14 Most Notoriously Soft Players Baseball Players in the Last 25 Years

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2012

14 Most Notoriously Soft Players Baseball Players in the Last 25 Years

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    After reading through these slides, your appreciation for the "Iron Man" Cal Ripken Jr. will only grow.

    Major League Baseball boasts the longest and most grueling season in professional sports, so injuries are undoubtedly expected.

    But there's a fine line between injuries and injury-plagued players.

    I'm not talking "soft" in regards to attitude or style of play, but rather health and being able to stay on the field and perform at a high level.

    I'm sure there's a long list of other players who belong on this list, but here are 14 of the most oft-injured players in the past 25 years.

Jason Bay

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    Jason Bay may be a former Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star, but he's also had his fair share of injuries over the course of his nine-year career.

    His best years were between 2004-2007 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and he even had a good 2009 campaign for the Boston Red Sox, but that doesn't change the fact that Bay has spent a lot of time on the DL throughout his career.

    Since being dealt to the New York Mets in 2010 for $66 million (via ESPN), Bay has played in just 218 games in 2010 and 2011 due to a concussion and reoccuring rib injuries,, has appeared in a mere 29 games this season, and is hitting just .230 as a Met.

    To sum it up, $66 million was a bit much for this injury-plagued former star.

     

Alan Trammell

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    Alan Trammell had an excellent 20-year career with the Detroit Tigers, highlighted by six All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves and a World Series MVP award, but his body did pay the price.

    Injuries to his ankle, knees and shoulder forced Trammell to sit out a lot of games, so much that he only played in 140-plus games in seven of his 20 great seasons.

    A career .285 hitter, Trammell has yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but will be on the ballot for in 2013.

    Had Trammell not missed so much time on the field, he probably would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. 

Nick Johnson

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    As a Yankees fan, I thought the short porch in right field would be a career-maker for Nick Johnson back in the early 2000's.

    Boy, was I wrong.

    Whether it was his femur, wrist or hamstring, Johnson has practically spent more time on the DL than he has on the field.

    Since he played 129 games for the Yankees in 2002, Johnson has only played in more than 100 games three times.

    He missed considerable time in 2008 with the Washington Nationals—he played just 38 games—and with the Yankees again in 2010, when he played a mere 24 games. 

Chien-Ming Wang

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    The days of Chien-Ming Wang anchoring the Yankees' pitching staff are long gone.

    In fact, the days of Wang anchoring any pitching staff, letalone being healthy enough to make more than 11 starts in a season are long gone.

    After posting back-to-back 19-win seasons and making at least 30 starts in '06 and '07, Wang made just 35 starts the following three seasons combined and has started just four games in 2012 for the Nationals due to a hamstring injury.

    Once a dominant pitcher in the MLB—he led the AL in wins in 2006—Wang doesn't appear to be resurrecting his career anytime soon, given his 7.61 ERA this season.

Joel Zumaya

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    Joel Zumaya's pitching arm has plagued him from the start, whether it be his finger, shoulder or elbow.

    After being one of the best setup men in the MLB in 2006 when he posted a 1.94 ERA and appeared in 83.1 innings, Zumaya has managed to pitch just 125.4 innings between 2007-2010.

    Zumaya was forced to miss the entire 2011 season after exploratory surgery on his ailing right elbow, and after being inked by the Minnesota Twins in mid-January 2012, he was released less than two months later when he injured his elbow throwing during a bullpen session, resulting in Tommy John surgery (via ESPN).

    It's quite sad to see because this guy had a blazing fastball, but he just can't stay healthy enough to use it on hitters.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    Daisuke Matsuzaka hasn't been the durable, dominant $52 million ace the Boston Red Sox thought they were getting when they won the bidding rights to the Japanese hurler (via ESPN).

    Matsuzaka had an incredible season in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 167.2 innings of work, but has since fell off considerably due to arm issues and Tommy John surgery.

    In 2009, he managed to pitch just 59.1 innings because of arm weakness, according to the Boston Herald.

    He threw 153.2 innings in 2010, but went just 9-6 with a 4.69 ERA and has since been pretty awful.

    In 2011 and 2012 combined, Matsuzaka is 3-6 with a 5.97 ERA in a mere 60.1 IP.

J.D. Drew

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    J.D. Drew's outstanding collegiate career never quite translated to the big leagues.

    For starters, he didn't appear in at least 140 games until his seventh season, as a member of the Atlanta Braves.

    The worst part about J.D. Drew was that he wasn't worth the $70 million that the Red Sox gave him following his first 100 RBI season in 2006 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    In 13 complete seasons, Drew eclipsed the 140-game mark just twice and played in just 606 games over the course of five seasons in Boston.

    Arizona Diamondback fans are hoping Stephen isn't plagued by the same syndrome as his big brother.

Mike Hampton

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    Mike Hampton may have been one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time, but he was also one of the most often injured pitchers of all time.

    He logged a fair amount of innings from 1995-2004, to which he posted double-digit wins in eight of his first 12 seasons, but the trouble began shortly after that.

    According to USA Today, Hampton underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005 and 2007, which forced him to miss the entire 2006 and 2007 season while a 2009 rotator cuff surgery forced him to miss a majority of the 2010 season.

    Hampton finished his career with a 148-115 record and 4.06 ERA.

Ken Griffey Jr.

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    He's a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time Silver Slugger award winner and a former AL MVP, but towards the mid-to-back end of his career, Ken Griffey Jr.'s body began to wear down.

    Between 1989 and 2000, Griffey played in at least 140 games nine times, but from 2000-2010, that number shrunk to just twice.

    As Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated wrote back in 2010, 

    Griffey hit 40 home runs in his first year back home, but over the next seven seasons, mostly because of leg injuries, he would be in constant pain; he averaged fewer than 100 games per season. He would never win another Gold Glove. He would lose his youthful verve. After 11 consecutive All-Star Games he would play in only two more the rest of his career. 

    No disrespect to The Kid—he was one of the best to ever step onto the field—but he became soft toward the end of his career.

Carl Pavano

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    Carl Pavano has been the definition of an injury-plagued major leaguer during his 13-year career.

    Pavano's streak of injuries is most notably highlighted by his four years as a Yankee, in which New York signed the righty to a $39.95 million deal.

    As ESPN states, "Pavano was one of the biggest free-agent busts, spending most of the past four years on the disabled list. He made only 26 starts during the contract, going 9-8 with a 5.00 ERA."

    Despite making somewhat of a comeback with the Minnesota Twins—Pavano went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA in 2010—he again finds himself on the 15-day DL in 2012 with an injury to his throwing shoulder. 

Nomar Garciaparra

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    As good as Nomar Garciaparra was in his heyday—six All-Star appearances and a ROY award—he spent a lot of time on the disabled list.

    Whether it was his hand, calf, knee, wrist or groin Garciaparra never spent too much time away from the DL. 

    Throughout his 14-year career, there were five seasons in which Garciaparra failed to appear in at least 100 games, mainly between 2004 and his retirement in 2009.

    He was a great hitter when he was healthy, but unfortunately injuries diminished his career.

Mark Prior

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    I think this line written by Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports sums up Mark Prior's career perfectly: "Getting injured while rehabbing another injury is the most Mark Prior news in the history of Mark Prior news."

    To sum it up, Prior's entire career has been based around injuries.

    From his rookie season in 2002 to his last season in 2006, Prior spent time on the DL every season that he was in the MLB.

    After attempting to make a comeback, he missed back-to-back seasons in '07 and '08, and hasn't appeared in an MLB game since.

    He's signed contracts with the Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox since, but injuries and overall lack of mechanics have ruined his career.

Kerry Wood

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    Kerry Wood's injury-riddled career was so devastating that he was forced to retire at the age of 35, after 13 seasons.

    The 1998 ROY and man who once struck out 20 hitters in one nine-inning game underwent Tommy John surgery in 1999 and was hardly ever the same pitcher again.

    In an article written by Peter Gammons of MLB.com, Gammons wrote this when reflecting on Woods' career following his retirement at the beginning of this season: "But he also walked off knowing it coulda/shoulda been more, but for fate. Wood never won 15 games in a season, because he had 15 stints on the disabled list."

    As a baseball fan and sports fan in general, you've got to feel for a guy who once had such promise only to see a rash of injuries ruin his career.

Rich Harden

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    Rich Harden has been a disappointment for multiple teams over his nine-year career.

    The righty has made 30 starts just once in his career while battling shoulder and back issues.

    After making 31 starts in 2004, Harden made nine in '06 and four in '07.

    He bounced back a bit between '08 and '09, but slowed down again the following two seasons, when he made just 18 starts in 2010 and 15 in 2011.

    And according to AOL.com, Harden will miss the entire 2012 season after undergoing right shoulder surgery.