Alex Rodriguez and MLB's 25 Most Overpaid Hitters in 2012

Doug MeadCorrespondent INovember 2, 2012

Alex Rodriguez and MLB's 25 Most Overpaid Hitters in 2012

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    Owners in Major League Baseball paid out a total over $1 billion in salaries for the 2012 season.

    Just looking at that statistic alone makes me dizzy.

    The average player made about $3.44 million as of Opening Day 2012, with the range being anywhere from the major league minimum of $480,000 all the way up to $29 million.

    Obviously, the players who are being paid above scale are being asked to perform to a level that matches their pay grade. Any owner dishing out millions is going to expect a reasonable return for their investment.

    We are going to take a look at some hitters in the 2012 season whose performance just didn't match up to the money paid to them.

Honorable Mention: Clint Barmes, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2011 Salary: $3.925 million

    2012 Salary: $5 million

    Raise: $1.075 million

    The Pittsburgh Pirates signed shortstop Clint Barmes last offseason to a two-year, $10.5 million contract. Barmes was coming off a season in which he hit .244 with 12 HR and 39 RBI for the Houston Astros.

    Let's do a comparison, shall we?

    2011 Stats: .244 BA, 12 HR, 39 RBI, .312 OBP, .698 OPS

    2012 Stats: .229 BA, 8 HR, 45 RBI, .272 OBP, .593 OPS

    Just a cursory glance tells me that Pirates ownership can't be satisfied with that return.

Aubrey Huff: San Francisco Giants

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    2010 Salary: $3 million

    2011 Salary: $10 million

    Raise: $7 million

    The San Francisco Giants walked away this season with a World Series championship trophy. Aubrey Huff walked away with a share of the World Series purse and $20 million that he didn't necessarily earn.

    That was courtesy of the contract that Huff signed after helping the Giants win the title in 2010. After a disappointing 2011 season, Huff was rarely even seen on the field in 2012, appearing in just 52 games due to an assortment of injuries.

    The Giants have already said goodbye to Huff, buying out his option for the 2013 season, giving him another $2 million he didn't deserve in the process.

    2011 Stats: .246 BA, 12 HR, 59 RBI, .306 OBP, .676 OPS

    2012 Stats: .192 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .326 OBP, .608 OPS, 52 G

Mike Napoli: Texas Rangers

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    2011 Salary: $5.8 million

    2012 Salary: $9.4 million

    Raise: $3.6 million

    Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli received a nice bump in pay in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Napoli was slowed for much of the season by nagging injuries, with a quad injury landing him on the disabled list for just over a month.

    2011 Stats: .320 BA, 30 HR, 75 RBI, .414 OPB, 1.036 OPS

    2012 Stats: .227 BA, 24 HR, 56 RBI, .343 OBP, .812 OPS

    The Rangers have yet to show their cards as to whether or not they'll attempt to re-sign Napoli. Even with the diminished numbers, Napoli will still likely command a nice payday, considering the dearth of quality-hitting catchers on the open market.

John Buck: Miami Marlins

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    2011 Salary: $5 million

    2012 Salary: $6 million

    Raise: $1 million

    Miami Marlins catcher John Buck received a three-year, $18 million contract after posting a solid 2010 campaign with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.

    Buck hit .281 with 20 HR and 66 RBI that year and earned a selection to the American League All-Star team.

    However, after setting career highs that season and earning a nice payday for himself, it would be difficult at best to say the Buck has delivered on his investment.

    2011 Stats: .227 BA, 16 HR, 57 RBI, .316 OBP, .683 OPS

    2012 Stats: .192 BA, 12 HR, 41 RBI, .297 OBP, .644 OPS

    Since that career year, Buck's production has steadily declined, and it's likely that Rob Brantly will be given a shot next spring to take over as the primary catcher for the Marlins.

Mark Teixeira: New York Yankees

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    2011 Salary: $23.125 million

    2012 Salary: $22.5 million

    Raise: $625,000

    In the fourth season of his eight-year, $180 million contract, New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira suffered from a strained left calf that limited him to just 123 games in the 2012 season.

    Still, the production was not what was expected. When Teixeira was originally signed, he was praised for his patience at the plate and his ability to hit to all fields. What New Yorkers have seen in the past couple of seasons is a player who has become pull-happy.

    Not counting his rookie season, Teixeira set career lows in homers (24), walks (54), OBP (.332), slugging percentage (.475) and OPS (.807) in 2012.

    2011 Stats: .248 BA, 39 HR, 111 RBI, .341 OBP, .835 OPS

    2012 Stats: .251 BA, 24 HR, 84 RBI, .332 OBP, .807 OPS

    If I'm Hank Steinbrenner, I'm expecting just a wee bit more than that for my $22.5 million.

Jeff Francoeur: Kansas City Royals

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    2011 Salary: $2.5 million

    2012 Salary: $6 million

    Raise: $3.5 million

    The Kansas City Royals rewarded right fielder Jeff Francoeur after posting a solid 2011 season. However, in 2012, Francoeur returned to the form that once confounded his original team, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves eventually lost patience and traded Francoeur to the New York Mets.

    2011 Stats: .285 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI, .329 OBP, .805 OPS

    2012 Stats: .235 BA, 16 HR, 49 RBI, .287 OBP, .665 OPS

    Francoeur is now widely seen as a trade chip for the Royals, especially with prospect outfielder Wil Myers knocking on the door to the majors.

Rickie Weeks: Milwaukee Brewers

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    2011 Salary: $4.5 million

    2012 Salary: $10 million

    Raise: $5.5 million

    Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks had a miserable first half in 2012 before somewhat salvaging his season with a surge in the final weeks.

    Still, the final numbers leave much to be desired, especially considering he played in 39 more games in the 2012 season over the prior year.

    2011 Stats: .269 BA, 20 HR, 49 RBI, .350 OBP, .818 OPS

    2012 Stats: .230 BA, 21 HR, 63 RBI, .328 OBP, .728 OPS

Kelly Johnson: Toronto Blue Jays

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    2011 Salary: $5.85 million

    2012 Salary: $6.375 million

    Raise: $525,000

    The Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays swapped second basemen in August 2011—Kelly Johnson headed to Toronto; Aaron Hill to Phoenix.

    It's safe to say the Diamondbacks got the better of that deal.

    Both players had largely struggled with their original teams before the trade. Johnson showed enough promise in his 33 games with the Blue Jays last season that they re-signed him for another year.

    They'll now likely be searching for a new second baseman.

    2011 Stats: .222 BA, 21 HR, 58 RBI, .304 OBP, .717 OPS

    2012 Stats: .225 BA, 16 HR, 55 RBI, .313 OBP, .678 OPS

Mark Reynolds: Baltimore Orioles

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    2011 Salary: $5.33 million

    2012 Salary: $7.5 million

    Raise: $2.17 million

    Baltimore Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds had his 2013 contract option for $11 million declined on Tuesday.

    Since Reynolds is not yet eligible for free agency, he could still be offered arbitration by the Orioles or be non-tendered.

    Reynolds has expressed his desire to remain in Baltimore, but with a .221 average and a 29.6 percent strikeout rate, it will likely be at a very reduced rate.

    2011 Stats: .221 BA, 37 HR, 86 RBI, .323 OBP, .806 OPS

    2012 Stats: .221 BA, 23 HR, 69 RBI, .335 OBP, .763 OPS

Geovany Soto: Texas Rangers

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    2011 Salary: $3 million

    2012 Salary: $4.3 million

    Raise: $1.3 million

    What happened to the Geovany Soto that roared out of the gates to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2008?

    That Soto has been replaced with a much lighter-hitting version.

    Soto was traded midseason by the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers. The Cubs finally realized that Soto was not going to find that form that endeared him to the city in 2008.

    2011 Stats: .228 BA, 17 HR, 54 RBI, .310 OBP, .721 OPS

    2012 Stats: .198 BA, 11 HR, 39 RBI, .270 OBP, .613 OPS

    With numbers that have steadily been on the decline since that breakout rookie season, it's hard to imagine that Soto would be tendered by the Rangers at this point.

Chris Young: Oakland Athletics

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    2011 Salary: $5.2 million

    2012 Salary: $7 million

    Raise: $1.8 million

    The Arizona Diamondbacks were involved in a three-team trade on Oct. 20, shipping center fielder Chris Young to the Oakland A's and receiving reliever Heath Bell from the Miami Marlins. The D-Backs also received Cliff Pennington from the A's in the exchange.

    The trade was a direct result of the Diamondbacks looking to make room in a crowded outfield, with prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock vying for playing time.

    It also signified the D-Backs' disappointment in Young, who never quite materialized as the offensive force that Arizona had been expecting.

    Young missed 61 games in 2012 with shoulder and quad injuries, but the numbers still clearly reflect what led the Diamondbacks to ship Young out of town.

    2011 Stats: .236 BA, 20 HR, 71 RBI, .331 OBP, .751 OPS

    2012 Stats: .231 BA, 14 HR, 41 RBI, .311 OBP, .745 OPS

    Young will have to vie for playing time in a crowded outfield in Oakland as well. With Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith already in place, Young will certainly have his work cut out for him.

Justin Upton: Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2011 Salary: $4.458 million

    2012 Salary: $6.748 million

    Raise: $2.29 million

    Another Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder could yet be on the move sometime this offseason as well.

    Justin Upton's name has been prominently featured in several rumors, but at least one expert believes that Upton may be staying put—for now.

    ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian told Arizona Sports 620 Radio that he believes the Diamondbacks simply haven't received an offer that has convinced them to ship Upton anywhere at this point.

    "We know things change when everything gets to Spring Training," Kurkjian said. "I just don't believe that they have been offered anything for him that would be enough to make a deal, and therefore it would be stupid to deal him at this point."

    Upton's 2012 season could best be characterized as streaky, and the final numbers were clearly a drop from a breakout 2011 campaign.

    2011 Stats: .289 BA, 31 HR, 88 RBI, .369 OBP, .898 OPS

    2012 Stats: .280 BA, 17 HR, 67 RBI, .355 OBP, .755 OPS

    Upton is only 25 years old, so it's far too soon to write him off just yet. However, with his annual salary averaging over eight figures for the next three seasons, the Diamondbacks will likely want to see a much better return on their investment.

James Loney: Boston Red Sox

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    2011 Salary: $4.875 million

    2012 Salary: $6.375 million

    Raise: $1.5 million

    It was no surprise to anyone in baseball that first baseman James Loney was included in the deal between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox in August.

    The Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, a first baseman whose production completely dwarfs that of Loney's in the past several seasons.

    Loney could be back in Boston next season, but only if the Red Sox are unable to find a more productive first baseman in free agency or via trade.

    2011 Stats: .288 BA, 12 HR, 65 RBI, .339 OBP, .755 OPS

    2012 Stats: .249 BA, 6 HR, 41 RBI, .293 OBP, .630 OPS

Rod Barajas: Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2011 Salary: $3.25 million

    2012 Salary: $4 million

    Raise: $750,000

    Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Rod Barajas won't ever be confused with Mike Piazza, but the Pittsburgh Pirates had to have imagined they'd get more production for the $4 million they invested in him.

    2011 Stats: .230 BA, 16 HR, 47 RBI, .287 OBP, .717 OPS

    2012 Stats: .206 BA, 11 HR, 31 RBI, .283 OBP, .625 OPS

    The Pirates have already declined the option on Barajas for next season at $3.5 million. Michael McKenry's surge in offense will likely give him the opportunity to catch full time for the Pirates next season.

Carlos Lee: Miami Marlins

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    2011 Salary: $19 million

    2012 Salary: $18.5 million

    Raise: -$500,000

    Miami Marlins first baseman Carlos Lee is one of the very few on this list who actually saw a reduction in pay from the previous season. That pretty much lines up perfectly with his diminished production as well.

    Lee is nowhere near the player that routinely hit at least 30 HR with 100 RBI each season. In fact, the dropoff in production has been so dramatic it's likely that Lee won't come close to signing a contract next season for even half his 2012 salary.

    2011 Stats: .275 BA, 18 HR, 94 RBI, .342 OBP, .788 OPS

    2012 Stats: .264 BA, 9 HR, 77 RBI, .332 OBP, .697 OPS

Hanley Ramirez: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2011 Salary: $11 million

    2012 Salary: $15 million

    Raise: $4 million

    Hanley Ramirez won a batting title in 2009 with the Marlins with a .342 average. Fans have to be wondering if that version of Ramirez will appear again.

    Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez is under contract for two more seasons at a cost of $31.5 million. No doubt that general manager Ned Colletti is also hoping for the return of the old Ramirez.

    Since Ramirez was hurt for almost half the 2011 season, we'll go back and compare this past season with 2010.

    2010 Stats: .300 BA, 21 HR, 76 RBI, .378 OBP, .853 OPS

    2012 Stats: .257 BA, 24 HR, 92 RBI, .322 OBP, .759 OPS

Jason Bay: New York Mets

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    2011 Salary: $18.125 million

    2012 Salary: $16 million

    Raise: -$2.125 million

    If there is one saving grace for the New York Mets regarding Jason Bay in 2012, it's that he made less than he did in 2011.

    The numbers are indeed astounding. While injuries have played a major role in Bay's very disappointing time in New York, the production certainly hasn't been there when he's been healthy, either.

    A quick look at the numbers from his 2009 season with the Boston Red Sox certainly shows the rapid decline.

    2009 Stats: .267 BA, 36 HR 119 RBI, .384 OBP, .921 OPS   

    2010 Stats: .259 BA, 6 HR,47 RBI, .347 OBP, .749 OPS        

    2011 Stats: .245 BA, 12 HR, 57 RBI, .329 OBP, .703 OPS        

    2012 Stats: .165 BA, 8 HR, 20 RBI, .237 OBP, .536 OPS

    Don't worry, Mets fans. You only have one more year to go.

Casey Kotchman: Cleveland Indians

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    2011 Salary: $750,000

    2012 Salary: $3 million

    Raise: $2.25 million

    In 2011, first baseman Casey Kotchman signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in early February, ultimately leading the team with a .306 average.

    It wasn't quite the same for the Cleveland Indians this season, however.

    2011 Stats: .306 BA, 10 HR, 48 RBI, .378 OBP, .800 OPS

    2012 Stats: .229 BA, 12 HR, 55 RBI, .280 OBP, .612 OPS

    Kotchman fell just two plate appearances short of qualifying for the batting title and, by extension, falling just short of the distinction of having the worst on-base percentage in the American League.

    I'm going to go out a limb on this one—Kotchman will be looking for a new employer this offseason.

Luke Scott: Tampa Bay Rays

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    2011 Salary: $6.4 million

    2012 Salary: $5 million

    Raise: -$1.4 million

    Luke Scott took a cut in pay to sign on as the designated hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012. With a nightmarish last season in Baltimore (where he was decimated by injuries), Scott and the Rays were hoping for a turnaround.

    Scott will be looking to turn it around somewhere else in 2013.

    2011 Stats: .220 BA, 9 HR, 22 RBI, .301 OBP, .703 OPS

    2012 Stats: .229 BA, 14 HR, 55 RBI, .285 OBP, .724 OPS

    Scott again had issues staying on the field, missing 66 games with two different trips to the disabled list. The Rays declined his 2013 option, instead paying him a $1 million buyout.

Carlos Pena: Tampa Bay Rays

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    2011 Salary: $9.6 million

    2012 Salary: $7.25 million

    Raise: -$2.35 million

    The Tampa Bay Rays brought first baseman Carlos Pena back home after he spent one year with the Chicago Cubs. The thought was that Pena would give the Rays more production over the departed Casey Kotchman.

    The production never quite came.

    Pena suffered through his worst full season since 2004, and he will also likely be looking for new work this winter.

    2011 Stats: .225 BA, 28 HR, 80 RBI, .357 OBP, .819 OPS

    2012 Stats: .197 BA, 19 HR, 61 RBI, .330 OBP, .684 OPS

Travis Hafner: Cleveland Indians

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    2011 Salary: $13 million

    2012 Salary: $13 million

    Raise: Zero

    Over the past five seasons, Cleveland Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner has played in exactly 429 of a possible 810 games, representing only 53 percent of total games.

    An inability to stay healthy led the Indians to decline Hafner's 2013 option for $13 million.

    General manager Chris Antonetti left open the possibility of Hafner returning, but based on his comments, the likelihood is slim.

    "We remain open to it," Antonetti said. "But I think, especially in Travis' case, we'll have to see how our roster takes shape this winter and he'll obviously have to evaluate his alternatives."

    Hafner earned $57.05 million in that five-year span. That's a lot of money for part-time play.

    2011 Stats; .280 BA, 13 HR, 57 RBI, .361 OBP, .811 OPS

    2012 Stats: .228 BA, 12 HR, 34 RBI, .346 OBP, .784 OPS

Grady Sizemore: Cleveland Indians

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    2011 Salary: $7.67 million

    2012 Salary: $5 million

    Raise: -$2.67 million

    I'm willing to hazard a guess that the Cleveland Indians sought out insurance on the contract of center fielder Grady Sizemore.

    Sizemore missed the entire 2012 season, and after missing 57 percent of his team's total games the previous three seasons, I'm guessing his Indians' career is now over.

    Sizemore has filed for free agency, so some other sucker—er, team—will likely take a chance on him for the 2013 season.

Dan Uggla: Atlanta Braves

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    2011 Salary: $9.15 million

    2012 Salary: $13 million

    Raise: $3.85 million

    Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla has now experienced a second straight year of regression, and one has to wonder if it can now be considered a trend.

    Uggla was named an All-Star in 2012, but that was the extent of the positives concerning his season.

    2011 Stats: .233 BA, 36 HR, 82 RBI, .311 OBP, .764 OPS

    2012 Stats: .220 BA, 19 HR, 78 RBI, .348 OPS, .732 OPS

    About the only saving grace to Uggla's 2012 season was that he led the National League with 94 walks, creating a spike in his on-base percentage.

    But for $13 million, I'm expecting a lot more than just 94 walks for my money.

Kevin Youkilis: Chicago White Sox

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    2011 Salary: $12.25 million

    2012 Salary: $12.25 million

    Raise: Zero

    The Chicago White Sox have already declined the 2013 option on Kevin Youkilis' contract for $13 million.

    I can't say I blame them one bit.

    Youkilis seems to be in regression mode at this point, striking out twice as much as he walked for the first time in his career.

    2011 Stats: .258 BA, 17 HR, 80 RBI, .373 OBP, .833 OPS

    2012 Stats: .235 BA, 19 HR, 60 RBI, .336 OBP, .745 OPS

Vernon Wells: Los Angeles Angels

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    2011 Salary: $26.2 million

    2012 Salary: $21 million

    Raise: -5.2 million

    Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells played in only 77 games this past season. While some of that time missed was partially due to a torn ligament in his thumb, much of it was also due to the emergence of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo in the Angels outfield.

    Not to mention the fact that Wells has yet to get going offensively since his trade from the Toronto Blue Jays.

    2011 Stats: .218 BA, 25 HR, 66 RBI, .248 OBP, .660 OPS

    2012 Stats: .230 BA, 11 HR, 29 RBI, .279 OBP, .682 OPS

    There is no question at this point that Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto will do all he can to find a team willing to take Wells off his hands. But it will also take a large majority of Wells' remaining $42 million to go along with him.

Alex Rodriguez: New York Yankees

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    2011 Salary: $32 million

    2012 Salary: $29 million

    Raise: -$3 million

    Here's an interesting thought regarding New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez: In 2007, A-Rod's last MVP season, he hit 54 HR with 156 RBI, getting paid $22.7 million to do so.

    In the past two seasons, Rodriguez has hit 34 HR and 119 RBI, getting paid nearly triple what he made in 2007 for more production in that one season alone.

    Where do I sign up for a gig like that?

    2011 Stats: .276 BA, 16 HR, 62 RBI, .362 OBP, .823 OPS

    2012 Stats: .272 BA, 18 HR, 57 RBI, .353 OBP, .783 OPS

    Don't worry, Yankees fans. You only have to worry about another five years and $114 million. 

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.