Albert Pujols and the Most Frustrating Players in MLB
Baseball is arguably the hardest sport in the world, even for professionals. Guys like Albert Pujols, Carlos Zambrano, and Carl Crawford have come to this tough realization in 2012 and recent years.
When players of their caliber underachieve, constantly have problems with their team or suffer from frequent slumps, it can begin to rub fans the wrong way. Professional baseball is a "what have you done for me lately" league—with the emphasis on "lately."
Considering all of the dissatisfaction that fans have experienced in recent years, here are the most frustrating players in Major League Baseball.
Jayson Werth is a player who has not lived up to the hype provided by his lucrative contract. However, 2012 doesn't mark the first underachieving year for the former All-Star.
In his first season with the Washington Nationals, Werth was all-around underwhelming. He batted an abysmal .232, hit just 20 home runs and knocked in a mediocre 58 runs. So far in 2012, he hasn't shown much that would suggest a drastic improvement—.276 batting average, 3 home runs and 12 RBI.
Granted, Werth has only played in 27 games after injuring his wrist on May 6. But he was by no means tearing the cover off the ball prior to the injury.
Perhaps what's most frustrating about Werth, besides the large discrepancy between his production and pay, is his immense talent level. This is a guy who had three consecutive seasons with at least 24 home runs, has two 20-20 seasons under his belt and has consistently batted in the .300 range. So the fact he's been unable to put up similar numbers in the nation's capital is baffling and has been wearing on National fans.
The frustration that Dodger fans have experienced with James Loney doesn't stem from any huge contract—such as Werth. Instead, it comes from their expectations of the Houston native after a stellar beginning to his career.
In 2007, Loney hit 15 home runs and compiled 67 RBI while batting .331 in just 96 games, outplaying future superstar Matt Kemp—10 HR, 42 RBI, .342 BA—who entered the majors the same year as Loney. Dodger fans were ecstatic, assuming the team had found its two stars of the future. But in the subsequent season, it became apparent that Kemp was in a class of his own, as Loney's numbers tailed off.
In the four full seasons since 2007, Loney hasn't hit more than 13 homers and his highest batting average is .289 in 2008. While the 28-year-old did reach 90, 90, and 88 RBI in a three-year span, he knocked in just 65 runs last year and is on pace to finish with less than 60 this season.
The real disappointment with Loney has been his absence of power at the plate. With a 6'3'' and 220 pound frame, you would expect a lot more pop from the big first baseman. He plays a position that is traditionally known for putting up power numbers and certainly has the strength and swing to consistently hit home runs, but he simply has not been able to do so.
Carlos Zambrano's reasons for being on this list extend beyond his subpar performance and large contract. What's most frustrating about Zambrano is his temper and his inability to control his emotions on the mound.
Sure, Zambrano has not lived up to the hype promised by his $91.5 million contract signed in 2007. Since signing that deal with the Chicago Cubs, Zambrano has failed to win more than 14 games, failed to strikeout more than 152 batters and has not had an ERA below 3.33.
But the bigger problem with Zambrano has nothing to do with his statistics. Throughout Big Z's 11-year career, there have been countless incidents of his temper boiling over. He's thrown numerous temper tantrums on and off the field including one where he nearly fought teammate Derek Lee.
He's obviously not a level-headed player and if you're thinking he's one of those passionate, but extremely loyal guys—you would be wrong. In 2011 during the dog days of August, Zambrano gave up eight runs in 4.1 innings and subsequently cleaned out his locker room and told people he was retiring.
Zambrano has been shaky so far in 2012 for the Miami Marlins—he is 4-4 with a 3.55 ERA. No matter how the season ends for Zambrano, be prepared for a Big Z meltdown at some point in the year.
The picture says it all.
Carl Crawford has been one of the biggest disappointments and most frustrating players in baseball since he signed his $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2010.
In the previous eight seasons, Crawford hit .300 five times and led the American League in stolen bases four times. In his last year with Tampa Bay in 2010, he hit a career-high 19 home runs, stole 47 bases and had 90 RBI. Red Sox fans were prepared for similar success in 2011 and many years to come, but that hasn't quite gone as expected.
Last season, his numbers were down across the board—.255 BA, 11 HR, 56 RBI, . 289 OBP, 65 R, 129 H, 23 SB. All of which were or were close to career lows for the four-time All-Star.
Since Crawford has yet to play in 2012 after suffering a sprained ligament in his throwing arm in April, we don't know whether he will come out of the season-long slump that plagued him last year. But with the evidence we have as of now, it's easy to put Crawford in this group of most frustrating players.
The moment Albert Pujols signed his monumental contract with the Anaheim errr Los Angeles Angels, expectations for the 32-year-old were through the roof.
Due to his historic contract, Pujols essentially put himself in a lose-lose situation. If he continued to put up MVP-caliber numbers, critics would simply brush them off as expected. However, if Pujols struggled even a little, he would face unwavering scrutiny. Unfortunately for him and the Angels, it was the latter that would end up happening.
In a season where the entire baseball world was watching and waiting for the three-time MVP to stumble, Pujols couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. He went his first 110 at-bats without hitting a home run, the longest homerless streak of his 11-year-career.
But it wasn't just the power that had seemingly left the slugger's bat. Pujols was hitting a meager .217 after April and has since improved to .256—marking just the third time in his career he is hitting below .300 at this point of the year.
While Pujols' bat did get hot toward the end of May, he owes a lot to his teammates who have picked him up while he's been un-Machine-like. Guys like Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout and Kendrys Morales have solidified that Angel lineup and their recent success, more than Pujols', has been responsible for the team's resurgence.
That may be the most frustrating thing about Pujols this year—after signing the league's second-largest contract in history, he's not even the best player on his own team so far in 2012. While The Machine may end the season with numbers we are accustomed to seeing, the fact that he has struggled to live up to the expectations has frustrated Angel fans.