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The Anti-Greats: Day 4

Name: Earl Moseley

Position: RP

Played for the Reds: 1916

Why he's here: Owner of a strange career trajectory, Moseley made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1913, then jumped to the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the upstart Federal League for the 1914 season, then played 1915 with the Newark Pepper of the same Federal League in 1915, then was purchased by the Reds prior to 1916.  It seemed like a smart transaction: Moseley led the FL with a 1.91 ERA in 1915, and as a 28 year old with relatively few innings on him, seemed poised for continued greatness.  It did not come.  It should not surprise you that Moseley was not a relief pitcher by design.  He had started throughout the aforementioned three seasons in his career, and he started 15 of the 31 appearances he made with the Reds.  But inflexible arbitrary standards being what they are, Moseley's considered a relief pitcher for this exercise.  Looking back, it seems surprising that Moseley's stats are worthy of anti-great status: 7-10, 3.89 ERA, 150.1 innings.  If the Reds get that out of Aaron Harang this year, no one will bat an eye, and he's the likely Opening Day starter.  As with most things in life, context is key.  Moseley's 3.89 ERA came in a season when the league average ERA was 2.61, so this worked out to be a 66 ERA+.  Similarly, Moseley's 1.42 WHIP probably doesn't seem too bad, but 1.17 was the average mark that year.  Adding an honorable mention to this entry is Moseley's work with the bat that year: 4-for-46, with no extra base hits and just 4 walks against 24 strikeouts.  However, and to his eternal credit, Moseley did record one save in 1916.

Role on the team: Closer

Name: Morgan Murphy

Position: C

Played for the Reds: 1892-1895

Why he's here: There's apparently a current female comedian also named Morgan Murphy.  I wonder if she has any idea she shares a name with the 2nd worst catcher in Reds history.  Hopefully not, since it would probably keep her up at night.  As for the Murphy we're interested in, his best offensive season relative to league averages came in 1892, in which he hit .197.  The offensive context of this era was prone to rapid swings: in 1892, teams scored an average of about 5 runs per game.  Two years later, that number was up to 7.4.  Signs of the times notwithstanding, Murphy had no discernable strengths at the plate.  In 853 plate appearances, he managed just 31 extra base hits, 17 stolen bases, and 76 walks.  Actually, that walk rate is somewhere approaching league average, so we'll call that a strength.  To sum up, Morgan Murphy (the non-comic) was at his best when not swinging.  Career hitting marks with the Reds: .240/.312/.294 (60 OPS+).  After the 1895 season, Murphy was part of a six-player trade (along with #57 all-time Red Arlie Latham and two others) with the Browns that netted #96 all-time Red Heinie Peitz, who would add a much-needed boost to the catcher position.

Role on the team: Backup catcher


Name: Eric Owens

Position: LF, 3B

Played for the Reds: 1995-1997

Why he's here: Were I to graph the level of my fan devotion against a basic timeline of my life, my college years would mark the low point of my connection to the goings on of the Reds.  Since this era coincides with Cincinnati's employment of Eric Owens, I can't even put a face to the name, despite the relatively short gap between then and now.  This is probably a good thing, given the events of 1996, in which the Reds, coming off a very strong divison-winning year, assigned Owens the starting left field position and, more damningly, the leadoff slot in the batting order.  Owens places on this roster despite having no more than the equivalent to half a season with the Reds.  He had fewer than 300 plate appearances during his tenure with the Reds, and in his calling card campaign of 1996, he played in 88 games, with just 232 plate appearances.  In 1996, Owens hit .200, with only 6 doubles to go along with his 35 singles.  He was an excellent base-stealer (16 in 18 tries), but his .281 OBP made it mostly a moot point.  The 511 OPS (37 OPS+) is bad enough, but he also deserves attention for the way he led off an inning that year: 461 OPS in 72 tries.  Owens didn't start much after June, and the Reds traded for Kevin Mitchell to fill the position.  The team finished seven games back of the Cardinals at year end.  Owens was traded to the Marlins for Jesus Martinez in 1998.

Role on the team: Backup outfielder, pinch-runner in key late-inning situations


Name: Corey Patterson

Position: CF

Played for the Reds: 2008

Why he's here: In 2008, Corey Patterson-starting centerfielder and part-time leadoff man (on account of him being the starting CF and all)-posted an OBP of .238.  We talk a lot about context in this space, so it's important to understand just what an OBP of .238 means.  To do that, I've decided to list a handful of players who had a better OBP in 2008: Juan Castro.  Wily Mo Pena.  Bronson Arroyo.  To break away from players with some sort of Cincy connection: Luis RivasJason MarquisAndruw Jones (who hit .158 that year).  By now you've either concluded that either Patterson wasn't very good at reaching first base, or that the assembled list of hitting misfits above had a bunch of career years in 2008.  Stick with the former.  To offer some positive commentary, Patterson did provide average-ish defense in center field, and his ten home runs were perhaps surprising given the lackluster nature of the surrounding numbers.  Playing with the in-season splits allows for some mind-blowing details: Patterson had three straight calendar months in which his on-base percentage was below .200.  Patterson was especially bad in "high leverage" situations (468 OPS against his overall 582 mark), partially explaining his 34 RBI in 392 PA.  In many senses, Patterson was seen as a disappointment, since his prior numbers indicated some talent, and were rarely as bad as they turned out to be in '08.  One bright spot, however, was that his consistency in times caught stealing was comparable to a Swiss time-piece.  9 times caught stealing in 2006, 2007, and 2008.  Pointing out that his successful steal totals declined from 45 to 37 to 14  would just be petty, so I'll refrain.

Role on the team: Backup outfielder, left-handed bat off the bench


Name: Kent Peterson

Position: RP

Played for the Reds: 1944, 1947-1951

Why he's here: Every team needs a left-handed specialist in the bullpen, and Peterson fills that role for this squad.  Peterson made his debut in 1944 as an 18 year old, throwing one perfect inning in a random July game.  He didn't appear again in a major league game until 1947, and while he wasn't bad, he wasn't exactly good either.  By now, you've become accustomed to seeing some truly dreadful performances, but Peterson's career 4.92 ERA (82 ERA+) with the Reds doesn't quite line up with dreadful.  Two things jump out from Peterson's statistical record: first, while he pitched for some bad Cincinnati teams, his W-L record over his tenure of 13-37 indicates he didn't help the team much (while primarily a reliever, Peterson made 43 starts from 1947-1950).  Second, Peterson was merely mediocre in 1947-48, but then he completely lost control and took a major turn for worse: his BB/9 rate went from a barely acceptable 3.9 in 1948 to an off-the-charts 6.2 in 1949, and then up to 7.7 in 1950.  His ERA rates of 6.24 and 7.20 in justifiably limited innings correspond accordingly.  By 1951, Peterson's playing time had whittled down to nearly nothing, and he was traded after the year to the Phillies for the sublimely named Bubba Church.

Role on the team: Left-handed set-up relief pitcher