Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder who are the worst baseball players ever. While there have been many atrocious players over the years, have they been the worst of all time? To answer a question as complex as this, we dove through the archives to see who deserves a spot on our list.
If you are curious about our selection criteria, allow us to explain. We are looking for experienced MLB stars that did not live up to the hype, or underperformed on the big stage. That means we will not include players who only got a couple of games or were rotation players for a short period. Instead, we hunted for players who were consistently poor or players that failed to take their chance in the MLB.
Some baseball players deserve a spot on our list, but they narrowly missed out. You can find these players at the bottom of the page in the honorable mentions section. Or, if you would like to read about the biggest flops in other sports, check out the 10 worst hockey players or the 10 worst quarterbacks.
10. Mike Olt
Of course, it wouldn’t be a list of the worst baseball players if we didn’t start with someone controversial. Mike Olt was a third baseman who played in the MLB from 2012 until 2015. His professional career began with the Texas Rangers after he was the 49th player selected in the 2010 MLB draft. He played well in the years before his call-up to the big league, batting .267 in 2011 and .287 in 2012. MLB.com ranked Mike Olt as the 16th hottest prospect of 2012.
Olt’s performances in the lower league earned him the chance to play in the MLB in August 2012. However, an issue with the lacrimal gland in his eyes caused a depth perception issue, and they optioned him to a triple-A team. His performance was affected by this issue as his batting average dropped to .139. Doctors gave him eye drops which temporarily corrected his vision, but he had to stop using the drops as they were linked with glaucoma.
The Rangers traded him to the Chicago Cubs in 2013 and Olt reported improvements to his vision in 2014. However, the Cubs demoted him after he registered a batting average of .139 for the season, setting an MLB record for most home runs hit (12) with an average below .170. In 2015, Olt suffered a hairline fracture to his wrist, effectively ending his stay with the Cubs. Olt then joined the Chicago White Sox, becoming the only player to hit a home run for the Cubs and White Sox in the same season.
Injury or Bad Player?
You can certainly make a case that Olt’s career was devastated by injury and sight problems, resulting in poor performances. Even in seasons where Olt was used sparingly, he still set some rather unique records. Unfortunately, we will never know what the man was truly capable of, and his potential promised a lot more than he delivered. Olt was unable to return to the levels he set previously in his career, even after claiming his vision was fixed. He may have sealed his name in Chicago baseball history, but he could not consistently perform for either franchise.
- Position: Third/First Baseman
- Games: 135
- WAR: -1.7
- Batting Average (BA): .168
- Home Runs: 16
9. Jon Singleton
Jon Singleton was a first baseman who played in the MLB for the Houston Astros for two seasons. The Philadelphia Phillies drafted him in 2009, but they included Singleton in a trade to the Astros for Hunter Pence in 2011. Singleton never made a major appearance for the Phillies. Instead, they used him in the affiliate teams where he hit a .290 batting average in 2010.
His performances in the minor league helped him move up to the Astros, and he was one of the top prospects in Houston in 2011. Unfortunately, Singleton tested positive for marijuana use in 2012 and 2013, earning him a 50-game suspension. In 2014, the Astros signed Singleton to a five-year contract that guaranteed $10 million and an extension that could have paid up to $35 million. This was historic in MLB, as Singleton was the first player with no major experience to sign an extension.
This historic contract proved to be a bad omen as Singleton hit 13 home runs in the 2014 season. His batting average after 95 games was .168, well below average and disastrous when paired with a big-money contract. He only played 19 games in 2015 before they optioned him to the Fresno Grizzlies. He played well for the Grizzlies, recording 10 RBIs in one game; one short of the PCL record. In the four-game series in Albuquerque, he recorded 18 RBIs and two grand slams.
However, this proved to be too little too late for Singleton, as he never made another MLB appearance. In 2018, Singleton failed a third drug test, resulting in a 100-game suspension.
- Position: First Baseman
- Games: 114
- WAR: -0.9
- Batting Average (BA): .171
- Home Runs: 14
8. Bryan Bullington
Bryan Bullington was the first overall selection in the 2002 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because of the Pirates’ small budget, they opted to sign someone for the future, rather than one of the seven all-stars that were picked in the draft. The General Manager of the Pirates, Dave Littlefield, had this to say about his team’s selection:
There was quite a bit of discussion on where we were going to go. It wasn’t a situation where we were trying to be crafty. It was more a situation that wasn’t a year where it was one player standing above anybody else. Being a college pitcher, he’s going to be a little closer than a high school draftee. I’d anticipate we’re looking at him a couple of years away.- Dave Littlefield
This should have set alarm bells ringing for Pirates fans and Bullington, as you will struggle to find a more negative comment about the first pick of an MLB draft. He quashed some of the doubting voices in the lower leagues, finishing seasons with a sound record and low Earned Run Average (ERA). However, surgery to his shoulder restricted his appearances in the MLB, making one in 2005 before dropping back down to the affiliates.
His injury would come back to haunt him in 2007, dampening an otherwise great season. Still, it earned him a spot in the 40-man roster. Once again, his time in the big league did not last long, and they sent him back down. This process repeated itself throughout his career before he moved to play baseball in Japan. While you could say injuries were unkind to Bullington, he sure had plenty of opportunities to silence the critics.
- Position: Pitcher
- Games: 26
- Innings Pitched: 81.2
- ERA: 5.62
- WAR: -0.2
- W-L: 1-9
7. Dan Meyer
Dan Meyer was the 34th overall pick from the 2002 MLB draft, the same draft as Bryan Bullington. Both players share some similarities, as they are pitchers with terrible ERA scores. The fundamental difference between the two players is around 80 MLB appearances, with Meyer making 103 in his brief career at the top of baseball.
Meyer’s struggles are remarkably similar to Bullington’s. The pair had a career plagued with injury issues and yet they both had consistent opportunities to make it in the MLB. Instead, Meyer would play well at the affiliate’s level, get a call up to the top, fail to deliver, and then go straight back down. Looking at his ERA at the MLB level, his best score was 3.09 in 2009 with the Florida Marlins. This was the season where had the most appearances, reaching 71. However, his next season proved to be a disaster, making 13 appearances and an overall ERA of 9.64.
Meyer grabbed headlines back in 2013 with the Tweet embedded above. He resented the number of players caught using steroids and various other performance-enhancing substances. He later clarified his anger wasn’t so much at Bastardo, even with the unfortunate name. Meyer was more disheartened with players cheating the system and robbing rookies, like himself, of the chance of playing at the top level.
It’s never easy to label any player as being the worst of all time, and that holds for Meyer as he stood up for the integrity of the game. Luckily for us, he had a great sense of humor about his shortcomings. If he knows he fell short of expectations, then there can be no doubt!
- Position: Pitcher
- Games: 103
- Innings Pitched: 113.2
- WAR: -0.9
- ERA: 5.46
- W-L: 3-9
6. Bob Uecker
Speaking of having a sense of humor, next up is the legendary Bob Uecker. Let’s get one thing straight. If we based this on personality, then Bob is only fit for the 10 best baseball players of all time. However, we have to mark players on their ability, and that’s why Uecker is here.
His professional career began in 1962 when he joined his hometown team, the Milwaukee Braves. He signed for the Braves in 1956, where he bounced around the minor leagues for six years before getting his big chance. He moved to the St Louis Cardinals in 1964 before going to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1966. Uecker had one more move in his professional career, a final season with the Braves who recently moved to Atlanta.
You might know Bob Uecker because of his honest, open, and entertaining personality as a play-by-play broadcaster. Unfortunately, Uecker’s playing career was not even half as successful as his time spent in the booth, finishing in the MLB with a .200 batting average. He only had 14 home runs, 146 hits, and an OPS of .581 when he finished his MLB career in 1967. He is a fantastic broadcaster and personality but unfortunately was not a very good ballplayer.
- Position: Catcher
- Games: 297
- WAR: -1.0
- Batting Average (BA): .200
- Home Runs: 14
5. Jim Levey
Jim Levey was a shortstop who played for the St Louis Browns for his entire three-year MLB career. His professional career began with the Salisbury Indians in 1927, where he had a batting average of .252. Levey then spent 1928 with the United States Marine Corps before playing for the Tulsa Oilers in 1929, finishing with a batting average of .287. In 1930, Levey played for the Wichita Falls Spudders, having another solid and successful season. This got him his debut with the Browns, making eight appearances and a .243 batting average.
Levey’s time with the Browns had both highs and lows, with his first full season getting off to a rough start. His batting average was a measly .209, significantly lower than all of his previous seasons. He also registered the worst Wins Above Replacement (WAR) season in the MLB, -4.0, according to FanGraphs.
His moments of form did not last, and he finished the 1933 season with a batting average of just .195. What makes this season even more disappointing for Levey is this proved to be his last season in the big league. Although Levey continued playing baseball in the minor leagues until 1945, he never got the chance to play at the top level again. He managed 13 appearances in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Pirates, scoring two touchdowns. So, there are some redeeming factors to an otherwise disappointingly short MLB career.
- Position: Shortstop
- Games: 440
- WAR: -7.2
- Batting Average (BA): .230
- Home Runs: 11
4. Al Chambers
Al Chambers was the first pick of the 1979 MLB draft. He played as a designated hitter and outfielder for the Seattle Mariners between 1983 and 1985, only making 57 appearances in his career. While he had little time in the MLB, his career statistics include two home runs, 25 hits, and a batting average of .208.
Speaking to The Seattle Times in 2004, Chambers openly discussed his time at the Mariners. He believes the Mariners never gave him a chance to show us all why he was the number-one pick. He said:
What it really came down to is; I got drafted by the wrong organization. I can’t compare myself to No. 1 picks getting an opportunity at the major-league level, because I never did. I did everything asked of me in the minors, but when it came time to come up and make money, then they started toying with me.- Al Chambers
Whether the wrong organization drafted Chambers or if he was just simply never given a chance, we will never know. Instead, we have to judge him by the same metric as all other MLB players; their performances at the top level. Being the number one pick of a draft is never easy, as it would be hard to meet the expectation. However, with 57 games across three seasons, Chambers didn’t have what it takes.
- Position: Designated Hitter
- Games: 57
- WAR: -0.4
- Batting Average (BA): .208
- Home Runs: 2
3. Mario Mendoza
Mario Mendoza began his MLB career as a shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates scouted Mendoza from the Mexican League in 1970, after which he had four seasons in the Pirate’s farm system. He made his debut for the Pirates in 1974, where he remained until 1978. Mendoza would then have four more seasons in the MLB: two for the Seattle Mariners and two for the Texas Rangers.
Mendoza is the source for the “Mendoza Line”, a threshold used to describe a batting average below .200. He was the inspiration for this metric, as he frequently hit below this line during his career. Luckily, Mendoza’s last season in Seattle and first in Texas was enough to boost his career average over the mark, finishing his career with a batting average of .215.
In his first season at the Mariners, Mendoza had a career-high of 148 appearances. He became the fourth player in MLB history to play 148 games and failed to score above a .200 batting average. His fortunes turned around after his MLB career was over, scoring a batting average of .291 after moving back to Mexico for seven seasons.
While Mendoza had good parts in his career, he could not perform consistently in the big league. He had five seasons in the MLB, where his batting average was below the Mendoza line, resulting in the term’s concoction. If his form in the Mexican Baseball League carried over into the MLB, Mendoza would have been a force to be reckoned with. Instead, he makes our list of the 10 worst baseball players of all time.
- Position: Shortstop
- Games: 686
- WAR: -2.7
- Batting Average (BA): .215
- Home Runs: 4
2. Bill Bergen
Bill Bergen is one of the worst baseball players of all time. He played in the MLB from 1901 to 1911 split across two franchises, the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Superbas/Trolley Dodgers. Bergen has gone down in history as one of the worst hitters ever in the major leagues.
Bergen was known as a solid defensive player with an offensive inability. He had 3,028 at-bats and finished with a career batting average of .170. He is also the only player with at least 500 at-bats who finished with a career OBP under .200. In 1909, Bergen hit a batting average of .139 for the season, the lowest average in history for a player who had enough plate appearances for the batting title.
Despite only hitting two inside-of-the-park home runs in his career, some still regard Bergen as a first-rate catcher. Bergen ranks ninth on the all-time list for assists by a catcher. He still holds the record for throwing out Six St. Louis Cardinals players who attempted to steal bases. Charles Faber rated Bergen as the third-best defensive catcher in history, so he got some recognition.
Bergen finished his career with a WAR of -6.9, one of the lowest in baseball history. He had 516 hits but only 138 runs and 2 home runs. Bergen had the record for 45 consecutive at-bats without a base hit, which stood for 102 years. Eugenio Vélez broke the record in 2011, which was then broken by Chris Davis in 2019, who went 0-54.
Was Bergen a Bad Baseball Player
Bill Bergen played baseball when pitching dominated the sport. If he was playing baseball in another generation, there’s a good chance his defensive contributions would outweigh his batting mishaps. However, that was not the case, earning Bergen’s spot on our list of the worst baseball players of all time. Also, consider the quality of the teams Bergen played for, only finishing with a positive win record in one season. He was a part of the 1905 awful Dodgers season, which ended 48-104.
- Position: Catcher
- Games: 947
- WAR: -6.9
- Batting Average (BA): .170
- Home Runs: 2
1. John Gochnaur
John Gochnaur is our number one worst baseball player of all time. His MLB career lasted three seasons, totaling 264 appearances as a shortstop. Gochnaur played in the minor leagues mainly as a second baseman but had more success when he switched to shortstop. He batted .278 with six triples and 28 doubles during the 1900 season and bettered his triple tally to 14 in the next season. His performances got him a contract with the Brooklyn Superbas at the end of 1901, where he made three appearances.
In 1902, Gochnaur moved to the Cleveland Bronchos, where he finished the season with a batting average of .185 as the starting shortstop. He made 127 appearances that season with 48 errors, including five mistakes in one doubleheader. However, he had the third-best fielding percentage that year with .933, earning him the starting job for the next season. The next season for the Bronchos proved to be his last in the MLB. Gochnaur made 98 errors in 134 games that season, putting him joint 20th for the most error-filled season of all time.
Gochnaur’s time in the MLB was brief. However, he got his name into the record books. For starters, he was the last major league player to finish a season with 90 or more errors. Gochnaur also holds the record for most at-bats without a home run with a player below a batting average of .200.
John Gochnaur is the worst baseball player of all time, thanks to his poor batting and error-filled games. With nearly 150 errors made in two seasons, players like Gochnaur simply don’t get the opportunity to make this many errors anymore; which is a good thing! All the most error-filled seasons came in the late 1800s, long before baseball was a mainstream success.
- Position: Shortstop
- Games: 264
- WAR: -0.4
- Batting Average (BA): .187
- Home Runs: 0
Last Thoughts on the Worst Baseball Players of All Time
Judging the worst baseball players of all time was a very tricky task. Few players get the chance to be awful over a prolonged period, and those who do usually have a performance or two to save grace. Especially players like Chris Davis, who get way more media attention nowadays for consistently poor performances. Truly awful players do not keep playing at the top level when every mistake is front-page news.
Whether you agree with our list of the worst baseball players or not, there is one thing we can all take from this; the very worst MLB players are long retired. The standard of professional baseball has, without a doubt, increased over recent times. This means we get to champion a higher number of talented players, and the few poor performers stand out.
No list of the 10 worst baseball players is complete without paying tribute to those who just fell short of a spot in the limelight. If you are looking for more baseball-related lists, we have got you covered. Check out the ten best MLB pitchers or best MLB catchers of all time.
- Wayne Franklin
- Al Chambers
- Clint Hartung
- Danny Goodwin
- Matt Bush
- Jeff Mathis
- Jim Mason
- Eugenio Vélez
- Chris Davis