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Epic Fail: An Autopsy of the Brandon Wood Experiment

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Brandon Wood might just be the worst young position player of my lifetime, at least among those who were given the chance to play significant time in the majors.  What I looked for on Baseball-reference.com's play index is non-pitchers age 25 and under, with at least 300 plate appearances, who played post-integration (1947-2010).  I ranked them by worst OPS+.

Brandon is actually not the absolute worst, that would be John Vukovich.  Vukovich was primarily a third baseman, and in 1971 at age 23 he got 217 at bats and hit a mighty .166, with zero homeruns, and a .211 OBP.  He might have been expected to hit something, as in AAA he hit .275 with 22 homers and 96 RBI.  For some reason he stuck around for a 10 year career, even picking up a world series win in 1980, but hit only .161 in 559 career AB.

Wood is the second worst, and the player on the list with by far the best minor league resume of hitting.  Rounding out the top 10 are:

3. Terry Humphrey

4. Angel Salazar

5. Luis Gomez

6. Luis Ordaz

7. Rob Picciolo

8. Willie Harris

9. Mario Mendoza

10. Tommy Dean

These guys are all catchers or middle infielders, none of them made the majors because of their offensive potential.  Take Mario Mendoza, he was a terrible minor league hitter, brought to the majors for his glove, had a line named after his futility, and even he was a better hitter than Brandon Wood has been.  Willie Harris is the only one who went on to have some value, getting his batting average near .250, taking a decent number of walks, and showing some pop for a little man and turning into a good utility player.

Some other notables:

16. Sparky Anderson went on to a great managing career

23. Danny Ainge couldn't hit, but could hit the 3 pointer

29. Brandon Inge turned into a decent MLB third baseman, but his excuse for not hitting early was the demands of catching.  Wood does not have that excuse.

30. Harold Reynolds became a useful player once he learned to take a walk now and then, hit the ball on the ground and use his speed.

86. Our own Jeff Mathis.  Not even close to as bad as Wood.

90. Kimera Bartee.  We had him and traded him for a minor leaguer named Figgins.

118. George Arias.  I thought Arias, a failed Angel 3B power prospect, was the lower limit of what Brandon would do.  Brandon wishes he could hit like Arias did.

Looking over the list, Brandon Wood will probably go down in history as the worst prospect bust ever.