Worst of 2010: Power Ranking the 25 Worst MLB Players of the Year
Every year, 29 of the 30 MLB teams will experience a disappointing end to the baseball season. Some of the players on those teams did more than their share to add to the collective misery.
An individual player can bring a team down in a number of ways. Factors that can influence the end result include performance, money and attitude.
There were players in 2010, both young and old, who simply did not live up to performance expectations. Others did not earn their very large paychecks. A few of the worst offenders hurt their teams with their bad behavior.
This list encompasses the worst of the worst in 2010. While you will find players with shoddier statistics than many players on this list, the selections were made based on the overall damaging impact on their teams.
No. 25: Fernando Rodney, Closer, Los Angeles Angels
Rodney has never been a lights-out closer. But with the Tigers in 2009, Rodney was able to convert 37 of 38 save attempts while pitching 75.2 innings, the most in his career.
So when the Angels signed Rodney for the 2010 season, what they got from this pitcher was not what they expected. Rodney filled in as the closer throughout the year until an August trade moved him into the spot permanently.
In total, Rodney converted only 14 of 21 save attempts and ended the year with a 4.24 ERA. Other closers, like Heath Bell of the Padres, performed much better. Bell converted 47 of 50 saves with an ERA of 1.93, allowing about half as many earned runs as Rodney. Bell also made $1.5 million less than Rodney.
In terms of overall expectations, Rodney did not live up to the hype.
No. 24: Adam Lind, Designated Hitter, Toronto Blue Jays
Coming into the 2010 season, Lind was a .298 lifetime hitter who hit .305 with 35 homers and 114 RBI in 2009. He also collected a Silver Slugger Award that year.
2010 was a much different story. Both his power numbers and average plummeted. Lind hit only .237 in 2010, and his RBI total dwindled down to 72 for the year.
At 27 years of age, Lind could still bounce back in 2011. But his past year's performance was certainly a big disappointment for the Jays.
No. 23: Scot Shields, Reliever, Los Angeles Angels
For seven years, Shields was one of the best relievers in baseball. In 2009, his season was cut short in late May with knee surgery. Expecting the pitcher to return to form for the 2010 season, the Angels were sorely disappointed.
Shields went from a sparkling 2.70 ERA in 2008 to an uncharacteristic 5.28 ERA in 2010. His 0-3 record was a far cry from years past, when he held the Angels franchise record for 42 wins as a reliever.
Whether Shields can rebound in 2011 if he chooses to play is unknown, but at 35 years of age, it is also very unlikely.
No. 22: J.D. Drew, Right Fielder, Boston Red Sox
J.D. Drew may be the MLB poster child for overpaid players. Super agent Scott Boras scored a five-year, $70 million contract in 2007 that will take Drew through the 2011 season.
In 2010, Drew certainly did not earn that $14 million yearly salary. He hit only .255 in 487 at-bats, the most in his four years with Boston. Despite having more plate appearances, Drew collected only 68 RBI and scored just 69 times.
In fact, during these same four years, Drew has never collected more than 68 RBI in any one season. His on-base percentage in 2010 was the lowest in his Red Sox career as well at .341 percent.
For an average player, these numbers may not be so bad. But for a guy making $14 million a year, it looks like the Red Sox have been robbed.
No. 21: Jonathan Papelbon, Closer, Boston Red Sox
Continuing the fleecing of the Red Sox, Jonathan Papelbon took home over $9 million in 2010. In return, he posted a career-worst 3.90 ERA and blew eight saves, also a career high.
Papelbon hit career worsts in several areas during the 2010 season. His 29 earned runs, seven home runs allowed, 28 walks and seven losses were all the worst in his six years with the Red Sox.
In a year where his team was plagued by injuries, Papelbon managed to add insult with his performance.
No. 20: Ryan Rowland-Smith, Starting Pitcher, Seattle Mariners
In Rowland-Smith's third full year in the majors, the Mariners were expecting big things from this young Australian pitcher. He averaged a 3.58 ERA in 2008 and 2009 for the Mariners. But 2010 did not go quite as well.
With nagging back pains through a good part of the season, Rowland-Smith had a difficult year. He wound up with a 1-10 record and sky-high 6.75 ERA in 27 games. As a result, the Mariners released him this offseason.
The Houston Astros have decided to give the young player another shot. Rowland-Smith will compete for the fifth spot in their rotation this spring. Known as a nice, down-to-earth guy, many are rooting for this Aussie to rebound in 2011.
No. 19: Chone Figgins, Second Base, Seattle Mariners
Pitching was not the only woe of the Mariners in 2010. When they signed second baseman Chone Figgins to a four-year, $36 million contract in 2010, they were expecting an upgrade. Instead, they received disappointment.
With the Angels in 2009, Figgins walked 101 times and hit for a .298 average. He also scored 114 runs.
But in 2010 with the Mariners, Figgins batted only .259 with 74 walks and 62 runs scored. Figgins was even substandard in the field, committing a career-high 19 errors.
The worst part for the Mariners is that they are signed on for another three years of this potentially mediocre play.
No. 18: Pedro Feliz, Third Base, St. Louis Cardinals
Pedro Feliz has been widely recognized as one of the better defensive third basemen in the league for many years. His offensive numbers were never as impressive; however, they were also never as bad as in 2010.
Starting the year with the Astros, Feliz was traded in August to the Cardinals, who badly needed infield help. While Feliz got the job done on defense, his offense was one of the worst in all of baseball. Batting only .218 for the year, 2010 marked a career-worst for the 10-year veteran.
Having won a World Series championship with the Phillies in 2008, perhaps it is time for the 35-year-old Feliz to retire.
No. 17: Kevin Millwood, Starting Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
After Millwood's decent 2009 season with the Rangers, the Orioles decided to trade for him and add him to their 2010 rotation. His 13-10 record and 3.67 ERA in 2009 plus 13 years of major league experience made Millwood an attractive option.
But Millwood has had a very tumultuous career, filled with highs and lows. 2010 turned out to be a low point. Collecting the worst record of his career at 4-16, Millwood ended the year with a 5.10 ERA and 116 total runs, the most he has ever allowed.
At 36 years old, Millwood will likely have trouble finding a new home in 2011.
No. 16: Mark Reynolds, Third Baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
With just four years in the majors, 2010 is sure to be one to forget for Mark Reynolds. Among players with at least 400 at-bats, Reynolds had the second-worst batting average in all of baseball with .198. He batted .260 in 2009.
Power numbers declined for Reynolds as well. In 2010 he hit 12 fewer home runs and had 17 fewer RBI than the previous year.
This offseason, Reynolds was traded to the Orioles, where he will begin his 2011 year. Hopefully he can put 2010 behind him.
No. 15: Chad Qualls, Relief Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays
Through the 2009 season, Chad Qualls had six solid years as a relief pitcher, sometimes being used as a closer. But Qualls went from a 3.63 ERA and 83 percent save rate in 2009 to a horrid 7.32 ERA and 63 percent save rate in 2010.
Qualls started the year with the Diamondbacks and was traded to the Rays in early August. The Rays made the playoffs, but Qualls did poorly in postseason action as well, posting a 10.80 ERA in only 1.2 innings pitched.
No one can be sure if 2010 was just a fluke for the normally dependable reliever. Qualls is currently a free agent.
No. 14: Miguel Tejada, Shortstop, San Diego Padres
A former All-Star, American League MVP and two-time Silver Slugger winner, Miguel Tejada has had a good career. But career year No. 13 turned out to be bad luck for this shortstop.
Tejada started the year with the Orioles and was traded to San Diego in July. Between the two teams, Tejada batted only .269 after a 2009 year where he batted .313. He also posted a .692 OPS, which was his lowest since 1998.
While the veteran Tejada appears to be on the downswing of an otherwise good career, the San Francisco Giants just signed him to a one-year, $6.5 million deal. They are thinking that 2010 was just an anomaly, and surely Tejada hopes he can turn it around.
No. 13: George Sherrill, Relief Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
George Sherrill had six solid years in the majors, and then there was 2010.
Sherrill's envious 1.70 ERA in 2009 took a wicked turn to 6.69 in 2010. The 28 runs he allowed matched a career high from 2008, but he accomplished that number with 17 fewer innings pitched in 2010.
In the span of only one year, Sherrill went from being a star closer with the Orioles to a total nightmare with the Dodgers. Sherrill blamed much of his struggle on what he termed a "mechanical error."
Unconvinced, the Dodgers placed him on waivers. Next year, Sherrill will be with the Atlanta Braves, hoping for a comeback.
No. 12: Carlos Pena, First Baseman, Tampa Bay Rays
Carlos Pena had two very good years in 2006 and 2007, but the 10-year veteran has been on a downslide ever since. 2010 marked the worst year of his career where he batted .196, officially the worst average in all of baseball for batters with at least 400 plate appearances.
When the Rays signed Pena to a three-year, $24 million deal in 2008, they were expecting big production from the slugger. But as soon as Pena put pen to paper, his numbers began to fall drastically and got worse each year that followed.
Completely ignoring these statistics, the Chicago Cubs signed Pena to a one-year, $10 million contract for 2011. The 33-year-old suffered from plantar fasciitis last year, so the Cubs have chosen to blame his awful year on that.
It is a big gamble, especially for the amount of money they are paying him. Best of luck to Pena and the Cubs. They will need it.
No. 11: Jose Lopez, Third Baseman, Seattle Mariners
Jose Lopez has been a fairly consistent player in his seven-year career. But in 2010, Lopez saw both his average and power numbers fall significantly.
Between 2009 and 2010, Lopez's average fell from .272 to .239. He also went from hitting 25 home runs to just 10 and 96 RBI to 58. The Mariners were already having major issues in 2010, and they needed a normally consistent player to help steady the ship. It did not happen.
Lopez has had some very bad luck personally, losing his brother in an accident in 2007 and then his sister to cancer in 2009. Add to this that he just posted the worst year of his career, and it should be safe to say that many will be rooting for Lopez to put his career back on track in 2011 when he joins the Rockies.
No. 10: Trevor Hoffman, Closer, Milwaukee Brewers
It is difficult not to love Trevor Hoffman. The man has been a rock in the major leagues for 18 years, 14 of those spent with the Padres.
But it is difficult to watch a once great player, now 43 years old, trying desperately to hang on to a career that appears to be over.
Hoffman had the worst year of his career in 2010, posting a record of 2-7 with a 5.89 ERA. His save percentage was only 67 percent, having blown five saves in 15 attempts. In years prior, this percentage hovered in the high 80s and low 90s.
However, it was easy to see why Hoffman wanted to carry on into 2010. He had a 1.83 ERA in 2009 and was close to the historic 600 mark in career saves, a feat he did finally accomplish in September this year.
But as Hoffman searches for a new team in 2011, there does not seem to be any interest. No one wants to go out on a bad year, but with the 600th save sewn up, it does not need to be a funeral march. Rather the opposite, Hoffman should celebrate an amazing career and bow out gracefully.
No. 9: Mark Teixeira, First Baseman, New York Yankees
Everyone is entitled to a bad year, and the Yankees' Mark Teixeira certainly had that in 2010. After eight years filled with three Silver Slugger Awards, four Gold Gloves and three All-Star appearances, Teixeira finally looked human this year.
While a bad year for Teixeira might be a career year for other players, it was still disappointing to see him hit only .256 and be left off the Yankees' postseason roster after an injury. For a man who hit over .300 five times in his career, failure had to be a real surprise.
Worst of all for the Yankees, Teixeira collected over $20 million for the 2010 season. Signed through the 2016 season, this will be a tough pill to swallow for the Yankees if Teixeira does not return to his normal, ball-smashing self in 2011.
No. 8: Josh Beckett, Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
A two-time All-Star and former World Series MVP, no one imagined that Josh Beckett might close out a year with an ERA close to six. In 10 years as a major league pitcher, 2010 was the worst season for this 30-year-old pitcher.
Joining many of his teammates on the disabled list this year, Beckett spent about two months there suffering from back spasms. But both before and after the DL stint, Beckett just did not look like the same pitcher from years past.
Adding additional worry for Red Sox fans, Beckett had just signed a four-year contract extension in April worth $68 million with a $5 million signing bonus. If Beckett's back issues continue to plague him, this contract may haunt the Red Sox all the way through the 2014 season.
No. 7: Todd Helton, First Baseman, Colorado Rockies
In the land of super-huge contracts, the Rockies almost seemed justified in offering Todd Helton a nine-year, $141.5 million deal back in 2003. To that point, Helton had won four Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves, plus he had made four All-Star appearances.
Helton has batted over .300 an amazing 11 times in his 14-year career, so it is no wonder why the .256 average he posted this year was a major letdown. That is a full 69 points below his 2009 .325 average. He also collected only 37 RBI and scored just 48 runs in 2010.
Helton did spend almost a month on the disabled list with back stiffness, an issue that is becoming common among older players. But the loss of production along with the $17.775 million paycheck for 2010 proved to be a big blow to the Rockies, who ended up in third place in the NL West.
No. 6: Javier Vazquez, Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees
The Yankees had a number of pitching issues this year, and one of those was Javier Vazquez.
After Vazquez went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA with the Braves in 2009, the Yankees thought they were getting a star pitcher. Vazquez had played for the Yankees before in 2004, so they were not unfamiliar with the pitcher.
But Vazquez had major problems in his move back to the Yankees. He was eventually demoted to the bullpen in August and later had a very bad relief appearance against the division rival Rays. He tied a big league record in that game by hitting three Rays batters in a row.
Vazquez ended the year with a 5.32 ERA and collected a $11.5 million paycheck. The Yankees lost the division to the Rays but made the playoffs with a wild card spot. Vazquez was left off the postseason roster. He will pitch next year for the Florida Marlins.
No. 5: Derrek Lee, First Baseman, Atlanta Braves
Derrek Lee is another veteran player from whom big things were expected in 2010. The two-time All-Star had an amazing six-year run with the Cubs before they traded him to the Braves in July this year. In those six years, Lee batted an average of .302, while hitting .306 in 2009.
But 2010 had a different feel. With the Cubs before the trade, Lee was hitting only .251 and saw a decrease in his power numbers. Cubs fans began to holler about the hefty $13 million he was making that year, and eventually the trade was made.
Lee's numbers improved a bit when he arrived in Atlanta. But overall for the year, he batted .260, well below his normal production in a 14-year career.
Lee had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb in early November and is currently a free agent.
No. 4: Aramis Ramirez, Third Baseman, Chicago Cubs
One of the bigger disappointments of the year has to be Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs might have had a chance to make the playoffs this year, but with several players not living up to expectations, they came up a full 16 games short.
In 13 years in the majors, Ramirez has batted over .300 five times, hit at least 25 home runs eight times and had over 100 RBI five times. Although his power numbers declined in 2009, he still hit .317 while striking out only 43 times.
But while his power crept back in 2010, his average plummeted to .241 with an on-base percentage of .294. The results were simply not what one would expect from a two-time All-Star and a guy making over $16 million a year.
But Ramirez is young for a 13-year veteran at only 32 years of age. He may bounce back in 2011. The Cubs certainly hope that he does.
No. 3: Aaron Hill, Second Baseman, Toronto Blue Jays
Aaron Hill was an All-Star in 2009, and it looked like his young, five-year career was about to really take off. He batted .286 with 36 homers and 108 RBI, earning both a Silver Slugger and the Comeback Player of the Year Award for 2009.
But in 2010, instead of a comeback, he suffered a setback. Hill's statistics began to drop off, and even his defense got a bit sloppy. Hill ended the year with an awful .205 average and only 68 RBI.
Hill is still young, and 2010 may wind up being a blip on the radar screen. But there is no doubt that the Jays were counting on Hill to repeat his 2009 performance, and that did not happen. Many were shocked to see such dreadful production from a player who previously showed a lot of promise.
No. 2: Nyjer Morgan, Center Fielder, Washington Nationals
A team that is perpetually in last place certainly has enough issues to deal with. But adding more fuel to the fire seems to be a Nyjer Morgan specialty. Not only had his production severely declined from 2009's .307 batting average to .253 in 2010, but Morgan created other problems as well.
On August 25th, Morgan was accused of throwing a ball at a fan and hitting him in the head. The league eventually dropped the case, but less than a week later, he was in hot water again.
Morgan was benched for bad behavior and dropped to eighth in the lineup. He then got into a public argument with his manager over the ordeal.
Then on September 1st, Morgan charged the mound in a game against the Marlins and took a swing at pitched Chris Volstad, which incited a bench-clearing brawl. The worst part was watching an unrepentant Morgan celebrate and try to rile up the crowd as he was being escorted off the field. Other allegations of Morgan slinging profanity at fans followed that game as well.
Add to all this the fact that Morgan did a total 360 at the plate, and this year was a total disaster for him and his team. He may have done irreparable harm to his career as well. What the future holds for Morgan, only time will tell.
No. 1: A.J. Burnett, Starting Pitcher, New York Yankees
In 2008, Burnett signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the New York Yankees. After a pretty good 2009 season, Burnett quickly ran into trouble in 2010. His pitching became erratic, and the Yankees were never sure what they were going to get out of him.
Rumors surfaced that Burnett and catcher Jorge Posada were at odds, with Burnett constantly shaking off his signs. His frustration on the mound at times was obvious, and in June he went winless.
That frustration mounted when in his first start after the All-Star break, Burnett was pulled in the third inning. Unable to control his emotions, Burnett had punched the clubhouse door after the second inning, causing lacerations on his hands, which led to the lack of control in the third inning.
As a result of his struggles, Burnett ended the year with a 10-15 record and a 5.26 ERA, the worst in his 12-year career. He was left off the ALDS roster. Burnett did pitch one game in the ALCS, where he allowed five runs in six innings in the Yankees loss. The Yankees went on to lose the series to the Rangers.
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