142 G, 135 GS, 726.2 IP, 822 H, 476 R, 349 BB, 511 SO, 93 HR
Broken down into rates:
10.2 H/9, 4.3 BB/9, 6.3 SO/9, 1.61 WHIP
And factoring in earned runs:
5.54 ERA, 78 ERA+
Those numbers are dreadful. Just frighteningly horrible.
To determine exactly how bad Davies has been throughout his career, we need to find some historical perspective. For help, I turned to the Baseball Reference Play Index. The great thing about the Play Index is you can set parameters… Things like innings pitched, number of starts, etc.
For this exercise, I’ll examine all pitchers who started at least 90% of all their appearances (Davies has made a start in 95% of his appearances) and pitched at least 700 innings. Notice those numbers don’t match Davies career totals exactly. Casting a wider net allows some latitude for Davies… It should make it easier to find a pitcher who has been worse than him over roughly the same amount of work.
To begin, let’s start with the basics – ERA. Here is the list of starting pitchers who have posted an ERA greater than 5.40.
Yep. That’s right. Going all the way back to 1901, no starting pitcher (remember this is for pitchers who started at least 90% of their games) has thrown more than 700 innings with a worse ERA than Davies. In fact, only five pitchers in the history of the game meet the workload criteria and have an ERA greater than 5:
Kyle Davies – 5.54
Jason Bere – 5.14
Daniel Cabrera – 5.10
Mike Maroth – 5.05
Sidney Ponson – 5.03
Jeez… That’s just dreadful. Davies is lapping the field like Secretariat at the Belmont.
OK, let’s move on. Longtime readers know I like dealing with WHIP since that essentially measures the number of baserunners allowed per inning of work. Again, using the same workload parameters, here’s the list of pitchers who’s career WHIP tops 1.58:
Uh-oh. I begin to sense a pattern…
If I expand the net to include pitchers with a WHIP of greater than 1.5, we find a total of nine pitchers. Here are the five worst:
Kyle Davies – 1.611
Daniel Cabrera – 1.573
Bobby Witt – 1.569
Pat Rapp – 1.550
Jason Bere – 1.549
Again, Davies blows away the rest of the field. Remember, even though all the name on the previous lists are fairly contemporary, the search at Baseball Reference goes all the way back to 1901. Cabrera was always thought of as an awful pitcher… But he’s no Kyle Davies.
Davies performs a little better when we narrow the search and examine only the walks. A total of 21 pitchers in our group have posted a walk rate of greater than 4.0 BB/9. Davies and his 4.32 BB/9 ranks at number 10. Four pitchers have actually topped 5 BB/9.
Daniel Cabrera – 5.24
Oliver Perez – 5.08
Jason Bere – 5.07
Bobby Witt – 5.02
Finally, there is ERA+. Here is the list of starters who have thrown at least 700 innings who possess an ERA+ of less than 82.
A couple more… How about starters ranked by percentage of quality starts.
Eddie Lopat – 28.9%
Kyle Davies – 32.6%
Vic Raschi – 35.7%
Daniel Cabrera – 41.3%
Jason Bere – 42.4%
***Note: As several commenters pointed out, the QS% for Lopat (and Raschi) is incorrect. This is the report I ran at B-Ref. Click the link and you will see what I used. Apologies for the discrepancy. Although the Davies QS% is all too real.
And finally by WAR:
Mal Eason – -2.7
Chappie McFarland – -2.7
Kyle Davies – -1.9
Scott Olsen – -0.2
Jason Bere – 0.3
That’s right… Only four starting pitchers in the history of the game have thrown 700 or more innings as a starter and posted negative WAR. And our Davies is one of them. By the way, Eason and McFarland pitched around the turn of the 20th century. So let’s just say that in the last 100 years, there hasn’t been a starting pitcher quite as horrible as Davies.
Make no mistake. It is quite possible that every time Kyle Davies takes the mound we are witnessing the worst starting pitcher in the history of the game. Never before has a pitcher so awful been given so many chances. Sure, he’s capable of throwing a “gem” like he did on Monday where he went six scoreless innings. Unfortunately, those performances are extremely rare.
Sadly, to bring this up at this point is a little like shutting the barn door after the livestock have escaped. Davies is in his final year under club control and will be a free agent following this season. He’ll be a distant memory when the Royals are ready to contend. That Davies is still on the club and has been given so many opportunities points out how deep Dayton Moore’s Atlanta ties run and how flawed The Process has been to this point. Just plucking a random pitcher out of Triple-A would likely yield better results than what Davies has been providing.
Normally, a pitcher as bad as Davies has been ends up either in the bullpen or out of baseball altogether well before he’s allowed to throw 700 innings as a starter. Sadly, the Royals haven’t reached the point where they feel they can move him out of the rotation. To be fair, Davies made a third of his starts for the Braves. The good news is, he’s improved since his time with Atlanta. The bad news is, he hasn’t improved enough to be even an average major league starter. His 0.5 WAR is the worst among all starters since Davies joined the Royals.
While the 2011 season has started on a positive note, there are still one or two reminders that GMDM struggled with his own Process in his first couple of seasons. Thankfully, the minors are stocked and we won’t have to endure starts from pitchers of Davies’ ability for much longer. Oh well… If you’re going to make a mistake, you may as well make one king size.
Honestly, I didn’t set out to do a hatchet job on Davies. I knew he was awful, but I figured there had to be starters who has been worse. I was kind of caught off guard at his complete and thorough grip on horribleness. And it’s not like this is some small sample size. This covers six years and more than 700 innings over 135 starts. This exercise yields an undeniable result…
Kyle Davies is the worst starting pitcher in the history of the game.