29 and allowed 53 hits in 36 IP, good for a 11.39 ERA.

A staff full of Albie Lopezes and Dan Kolbs would’ve fared better than the ’96 Tigers, who finished with a 6.78 team ERA and 1.733 WHIP. Only the 1930 Phillies allowed more runs.

With that kind of pitching, defense hardly matters. But it doesn’t help when an outfielder commits 13 errors, as our old pal Melvin Nieves did in just 105 games. Nieves was one of five Tigers to hit 20 or more homers, the lone positive for Buddy Bell’s squad, which finished 53-109. Odds are good they won’t be the last Tigers team on this list.

Braves targeting B.J.

According to Bowman, they hoped to sign Justin’s older brother and Torii Hunter, who went to Detroit instead. B.J. Upton is still available and no free agent has more potential.

He’s not quite as fast as Bourn, or as good defensively, but he’s above average. Offensively, he’s a mixed bag. His 28 HR in 2012 were a career best, but his OBP was a career worst .298. Strange, since the 29-year-old had two seasons early in his career with OBP’s above .380.

Still, I’ll take him over Cody Ross or Victorino.