MLB's 50 Most Shocking Underachievers for April
It's a long baseball season, but even after one month passes, there are players who seem to do well who come out of nowhere, and there are players playing terribly who come out of nowhere.
Some players are notoriously slow starters, but for these 50 shocking underachievers, it's a mix of solid players whocan't seem to get anything going, as well as superstars who suddenly are not.
Stats are current through the April 29 games.
For the past couple seasons, Jose Bautista has been the main piece in the Toronto Blue Jays' lineup, and he was the key to making a run in the AL East this year.
Instead, he has a .190 batting average and three home runs. His plate discipline is still very good (16 walks), so it seems likely that he can turn his major slump around sooner rather than later.
Mark Reynolds is a guy who you would expect to hit .220 with a bunch of home runs, so, for him to be underachieving says quite a lot about him, especially with the Orioles overachieving so far.
So far, he has no home runs and a .150 batting average. He's still keeping those strikeouts up though, with 28 in 18 games. It's not a good year for his offense to disappear since he has a team option next year.
Eric Hosmer was one of the leaders of the new crop of Royals talent, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting. Now, he's hit a huge sophomore slump.
His home runs are still decent with five so far, but he's only hitting .188. That's going to have to change, especially with the Royals near the bottom of the league standings again.
Yet another player who was signed by the Seattle Mariners for some offensive firepower has suddenly disappeared.
Olivo had a .269 average two years ago before joining the Mariners and watching his average fall to .224.
Now, his average is under .200, and he only has two home runs on the year.
When Chone Figgins is actually playing better than you, that's a major cause for concern.
No one really thought Kotchman would again hit .300 like he did last year, but they figured he would still provide good defense and a decent enough bat at first base.
Instead, he's hitting .149, making the first baseman the worst hitter by far on the Indians. His batting average is among the worst in baseball for qualifying hitters, so he needs to reverse the trend fast.
The New York Mets have been surprising on the hitting end. Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejeda are hitting over .300, and David Wright's nearly hitting .400.
Ike Davis, on the other hand, is struggling. He's only hitting .169 with three home runs, and he can't seem to get it going. It's an improvement over no home runs and a .071 average on April 14, so perhaps he's bouncing back, albeit slowly.
When you play for the San Diego Padres, expectations in the lineup aren't high to begin with. Maybin at least had 40 stolen bases last year, so as long as he's performing decently then he's not underachieving.
Well, he's only hitting .177 in 22 games, and his average is low even compared to his Padres teammates.
He has three triples already though, so at least the hits he's making are counting.
The Chicago Cubs have had some great players pop up so far this season, with Bryan LaHair coming out of nowhere to hit nearly .400. Geovany Soto, on the other hand, has been cancelling that out.
In 15 games, Soto is hitting .135 with a grand total of one RBI—a solo home run. He's somehow managed eight runs with only seven hits, so he's still contributing despite majorly underachieving.
This is a tough one to put on the list, since in the past few days, Phillips has bounced back from his slump. For most of April though, he struggled.
His batting average is fine unlike many on the list, but his two HR and 7 RBI have only come recently; in his first eight games, he had no RBI and his average was barely over .200.
Perhaps, he slowed down after getting a big contract extension.
Unlike Brandon Phillips, who you can argue against him being on this list, Scott Rolen is a no-brainer for here, and is showing signs of his age.
Rolen is only hitting .186 in 22 games, and for a guy who's never hit under .260 when playing over 100 games, it's a big deal, especially if the Reds want to compete in the NL Central.
Last year, Justin Masterson was a rare bright spot in the Indians' rotation. This year, everyone else is pitching at least alright, while Masterson struggles.
In five starts, he's 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. His last start against the Angels was solid, but his outings against Seattle and Oakland of all teams were just flat-out bad.
The Yankees' starting rotation has not started off that well, but their lineup is good enough to get them out of jams. There's no way to make Freddy Garcia's numbers look good though.
In four games, he's 0-2 with a 12.51 ERA. He couldn't even get out of the second inning in his last two outings. The sooner the Yankees can find a better option here the better.
With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the rotation indefinitely, the opportunity came for the good members of the rotation to shine. Clay Buchholz has definitely not done that.
In four starts, he may be 2-1, but he has an ERA of 8.67 and has 10 walks to go with 11 strikeouts. He just can't seem to get anything going.
There's one thing we've come to learn about Francisco Liriano. He's either really good or really bad for a stretch of time, without any real in-between.
This year, he's really bad. He's 0-3 with an 11.02 ERA in four starts, and he actually has more walks (13) than strikeouts (12).
When Jason Marquis is pitching better, that's a red flag.
It almost takes talent to go 0-5 in the span of one month. Ervin Santana actually isn't pitching quite as poorly as some of the others on the list, but the record is enough to get him on here.
To go with his 0-5 record, he has a 5.58 ERA and has allowed 10 home runs, which leads the league. He's made it to the fifth inning each start unlike others, so he seems the most likely to turn it around.
After being the subject of trade rumors the entire offseason, Jair Jurrjens had the opportunity to prove the Braves wrong and have a lights-out season like he started to have last year.
A 0-2 record with a 9.37 ERA in four starts is not exactly that. Neither is the 10 walks to eight strikeouts and the inability to pitch more than five innings even once yet.
Josh Johnson is in the Justin Masterson camp, where his stats are really not that bad compared to others on the list. However, you have to look at his track record and expectations.
In five starts, he's 0-3 with a 5.34 ERA. His 41 hits allowed lead the league, and he was struggling to get wins when he was great; being mediocre will keep him from even hitting double digit wins.
In San Diego, you can struggle with a lackluster season and still be able to keep your ERA under four with little difficulty. That's not the case for Clayton Richard this year.
In five games, he's 1-3 with a 5.12 ERA. He hasn't been pitching horribly, but the guy who had over 150 strikeouts and 15 wins in 2010 doesn't have the same bite he did back then.
The picture says it all. Josh Collmenter quietly had a very good rookie season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but suddenly, it seems like he's forgotten how to throw a baseball.
In four games, he's went 0-2 with a 9.81 ERA. He has the league lead in both earned runs (20) and home runs allowed (six). He's a third of the way to both stats from 2011 already.
Just what is going on with Tim Lincecum? This year, he's looked like a shell of himself, hardly the strikeout champion and two-time Cy Young winner we know.
He's 2-2 in five games, which is better than others on the list, but a 5.74 ERA is unlike him. He's had two good starts to knock the ERA down from over 10, so perhaps, he's bouncing back, and it was just first-month jitters. Even so, The Freak shouldn't have those types of issues.
The Milwaukee Brewers' pitching staff has been a joke for the month of April. As a team, they have a 5.22 ERA. If it wasn't for okay performances by Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, they would be even more in the weeds, so here's where they'll be ripped.
First up is Yovani Gallardo. He's 1-2 in five games with a 6.08 ERA. The five games are made up of three good performances but two horrendous ones, so ideally the numbers should get better over the course of the year.
Next up is Randy Wolf, the veteran presence who is usually consistent. This year, he's 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA in four starts.
He has yet to get past the sixth inning, and while his low strikeout numbers aren't cause for concern since he's never been that kind of pitcher, they're too close to his walk numbers.
I was considering putting Chris Narveson on the list due to a 7.00 ERA, but he's done for the season, so it wouldn't feel right. K-Rod, on the other hand, has no excuse.
Rodriguez has a 6.10 ERA in 12 games, and he already has seven walks in about 10 innings of work. Those are numbers that need to be fixed.
While the Brewers' pitching has been a joke, the Oakland Athletics' lineup has been just as much of one. With the exception of Yoenis Cespedes, who's playing very well, the team is hitting awfully, barely even breaking .200.
The first offender is Coco Crisp, the outfielder the A's made sure to re-sign. He's hitting .190 in 16 games, and he's already matched his error total from last year on top of that.
Cliff Pennington has had two solid years with the Athletics, and in a lineup with many new faces, it seemed like he could be a guy who's counted on.
Instead, he's hitting .183 with an OBP barely scratching .220. He's not quite at the level of Eric Sogard, but he's still hitting poorly.
Jemile Weeks is one of many players who had a nice rookie year but is feeling the effects of a sophomore slump big time.
Weeks is hitting .187 in 22 games, and while his other stats don't look too bad, it's still a far cry from batting .300 like he did a year ago.
Jonathan Sanchez was brought to the Kansas City Royals so that they could actually have a decent rotation to use in the AL Central. That hasn't really shaped out.
Sanchez has a 1-1 record with a 6.75 ERA in four starts, and his 17 walks easily lead the league.
His WHIP is over two, and he has yet to get out of the fifth inning.
In his first full season in 2011, Bourjos was a great speedster for the Angels, hitting .271 to go with 11 triples.
This year, he has yet to hit a triple, but more importantly, he only has a .167 average. With a certain other player struggling big time, others have to step up, which Bourjos has not been doing.
I wasn't sure whether or not to put Marlon Byrd on here. After all, since joining the Red Sox, he's broken out of his slump and is doing fairly well in a move that benefited all sides.
Having said that, the guy hit .070 with the Cubs, and even with his bouncing back, he's still only at .159 on the year with no home runs and three whole RBI.
I don't want to sound harsh, but unlike many on the list, this one I saw coming due to the change away from San Diego for Mat Latos.
In five starts, he has a 1-2 record with a 5.97 ERA, with a seven-inning shutout against San Francisco being the one bright spot in an otherwise bad year so far.
Last year, Jose Valverde was one of the best relievers in the game. He notched 49 saves, kept his ERA under 2.50 and looked great doing it.
This year, he has an ERA of 5.59 in 10 games, and while he has four saves, he's struggling big time compared to how he was doing last year.
The Boston Red Sox fans seemed to be tired of Papelbon, and I know many were happy to see him go. I wonder how many want to see him back now that Alfredo Aceves has been closing.
In nine games, he has an ERA of 12.00, and he has two blown saves already to go with five saves. Those two bad outings were enough where even his good outings don't instill much confidence in people right now.
Heath Bell was brought in to solidify the closer spot with the Miami Marlins heading forward. So far, he has not done that at all.
In seven games, he's 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA, has seven walks to five strikeouts and has stunk against every team he's faced except for the Cubs, whom he got both his saves against.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the surprises of the league so far this year. That's no thanks to their closer, Javy Guerra.
In 12 games, he's 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA. He was playing great on April 15, where his ERA was still zero, but in the six games since then, his ERA is nearly 15, and he has as many saves as blown saves.
The Yankees lineup is one that's generally expected to contribute greatly from one to nine. Most of the players are, especially Derek Jeter, who's on a tear this year. Russell Martin has not been on one.
Martin is only hitting .176 with two home runs. His walk totals are decent which is offsetting things a bit, but he still needs to improve to make the Jesus Montero trade not look stupid.
Phil Hughes struggled in 2011 when he was healthy, and only had a 5.79 ERA. As a result, there's nowhere to go but up, right?
Apparently not. In four games, he's 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA. He reached the fifth inning in only one start, and he was actually lucky in that one since most of his runs were unearned, allowing him to get his lone win.
Gordon Beckham hadn't completely turned out to be the hitter the Chicago White Sox were expecting so far. However, with three full seasons under his belt, surely there would be some improvement right?
That has not been the case. In 20 games, he's hitting .153 with only two RBI, and can't seem to get anything going.
He's playing even worse than Brent Morel, who I didn't exactly have any expectations of heading into this year.
Max Scherzer went 15-9 last season, and I wondered myself whether that was due to good luck or him turning into a very good pitcher.
It's looking like it was the former, as so far, he's 1-3 in five starts. His 7.77 ERA and 13 walks are not doing him any favors either, and he has yet to allow fewer than three runs in a start.
Despite an 8-12 record last year, the Chicago White Sox thought highly enough of John Danks that they signed him to a long-term deal and made him the ace.
How's that working out for them?
Well, in five starts, he's 2-3 but has a 6.23 ERA and already has 15 walks in about 30 innings of work. He's putting up a good amount of innings, but that's about as good as you can say for him.
We all knew this one was coming, especially those keeping an eye on the Boston Red Sox. Kevin Youkilis has been playing great for many years, but something just isn't working this year.
He has a .219 batting average and a .292 OBP, both bad numbers for him, and his five walks and 20 strikeouts look more like what you'd see of of today's power hitters rather than Youkilis.
Entering into this season, ad even before that, I thought that the clear weak link in the Rangers' lineup was Mitch Moreland at first base. So far, he hasn't done anything to disprove that.
In 16 games, he's hitting .204 while the rest of the Rangers are lighting it up. To me, his performance isn't too shocking, but I'm sure it is to many others.
The Seattle Mariners know that their lineup seems to be where offense dies, so they brought in Brendan Ryan in 201 to shore up their defense. He has done that and has been great at shortstop, so as long as he hits over .220, it's all good.
Unfortunately, he's not hitting .220 or even .200. He's hitting .143. His OBP's .290, but he still has embarrassing offensive stats with that lone exception.
Pittsburgh is going through the exact same situation that Seattle is at the shortstop position.
I thought Clint Barmes would be a great pickup because he could provide great defense while providing just enough offensive help.
Well, a .149 average with his only RBI coming from solo home runs isn't going to cut it. At least get the average back over the Mendoza line.
The Philadelphia Phillies have had their share of injuries in the starting lineup, so the veterans still active have needed to pick up the slack. Jimmy Rollins has not been doing that.
A .222 average isn't that bad compared to others on the list, but no triples or home runs makes it look like his bat doesn't have the pop it once did.
So far, neither Jose Reyes nor Hanley Ramirez is hitting the ball all that frequently. Hanley is making up for it with some good power, but Reyes has just been struggling.
Reyes is only hitting .205 with three RBI, and his four stolen bases to three times caught stealing suggest to me that he's perhaps trying too hard to make himself live up to the contract.
Rickie Weeks hit .269 the past two seasons, so one would think he would be fairly consistent. However, he too if off to a slow start.
Weeks is only hitting .193, and while he does have three home runs, his average has only been going down after a hot start in the opening series against the Cardinals.
Just what is it with middle infielders being unable to hit so far this year?
Jason Bartlett is only the latest, and perhaps, the Red Sox are glad they didn't pick him up now.
Despite never hitting below .240 in a full season of work, Bartlett is currently at .164 after 20 games, and with four errors already at shortstop, his defense is failing to make up for that.
Aubrey Huff went from an MVP-caliber season to an iffy 2011, but it still looked like he would bounce back in 2012. However, things could not have gone worse.
He's hitting .182 with a single home run in 12 games and was actually placed on the DL for anxiety issues.
It's just a difficult situation all around, but at least when he comes back, he'll probably play better than Brandon Crawford.
Matt Holliday is perhaps the heart and soul of the Cardinals now with the departure of Albert Pujols. He entered 2012 a career .315 hitter, so certainly he couldn't struggle, right?
He's on this list, so of course he did. He's got four home runs but is only hitting .215.
He was hitting .400 at this time last year, so he needs to tap into that Matt Holliday quickly.
In a decade of play with the St. Louis Cardinals, Albert Pujols was a sure thing and a perennial MVP candidate. He started off slow last year, but he shrugged it off.
With the Angels, he's hitting .216, but more disturbingly, he has yet to hit a home run. Even in his slow 2011 start, he still had seven homers already.
If the Angels are going to be the playoff team everyone expected, it starts with Pujols bouncing back.