Just wrapping up my linear weights work by looking at the performance of the entire league.
To keep the data set reasonable, I'm only looking at players who placed in the top 300 in at bats. These numbers represent the total performance of a player over the year, so if they were traded in mid season, I didn't separate the numbers from the two teams.
First, here's the top 50 players in terms of linear weights:
Depending on how you look at it, the best hitter in the league this year according to this system was either Ryan Howard or Travis Hafner. Howard lead in total runs over average contributed, while Hafner lead in runs contributed per plate appearance. The fact that Hafner was worth over a tenth of a run per plate appearance is pretty amazing if you about it. Now, consider that in 2002, Barry Bonds was worth over a fifth of a run per plate appearance. Scary.
Now, the 25 worst:
Before this season, I thought that Angel Berroa was the worst starter in baseball. He has no patience, no power, can't play defense, but he at least hit for a decent average. After this season, he's probably the worst player in baseball, period. Berroa hit .234/.259/.333 to secure the worst hitter in baseball award by a good margin. Surprisingly, Berroa didn't come close to the worst season of all time, Neifi Perez's 2002 where he hit .236/.260/.303. Berroa's saving grace was that he only played in 134 games. I don't follow the Royals enough to know why he missed the time, but according to this quote from Royal's Manager Buddy Bell, I doubt it was because he stinks.
At least Neifi has a good glove. A team, even one as hopeless as the Royals, blindly sticking by Berroa is one of baseball's greatest mysteries.
Elsewhere on the list, it's interesting how many players that had solid to great seasons in 2005 were on the bottom in 2006. Jhonny Peralta, Bobby Crosby, Jorge Cantu, and Rondell White. Joining them were perennial "worst hitter in the league" candidates Brad Ausmus, Neifi Perez, Adam Everrett, and Royce Clayton, along with soon to be stalwarts Yadier Molina, Jack Wilson, and Pedro Feliz.
The final notable entry is Placido Polanco, one of the least productive hitters in the league, yet still hitting third for the Tigers in the ALCS. Jim Leyland's a shoo in for manager of the year, but it certainly won't be for his in game strategy.
The best hitter on each team:
A few weeks ago, I wondered if J.D. Drew was the worst best hitter in baseball. Surprisingly, he beat out the best hitters from 10 teams, including Frank Thomas, Mark Teixiera, Miguel Tejada, and Adam Dunn. This is primarily due to the fact that linear weights emphasizes on base percentage, and really punishes double plays, two things that Drew excels at. Drew grounded into double plays in 5.6% of opportunities, 11th in baseball amongst players with at leas 300 plate appearances. Drew lead all of these players in on base percentage, Tejada and Teixiera hit into a lot of double plays (32 and 20 respectively), Dunn wasn't that great this year in general, and Thomas missed about 30 games. Still, it is pretty impressive that a guy that seems to get blamed for most of the Dodgers failures had a better season than some perennial All-Stars.
Finally, the worst hitter on each team, keep in mind that only players with 230 plate appearances on the team are included:
This table best represents why the Dodgers offense was so successful. While they had no stand out hitters, the worst player who got substantial playtime was still above average. While part of this was due to Ned Colletti and Grady Little's habit of booting/benching anyone who under performed for any period of time, it speaks volumes about the depth the Dodgers had this year. What's interesting is that while I was looking for these players, a few teams took most of the bottom spots. The Astros, Cardinals, White Sox, and Twins, certainly not bad teams, all gave substantial playing time to several bad players. It's amazing how just one stud or a few great players can make up for using below average players in several spots in the lineup.
Some random facts:
The players closest to an average player (0 runs added): Shawn Green and Brandon Inge.
Julio Lugo's combined runs over average: 1.899. He was having himself a mighty fine season until he got traded
Wilson Betemit with the Dodgers: -3.736 runs over average. Willy Aybar with the Braves: .304 runs over average.
Marlon Anderson in five months with the Nationals: .105 runs over average, or about what Travis Hafner produces per plate appearance. In one month with the Dodgers, 9.201 runs over average, better production per plate appearance than Hafner.
Biggest swing in production after a trade, non-Julio Lugo division: Kevin Mench. 6.374 runs above average pre trade, -9.285 afterwards.
Finally, the entire table is here.