I have some bad news for Ryan Doumit.
You remember Doumit, right? He was a Pirate mainstay during the twilight years of the Bucs’ losing streak and a pretty good hitter, especially for a catcher. But his glove? It was...
...bad. It was bad. He was a bad defensive catcher. Really bad, actually. Anyone who watched him knew it. WAR didn’t know it, though. The formula for wins above replacement kind of liked him, pegging him at 8.4 career fWAR when he hung up the cleats after 2014. While 8.4 is hardly astounding, it’s a respectable total for a 10 year role player.
That was before Wednesday, though, when FanGraphs updated how they calculated WAR for catchers. They now add pitch framing into the mix for backstops dating back to 2008. Some catchers have better career stats as a result. Former Bucco Russell Martin is now 10th all-time in WAR at his position. On the flip side of the coin, no catcher’s WAR was more negatively impacted than Doumit’s.
Take his 2008 season, for example. It was one of his best turns as a hitter, slashing .318/.357/.501 over 465 plate appearances. Factoring in his offensive, base running and defensive contributions, he was worth 2.9 WAR. That’s a very solid season, but it doesn’t take pitch framing into consideration. His receiving alone cost Pirates pitchers nearly 58 runs that year. All of a sudden, his 2.9 WAR becomes -2.8 WAR. That is the worst season for a catcher in baseball history. He followed it up with -1.9 WAR in both 2009 and 2010, ranking as the 17th and 22nd worst seasons of all-time, too.
And in case you forgot the headline to this post, he now has the worst WAR all-time of any Pirate.
It’s a photo finish between him and Jose Guillen, but Doumit is a hair worse. To be fair, Doumit played nearly 300 more games in Pittsburgh than Guillen, giving him more opportunities to be bad. On the other hand, he’s still benefiting from the first three seasons of his career where framing wasn’t taken into consideration. His career WAR should be even lower.
But it wasn’t all bad. There was the time he plunked John Grabow.
He’s one-third of the best bobblehead in Pirates history...
...and he got a standalone bobble later.
And he is the ONLY player to ever homer off of Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman in back to back days.
Doumit has mostly kept out of the public eye since retiring, but we do know he played some shortstop in a beer softball league and coached at Big Bend Community College. Here’s hoping he’s living his best life, and long live the “new” “worst” player in Pirates history.