MLB Mayday: 10 Stars Who Have Lost Their Way
It’s no secret that fans across the nation cringe at the sight of a poor performance from their team on a given night.
Often times, fans will use the excuse that it is still early in the year and these players and teams will turn it around.
The 2010 MLB season has offered up its fair share of great moments and performances from some of the league’s best; but as we head into mid-May, there is still some doubt amongst even the most faithful of fans that the following players will turn it around.
Some players aren’t living up to their massive contracts, others may have finally hit rock bottom, and some are playing under the guise that the season hasn’t even started yet.
Jason Bay, OF, New York Mets
We know this story already: a heavy-hitting outfielder with a few years of brilliance is paid a king’s ransom by the Mets' organization in hopes of stabilizing the middle of a perpetually inconsistent lineup.
Mets fans fondly recall the year in which they signed Carlos Beltran to an ungodly deal that never lived up to the hype.
This year, Canadian Jason Bay headed to Citi Field and began batting from the cleanup position in an effort to protect and support David Wright.
Instead, Bay has hectically bounced himself up or down a spot in the lineup this year while lacking any of the identity that he so firmly established in Boston.
Bay’s batting average has consistently dropped over the past few years, but his production (36 homers and 119 RBI in 2009) had not.
That was until he donned a Mets uniform, where he currently bats an underwhelming .239 with just one home run and 12 RBIs.
Recent Mets call-up and Arizona State alum Ike Davis has already matched that production in half as much game time.
Josh Beckett, P, Boston Red Sox
He was brought to Fenway to do one thing: win—and until the 2010 season, Josh Beckett had done just that. Beckett’s 17-6 record in 2009 was a refreshing return to form from a disappointing 2008.
But this year, with added pressure to be the ace once again, Beckett has all but drowned.
He is just 1-1 in seven appearances this season and he should feel lucky to have only one loss tagged to his record. He’s giving up more than a hit an inning and has posted a destructive 7.46 ERA.
Perhaps most notable is that Beckett, the notorious kryptonite to the ultra-rival New York Yankees, has completely imploded against the defending champions.
In two appearances against the Bronx Bombers this year, Beckett has lasted only four and five innings respectively, surrendering 14 runs and 17 hits over that span.
Most Boston players performing that poorly—especially against a division rival—would get demoted; but when you’re paid as much as Beckett, you receive a pass until the next fire ignites.
Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston Astros
Lance Berkman may be the exact opposite of a fine wine, because he’s getting no better with age.
Berkman opened the season in Houston after his 34th birthday, and the once prominent 30-home run, 100-RBI source has disappeared into obscurity throughout the first segment of the year.
The limited action for Berkman hasn’t helped his case—playing only 17 games thus far. With a .175 batting average and just two home runs and seven RBIs, he might just want to stop there for the year.
Something of an all-or-nothing player this year, Lance has just three hits in his last 10 games, one of which was a two-run homer, padding what little stats he had produced thus far.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Fantasy baseball owners will be the first to tell you: “Aaron Hill saved my season.”
In 2009, Hill erupted for career marks in nearly every major batting category. He threatened to amass 200 hits and managed to strike out less than most power hitters in the league.
It's easy to say that the pressure got to him, or that he’s still banged up, but Hill is nothing like the player he was last season.
He’s well on pace to strike out over 100 times (he only struck out 98 times in 2009), all the while batting 100 points lower than his best mark of .286.
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, 1B and 3B, Chicago Cubs
For a list that proclaims it only contains 10 players, I just had to include this duo as the one entity dragging down the Chicago Cubs.
For years, the heart of Chicago’s order was compiled of two massive, feared hitters in Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. But to say that the Baseball Gods have never been kind to the Chicago Cubs might just be an understatement.
Two players that are usually good for 50 home runs and 200 RBI in a single season should brighten up the lineup; instead, Lee and Ramirez have been incomprehensibly awful in the early going.
Lee is batting .217 with 4 homers and 15 RBI, a shadow of the player who once flirted with the triple crown. His OPS has dropped .300 points in the span of a season.
Not to be outdone, Ramirez is batting an anemic .157 with 3 home runs and 15 runs batted in. His OPS is down almost .450 points.
Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets
Is it even fair to include Jose Reyes on this list? He’s been the quintessential disappointment since he arrived nearly a decade ago. Reyes once had 200 hits and stole 56 bases, and that was only two years ago.
What’s sad is that he’s been so fragile (both physical and immune systems have failed) that fans can only cringe while watching him nosedive to a meager .227 average.
What’s more sad is that Reyes, despite his terrible lead-off numbers, is en route to having a better 2010 than he did 2009. At this point, Reyes is to Mets fans what Eric Lindros became to NHL Fans.
Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians
Remember when Grady Sizemore was good? I mean really good? Of course you do, because as Sizemore goes, the Indians franchise has gone as well.
Sizemore’s batting average is on the decline again this year, currently struggling to jump just above the .200 mark. In three years, he’s gone from 33 homers, to just 18, to his current mark—zero.
His RBI have also declined the past two seasons. You could say that missing 50 games last year tainted those numbers—but Sizemore has been invisible ever since the Indians were eliminated from the American League Championship Series.
What hurts even more is that Grady, who will be 28 this August and in the prime of his career, is playing more like he’s about to turn 48.
Even if the Indians wanted to trade him in an effort to continue their perpetual rebuilding pattern, returns wouldn’t be what they once were for the Cleveland treasure.
Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Too much, too fast, too soon. Justin Upton burst into the major leagues with a huge amount of hype around the Valley of the Sun. He was described as a better, more powerful version of his brother, B.J.
By 2009, Upton had secured the No. 3 spot in the D-Backs lineup with an impressive season for a team that otherwise lacked motivation (and was able to overlook J-Up‘s defensive deficiencies).
Arizona had high hopes entering the 2010 season, piggy-backing on a revamped pitching staff and hoping that Upton would continue to build on a budding career.
Instead, he has failed miserably in carrying the weight while the Diamondbacks remain offensively inept. His .218 batting average isn’t the worst on the list, but he leaves tons of runners on-base (in pressure situations) and tends to be a player fans look at when the D-Backs lose a close one.
What's worse? He’s struck out more times than he’s been on base, giving fellow teammate and current Whiff-King Mark Reynolds a run for his money.
The entire team is relying on Upton to turn it around, and he’s incapable on both sides of the ball.
Javier Vazquez, P, New York Yankees
Well, who didn’t see this one coming? For a team that has become more or less relegated to sloppy starts, the New York Yankees haven’t had much to complain about this year.
Sure, Alex Rodriguez has struggled to hit the long ball and Mark Teixeira could easily make this list, too.
Even with the “Core Four” being a little banged up, the Yankees have managed to keep pace with the Tampa Bay Rays as the best team in baseball.
All the familiar faces are pulling their weight, except for one.
Reacquiring the right-handed Vazquez for farm talents like Melky Cabrera seemed like a solid proposition for the Yanks, especially considering he had really come back from his shaky Yankee years.
He’s 1-3 with a 9.78 ERA. Vazquez hasn’t even made it out of the sixth inning once this season. How can it get any worse given the high expectations set upon him?
Carlos Zambrano, P, Chicago Cubs
Well, that’s how. The saga of Carlos Zambrano may fizzle out before it ever really gained any traction.
The choice to move Zambrano back to the bullpen after a disastrous start to the season seemed logical enough.
The funny truth, or unfunny depending on what baseball cap you’re wearing, is that Zambrano’s move to the bullpen hasn’t been bad. It’s been worse.
Zambrano hasn’t pitched a single inning in relief in which he did not give up a hit. His ERA is 6.75. In his last outing, he was stomped by the Reds—a team known for being even worse than the Cubs.
And that’s the real tragedy here.
Zambrano is a powder keg in a bad situation, and it couldn’t get any worse.