Reds' pitching staff is baseball's worst of all time, stats show

FiveThirtyEight analysis confirms what we thought
Worst pitching staff of all-time? You guessed it
Posted at 2:55 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 23:06:46-04

CINCINNATI – "The Reds must have the worst pitching ever!"

If you're a Reds fan, you probably cursed and screamed that at least once this year. And heard it more often from other fans.

Guess what? You're right.

By several statistical measures – modern and traditional - the 2016 Reds' pitching staff is the worst of all time, according to an analysis by Neil Paine of

Take a simple, traditional measure first: home runs allowed. Reds pitchers have given up more homers than any staff in history, according to Paine. Their total of 242 translates to an average of 1.6 per nine innings.

But Paine builds a more damning case based on today's popular measurements  –   WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching).

What is WAR?

Based on WAR, the Reds are the worst staff in the modern era (since 1901), according to FanGraphs:

The Reds pitching has been so bad for so long, Paine says, that they have broken the league-average in Fielding Independent Pitching only twice in the past 21 seasons.

What is Fielding Independent Pitching?

Most damning,  Paine says, the Reds' staff is the only one in history that would have been better off being stocked with replacement-level players.

But that's no surprise to Reds fans, right? The Reds have used 32 pitchers this year (counting OF Tyler Holt)  and most of them either are replacement-level players or no better.

Statistically, though, it means the Reds have the only staff in MLB history to post a cumulative WAR below the replacement level. (See the table above).

Paine acknowledged that other interpretations of WAR lead to other conclusions about who had the worst pitching all-time. I would have guessed the expansion 1962 Mets (bless Casey Stengel) or the 2005-2006 Royals. But it's not so, statistically speaking.

You can blame injuries. You can blame the front office. You can blame the pitching coach and the manager. Or you can blame Alfredo Simon, J.J. Hoover, Jon Moscot, Cody Reed, Caleb Cotham, John Lamb and on and on.

Thanks to the 1982 Reds,  the 2016 Reds won't have the worst record in franchise history. Just the worst pitching staff of all time.

READ Paine's complete analysis here.