Back in June, your’s truly started a series of posts that has yet to make it to its second edition. Today I quell your fears that the horrid have been forgotten. Fears that the terrible in the land of the baseballing will continue to rot in the annals of history along with the entirety of the 2014 Braves. Yes, it is time to induct a new member into the Barves Hall of Shame. No, Jeff Francoeur, it’s still not your time. Today, we look back at a guy who had little to no reason to be baseballing as much as he did. That legend of the bench, a true Bobby Cox staple, and embodiment of The Braves Way—Keith Lockhart.
Lockhart has received this ignominious distinction on the back of a semi-appalling and simultaneously highly intriguing career. Lockhart broke into the majors in 1994 with the San Diego Padres. Despite making the Opening Day roster, Lockhart would get a mere 27 games to ply his wares. During this time he impressed the organization so much he was allowed to walk at the end of the season. He would join the Royals for 1995/96, where he would post consecutive 1.3 WAR seasons while playing second and third and platooning with noted legend Joe Randa. Before 1997, Lockhart would come over to the Braves with Michael Tucker for Jermaine Dye. This, of course, made total sense as all Jermaine Dye had done was hit .281/.304/.459—a .328 wOBA and 96 wRC+ in 306 PAs—as a 22 year old.
In his inaugural year with the Braves, Lockhart would produce his most productive season with the bat, producing a .351 wOBA and 110 wRC+ in 169 plate appearances. He did this by producing a career high ISO, matching his typical homerun total in a third of the appearances.
At this point I’m not sure what would be worse: if Lockhart got the run he did because of one, glorious, small-sampled season, or if it was due to his HEART, HUSTLE, and GRIND. The next season Lockhart would step up to the plate over 400 times, producing more typical Keith Lockhart numbers, and he would become a fixture on the team for five more years. The internet attempted to explain his presence via jokes of blackmail.
All in all, Lockhart was “worth” -66 runs with the bat over his 6-year tenure. Along the way he would accrue 200-400 PAs a season, blocking younger guys like Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles, and Mark DeRosa (played in 5, 7, 22, 66, and 72 games from ’98-02). The prospect that was traded for Tucker and Lockhart, Jermaine Dye, would go on to have a decent career in which he’d learn to walk, launch 325 homers, post a 110 wRC+, and would ISO over .200 in every year that he was a regular except for three. Dye would be a part of two All-Star teams, win a Gold Glove (somehow), a Silver Slugger, and pick up MVP votes twice, including a top-5 finish in 2006 with Chicago. Lockhart? All he had were those damn pictures.
I couldn’t work this in anywhere else, but it absolutely blows my mind. Lockhart toiled away for eight years in the minor leagues before getting called up. He played 27 games and was let go. The Royals packaged him to grab a top-10 organizational prospect, somehow. But at the end of the day, Keith Lockhart stepped up to the plate a little over 2500 times in his career. Over two-thirds of those came in Atlanta. The guy was smartly platooned for 771 PAs in Kansas City, and outside of that he managed a mere 161 PAs outside of Atlanta. Again: six years, 1700+ PAs, and the guy couldn’t stick on a roster before or after he was outside of Bobby and Schuerholz’s warm embrace. -69 offensive runs (#nice), 80 wRC+, and PICTURES. Keith Lockhart, welcome to the Barves Hall of Shame.