Venezuelan league team was worse with Josh Vitters so they released him

Josh Vitters had a decent season in AAA and then was ridiculously bad at the MLB level. He was playing the Venezuelan Winter League until yesterday when Leones del Caracas released him. Vitters will almost certainly go back to AAA Iowa next year and may at some point get a chance to show he can at least play well enough at the MLB level to remain on a roster. I'm not convinced that will happen with the Cubs. They were targeting a young 3rd base prospect at the deadline last year and are trying to fill a hole there now. I don't think Theo and Jed have a whole lot of faith in Vitters, but I've been wrong many times before. More on Vitters later.

To make room for Scott Feldman, the Cubs designated for assignment Casey Coleman.

It was reported yesterday or earlier that the Cubs are interested in Jeff Keppinger to help fill in at 3rd base. He could be used in a platoon with either Ian Stewart or Luis Valbuena.

Josh Vitters somehow managed to hit just .121/.193/.202 in 109 big league plate appearances. His OPS+ was only 9. I was curious how others who had such an awful first season in the big leagues performed thereafter. I was pretty sure it wasn't too good, but I wanted to know anyway.

First of all, I used the Play Index on Baseball Reference and to my knowledge, I'm not able to search for a player's first X plate appearances. As a result, I searched for players who had between 80 and 140 plate appearances in their first season. I looked at only players who were between 20 and 24 during that first season. In both cases, Vitters falls right in the middle (age 22, 109 PA). It's possible a player had 79 plate appearances in his first season and then went on to have a marvelous career so my search won't include that player. The player had to have at least 80 plate appearances in his first season at the age of 20, 21, 22, 23 or 24 and no more than 140 plate appearances.

Vitters OPS+ ranks 10th worst since 1901. Interestingly, it ranks only 3rd worst among Cubs players (that's how bad shit is in Chicago). The 9 players who had a debut worse than Vitters played for a combined 38 years, or about as long as Jamie Moyer. 3 of the 9 never played again. Another 3 played only 2 years. Pete Mackanin came up a shortstop and was never very good over the 9 years and 1686 career plate appearances. 1917 Cubs catcher Pete Dilhoefer played a few years behind the plate and Dave Martinez is the one success story among the players who started out worse than Vitters. Martinez was also a Cub and was mostly a replacement level player throughout his career, but did play for 16 years.

The first 9 players who were bettter than Josh Vitters were Nick Pucciuto, Brian Bocock, Donaldo Mendez, Orlando Ramirez, John Henry, Shane Victorino, Pinky Pittenger and Eddie Foster. Victorino and Foster had long carrers and were mostly productive. Each had a few good seasons and some other semi-good seasons. That takes us up through the worst 19 debut seasons that match our criteria.

At 23rd worst is Daryl Boston who had a long and terrible career and at 25 is Jose Hernandez who had a long and not good career. At 34th worst is Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett. Below you'll find the 75 players whose OPS+ was 40 or less.

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg G AB HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 John Dodge -23 102 1912 23 PHI NL 30 92 0 .120 .156 .130 .287 *5/46
2 Pete Mackanin -22 98 1973 21 TEX AL 44 90 0 .100 .146 .122 .268 *65
3 Dick Hall -15 83 1952 21 PIT NL 26 80 0 .138 .159 .150 .309 8/59
4 Ed Wheeler -14 101 1902 24 BRO NL 30 96 0 .125 .152 .125 .277 54/6
5 Pickles Dillhoefer -10 104 1917 23 CHC NL 42 95 0 .126 .144 .158 .302 *2
6 Don Leppert 1 81 1955 24 BAL AL 40 70 0 .114 .213 .143 .355 *4
7 Jerry Gil 2 88 2004 21 ARI NL 29 86 0 .174 .182 .221 .403 *6
8 Bill Schwartz 3 88 1904 20 CLE AL 24 86 0 .151 .151 .174 .326 *3/5
9 Dave Martinez 4 116 1986 21 CHC NL 53 108 1 .139 .190 .194 .384 *8/79
10 Josh Vitters 9 109 2012 22 CHC NL 36 99 2 .121 .193 .202 .395 *5
11 Nick Picciuto 11 97 1945 23 PHI NL 36 89 0 .135 .189 .202 .392 *5/4
12 Brian Bocock 12 93 2008 23 SFG NL 32 77 0 .143 .258 .156 .414 *6
13 Donaldo Mendez 13 127 2001 23 SDP NL 46 118 1 .153 .206 .212 .418 *6
14 Trent Durrington 13 136 1999 23 ANA AL 43 122 0 .180 .237 .197 .433 *4/D
15 Orlando Ramirez 13 97 1974 22 CAL AL 31 86 0 .163 .215 .163 .378 *6
16 John Henry 13 90 1910 20 WSH AL 28 87 0 .149 .169 .184 .352 *23
17 Shane Victorino 14 83 2003 22 SDP NL 36 73 0 .151 .232 .178 .410 87/9
18 Pinky Pittenger 14 98 1921 22 BOS AL 40 91 0 .198 .232 .209 .440 *7/89564
19 Eddie Foster 14 92 1910 23 NYY AL 30 83 0 .133 .217 .157 .374 *6
20 Kelvin Chapman 15 87 1979 23 NYM NL 35 80 0 .150 .198 .213 .410 *4/5
21 Danny Napoleon 16 108 1965 23 NYM NL 68 97 0 .144 .222 .175 .397 7/59
22 Moe Berg 16 138 1923 21 BRO NL 49 129 0 .186 .198 .240 .439 *6/4
23 Daryl Boston 19 87 1984 21 CHW AL 35 83 0 .169 .207 .229 .436 *8/9D
24 Bill Sarni 20 97 1951 23 STL NL 36 86 0 .174 .253 .186 .439 *2
25 Jose Hernandez 21 107 1991 21 TEX AL 45 98 0 .184 .208 .224 .432 *6/5
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg G AB HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
26 Ken Szotkiewicz 22 98 1970 23 DET AL 47 84 3 .107 .216 .226 .443 *6
27 Manny Mota 22 84 1962 24 SFG NL 47 74 0 .176 .253 .189 .442 7/5984
28 Endy Chavez 23 80 2001 23 KCR AL 29 77 0 .208 .238 .234 .471 *7/89
29 Tom Brown 23 128 1963 22 WSA AL 61 116 1 .147 .227 .207 .433 37/89
30 Tommy Thompson 23 102 1933 23 BSN NL 24 97 0 .186 .218 .196 .414 *89/7
31 Gene Desautels 24 138 1930 23 DET AL 42 126 0 .190 .239 .254 .493 *2
32 Frank Manush 25 82 1908 24 PHA AL 23 77 0 .156 .188 .208 .395 *5/4
33 Gene Good 26 135 1906 23 BSN NL 34 119 0 .151 .246 .151 .398 *78
34 Gabby Hartnett 27 82 1922 21 CHC NL 31 72 0 .194 .256 .236 .493 *2
35 Jim Lyttle 28 87 1969 23 NYY AL 28 83 0 .181 .218 .229 .447 *8
36 Elio Chacon 28 135 1960 23 CIN NL 49 116 0 .181 .271 .190 .460 *4/9
37 Frank Emmer 28 96 1916 20 CIN NL 42 89 0 .146 .208 .202 .411 *6/745
38 Dick Gossett 28 122 1913 22 NYY AL 39 105 0 .162 .254 .181 .435 *2
39 Tom Turner 29 101 1940 23 CHW AL 37 96 0 .208 .240 .260 .500 *2
40 Tommy Thevenow 29 93 1924 20 STL NL 23 89 0 .202 .211 .270 .481 *6
41 Heinie Jantzen 29 128 1912 22 SLB AL 31 119 1 .185 .218 .227 .445 *9
42 Bill Mueller 30 98 1942 21 CHW AL 26 85 0 .165 .276 .176 .452 *8/9
43 Claude Davidson 30 92 1918 21 PHA AL 31 81 0 .185 .233 .198 .430 4/975
44 Red Fisher 30 84 1910 23 SLB AL 23 72 0 .125 .222 .181 .403 *7/9
45 Ramon Nivar 32 97 2003 23 TEX AL 28 90 0 .211 .253 .267 .519 *8/D
46 Max Venable 32 97 1979 22 SFG NL 55 85 0 .165 .260 .200 .460 9/78
47 Casey Wise 32 118 1957 24 CHC NL 43 106 0 .179 .256 .226 .483 *4/6
48 Brandy Davis 32 108 1952 24 PIT NL 55 95 0 .179 .264 .211 .475 9/87
49 Jack Sanford 32 128 1940 23 WSH AL 34 122 0 .197 .234 .262 .497 *3
50 Jose Bautista 33 96 2004 23 TOT ML 64 88 0 .205 .263 .239 .502 95/78D
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg G AB HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
51 Garry Hancock 33 86 1978 24 BOS AL 38 80 0 .225 .232 .263 .494 D9/87
52 John Gallagher 33 136 1915 23 BAL FL 40 126 0 .198 .229 .230 .459 *4/65
53 Jack Onslow 33 86 1912 23 DET AL 36 69 0 .159 .284 .174 .458 *2/8
54 Norm Schlueter 34 123 1938 21 CHW AL 35 118 0 .229 .254 .288 .542 *2
55 Mark Koenig 34 117 1925 20 NYY AL 28 110 0 .209 .243 .282 .525 *6
56 Bill McAllester 34 99 1913 24 SLB AL 49 85 0 .153 .250 .200 .450 *2
57 Andy Sheets 35 124 1996 24 SEA AL 47 110 0 .191 .262 .264 .526 *54/6
58 Doug Baker 35 118 1984 23 DET AL 43 108 0 .185 .241 .241 .482 *6/4D
59 Ken Silvestri 35 83 1939 23 CHW AL 22 75 2 .173 .244 .293 .537 *2
60 Walt Alexander 35 111 1912 21 SLB AL 37 97 0 .175 .245 .216 .462 *2
61 Tom Reilly 35 85 1908 23 STL NL 29 81 1 .173 .193 .222 .415 *6
62 Freddy Guzman 36 80 2004 23 SDP NL 20 76 0 .211 .250 .250 .500 *8
63 Jeff Richardson 36 140 1989 23 CIN NL 53 125 2 .168 .234 .248 .482 *6/5
64 Milt Ramirez 36 87 1970 20 STL NL 62 79 0 .190 .264 .241 .505 *6/5
65 Garvin Hamner 36 109 1945 21 PHI NL 32 101 0 .198 .250 .228 .478 *4/65
66 Ray Morgan 36 96 1911 22 WSH AL 25 89 0 .213 .247 .236 .483 *5
67 Barry Shetrone 37 88 1959 20 BAL AL 33 79 0 .203 .247 .241 .488 *8/79
68 Johnny Temple 37 102 1952 24 CIN NL 30 97 1 .196 .235 .258 .493 *4
69 Barney Koch 37 101 1944 21 BRO NL 33 96 0 .219 .242 .240 .482 *4/6
70 Fernando Martinez 38 100 2009 20 NYM NL 29 91 1 .176 .242 .275 .517 7/89
71 Denny Gonzalez 39 91 1984 20 PIT NL 26 82 0 .183 .247 .244 .491 56/7
72 John Simmons 39 107 1949 24 WSH AL 62 93 0 .215 .298 .215 .513 7/9
73 Art Ruble 39 113 1927 24 DET AL 56 91 0 .165 .283 .253 .536 78/9
74 Al Hermann 39 96 1923 24 BSN NL 31 93 0 .237 .237 .280 .516 4/53
75 Alex Gonzalez 40 98 1998 21 FLA NL 25 86 3 .151 .240 .279 .519 *6
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg G AB HR BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/28/2012.

Vitters is probably not going to be very good, but we already knew that. I think we could tell that based on his minor league stats for what it's worth.

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