Best and Worst Benches?

I believe YFSF reader Trisk asked one of us recently to start a thread on this subject: What teams have the best benches in baseball? What teams have the worst?

With Wil Nieves leading the way, the Yanks might very well have the worst bench in baseball. But I suspect that I might be overestimating other teams’ benches. It might be that most teams have awful back-up players, just as most teams have terrible fifth starters.

Anyway, I’ll turn the floor over to you, the reader and other contributors. What are the best benches in baseball? What are the worst?

21 comments… add one
  • I like the Angels, but who doesn’t, I guess.

    Lar July 10, 2007, 10:07 am
  • To me a strong bench MUST include a servicable backup cather, all 5 of these teams have that in common. Also there should be some pop off the bench, again they all have that. They should also have a defensive specialist and some speed. These 5 teams in my opinion are the best in the league.
    #1 Brewers: Graffanino, Counsell, Damian Miller, Kevin Mench and Gabe Gross.
    #2 Braves: Matt Diaz, Willie Harris, Yunel Escobar, Woodward, Salty.
    #3 Red Sox: Mirabelli, Hinske, Cora, Pena (Sorry SF) and Bailey.
    #4 Royals: Jason LaRue, Ross Gload, Esteban German, Joey Gathright and Ryan Shealy.
    #5 Orioles: Gibbons, Bako, Chris Gomez, Payton, Luis Hernandez.

    John - YF (Trisk) July 10, 2007, 10:40 am
  • good list, Trisk.
    Curious, would you include Melky as a bench player even though he’s become a regular? Not that he really bolsters the Yanks’ bench over any of these listed but couldn’t you argue he’s better than any of the players on listed above (according to defensive metrics, he’s a great centerfielder now, and his bat has come alive in recent weeks)?
    I have to look this up, but I thought the A’s and Padres has pretty good benches. I wonder where they’d rank.

    Nick-YF July 10, 2007, 11:01 am
  • Just a hunch, but I don’t think we’re going to see much of Damon in CF from now on. Melky has to be considered a regular

    Andrews July 10, 2007, 11:03 am
  • I guess my question about Melky is more related to the design of the roster going into the season. He was essentially a bench player, and his function was to fill in for players who needed rest. Isn’t he basically performing that role now? SHouldn’t he still for 2007 be considered a bench player?

    Nick-YF July 10, 2007, 11:13 am
  • I was going to nominate the Orioles in the bad category, on the logic that Bako is awful defensively and contributes little with the bat. Gibbons is the worst DH not named Jose Vidro, and is a back alley/clotheshanger abortion in the field. I might’ve gone with Braves as 1st, though not sure if both Diaz and Willie should be characterized as bench players. Ditto with Ryan Shealy, who probably hasn’t played his way completely out of the starting job yet. (Though his .286 OBP and .308 SLG suggest he’s getting there)
    Good ones that haven’t been named yet
    Tigers (until Neifi returns, anyway): Marcus Thames (pop off the bench? How about a .519 SLG (half of his 32 hits are for extra bases)), Mike Rabelo (.240 AVG isn’t great, but he’s caught 4 of 13 attempted basestealers), Omar Infante (.284 BA, speed, 2B, SS, 3B, CF), Ryan Raburn (batting 1.000 in one AB, .934 OPS at AAA with 12 SB).
    Indians: ex-Sox prospect Kelly Shoppach (the Tribe loses nothing offensively when V-Mart moves to 1B or takes a day off, and gains defensively despite Victor’s improvements this season), Mike Rouse is a pretty awful hitter, and I admittedly don’t know how he is defensively, Franklin Gutierrez has already dazzled on defense and contributed offensively, as has Ben Francisco (in more limited PT), honorable mention to Casey Blake, he’d be the best backup corner man in the Majors, if he hadn’t played Andy Marte out of a job.
    Nick: Depends on how you want to look at the A’s. Scutaro and catching prospect Kurt Suzuki are in my opinion the only real bench players, and are both great in that capacity. When Travis Buck gets healthy and pushes Bobby Kielty back to concession duty, their OF works more like a rotation rather than with 3 set starters anyway (ideal with brittle Shannon Stewart and Mark Kotsay out there).
    Also, in terms of the Padres, Geoff Blum has been so awful he might negate the D of Hiram Bocachica, solid O of Michael Barrett and Russell Branyan, and the normally (but down this year) lefty-killing Jose Cruz Jr. A batting line like Blum’s would only get you the starting job at SS for the Red Sox, plus he’s been no better than Branyan/Kouzmanoff at 3B defensively, and that’s pretty bad. I won’t even tell you how Padres fans crave the uber-emotional Khalil Greene when Blum sees time at SS.

    QuoSF July 10, 2007, 11:16 am
  • Nick, the A’s use so many different lineups that it’s difficult who to consider who actually is the bench? Suzuki, Scutaro, Cust, Kielty do make a pretty good group though.
    Padres are good as well with Branyan, Bard/Barrett, Blum, Jose Cruz Jr. and Bocachica. Their strength is at catcher and power off the bench, that’s for sure.
    However we rate them they are still light years ahead of:
    Nieves, Phillips/Cairo and Thompson. Embarassing.

    John - YF (Trisk) July 10, 2007, 11:19 am
  • I don’t think you still consider Melky a bench player. Look at Casey Blake, for example. He was supposed to be backup LF/RF/3B/1B, and has played well enough to keep the 3B job for almost all of the season. Should we still call him a bench player since that’s what he was supposed to be? Similarly for Melky. He’ll probably start, what, at least 90% of the Yankees remaining games in CF, so doesn’t that make him the starter? Isn’t Damon’s position now DH/DL/DOA, essentially?

    QuoSF July 10, 2007, 11:28 am
  • Yeah, I see what you mean, Quo. I guess the idea I’m trying to express is that say Varitek goes down with an injury and Mirabelli becomes the full-time catcher. You bring up Kontos, who is just not ready for the majors, or sign a guy off the scrap heap, and the Sox bench plummets in quality. A bench can only deal with so many contingencies until its spread thin. That said, the Yanks’ bench even with Melky as a part is pretty awful.

    Nick-YF July 10, 2007, 11:34 am
  • Curse you, Nick, for even raising that possibility. Ugh. Now I won’t be able to eat lunch…

    Paul SF July 10, 2007, 11:38 am
  • Nick your right we are spread pretty thin.
    I just find it amazon that the yanks fans know so much about the red sox.

    dorothy July 10, 2007, 11:41 am
  • Agreed on all points, Nick, though I’m unsure who Kontos (Kottaras?) is. ;-) (As an aside, I’d still rather throw Kottaras into the fire rather than deal for someone like Javy Lopez again. …ugh. I wouldn’t even have mentioned him, Paul, if you hadn’t already lost your appetite.)
    The Phillies have a great bench. Speed/defensive OF (Michael Bourn), Pop/corner IF/OF (Greg Dobbs), IF defense (Abraham Nunez), and it’s probably a crime that Carlos Ruiz is still listed behind Rod Barajas on the depth chart. Chris Coste is even still with the club as a PH and 3rd C (SSS alert, but slightly better #s even than his somewhat Cinderella story last season). This might be the best one, actually.

    QuoSF July 10, 2007, 11:42 am
  • John - YF (Trisk) July 10, 2007, 2:35 pm
  • Hey,
    Here’s a video and a photo of David Ortiz hitting baseballs into McCovey Cove at a large inflatable model of his new Reebok cleat. Hope you like it.

    Chris July 10, 2007, 2:40 pm
  • Thanks, Quo. Now you’ve made me throw up my lunch.

    Paul SF July 10, 2007, 4:02 pm
  • UGH! Whats his face, the Detroit managers totally SUCKS! Okajima should have pitched instead of Papelbon. Could be a once in a lifetime shot for Okajima and he gets screwed. JACKASS MANAGER

    TJ July 10, 2007, 11:39 pm
  • Woulda loved to see Okajima come on to bail out Putz in the ninth. That would have totally rocked. Still, Beckett gets the win, and Mike Lowell’s single ends up being worth a lot more than it seemed at the time. Paps looked good, too. A good showing all told from the Bosox contingent at the All-Star Game.

    Paul SF July 11, 2007, 12:06 am
  • What, you didn’t like the way Frankie nearly burned the building down? Now you know what AngelsFan has to live with every day. The weird thing is, he rarely blows games. But he almost always makes you sweat.

    AngelsFan July 11, 2007, 12:25 am
  • Oh and I like the Angels’ bench, or at least I liked it until Melvin Mora plowed into starting C Mike Napoli. The bench is typical of the rest of the team: no real sluggers, just guys who are capable of getting a single or double and stealing a base. There aren’t really any real weak spots, except for their new backup C Jeff Mathis. (Hillenbrand also blew, but thankfully they DFA’s him.)

    AngelsFan July 11, 2007, 12:30 am
  • So I just saw the highlights from the game…if I were a Yankee fan, I’d be somewhat upset with A-Rod for playing. He didn’t look so hot running around third base and getting gunned down at home by KGJ…pretty gimpy, in fact.

    desturbd1 July 11, 2007, 12:38 am
  • Agreed, D1. A-Rod looked much worse than he did in the last regular season game… I know I’m not too thrilled with Ortiz playing with his own hammie problems. Trust me, I understand if you need to sit it out. It’s OK…

    Paul SF July 11, 2007, 2:54 am

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