The Detroit Tigers have trotted out a lot of subpar talent over the last couple of decades. Even when they were competitive in the mid to late 2000s and early 2010s, there were certainly a few stinkers on the roster.
The 2003 and 2019 teams particularly stand out as brutally awful teams with little to no talent. Both of teams are filled with negative WAR players that would not have played for other teams. The remarkable part about both of these teams is that neither of them contained the player that's had the worst season by a Detroit Tiger by WAR this millenium.
You might guess Josh Harrison. You would be wrong. You might guess Mikie Mahtook. That would also be incorrect.
Ryan Carpenter? Nope. Gordon Beckham? Negative. How about Matt Walbeck? Not quite.
Okay, so neither of those teams contained the worst player with the worst season by a Tigers' player since 2000. So let's look at some other subpar Tigers teams. The 55-win 2002 team had Jose Lima and Craig Paquette. Are either of those players the one? Nope, although you'd be getting a bit warmer with Paquette.
Let's look at the 2018 team. Here, we have the final season of Victor Martinez, where he was relegated to DH because of his knees, as well as Ronny Rodriguez. Surely one of these guys is it, right? Nope! Wrong again!
Elvin Rodriguez was pretty terrible in 2022. I know what you're thinking: no, it's not him either. Well, I've got news for you — you'd be 100% correct in that assumption. It's not him either. So who is it?
Alright, I've dragged this one on long enough. Who is the player with the worst season by a Detroit Tiger by WAR since 2000?
It's Joey Wentz. Last season. Mildly surprising, right? We all know he was pretty bad in 2023, to the tune of a 6.90 ERA, a 5.81 FIP and a home runs per nine over 2. But Baseball Reference absolutely killed him in their WAR calculation, commonly referred to as bWAR or rWAR.
According to BR, Wentz had a -1.9 WAR last season. That is, by their calculations, the worst season by a Tigers' player since 2000.
Fangraphs was much kinder to him in their calulation, giving him -0.6 fWAR. That's obviously still pretty bad, but it's nowhere close to the worst season in two decades.
This idea was inspired by a list from Bleacher Report that listed every team's worst season by a player since 2000, and bow are there some doozies in here. Tigers fans will probably remember Adam Dunn's 2011 season with the White Sox. Former Tiger Alfredo Simon also makes an appearance, though thankully not with the Tigers.
One thing that might surprise Tigers fan is that the Tigers worst season by a player is still the fourth-highest on the list by WAR. Considering all terrible players the Tigers have had over the years, that's at least got to be a little bit of a silver lining. At least we didn't have a Chris Davis!