10 Most Disappointing MLB Players at the Season's One-Quarter Mark
We are now at the point in the MLB season where one can no longer use the excuse "it's a small sample size." We have played a quarter of the season, and it's time to start congratulating teams like the Baltimore Orioles, who have the best record in the American League, rather than dismissing them as overachievers.
It's also time to start looking at teams and players who have not done as well as they had hoped and question whether they can turn it around. No one expected the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies to be in last place in their respective divisions, but they are.
Similarly, no one expected the 10 players on this list to be as bad as they have been. Some are coming off years marred by injury and might still be shaking off the rust, but that doesn't excuse their poor performances.
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
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2012: .212/.256/.318, 3 HR, 18 RBI
Albert Pujols would probably make the Hall of Fame if he had retired, rather than sign a 10-year, quarter-billion dollar contract with the Angels.
In each of his 11 seasons with the St Louis Cardinals, the three-time MVP batted .299 or better, hit at least 32 homers, drove in 99 and scored 99 runs.
His first season in Anaheim has not gone so well, as Pujols has struggled to acclimatise to his new surroundings and league. A career-long homerless drought started the season, and while he has hit three since then, his other numbers are still woeful.
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
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2012: .227/.280/.387, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .290 wOBA
It's not unfathomable to think that Mark Teixeira might soon be a player in the Carlos Pena class, in that he will hit home runs by the bucket load but his batting average will be a disaster.
He might already be there.
In his first six seasons, spending time in Texas, Atlanta and Anaheim, Teixeira hit .290 with an average of 34 home runs a year. In his last season before his big New York payday, he batted .308, but since joining the Yankees he has seen his average fall each year.
It now sits at .227, but he has also struggled with the long ball. He is on pace to hit only 20.
Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins
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2012: 2-3, 4.82 ERA, 17 BB, 42 K, 1.51 WHIP
One year after the best season of his career saw him finish fifth in Cy Young voting, injuries limited Josh Johnson to just nine starts in 2011.
He was healthy again to start 2012, but his numbers are worrying. His ERA is almost two runs above his career average, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is his worst since 2007.
Adam Wainwright, St Louis Cardinals
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2012: 2-5, 5.77 ERA, 16 BB, 40 K, 1.53 WHIP
Wainwright is in a similar position to Josh Johnson, in that they are great pitchers coming off seasons curtailed by injury. Neither has started 2012 well.
After finishing in the top three in Cy Young (and top 20 in MVP) balloting in both 2009 and 2010, Wainwright missed all of 2011. In those years he was 39-19 with a 2.53 ERA and over 460 innings pitched.
His K and walk rates are similar to his career numbers, though, so it's probable he'll turn things around as the season goes on.
Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
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2012: .238/.328/.372, 4 HR, 18 RBI, .308 wOBA
2011 was a great year for Alex Gordon. He played in the most games he had since his rookie season and set career bests in average (.303), OBP (.376), slugging (.502), home runs (23) and RBI (101).
His performance earned him a cushy, four-year contract from the Royals. That deal hasn't started well, though. A better streak at the plate has lifted his average above .200, but it's still 65 points below last year.
Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins
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2012: 0-5, 8.31 ERA, 23 BB, 25 K, 2.04 WHIP
The Minnesota Twins probably wish they had dealt perennial trade candidate Francisco Liriano when he actually had some value. Instead, they held onto him and will have to hope for a miracle if they want to get anything of worth in return.
Liriano has been an abject disaster in 2012 and has been moved to the bullpen after allowing at least four runs in each of his six starts.
Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels
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2012: 1-5, 4.37 ERA, 14 BB, 45 K, 1.33 WHIP
The Los Angeles Angels have been one of baseball's biggest disappointments this season, languishing at the bottom of the AL West while the division rival Texas Rangers are staking their claim as the game's best team.
Dan Haren is in a contract year, though the Halos do have an option for 2013, and is putting up his worst numbers since he was traded to the team in 2010.
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
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2012: .259/.299/.356, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .290 wOBA
In the previous six seasons with Cincinnati, Brandon Phillips was a very good player, hitting .280 and averaging 21 home runs, 81 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
A massive contract extension will see him stay with the Reds until 2017 and make $72 million in the process, but he hasn't started his new deal very well and has looked nothing like his usual self.
Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
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2012: 4-2, 7.84 ERA, 27 BB, 27 K, 1.90 WHIP
Clay Buchholz' high xFIP in 2010 indicated that he was probably going to regress somewhat from a season in which he posted the best ERA+ in the league and finished sixth in Cy voting.
He fell back slightly before a back injury shortened his 2011 campaign but has been terrible this season.
He became the first Sox pitcher in 80 years to allow five earned runs in six straight starts, and he is still mixing in bad outings with his occasional more promising start.
Jose Reyes, Miami Marlins
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2012: .252/.333/.337, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .300 wOBA
Jose Reyes was the face of the Marlins' offseason. His six-year, $106 million contract was a clear sign that this was a new team ready to begin a new era.
He won the batting title with the New York Mets last year, hitting at a .337 clip. With his new team, that has fallen by 85 points, and his slugging percentage has plummeted 156 points.
Reyes is not known for his power, but he is still homerless and on pace to drive in just 24 runs.