Major League Baseball has seen some really bad hitters over the years. There are many hitters in today’s game that aren’t good at putting the ball in play for a hit. Adam Dunn for example has a career average of .238 and ranks in the top 15 of worst hitters of all time. There are other hitters like Mark Reynolds and Carlos Pena who are even worse than Dunn but there are ten other players who make the list of the worst hitters in MLB history.
This list does include one player who is still technically active but the rest come from a wide range of different generations in the game, from all the way back in the early years to more recent players from the 1970s and 1980s. There is a lot of failure on this list and while many of these guys were good in other aspects of the game, their batting averages suffered in a big way.
Here are the top ten worst hitters in Major League Baseball history.
10 Eddie Joost -- Career Batting Average: .239
Joost hit just .239 during his long career from 1936-1955 that included stops with four different teams. Joost’s worst season came in 1943 when he hit just .185 in 421 at-bats including 80 strikeouts. The ironic thing about Joost was that he hit a bunch of home runs along the way. He had four seasons of at least 18 homers but could never get the batting average up to go with his power. He struck out 110 times in 1947 when he hit just .206. In today’s game with advanced stats, the fact that Joust walked 1,043 times would have really helped him as his career OBP was .361, but putting the ball in play wasn’t exactly Joost’s strong suit.
9 Eddie Miller -- Career Batting Average: .238
Miller was from the same generation as Joost and even played a few seasons with him. Miller was in the league from 1936-1950 and hit just .238 over that time. He was a seven-time All-Star however, which is amazing considering his low batting average was. He had a stretch from 1943-1946 where he didn’t have a single season hitting above his career average of .238 and he didn’t walk much either. He did hit home runs along the way and was in the double figures four different times including hitting 19 bombs in 1947, but simply put, Miller wasn’t a great hitter overall. He didn’t get on base often and that places him as one of the worst hitters in MLB history.
8 Aurelio Rodriguez -- Career Batting Average: .237
Rodriguez played from 1967-1980, compiling a career batting average of just .237 along the way during his many stops in the American League. He never had a season where he hit over .265 and he would strike out quite a bit as well with 943 career strikeouts. While he did have some power with five seasons in the double figures for home runs, his batting average never got up to a point where Rodriguez was looked at as the hitter a team wanted to have at the plate on a regular basis. There were simply too many bad seasons out of Rodriguez for him not to make this list of the worst hitters ever.
7 Dave Kingman -- Career Batting Average: .236
Kingman was the 1970s version of Adam Dunn today, with lots of power and an inability to get onbase outside of the long ball. Kingman played from 1971-1986 and hit just .236 over that time. Kingman did hit 442 career home runs and had at least 30 home runs seven different times, but he also had seasons where he hit .203, .204, .210 and .198 which isn’t going to help a team out unless one of the few times the ball was hit in play, it went for a home run. He also struck out quite a bit with 1,816 career strikeouts. He had his flashes of glory and hit some of the longest home runs ever seen, but was simply not a great all-around hitter.
6 Monte Cross -- Career Batting Average: .234
Cross played in the early days of Major League Baseball from 1892-1907 during more of a dead ball era but hit just .234 during that time. He hit just 31 home runs over his career as his claim to fame was his speed. Cross stole at least 30 bases on four different occasions including a 40 stolen base year in 1896. Cross had seasons where he hit .202, .197, .200 and .189, and while the speed was nice, he didn’t get on base enough to allow that speed to come through all the time. Cross will be remembered for the many doubles he had when he did get the ball in play but couldn’t do it consistently enough.
5 Brandon Inge -- Career Batting Average: .233
Inge is technically still an active player but isn’t on a Major League roster in 2014. Inge began his career in 1998 and has hit just .233 over that time with 1,306 strikeouts and only 1,166 hits. He has had great seasons in the past with the Detroit Tigers, including hitting 27 home runs in both 2006 and 2009, but he struck out a bunch during each of those years. Inge hit just .181 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 and only .218 the year before. He has also had seasons of hitting .197, .202, .203 and .205 over his career. Inge is a solid player but isn’t one that would be able to put together full seasons with a high batting average along the way.
4 Mickey Doolan -- Career Batting Average: .230
Doolan played from 1905-1918, hitting only .230 during his career. There was also zero power out of Doolan during that time with only 15 career home runs and never more than two in a single season. While he did play in a different generation than the current one, his low batting averages of .200, .204 and .179 doomed his chances of having a high career batting average. When Doolan did hit the ball, it usually was for extra bases, but he could never string together a lot of seasons with a high batting average as his best season was in 1910 with a .263. He was a good player who could get on base and steal some, but one of the worst hitters ever.
3 Mark Belanger -- Career Batting Average: .228
A favorite in Baltimore for many years, Belanger hit just .228 from 1965-1982 which makes him one of the worst hitters in baseball history. He would hit below .200 on four different occasions including a season in 1972 where he hit .186 with just two home runs and 16 RBIs. The thing that allowed Belanger to stay in the league for so long was the fact that he was an excellent defensive player, winning eight Gold Gloves while with the Orioles, but he couldn’t hit worth a lick. He did steal 167 bases during his career and had a career year in 1976 with 27 steals and a .270 average but the rest of his career stats weren’t good with the bat.
2 Ed Brinkman -- Career Batting Average: .224
Brinkman played from 1961-1975 but hit just .224 during that time. He had many seasons of hitting right around the .200 mark and did have some decent seasons with 15 or more doubles, but the batting average was never good. He hit just .185 in 1965 and while he was slightly better in 1966, he hit just .188 in 1967 and followed it up with a .187 season in 1968. It was definitely painful for fans of the Washington Senators to see when Brinkman would come to the plate knowing that he likely wasn’t going to get on base. Brinkman did get better in 1969 and 1970 but that couldn’t save his career average which is one of the worst ever.
1 George McBride -- Career Batting Average: .218
The player that tops this list is McBride, who played in 1901 and then didn’t return to Major League Baseball until 1905 where he would play until 1920. During his long career, he hit just .218 to give him the worst career batting average for a non-pitcher in baseball history. McBride played on an everyday basis from 1908-1916 but never hit above .234 during any of those seasons and had seasons in 1914 and 1915 where he hit .203 and .204 respectively. His chances dwindled after that and he hit just .191 in 1917 and only .132 in 1918 in limited at-bats. He hit just seven career home runs but it is his poor batting average that lands him on the top of this list.