From Lynn Zinser at The New York Times on August 3, with quotes from SABR members David Jones, Tom Simon and Joe Dittmar:
The record books will tell you that [Bill] Bergen is the worst hitter in Major League Baseball history, holding records for the lowest season batting average for a regular position player (.139, a mark making news as Adam Dunn of thethreatens it) and lowest career batting average (.170), as well as the longest streak of at-bats without a hit (46, a mark making news because Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell is threatening it at 0 for 45).
Bergen’s career lasted 11 seasons, from 1901-1911, although he couldn’t hit the side of a barn. He did not have one slump year surrounded by many productive ones (like Dunn) or one epic bad streak (like Counsell). He was consistently and dependably, well, subpar.
In 3,228 career at-bats, he hit two home runs. In only one season did his average top .200. His career .194 on-base percentage means he didn’t walk much. His career .201 slugging percentage means he rarely hit for extra bases. Perhaps his quirkiest statistic: he was never hit by a pitch.
“He is about as bad a hitter as you can possibly imagine,” said David Jones, a baseball historian who edited two books on baseball’s dead-ball era. “But if he’d been a little bit better hitter, no one would ever talk about him.”
Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/sports/baseball/bill-bergens-awesome-record-of-baseball-futility.html
Originally published: August 3, 2011. Last Updated: August 3, 2011.