MLB's Top Ten 2010 Comebacks: Wasted Millions, Suddenly Worth It
David Ortiz may be starting to turn a corner, as he's hit safely in his last six games and driven in 11 runs over his last nine. Still, it's a bit early to tell if Big Papi will ultimately prove worth the $12.5 million he's earning in 2010.
It's unlikely, for Ortiz hasn't earned his keep sabermetrically since the 2007 Championship season.
While the Fenway Faithful fight only mildly fight the urge to boo their overpaid, aging slugger, other fan bases around MLB are experiencing quite the opposite sensation:
They aren't quite sure if they should wholeheartedly cheer their aging, seemingly overpaid, but resurging, stars.
Names like Barry Zito, Carlos Silva, Scott Rolen, and Vernon Wells are on their lips, and they're shocked to find themselves cheering their once fading heroes.
Here are the top 10 greatest comebacks thus far in 2010.
10. Carlos Silva: The Silva Lining
Pre-Contract Stats: 13-14 / 202 Innings / 4.19 ERA / 1.31 WHIP / 89 K's
2009 Sabermetric Value: - $400,000
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 4-7 / 91 Innings / 5.04 ERA / 1.41 WHIP / 48 K's
2010 Salary: $11.5 million
On Pace For: 17-0 / 183 Innings / 3.40 ERA / 1.20 WHIP / 117 K's
Perhaps Carlos Silva should never have been expected to be much more than he's been, but in Chicago expectations are inflated and heightened.
With Carloz Zambrano shunted to the bullpen, Carlos Silva has stepped up and assumed the role of de facto ace.
In fact, not since 2002 has the 31-year-old Silva performed so well when toeing the rubber.
Now Silva has the opportunity to earn his always inappropriate salary. As good as he's been, Silva shouldn't exactly prove the greatest value in the National League.
At the end of the day, Silva's resurgence is strong, but not tops.
9. Scott Rolen: Red Again
Pre-Contract Stats: 11 HR / .305 AVG / .368 OBP / .455 SLG in 535 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: $16.9 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 10 HR / .280 AVG / .350 OBP / .450 SLG in 354 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $11 million (paid over 3 years with no interest)
On Pace For: 26 HR / .263 AVG / .333 OBP / 491 SLG in 561 Plate Appearances
35-year-old Scott Rolen was once considered one of the best third basemen out there. In 2002 his rising star earned him an 8-year and $90 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
But by 2008 Rolen was shipped off to Toronto, and in 2009 Rolen found himself in Ohio of all wonderful baseball places.
2007 and 2008 marked real offensive downturns for Rolen, but he rebounded somewhat with the Reds.
Still, many thought his extension in Cincinnati was like throwing good money after bad. Rolen may have been a decent short-term draw, but he's not someone a rebuilding franchise should extend.
This year, Rolen is continuing to prove wrong his sports media detractors.
Rolen's on pace to hit close to 30 bombs, and he's definitely well on his way to earning the $6 million in deferred monies he miraculously accepted for his not quite faded services.
Toronto is just the king of casting off resurgent stars.
8. Jason Varitek: O Captain, My Captain!
Pre-Contract Stats: 14 HR / .209 AVG / .313 OBP / .390 SLG in 425 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: $2.1 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 11 HR / .230 AVG / .332 OBP / .410 SLG in 296 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $3 million
On Pace For: 26 HR / .342 AVG / .419 OBP / .868 SLG in 187 Plate Appearances
Catching for Josh Beckett and spot starting when Victor Martinez needs a day's rest, Jason Varitek is experiencing one of the finest early season streaks of his career.
Never particularly known for his offense, the Red Sox captain was forced to exercise his $3 million 2010 player option when general manager Theo Epstein declined his $5 million team option.
Considered offensively finished by most "experts," the 38-year-old Varitek seems to be benefiting significantly from the extra days off.
Already in 2010, Varitek has given his club $3.3 million in sabermetric value and has outstripped his meager contract by $300,000. Actually, Varitek is on pace to afford the Sox nearly $15 million in value.
Whether this year remains his swan song or not, Varitek has already proven himself and showed that his fading Fenway star still has some serious sparkle to it.
7. Ty Wigginton: Suddenly Akin To Another Ty
Pre-Contract Stats: 23 HR / .285 AVG / .350 OBP / .526 SLG in 429 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: - $2.7 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 17 HR / .287 AVG / .344 OBP / .502 SLG in 361 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $3.5 million
On Pace For: 52 HR / .314 AVG / .383 OBP / .686 SLG in 583 Plate Appearances
Ty Wigginton hit more than 22 homers every year prior to 2009, when he experienced a nearly career worst power season.
Now, will he really keep it up and hit 52 bombs in 2010? Highly unlikely, yet Wigginton and his 32-year-old frame are proving that sometimes you just have a bad year.
Wigginton has already more than compensated the Orioles in sabermetric dollars for his real greenbacks.
Can he keep it up?
If he can, the Orioles should certainly deal him.
They were kidding themselves when they thought this would a year of contention, and they need to get back to rebuilding...yesterday.
Wigginton could get the ball rolling.
6. Magglio Ordonez: Power's Back On
Pre-Contract Stats: 9 HR / .292 AVG / .351 OBP / .485 SLG in 222 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: $6.7 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 12 HR / .301 AVG / .369 OBP / .457 SLG in 436 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $18 million
On Pace For: 22 HR / .307 AVG / .391 OBP / .471 SLG in 700 Plate Appearances
After experiencing a stark power outage during the 2009 season, Magglio Ordonez was all but on his way out of Detroit.
Most sports commentators figured that Ordonez and his mammoth $18 million club option would be traded out of the financially strapped Motor City, but Ordonez' option vested and here he is.
Here is the 36-year-old Ordonez knocking it around like he's anything but washed up.
While this may be a Jorge Posada-type resurgence, the desperate Tigers' fans can at least enjoy it while it lasts, if only until the trade deadline.
If the Tigers can't stay in contention, Ordonez could and should be dealt.
5. Andy Pettitte: Sabathia Who?
Pre-Contract Stats: 14-8 / 194.2 Innings / 4.16 ERA / 1.38 WHIP / 148 K's
2009 Sabermetric Value: $15 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 10-7 / 148 Innings / 4.44 ERA / 1.41 WHIP / 101 K's
2010 Salary: $11.75 million
On Pace For: 22-0 / 196 Innings / 1.79 ERA / 1.15 WHIP / 126 K's
Behind C.C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and his full first name had to battle their way into the Yankees' 2010 rotation.
As much money as there is being tossed around in New York while the rest of the country suffers, Brian Cashman didn't seem willing to pony up something close to what Pettitte was worth.
Pettitte again considered retirement.
How can a guy who's thinking retirement go 5-0 to start the year? How can he do it with a microscopic ERA?
The Goat can.
Though never the Yankees' ace on paper, the 37-year-old Pettitte is by far the 2010 Yankees' ace on rubber.
He's not fading. He's getting better with age.
4. Vladimir Guerrero: The Stars At Night...
Pre-Contract Stats: 15 HR / .295 AVG / .334 OBP / .460 SLG in 407 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: $3.7 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 17 HR / .311 AVG / .369 OBP / .510 SLG in 403 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $5.5 million
On Pace For: 31 HR / .338 AVG / .373 OBP / .525 SLG in 666 Plate Appearances
Vladimir Guerrero was the face of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim franchise. Though I'm sure that's a dubious honor, being the face of something with such a ridiculously long name.
It was therefore surprising when the Halos elected not to re-sign their 35-year-old slugger and instead hired Yankee cast-off Hideki Matsui.
The Texas Rangers are the beneficiaries of that mistake and their own worthwhile gamble.
The free-swinging Guerrero has found new life in Arlington.
Currently on pace to nearly match his 2004 American League MVP season, Guerrero should easily earn his keep in Texas. By mid May Guerrero will likely have sabermetrically paid for himself.
Best of all for Vlad, all those Angels fans who mocked him and lauded his departure have to see him thump the Angels over and over and over again in the American League West this year.
The stars at night,
Are big and bright,
Deep in the heart of Texas.
3. Alex Rios: The Canadian Cast Away
Pre-Contract Stats: 24 HR / .297 AVG / .354 OBP / .498 SLG in 711 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: $1.7 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 15 HR / .278 AVG / .330 OBP / .457 SLG in 485 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $9.7 million
On Pace For: 26 HR / .304 AVG / .348 OBP / .552 SLG in 587 Plate Appearances
In 2009 Alex Rios joined Roy Halladay in the Toronto Blue Jays rebuilding salary dump.
While Halladay was dealt for solid prospects, Rios was really just dumped. The return could have been anything, for a guy Toronto had inked through 2015.
Yet, at only $9.7 million this year, perhaps Rios was more affordable and more valuable than the Jays realized when they shipped him off to the Chicago White Sox.
To date, Rios has already tallied $7 million in sabermetric value, and he's on pace to be worth more than three times his salary by year's end.
Canada's trash is Chicago's treasure.
With Jake Peavy disappointing the Windy City faithful, Alex Rios is like a refreshing draught of Canadian whiskey.
Maybe the Blue Jays shouldn't be so quick to jump ship on their next big star. Adam Lind?
2. Vernon Wells: All's Well That Ends Well
Pre-Contract Stats: 16 HR / .245 AVG / .304 OBP / .402 SLG in 642 Plate Appearances
2009 Sabermetric Value: $200,000
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 16 HR / .269 AVG / .325 OBP / .462 SLG in 440 Plate Appearances
2010 Salary: $12.5 million
On Pace For: 44 HR / .306 AVG / .369 OBP / .611 SLG in 696 Plate Appearances
Vernon Wells has already provided $7.8 million in sabermetric value to a Toronto organization reeling from the loss of big-gun Roy Halladay. Wells is more than half way to earning his 2010 salary.
Obviously, it would defy all reasonable expectation should Wells actually slug 44 homers, but he is on pace to do just that.
Since signing his 7-year and $126 million contract before the 2008 season, Wells has posted only $6.7 million in value and knocked out 35 dingers in total.
Wells has been such a disappointment until this year that the most experts speculated Wells would be dealt sometime this year.
While that could still be the case should the Blue Jays truly fall out of contention, Wells may now haul in a significantly stronger prospect package.
Wells could be one of the great trade chips of 2010.
1. Barry Zito: The Unexpected Ace
Pre-Contract Stats: 16-10 / 221 Innings / 3.83 ERA / 1.40 WHIP / 151 K's
2009 Sabermetric Value: $10 million
Projected 2010 Stats (ZiPS): 10-10 / 148 Innings / 4.32 ERA / 1.44 WHIP / 105 K's
2010 Salary: $18.5 million
On Pace For: 22-4 / 205 Innings / 1.90 ERA / 1.10 WHIP / 131 K's
While it's certainly beyond belief that Barry Zito could win 22 games this year, the former sure thing's resurgence has stabilized the San Francisco rotation beyond ace Tim Lincecum and flourishing should-be Matt Cain.
Not over the hill, the 32-year-old Zito is an ace again.
During the first three years of his mammoth contract with the Giants, Zito has struggled, flopped, and completely bombed. Zito's run up 31-43 record and been booed to no end.
While providing $23.3 million in sabermetric value, Zito has collected paychecks amounting to $43 million.
2010 has thus far marked a dramatic return to dominance for Zito, who has seemingly transformed his pitching approach and become a new man on the mound.
Zito is now on pace to more than earn his 2010 salary.
If he holds up, Zito could be the second ace the Giants need to capture the National League West and make a serious playoff run.