MLB: Each Team's Least Valuable Player in 2012
A week ago, I wrote an article detailing the most valuable player of all 30 major league teams. While it isn’t seen as popular, I thought it would be fun to check out the least valuable player for each team as well.
This article doesn’t penalize players for being injured, so while the Philadelphia Phillies have missed Ryan Howard and Chase Utley immensely, they can’t appear on the least valuable player list. It does, however, include players sent down to Triple-A because they have struggled so much, and there are a handful of players that have been sent down this year that were expected to make a large contribution for their respective team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Daniel Hudson
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Daniel Hudson was a 16-game winner in 2011, pitching three complete games among 222 innings while posting a 3.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s slumped miserably in 2012, as Hudson has a 5.67 ERA in seven starts this season.
He’s allowing home runs at twice the rate he did last year, his strikeout to walk ratio is down to 2.80 and he is allowing over 10 hits per nine innings.
Runner-Ups: Henry Blanco, Joe Paterson
Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens
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The Atlanta Braves have gotten sub-par performances from a handful of pitchers this year, and even though Mike Minor has been brutal this year, Jair Jurrjens makes this list over Minor.
Jurrjens was 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 23 starts last year, making his first All-Star team. He was expected to be the No. 3 starter this season behind Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson, but he has struggled mightily in limited starts on the mound. Jurrjens went 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts, allowing 30 hits and five home runs in just 16.1 innings pitched.
He has since been demoted to Triple-A, but he’s 3-4 with a 5.27 ERA in Triple-A. That has to be scary news for Braves fans that thought Jurrjens would be an integral part of their rotation in the near future.
Runner-Ups: Mike Minor, Tyler Pastornicky
Baltimore Orioles: Jake Arrieta
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Jake Arrieta was formerly a top 100 prospect in Baseball America’s list, topping out at No. 67 in 2009. Arrieta debuted in 2010 with the Baltimore Orioles and showed promise last year, winning 10 games and improving his strikeout rate from 4.7 per nine innings to 7.0 per nine innings.
Arrieta has been downright awful this year, though, as he’s 3-8 with a 5.89 ERA and a league-leading 53 earned runs allowed. His strikeouts are at an all-time best 8.3 per nine innings and his walks are at just 2.7 per nine, but he just hasn’t been getting the job done on the mound. Arrieta has given up four or more runs in nine of his starts, topping out at nine against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 8.
Runner-Ups: Tommy Hunter, Endy Chavez
Boston Red Sox: Kevin Youkilis
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Things have been so bad from Kevin Youkilis this year that the Boston Red Sox are desperately looking to trade him. Youkilis is hitting .212, and his .636 OPS is nearly 250 points lower than his career average. He’s all but been moved out of the starting lineup with Will Middlebrooks playing so well at third base.
Youkilis has been named The Greek God of Walks because he draws so many free passes, even though his season high is only at 91. This year, he’s at just 12 through 38 games, and he will be lucky to reach 50 this year.
Runner-Ups: Mark Melancon, Daniel Bard
Chicago Cubs: Geovany Soto
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Four years ago, Geovany Soto was the NL Rookie of the Year award winner, hitting .285 with 23 home runs and a .505 slugging percentage. Now, he’s at just .161 with three home runs, and he’s missed time due to inflammation in his left knee.
Soto beats out a slew of other potential candidates for the least valuable player—Chris Volstad is 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA, Marlon Byrd was a disastrous 3-for-43 before the team shipped him to Boston, Carlos Marmol has posted an awful 5.79 ERA as the closer and Rafael Dolis has a 5.68 ERA and an awful walk rate as the new closer.
Runner-Ups: Chris Volstad, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol, Rafael Dolis
Chicago White Sox: Alexei Ramirez
The Chicago White Sox inked Alexei Ramirez to a five-year extension prior to the season, and he’s done nothing this season to make the White Sox feel good about the contract. Ramirez is hitting just .220 with one home run and a .272 slugging percentage.
He has been an All-Star caliber shortstop over his four-year career, averaging .273 with 17 home runs and 12 steals per year. In 2012, he’s at an all-time worst .515 after posting an OPS between .723 and .792 every season from 2008 through 2011.
Runner-Ups: Brent Morel, Philip Humber, Gavin Floyd, John Danks
Cincinnati Reds: Mike Leake
Mike Leake was a rarity coming out of the MLB draft, as he bypassed the minor leagues completely and went straight to the major leagues.
After a 12-9 season with a 3.86 ERA in 2011, Mike Leake has regressed in 2012 to the form of a 2-5 mark and a 5.05 ERA. He has seen a sizeable plummet in his strikeout-to-walk ratio, which indicates he isn’t as overpowering as he was last year.
Leake has given up at least three runs in 10 of his 12 starts this year, and he’s allowed five or more in four of them.
Runner-Ups: Willie Harris, Scott Rolen
Cleveland Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez
I couldn’t believe the Colorado Rockies actually traded away Ubaldo Jimenez last summer. It turns out the Rockies may have known what they were doing, as Jimenez is just 6-5 with a 5.00 ERA and he’s struggling mightily with his control.
Jimenez is leading the American League with eight wild pitches, he’s walking 5.4 hitters per nine innings and he has already given up 11 home runs in 13 starts—that’s already one more than he gave up in all of 2010 when he was 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and finished third in the NL Cy Young award voting.
Runner-Ups: Josh Tomlin, Jason Donald
Colorado Rockies: Jeremy Guthrie
The Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles swapped starting pitchers before the season, trading Jason Hammel and Jeremy Guthrie straight up.
And while Hammel has been a pleasant surprise for the O’s, Guthrie has been downright awful for Colorado. Guthrie led the Orioles in losses twice, although he really hadn’t been that bad, at just a 4.12 ERA and a 2.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
This year, though, he’s been absolutely miserable. He had that bike accident, and Guthrie is 3-6 with a 7.02 ERA and he’s leading the AL with 15 home runs allowed. He is giving up hits at a rate of over 13 per nine innings, his strikeout to walk ratio is at just 1.30 and he’s averaging not even 5.5 innings per start.
Guthrie has given up at least five runs in seven of his 11 starts, and he’s been so bad in his last six starts that he should lose his job—he’s 1-5 with a 9.20 ERA, .406/.450/.768 line against him and 11 home runs allowed in just 29.1 innings pitched.
Runner-Ups: Jamie Moyer, Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman
Detroit Tigers: Ryan Raburn
The Detroit Tigers finally got fed up enough with Ryan Raburn’s struggles that they sent their Opening Day starting second baseman to Triple-A, and he was checking in at a .146 batting average when he was demoted. Raburn hit his all-time low on May 7, as he was batting just .127 with nine hits in 71 at-bats, which gives him an OPS of .361.
Raburn has a total WAR of -1.2 for the season, which ties him with Endy Chavez and teammate Brendan Boesch for the worst overall player in the American League.
Runner-Ups: Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Ramon Santiago
Houston Astros: J.A. Happ
As a Philadelphia Phillies fan, I love the fact that J.A. Happ is struggling mightily with the Houston Astros (even though I didn’t think he would amount to anything with them after his highly successful rookie year with the Phillies in 2009).
Happ is 5-7 with a 5.15 ERA after losing 15 games with a 5.35 ERA last year. Happ is averaging just 5.5 innings per start, he is getting hit hard (10.3 H/9 and 1.5 HR/9) and he has a 1.535 WHIP this year.
Runner-Ups: Lucas Harrell, Jordan Lyles, Fernando Rodriguez, Rhiner Cruz
Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar
It’s pretty safe to say Luke Hochevar is a colossal bust after going first overall in the 2006 MLB draft. The Kansas City Royals really rushed him to the major leagues, which could be a reason why Hochevar has struggled so much.
Hochevar was just 3-6 with a 4.69 ERA in Double-A in 2007, but was promoted to Triple-A; he was just 1-3 with a 5.12 ERA in Triple-A later that year, but was nonetheless promoted to the major leagues, and since then, he has been 33-50 with a 5.39 ERA for the Royals.
This year, Hochevar is competing with 2009 (7-13, 6.55 ERA) to see if he can put up his worst major league year: He is 3-7 with a 6.27 ERA, he has tied a career high with a 10.5 hit rate and his 1.493 WHIP is a single-season worst.
Runner-Ups: Jonathan Sanchez
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Ervin Santana
I’m not sure what to expect from Ervin Santana. He had averaged 12 wins and an ERA in the low 4.00s since 2005, and then he started 2012 downright awful.
Santana began the year 0-6, and his first four starts were epically awful: 0-4, 7.23 ERA, .977 opponents OPS and 10 home runs allowed in 23.2 innings pitched. He settled down after that before giving up seven earned runs in consecutive starts in early June, which gives him a 5.16 ERA for the season. Santana is averaging “just” 3.6 walks per nine innings, but he has walked as many as six and seven in a game this season, and he leads the American League with 18 home runs allowed.
Runner-Ups: Bobby Wilson
Los Angeles Dodgers: Dee Gordon
Things Dee Gordon can do better than almost anyone in the game: run and steal bases.
Things Dee Gordon still struggles immensely in doing: hitting a baseball.
Gordon is batting only .236 with no power, which gives him just one home run and a .285 slugging percentage. Gordon batted .304 last season, so hopefully, he’s just going through a sophomore slump, but he’s been brutal this year at the plate. Out of 25 qualifying shortstops in the major leagues, Gordon has cost his team the most wins (-0.7 WAR).
Runner-Ups: Todd Coffey
Miami Marlins: Heath Bell
Take your pick of the least valuable player for the Miami Marlins. John Buck is hitting .162 as the everyday catcher. Gaby Sanchez has a .192 batting average and adjusted OPS of 38 as the everyday (now in Triple-A) first baseman. Chris Coghlan, the former NL Rookie of the Year, has a .140 batting average, .183 slugging percentage and adjusted OPS of seven.
But I’ll give this to Heath Bell. The Marlins paid $27 million over three years for Bell to be their closer, and he was so awful in April that the team temporarily removed him from the closer role. Bell still has a 5.68 ERA as late as the middle of June, and his stats for the first month of the season were frightening.
Bell was 0-3 with three saves, also blowing four saves. He registered a 11.42 ERA, he allowed opponents to a .385 batting average and 1.074 OPS and he threw strikes on just 57 percent of his pitches. Since May 16, he has vastly improved (1.98 ERA, .231 batting average, .642 OPS and strikes on 67 percent of his pitches). He seems to have regained his old form as a three-time All-Star closer, but for now, he still gets the honor of the team’s least valuable player thus far.
Runner-Ups: John Buck, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan, Mike Dunn
Milwaukee Brewers: Rickie Weeks
Losing Prince Fielder really took a blow on the Milwaukee Brewers offense, and the fact that Rickie Weeks is having a terrible year really isn’t helping the team. Weeks is hitting .183 with a .304 slugging percentage, and that’s coming off back-to-back 20-home run seasons.
Weeks beats out Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.02 ERA), John Axford (5.13 ERA as the closer) and light-hitting players Nyjer Morgan and Cesar Izturis.
Runner-Ups: Randy Wolf, John Axford, Nyjer Morgan, Cesar Izturis
Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano
One point in time, Francisco Liriano was an All-Star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 2006, striking out 10.7 hitters per nine innings. He even earned Cy Young votes as recently as 2010, a year in which he posted a 3.62 ERA and led the league in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings.
This year, he’s 1-7 with a 6.24 ERA, and he has walked 5.6 hitters per nine innings. His 1.595 WHIP is the highest he has ever given up in his career. Liriano has since been demoted to the bullpen, but he’s now back in the rotation, with a 3.04 ERA in four starts. If it keeps up, he may move off the list.
Runner-Ups: Jason Marquis, Danny Valencia, Chris Parmelee, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks
New York Mets: Ike Davis
Ike Davis began the season as the starting first baseman, coming off a .302 season in limited at-bats last season. And then he began the year hitless in his first five games, 1-for-23 with nine strikeouts in the first week and he was hitting as low as .156 with a .503 OPS on May 22.
Davis has been on a hot streak lately, as he’s hitting .462 with a 1.345 OPS in the last nine games, but that hasn’t even been enough to get his batting average up over .200. According to FranGraphs, Davis’ WAR is at just -0.9 for the season, by far the worst of any player on the team.
Runner-Ups: Jason Bay, Manny Acosta
New York Yankees: Freddy Garcia
There is pretty much no one on the New York Yankees having a poor season. Their offense is tearing it up, and the starting pitching has been great. Freddy Garcia wins the LVP award almost by default, although he has been really awful this year.
Garcia is 1-2 with a 7.09 ERA in 11 appearances and four starts. He has a hit rate of 11.8, a home run rate of 1.4 and a WHIP of 1.613.
Oakland Athletics: Josh Donaldson
The Oakland Athletics have gotten sub-par hitting all across the board, and Josh Donaldson epitomizes that group. He is batting just .153 with one walk to 26 strikeouts ,and he has since lost his starting third base job to Brandon Inge, a 35-year-old player who was cut from the Detroit Tigers earlier this season.
Donaldson has a ridiculously awful .395 OPS and adjusted OPS of eight. That makes him worse than players like Kurt Suzuki (.222, no home runs), Daric Barton (.198, one home run, four RBIs), Jemile Weeks (.222, two home runs), Cliff Pennington (.219, two home runs), Coco Crisp (.199, one home run) and Eric Sogard (.136, two home runs).
Runner-Ups: Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton, Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington, Coco Crisp, Eric Sogard, Tyron Ross
Philadelphia Phillies: Joe Blanton
For the first five starts he made this season, Joe Blanton was remarkable. He was 3-2 with a 2.62 ERA, striking out 21 batters and walking just three. Then he fell back to earth, going 3-3 with a 6.43 ERA in eight starts, allowing frightening totals like a .556 slugging percentage, allowing a shockingly awful 2.39 home runs per nine innings.
Blanton is up to 6-6 with a 4.93 ERA, and he’s leading the National League with 96 hits allowed. That’s not good news for a pitcher like Blanton, who will be looking for a new contract in the offseason.
Runner-Ups: Kyle Kendrick, Chad Qualls
Pittsburgh Pirates: Nate McLouth
Nate McLouth was so ineffective for the Pittsburgh Pirates that the team released him. McLouth hit .140 in 57 at-bats, and there’s really nothing to like about his numbers—he walked five times while striking out 18, he posted a .175 slugging percentage and he posted an adjusted OPS of nine. In comparison, Clint Barmes has been the worst regular for the Pirates (.197/.216/.303), and his adjusted OPS is nearly five times higher than McLouth.
Runner-Ups: Clint Barmes, Alex Presley
St. Louis Cardinals: The LOOGYs
There’s not a regular on the entire St. Louis Cardinals team not having a solid offensive season, and the starting rotation and bullpen have been impressive as well. The leaves the LOOGYs—the lefty one-out guys—as the weak spots.
The Cardinals have had awful play from that area, beginning with J.C. Romero, who was designated for assignment and then released after posting a 10.13 ERA in eight innings pitched, including 14 hits and two home runs allowed. Marc Rzepczynski is the top left-handed right now, but he is just 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA and a 1.419 WHIP. And Sam Freeman has a 5.68 ERA and awful 5.7 walk rate.
San Diego Padres: Jason Bartlett
Jason Bartlett epitomizes the awful hitting from the San Diego offense, and he is having probably the worst year of any Padres regular. Bartlett is hitting just .133 in 83 at-bats. He’s driven in just four runs, he has only 16 total bases which makes for a treacherous .193 slugging percentage and he has grounded into six double plays already.
Considering Bartlett batted .320 just three years ago and even .245 last year, Bartlett’s season is unexpected, but it’s enough to make him the team’s LVP.
Runner-Ups: Nick Hundley, Jeff Suppan
San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum
Who ever would have predicted this from Tim Lincecum? It’s almost unfathomable. Lincecum has been shockingly awful in 2012, posting a 6.00 ERA in 12 starts. He’s leading the National League with seven losses and 48 earned runs allowed. His walk rate of 4.9 is over a full walk higher than his norm. And even though his strikeout rate is on par with what’s expected, his ERA doesn’t reflect it.
Lincecum has given up at least four runs in nine of his 13 starts and five runs in five of his starts. In comparison, he gave up five or more earned runs just five times all of last season—still a high total for a two-time Cy Young award winner like Lincecum. Whether he has broken down given that he’s a power pitcher in a small frame or he’s just enduring a rough stretch, Lincecum better turn it around, or he won’t be getting much of a new contract at all after 2013.
Runner-Up: Emmanuel Burriss
Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins
After an MVP-caliber super utility season for the Los Angeles Angels of Anahem in 2009, Chone Figgins signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. He regressed badly in 2010, hit just .188 in 2011 and he’s at a ridiculously awful .185 in 2012.
Figgins has lost his starting job at third base to Kyle Seagar, and he’s now playing left field. Figgins is one of the worst offensive players in the league, and the Mariners have to be counting down the days until his contract is done.
Runner-Ups: Brendan Ryan, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan
Tampa Bay Rays: Jose Molina
There’s no standout player on the Tampa Bay Rays, so I gave the least valuable player award to Jose Molina. Molina has been largely a disappointment, as he is at just .196 with a morbid .598 OPS. That’s the second straight season the Rays have a catcher who has hit under .200, as Kelly Shoppach batted just .176 as their starter last year.
Runner-Ups: Sean Rodriguez, Will Rhymes
Texas Rangers: Scott Feldman
The Texas Rangers have utilized six relievers this season, and all of them have an ERA under 3.18. That’s absolutely amazing, and that’s a big reason why the Rangers are in first place in their division. Their starting pitching has also been sharp—well, except for Scott Feldman.
Feldman is a former 17-game winner who is now 0-6 with a 6.50 ERA this year. He’s pitched in relief eight times, made four starts and allowed 26 earned runs in 36 innings pitched. Feldman has allowed over 1.5 baserunners per inning, and the team has to be just counting down the days until Feldman can be replaced in the rotation by Roy Oswalt.
Runner-Up: Derek Holland
Toronto Blue Jays: Adam Lind
Three years ago, Adam Lind was a league MVP candidate for the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting .305/.370/.562 with 35 home runs and 114 RBIs, finishing 15th in the Most Valuable Player award voting. Now, he’s in Triple-A, and although he’s tearing it up for the Las Vegas team (.412/.478/.680 in 115 plate appearances), that doesn’t really count considering the Jays are paying him $10 million over the next two seasons.
Lind is hitting .186 with just three home runs and 11 RBIs in 132 plate appearances, and he hasn’t played at the major league level since May 16. That’s pretty disappointing.
Runner-Ups: Francisco Cordero, Kyle Drabek
Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman
Mark DeRosa has been about as bad as it gets for a player in the major leagues. He’s 3-for-37, which gives him an .081 batting average and an .081 slugging percentage to go with it. But he’s being paid just $800,000, which means he can be released at any time without really hurting the Washington Nationals financially.
Ryan Zimmerman has been the real least valuable player in Washington, and the team has to be concerned that they made a mistake in extending him for nearly a decade. Zimmerman is hitting just .240 with three home runs in 213 plate appearances, which gives him a .648 OPS that is a full 175 points lower than his career average. And he’s doing this on a salary of $12 million this season.
Runner-Up: Mark DeRosa