New acquisition Yuniesky Betancourt came off the disabled list yesterday and the Royals cleared room on the 25-man roster for their new starting shortstop by designating Tony Pena Jr. for assignment.
After years in the Braves' front office Dayton Moore became the Royals' general manager in mid-2006 and brought Pena over from Atlanta the next spring. Pena was the team's shortstop as a 26-year-old rookie, starting 145 games while hitting .267/.284/.356 for the third-worst OPS in the league. Last season his starts dropped to 61 and his hitting line fell to .169/.189/.209, and this year he went 5-for-51 (.098) in a part-time role.
Add it all up an you get a career line of .228/.248/.300 in 870 plate appearances. Baseball-Reference.com has a great stat called adjusted OPS+ that measures offensive production relative to the league, ballpark, and era someone played in. An adjusted OPS+ of 100 is considered average and Albert Pujols leads MLB at 209 this season. Pena's adjusted OPS+ is 44, which ranks as the seventh-worst mark of the past 50 years:
OPS+ Angel Salazar 36 Donnie Sadler 39 Luis Gomez 40 Mario Mendoza 41 Mick Kelleher 42 Jerry Zimmerman 42 TONY PENA 44 Luis Pujols 44 Rafael Belliard 46 Luis Alvarado 46
Any time you can get on a futility list with the man behind "The Mendoza Line" you're really doing something. It's also worth noting that the next-worst adjusted OPS+ this decade belongs to John McDonald at 56, which makes him look like Babe Ruth compared to the above list, so Pena stands alone as the worst hitter of the 2000s. And the beauty of the whole thing is that he batted .252/.285/.332 in 2,748 plate appearances as a minor leaguer, so realistically he probably hit better than should have been expected. Seriously.