Predicting MLB's All-Bust Team for 2014
The beginning of baseball season is full of hope for every MLB team, but many players simply don’t live up to expectations every year. When certain players struggle, it can derail a possible contender’s season.
Fans don't want to hear that one of the players on their favorite team is in store for a rough season. However, it’s inevitable that several hyped players end up disappointing.
Being a bust can mean a few things. The most obvious is a player who receives a big contract, or comes over in a trade, and fails to live up to expectations. Then there are those who are in contract years who fail to put up big numbers and earn a large deal. Highly touted prospects who fall flat can also be considered busts, but they deserve more than one year to qualify.
Many of the names on this list will be players joining new teams. They have high expectations and a lot of pressure on them. Pressure can often cause players to crumble.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 all-bust team.
All stats are via MLB.com
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million deal. He's a good player, but he doesn't have the best track record to give Marlins fans a lot of hope.
He impressed with a .266 average and 11 home runs in 93 games as a rookie in 2007. Since then, he has been trying to get back to hitting for average.
Check out his averages from 2008 to 2012:
If he goes back to hitting like that, the Marlins are gong to be disappointed with Saltalamacchia.
The 28-year-old earned himself a nice contract with a strong 2013 season. He hit .273/.338/.466 with 14 home runs, 40 doubles and 65 RBI to help the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.
Saltalamacchia is a career .246/.310/.428 hitter. He was brought to Miami to try to give Giancarlo Stanton some protection, but he doesn't have the numbers to scare pitchers.
The catcher played in only 121 games in each of the past two seasons. He has never played in more games than that. Now he will be expected to be the No. 1 catcher in Miami. Can he last a full season behind the plate?
Marlins Park is certainly not a hitter's paradise. Marlins fans should be worried about Saltalamacchia's splits:
He was a much better hitter at Fenway Park than on the road, so it will be worth seeing if he can adjust to a new ballpark.
A lot of pressure will be on Saltalamacchia this year. He was able to hit toward the back of the lineup and let the bigger bats produce in Boston, but now he will be expected to put up numbers with his new club.
1B: Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics
Brandon Moss bounced around the league in the early years of his career. Surprisingly, joining the Oakland Athletics has gotten his career going.
The first baseman hit .291 with 21 home runs and 18 doubles in 84 games in 2012. Those were extraordinary numbers for such a limited number of games.
With a chance to play every day last year, Moss showed that those numbers weren't a fluke. He hit 30 home runs, 23 doubles, three triples and added 87 RBI. His average did drop to .257, so that is an area of concern for A's fans.
The veteran is a career .253 hitter. His 2013 average was more on track with his career numbers, which probably means the 2012 average was an aberration.
Moss is a great example of a late bloomer. The 30-year-old now has to adjust to the league. This is around the age that many hitters begin to decline, but it will be interesting to see if he can avoid that trend given his late success.
The 2012 season was a huge triumph for the first baseman. He hit .290 against right-handers and .293 against left-handers. Both of those numbers took a huge hit in the next season as they dipped down closer to his career numbers. In 2013, he hit .268 against right-handers and just .200 against southpaws. He has hit .255 against right-handers and .242 against lefties throughout his seven-year career.
He hit only .243 with 10 home runs at O.co Coliseum last season. Those numbers aren't shocking considering Oakland's ballpark is very spacious. That's a big drop from the .273 average at home he had two years ago.
Between his inability to produce at home and against southpaws, Moss is due for a disappointing season.
2B: Alexander Guerrero, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't have many holes to address this offseason. Second base was easily the team's biggest need, and they are hoping they found a long-term answer in Alexander Guerrero.
A lot of intrigue surrounds the second baseman. Guerrero signed a four-year, $28 million contract, via Baseball Prospectus, so big things are expected out of him.
Los Angeles lost a good glove by letting Mark Ellis go in free agency. It is hoping that Guerrero can learn to play second base effectively and add some offense to the lineup.
Will the Dodgers need Guerrero to be the National League Rookie of the Year in order to contend? Of course not. This lineup already has Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez. Those are just a few of the names. There are more big bats in the lineup than just those four, and the pitching staff is loaded.
Guerrero injured his hamstring during the winter, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon. He has had time to recover, so hopefully that doesn't become a lingering issue this year.
The Dodgers are hoping that the 27-year-old can make a difference in the lineup. He's got good power, which is going to be his biggest asset.
There's no denying that Guerrero has the bat to fit in the Dodgers lineup. As Saxon points out, the second baseman was impressive while playing in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional. Guerrero hit .290/.402/.576 with 21 home runs in his final season. He also had 39 walks to 30 strikeouts, so he has a solid awareness of the strike zone.
If he can put up similar numbers in the majors, the Dodgers will be able to get over any deficiencies he shows in the field. However, it's not even a lock that he will be the Opening Day starter at second base. If he doesn't have a good showing in the spring, he could become a long-term project.
High expectations will make it tough for Guerrero to live up to the hype. After Puig's remarkable rookie season, people will be looking for the second baseman to have a similar impact. Unfortunately, their skill sets aren't the same.
Guerrero will have to show that he can consistently hit the breaking ball, which is something that guys with his powerful swing have to work on. He may show signs of promise in his first season with the Dodgers, but he's going to be a work in progress.
SS: Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers
For the most part, Jose Iglesias had a strong showing in his first prolonged stint in the majors. Now it's time to see if he can make the necessary adjustments to keep up his success.
Iglesias hit .303/.349/.386 with 16 doubles in 2013. Those numbers look pretty good at a glance, but there was a little bit of an odd split for the 24-year-old.
Boston fans and Detroit fans saw two different players. Take a look at just how much his production changed once he changed teams in the middle of the season:
|Boston Red Sox||63||10||2||1||19||.330||.376||.409||.785|
Outside of home runs, every number dropped once he went over to the Tigers. He did play in fewer games in Detroit, but the slash line differential should be concerning for Tigers fans.
Through the first three months of the 2013 season, Iglesias played in more than eight games in a month only once. He was thriving in a part-time role. Over the final three months of the season, he played in at least 19 games in every month. He hit .205 in July, .294 in August and .200 in September and October.
Now that he will be expected to be an everyday player, it's time to see if he can put up good numbers.
Prince Fielder is gone, so Detroit will need to rely on everyone contributing throughout the lineup. This team went from having one of the best middle of the lineups in all of baseball to one that will focus more on moving runners along. That type of strategy should help the team come October, but it means that players like Iglesias have to produce.
Iglesias has the talent to be a good bat for Detroit. However, he didn't do so well when he got a chance to play every day last year. Now he will have to deal with the dreaded "sophomore slump." Pitchers have had a chance to see him, so it will be up to him to make adjustments.
3B: Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
It’s a tough call for Chase Headley. He has plenty of potential, but is there enough around him for the 29-year-old to reach that potential?
No player would benefit more from a big 2014 season than Headley. If he shows that he can do what he did in 2012, he’s looking at a monster contract next offseason—if he doesn’t sign an extension with the San Diego Padres before then.
There are plenty of reasons for him to have a big year; but there are also reasons as to why he won’t.
For starters, Petco Park continues to be one of the least hitter-friendly parks in the league. It can get into a hitter’s head when things aren’t going well.
More importantly, what have the Padres done to add talent around him? Right now, teams can pitch around Headley without fear of getting hurt by the guys behind him. Sure, first baseman Yonder Alonso and outfielder Carlos Quentin are solid bats. They just don't scare pitchers enough to force them to pitch to the third baseman.
Here are Headley's numbers over the last two seasons:
Which one is the real Headley?
The 29-year-old dealt with a thumb and a knee injury last season. That could help explain the drop in production, especially considering he played in only 141 games last season. His hits and RBI numbers had no choice but to drop given his injuries, but the big drop in average and power is concerning.
Padres fans are hoping that Headley is healthy entering the season. Knee surgery at the end of last season isn't good news for the third baseman's power numbers. It could take him some time to get back his pop while he builds up strength in his knee, but he is likely to top out out at around 20 homers if everything goes right.
RF: Marlon Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies
Just two years ago, it looked like Marlon Byrd's career was over. A resurgent 2013 season netted him a two-year, $16 million deal, via CBS Sports' Matt Snyder.
If the outfielder can take his .291/.336/.511 slash line and 24 home runs over to Citizens Bank Park, this will be a great signing for the Philadelphia Phillies. But can he duplicate his success?
Byrd was suspended 50 games, via Snyder, in the summer of 2012 for using performance enhancing drugs. He silenced his critics by putting up strong numbers with the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates last year.
Philadelphia is an aging club, and it didn't get any younger by signing the 36-year-old outfielder.
Phillies fans should be worried about the veteran at the plate. He is a career .209/.270/.314 hitter with only four home runs in 71 games at Citizens Bank Park. It's a good place in which to hit, but the outfielder hasn't figured it out yet.
Byrd signed a minor league deal with the Mets last season, and he turned out to be one of the biggest bargains in baseball. Now he is on the opposite side of the spectrum thanks to enhanced expectations.
CF: Peter Bourjos, St. Louis Cardinals
Peter Bourjos has all of the makings to be an All-Star, but he hasn't been able to stay on the field. When he has been healthy, there have been mixed results.
If any club can get the most out of a player, it's the St. Louis Cardinals.
As the Los Angeles Times' Mike DiGiovanna reported earlier this offseason, Bourjos was acquired in a multi-player trade from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for third baseman David Freese. Center fielder Jon Jay disappointed last season, so the Cardinals decided to address the position in the offseason.
It's not clear where the new Cardinal will hit in the lineup, but his skill set fits well at the top of the order. He has good speed, which would set the tone for the team's deep lineup if he could get on base enough.
However, it has been inconsistency that has plagued his career. Take a look at his batting averages through four seasons:
If he continues to trend that way, he is in store for a disappointing season.
St. Louis fans should be worried about a huge split. Bourjos has hit .274 throughout his career at Angel Stadium but only .228 on the road. He has played the same number of games at home and on the road, so there's not too much of a difference in terms of plate appearances.
Last year, he hit .308 at home and .221 on the road. That's a pretty steep drop.
The Cardinals are hoping that he can carry his success from Angel Stadium to Busch Stadium. In order to do that, he's going to have to find a way to stay healthy.
Baseball Prospectus provides an in-depth injury history for the 26-year-old. Last year, he missed most of the year with a broken right wrist. Here are the other body parts that have been hurt in the past: left wrist, thumb, groin and thigh.
He is a strong center fielder who can cover a lot of ground. Injuries are part of life for players of that mold. St. Louis needs him to be healthy in order for him to help the team, so watch to see if the Cards can find a way to keep him on the field.
Bourjos isn't an expensive player like most of the players on this list. However, his injury history and inability to hit away from Angel Stadium makes this an extremely risky acquisition by the Cardinals.
LF: Logan Morrison, Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners did their best to revamp their offense to help out a strong pitching staff. By adding Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, they definitely improved their offense. However, outside of Cano, they have no idea what they are getting.
Trading for Morrison, as they did in December per The Seattle Times' Ryan Divish, should help the team. It's just a matter of how much he will actually help.
This team has shifted into "win-now" mode after an offseason full of moves.
Morrison busted onto the scene as a rookie in 2010. He hit .283/.390/.447 in his first year in the majors. It's been a struggle at the plate ever since.
He did show some pop in his bat with 23 home runs and 25 doubles the following season, but his average dropped down to .247. It dipped down to .230 in 2012 before he got it back up to .242 last year.
Marlins Park didn't do him any favors. He hit only 17 home runs in 667 plate appearances over the last two seasons, compared to 23 homers in 525 plate appearances in his first full season.
The 26-year-old has hit .251 against right-handers and .244 against southpaws, so there's not much difference there. However, he has hit 33 of his 42 home runs in his career against right-handers.
Against southpaws, it's going to be an adventure for Mariners fans. Morrison has struggled mightily against left-handers throughout his career, and Seattle's stadium isn't going to be much help.
SP: Edinson Volquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Edinson Volquez had a spectacular season after he was acquired by the Cincinnati Reds for Josh Hamilton in 2008. After that All-Star season, he’s been a mess.
Teams see that potential and decide that he’s worth the gamble. The latest example: the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ace A.J. Burnett didn’t let the team know his intentions early in the offseason, so the club had to look for pitching help. Now that he has decided that he will pitch this year, it’s unclear where he will pitch.
With the uncertainty surrounding Burnett, the Pirates needed to add an arm to the rotation. Unfortunately, they picked a guy who doesn’t look like he has “it” anymore.
This is a guy who has been an Opening Day starter multiple times and even opened a playoff series. Those are all distant memories.
Of the 81 pitchers who qualified, who finished with the worst ERA in baseball? That would be Volquez. His 5.71 ERA was nearly half a run higher than the next pitcher's.
That looks bad, but consider where he pitched. Volquez had the luxury of pitching at Petco Park for 27 starts and had a 6.01 ERA. That's not good at all. When he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers, it dropped to a more respectable 4.18 ERA.
The 30-year-old has pitched in nine seasons in the majors. His earned run average has been below 4.14 only once in his career, when it was 3.21 in 2008. He has yet to get it back down to under 4.30 since that All-Star campaign. To make matters worse, he's finished at 5.71 in two of the past three seasons. Yikes.
Walks have always been an issue for the right-hander. He has walked 4.8 batters per nine innings throughout his career, which isn't a good thing considering his strikeouts per nine have dropped in each season since 2010.
Pittsburgh turned Francisco Liriano round last year after signing him to a low-risk deal. After that great find last year, they decided to take another chance this year. Volquez will make $5 million in 2014, which is relatively cheap compared to the market, but this looks like it will be another disappointing year for him.
SP: Ubaldo Jimenez, Free Agent
Thanks to being tagged with a qualifying offer, Ubaldo Jimenez is still on the market. It's getting late in the offseason, so he's either going to have to lower his asking price or accept a one-year deal, perhaps with the Cleveland Indians.
A strong end to the 2013 season figured to get Jimenez paid this winter, but it hasn't happened yet. He's the perfect example of a "buyer beware" pitcher.
Control has always been an issue for the right-hander. He has walked 175 batters over 359.1 innings since the beginning of the 2012 season. He has had three seasons with 16 wild pitches. Not good.
Here are his earned run averages from 2010 to 2012: 4.68, 4.46 and 5.40.
What happened when he entered his contract year? A 3.30 ERA. Buyer beware.
It's even more concerning when looking at his season in-depth. He posted a 4.56 ERA in the first half of the season but followed that up with a 1.82 ERA over his final 13 starts.
There's two ways of looking at those numbers. First, you could argue that he turned it up when it was time to get paid. On the other side, one could say that he turned into an ace during a pennant race. Teams have to figure out which pitcher he is.
The 30-year-old can light up a radar gun, but Indians fans didn't see him reach his potential until the final months of last season. Jimenez's track record says that he is in store for a rough season.
SP: Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics
The 30-year-old hadn't pitched consistently in the majors since 2010, and he hasn't put up strong numbers since 2008. A 10-9 record and a 4.04 ERA in 158 innings with the Cleveland Indians last year was good enough to get him paid this offseason.
Away from Progressive Field, he posted a 4.21 ERA in 15 starts.
Getting left-handers out is not an issue. He held them to a .226 average and allowed only three homers last year. Right-handers are a completely different issue. He got lit up to the tune of a .275 average and 16 homers against right-handers in 2013.
Those numbers aren't good when he will have to go up against the likes of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre on a consistent basis.
Moving to Oakland's spacious ballpark should help him in theory, but his career numbers there aren't pretty. The southpaw has a 4.46 ERA in 13 starts and has allowed 70 hits and 31 walks in 72.2 innings in Oakland.
The A's didn't want to pay Bartolo Colon, who has proven himself in recent seasons. Instead, they paid a guy who has made only 30 starts since 2010 and is five years past his prime.
Oakland usually makes smart moevs, but this signing has mistake written all over it.
Closer: John Axford, Cleveland Indians
Getting rid of Chris Perez was a great move by the Cleveland Indians. But instead of saving money and going with an internal option, like Vinnie Pestano, to take over as closer, the Indians shelled out some cash for a replacement.
The veteran led the league with 46 saves with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, and he had a 1.95 ERA that year. He's had a rough time ever since. He posted a 4.67 ERA in 2012 and had a 4.45 ERA in 62 games with the Brewers last year.
The right-hander got hit around last year. He allowed a .282 average to righties and .289 to left-handers, and he allowed five dingers to both sides. It should concern the Indians that he struggled against both sides, which shows there's a lot of work to do to get him right.
He did settle down and post a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of last season. That's a pretty small sample size, and he wasn't the closer. Plus, St. Louis has the ability to get the best out of players.
Axford told John Lott of the National Post that the Cardinals informed him that he had been tipping his pitches. The Indians are banking on his improved numbers being a result of adjusting to that error, rather than the usual boon of pitching for St. Louis.
The closer's role will be an adventure this season for Cleveland, and the Tribe will wish that they had gone with an internal option for closer.