Ray Oyler: The Bat That Blew Too Much.

“You Can’t Hit the Ball with the Bat on Your Shoulder.” – Bobby Bragan.

Fellow writer and friend Al Doyle of Oshkosh, Wisconsin and I have been collecting names of some very special ball players over the past seven years. By some fairly loose, but clearly defining standards, Al and I are in perpetual pursuit of those players who have managed to survive for several seasons in the big leagues without rising above a measurable level of mediocrity as performers.  The idea behind this seemingly idle-time research is to establish a data bank of players who will be eligible for a new hall of honor – The National Baseball Hall of Mediocrity.

Ideally, we are looking for hitters who manage to survive for ten seasons in the big leagues without hitting more than .210. The closer these candidates get to the .200 Mendoza Line or less, the better their chances will be for subsequent induction.

Pitching candidates are those who fail to achieve double-digit wins in a single season, but consistently reach that mark on the loss side with earned run averages exceeding 7.00 per season. Twenty loss seasons are a big plus on this yardstick of deservedness too.

In general, any player who experiences a career year that leads him to individual honors as a hitter, fielder, or pitcher is disqualified for membership in the BHOM (Baseball Hall of Mediocrity). We also generally frown upon considering those statistically qualified souls who have been members of a World Series championship club, but, as I said earlier, our standards are appropriately loose and subject to the same kind of mediocre flexibility we expect of our honorees.

A former shortstop named Ray Oyler is the poster boy for all BHOM candidates. Oyler only played for parts of six major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1965-68), the Seattle Pilots (1969), and the California Angels (1970), but he managed to achieve just about everything one might expect from a mediocre major leaguer over that extended course of time. In 542 total games, the equivalent of about 3.5 full seasons, Oyler collected only 221 hots in 1,265 official times at bat for a career batting average of .175. His On Base Percentage (OBP) was a mere .258 and his Slugging Average (SA) was only .251. Of his total hits, only 29 were doubles, 6 were triple, nd 15 were home runs. He also struck out 359 times relative to the 135 times he walked. Other than the shortfall on his time in the majors, the only other blight on Ray Oyler’s record is the fact that he played for the 1968 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers. Also, it may be fairly obvious by now, but it was Ray’s defense that kept him big league afloat for as long as he managed to last. He was still done and out of the fun in 1970 at the age of 32.

Eddie Joost’s .185 in 1943 is the worst ever for a full-time player in one season.

Several seasons earlier than Ray Oyler, fellow shortstop Eddie Joost set the record for the worst single season batting average by a full-time big league player when he clocked in at .185 for the 1943 Boston Bees. He also punked out a .299 OBP and a .252 SA on the ’43 season.

Sadly, Joost wasn’t able maintain this level of ineptitude over his entire 17-season (1936-55) career. He managed to finish with an elevated .239 BA, a .361 OBP, and a .366 SA with multiple major league clubs to pull himself up from the direst strains of pure mediocrity.

Why should we honor mediocrity? Here’s the best reason in the world: If it weren’t for the supremely mediocre players, the bad players would never look good, the good players would never look great, the great players would never seem deserving of the Hall of Fame, and the Babe Ruths and Hank Aarons wouldn’t have ten books a year published on each of them by different houses and authors. Plus, we probably never would have heard of Bob Costas or Peter Gammons as commentators on greatness without all those mediocre players out there making everybody else look so much better.

If you have a favorite candidate for the future BHOM, Al Doyle and I would love to hear from all of you. Just drop me an e-mail or, better yet, leave a comment below as part of this article. If your candidate is selected, we will be very happy to give you credit as the nominating party when the day comes to get this special hall of honor up and running in reality.

In the Baseball Hall of Mediocrity, all new inductees will get in on the ground floor and just stay there. Without that flooring, the stars of the game would have no place to walk. We want to make sure that every deserving plank, knotholes and all, is remembered for its particular contribution to the backdrop of the game. Once that  purpose is clearly understood, the BHOM will become what it needs to be: a place where we remember baseball’s individually forgettable players, managers, general managers, administrators, owners. broadcasters, writers, pundits, coaches, and commissioners.

Also, send us your ideas on the best potential site for the Baseball Hall of Mediocrity. We are looking for a town and community that will help the BHOM live up to its name.

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11 Responses to “Ray Oyler: The Bat That Blew Too Much.”

  1. Doug Stewart Says:

    I would like to nominate Dal Maxvill but know his 4 WS appearances will most likely preclude him. But please look at his body of work. 14 years he played in the majors but only carried a .217 BA, .293 OBP, .259 OPS (with no power). He hit 6 HR’s in 14 years – he was not fast either stealing only 7 bases! Wasn’t especially blessed drawing walks either with 370 as opposed to 538 K’s.

    Very smart player and man (I believe he has an Electrical Engineering Degree from the very tough academic Washington University in St Louis). Later became the GM for the Cardinals before retiring to private life. Great glove man though kept him around for 14 seasons.

  2. David Munger Says:

    Ray Oyler was mentioned int he book BALL FOUR.
    He talked his wife into getting a shot for his “KIDNEY

    Really enjoy these articles.

  3. Micahel R. McCroskey Says:

    Being frm Beaumont, which had a population of about 100,000 whent I was born, a population of 100,000 when I moved to Houston and a population of about 100,000 now, I will nominate it as a home for the Hall of Mediocrity.

  4. Marsha Franty Says:

    I love Mike’s suggestion of Beaumont! Fun article, Bill!

  5. Bill Gilbert Says:

    Former Astro shortstops, Bob Lillis and Roger Metzger, would seem to be good candidates.

  6. anthony cavender Says:

    Let’s not forget Sibby Sisti of the Boston Braves.

  7. Cliff Blau Says:

    You don’t seem to realize that mediocre means average. How can a mediocre player make a bad player look good?

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      And you, sir, seem to be devoid of any understanding of humor or a play on words. If I were writing a math book here, I would willingly stand corrected for not treating mean, median, and mode properly in the context of your mention, but that is not what my friend and fellow writer, Al Doyle, and I are doing with this idea for the achievement of a little fun in the baseball sun. We assume that only the most talented of all minor league underling souls shall have enough ability to make it to the big leagues for a period of time in the Land of Mendoza. Don’t look for the likes of us to please your critical mind – and don’t wait for me to explain with “parody” or “satire intended here” messages for those who may not get what I am sometimes doing in this regard. May I suggest you check out Scientific American as a source of reading pleasure?

  8. Richard Douglas Says:

    I nominate Mike Ryan, a catcher for the Red Sox, Phillies and Pirates (1964-74). This is from his Wikipedia entry: “Of all non-pitchers since 1930 with at least 1,000 at-bats, only one, Ray Oyler, has a lower batting average.” Ryan’s career batting average is .193.

    Here’s that Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Ryan_(catcher)

  9. Roger Ponds Says:

    I nominate Bill Bergen, who caught for the old Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers) over 100 years ago (around 1910), for the Hall of Mediocrity. Bergen was even mentioned in this book “Baseball’s Hall of Shame”, as the player with the lowest lifetime batting average of all players with at least 1000 at-bats, with a career batting average of .170. He played roughly 10 years and was an outstanding defensive catcher during the Dead Ball era, but couldn’t hit a lick. Bergen has a lower career batting average than the above-mentioned Ray Oyler, Mike Ryan, Dal Maxwill, Mario Mendoza, among others.

  10. Richard Douglas, Mesa, Arizona Says:

    Ray also deserves recognition for his contribution to the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers, who may not have come back from their 1-3 World Series deficit to defeat the Cardinals, had not Oyler graciously stepped back, along with his fine glove, to allow Mayo Smith to replace him (and his bat) at shortstop with the team’s regular center fielder, Mickey Stanley. That allowed Smith to look like a genius when Jim Northrup manned center and provided some big hits, including a triple that sealed the winning rally in Game 7 – with a bit of help from Curt Flood – to overcome the brilliance that was Bob Gibson.

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