Particularly savvy baseball fans may be aware that the Phillies are terrible this year. That same sample of people don’t need to be told any stats or anything to confirm this, and people who were not previously aware of this can probably just take my word for it. In fact, the Phillies have been pretty bad for a few years now. OK, some of you might argue that they were at least average the last two seasons, but consider that while the team finished a non-terrible 81-81 and 73-89 in the last two seasons, they did so with the 2nd and 3rd highest payrolls in the league in those seasons. And this year, they’re on pace for about 70 wins with again the 3rd highest payroll in the league. That’s about $2.3 million per win since ’12, and when you consider that the five teams worse than the Phillies this season have an average salary $85 million less than them, it’s pretty tough to watch.
The poster boy for this burgeoning era of ineptitude has been Ryan Howard, whose 5-year, $125 million contract started in 2012. I was reading an article by Jeff Sullivan about how bad Howard has been in that time, and the most impactful point was that Howard has accrued -0.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in the last three years. That’s right, he has been on par with that AAA guy you just bring up from the minors when your starter tweaks a hammy. But this got me thinking – how bad is that really? Are there other players that have been this useless in that span of time?