Picking MLB's Biggest Duds of the Week, Position by Position
This past week, MLB has had its share of magical moments, including a delay in a game between the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates on account of birds. That’s right—two birds brought an at-bat between Vance Worley and Miguel Cabrera to a standstill.
For as whimsical as that brief moment was, however, not all is fine with this grand game. There were some showings that can only be described as duds.
Between fielding gaffes and players hurting their club’s chances of winning a baseball game, there were some wretched performances over the last seven days.
Here's a position-by-position look at MLB's biggest underachievers from the past week.
Unless otherwise noted, all traditional and advanced statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs and are accurate as of game time Sunday, August 17.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
This year, he's been like Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn, except without the walk numbers sufficiently swelling his on-base percentage and giving the illusion of productivity. That may seem harsh given how awful Dunn is, but after digesting the numbers, it's an accurate assessment.
Davis collected only two hits all week, and while one of them was a home run, he oftentimes puts an unnecessary burden on manager Buck Showalter’s lineup.
Last Week’s Stats: .111/.158/.278, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 15 wRC+
Stephen Drew, 2B, New York Yankees
Stephen Drew of the New York Yankees edged out Gordon Beckham from the Chicago White Sox in a close race to earn the title of worst second baseman in MLB this past week. Given how difficult it is to beat Beckham in a competition for failing at the plate, that speaks for itself.
Unfortunately for fans in the Bronx, Drew is dreadful. So bad, in fact, that the lineup is now worse than it was before his acquisition at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Look no further than his 19 wRC+ since joining the Yankees for evidence.
On top his ineptness at the plate, Drew trailed only Jason Kipnis from the Cleveland Indians and Jose Altuve from the Houston Astros in the battle to be the worst defensive second baseman in the game. His ineffectiveness would be comical if it wasn't so sad.
Drew is the antithesis of everything general manager Brian Cashman wanted when he made the trade.
Last Week’s Stats: .188/.188/.250, 16 AB, 2B, R, 4 K, 12 wRC+
Didi Gregorius, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Not only was he hitless in 21 plate appearances, but his minus-0.5 defensive rating trailed only Marwin Gonzalez for the worst mark in the game. It’s not like he doesn’t have talent, of course. He is quite gifted, but he forgot to come ready to play last week.
On the bright side, he did draw two walks last Sunday and had a sacrifice bunt in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday. That's hardly much of a bright side, though.
Last Week’s Stats: .000/.100/.000, 2 BB, 18 AB, minus-74 wRC+
Luis Valbuena, 3B, Chicago Cubs
After going 1-for-14 with a walk from Monday through Thursday, manager Rick Renteria held him out of the starting lineup Friday and again Saturday. There is word that he has been battling a cold, but his struggles have been going on for some time.
Valbuena capped off his dismal week by striking out as a pinch hitter against the New York Mets on Saturday night. It wasn't pretty.
Right now, he is as bad as the numbers indicate.
Last Week’s Stats: .059/.111/.059, 5 K, minus-59 wRC+
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
True, he got off to a nice start last Sunday, going 1–for-3 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in a victory over the San Francisco Giants. After that, however, he managed just two doubles, scored once and drew one walk over his next 18 at-bats.
Now, Perez did hit the ball hard a few times and caught Jason Vargas’ complete-game shutout, but he couldn’t find a way to string together productive at-bats.
Much is expected of the young catcher, and if he can’t find a way to pull out of this funk, the Royals are going to have to find some offense from a different source as they try to hold off the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
Last Week’s Stats: .143/.208/.381, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 56 wRC+
Carlos Beltran, DH, New York Yankees
Coming off a stretch from July 18 through Aug. 8 during which he compiled a .354/.409/.582 slash line with five home runs, 17 RBI and 14 runs scored, New York Yankees designated hitter Carlos Beltran has suddenly forgotten how to do the one thing he gets paid for—hitting a baseball.
Over the last week, he has looked lost in the batter’s box and has found himself down in the count more often than not. Frankly, it's alarming.
If he doesn’t pull out of his slump, there is no way the Yankees can overcome the damage that Martin Prado and Stephen Drew are doing to the lineup.
Last Week’s Stats: .056/.105/.111, 2B, R, minus-49 wRC+
Domingo Santana, LF, Houston Astros
Is it fair to give the recognition to a guy who appeared in only one game?
Sure it is. That is, of course, if that one game included an 0-for-4 night at the plate and a defensive blunder that allowed runners to score from first and second on a two-out single to the outfield in the ninth inning of a tie game the way Houston Astros left fielder Domingo Santana did Monday night against the Minnesota Twins.
Regarding the bizarre play in left field, Santana held on to the ball for just under six seconds and basically dared Brian Dozier to break for home plate. Dozier did, of course, and Santana’s throw was well off the mark.
After the game, Santana could only say that he “was just trying to cut it” and that he “just panicked, you know,” via MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Well then.
It must be noted that the contest versus the Twins was only Santana’s sixth MLB game, so he could end up being quite good. That said, getting the ball back to the infield is something that is taught very early on.
Last Week’s Stats: 0-for-4, 3 K, minus-100 wRC+
Arismendy Alcantara, CF, Chicago Cubs
By far, Chicago Cubs center fielder Arismendy Alcantara had the worst week at his position across MLB.
It wasn’t even close, actually. In fact, Alcantara reached base in only three out of the seven games he played in and collected two of his three hits in the same contest.
Defensively, he made some remarkable plays with his athleticism, but he has a rather poor arm that led to uneven results last week, including Monday night, when he "sailed a throw between third base and home plate on a single that allowed a runner to move to second,” via Mark Gonzales from the Chicago Tribune (subscription required). He also made a costly error Saturday night against the New York Mets.
While center field is a new position and the future may hold great success, last week was one to forget for the 22-year-old rookie.
Last Week’s Stats: .111/.143/.148, 27 AB, RBI, 2B, 2 R, minus-27 wRC+
Curtis Granderson, RF, New York Mets
True, he started the week off well, going 2-for-3 with a run scored against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night. After that, though, it was all downhill.
All told, he finished with one hit, two walks and six strikeouts in his final 27 plate appearances. At least Jerry Seinfeld is a big fan of the left-handed hitter, according to Mark Simon of ESPN New York.
Last Week’s Stats: .103/.188/.103, 29 AB, R, 7 K, minus-11 wRC+
Kyle Lohse, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
There were a couple of different starting pitchers to choose from, including Miles Mikolas from the Texas Rangers and Rafael Montero from the New York Mets, but Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse gets the nod.
Lohse is having a very strong season, but last week, he got handled. In his only start against the Chicago Cubs, he went three innings and gave up four earned runs on seven hits.
It was bad.
Most telling, the Cubs had a .500 batting average on balls in play against him. In other words, they were squaring the ball up all night, highlighted by back-to-back home runs in the third inning by Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo.
Lohse had to leave the game after aggravating a right ankle injury in an at-bat against Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada. But he looked off well before that happened, surrendering two runs in the top of the first inning.
Simply put, it was a bad night.
Last Week’s Stats: 0-1, 3.0 IP, 12.00 ERA, 10.80 FIP, 3 K, 6.00 HR/9, minus-0.2 WAR
Phil Coke, RP, Detroit Tigers
From June 8 through Aug. 7, Detroit Tigers left-hander Phil Coke looked like he knew what he was doing, compiling a 2.14 ERA and limiting opposing hitters to a .238 batting average against over 21.0 innings pitched, per Baseball-Reference.
Alas, he is back to his old tricks. And in the midst of a dogfight in the AL Central with the Royals, the last thing manager Brad Ausmus needs is for Coke to forget how to throw a baseball.
His first appearance of the week came in the bottom of the seventh inning versus the Toronto Blue Jays last Sunday. He lasted one-third of an inning, gave up two hits and both of the runners he inherited scored. The failure would prove costly, as the Tigers went on to lose the game by one run.
It gets worse.
On Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he gave up a walk, a hit and a two-run home run to Gaby Sanchez before being lifted in favor of Joba Chamberlain after recording only one out.
For many Tigers fans, this type of showing is nothing new.
Last Week’s Stats: 4 G, 0-0, 3.1 IP, 8.10 ERA, 10.03 FIP, 2.70 BB/9, minus-0.2 WAR