MLB Power Rankings: Felix Hernandez and the Top 10 Players Stuck on Bad Teams
While players, such as Seattle's Felix Hernandez, will tell you that they make the best of their situation and do what they can to help their team win, there's no doubting one thing.
They hate losing.
This is why they're in a competitive sport. They're driven to excel in their personal game and assist in the collective goal of winning a championship.
Throughout the decades, we've seen some of the greats athletes of our lifetime fail to ride a float in a parade through the downtown area of their home town.
In baseball we had Ken Griffey Jr., Ernie Banks, Tony Gwynn and Harmon Killebrew. The Red Sox had a slew of greats never get sized for a ring, lead by Yaz and Teddy Ballgame.
Other sports saw guys like Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jim Kelley and Dan Marino never reach the pinnacle.
Then you have guys like a Cal Ripken Jr., or more recently Miguel Cabrera. They won a championship early in their career. They likely thought that was only the beginning of good things to come, only to never make it back.
Here's a look at some of today's best players currently stranded on an island of suck.
With Gonzo being gone-zo, Chase Headley is left as perhaps the best offensive player on a bad Padres team.
Nick Hundley is off to a better start, but when his BABIP regress, so will the rest of his stats.
Headley is still striking out less and walking way more. By the end of the season, he'd be my guess to be the best player stuck on this bad team that is waiting for prospects to pan out.
Ichiro has spent his entire 10 year career with the Mariners after coming over from Japan.
He was the first Japanese-born position player in the major leagues and has proven the doubters wrong year in and year out.
He's not a big bopper, but his on-base skills, base running and defense add up to make him one of the most valuable players of the past decade.
He's won Rookie of the Year, American League MVP, two batting titles and two World Baseball Classic championships and is on the path to 3,000 hits. After the let down of the 116 regular-season-win-campaign in 2001, Ichiro and the Mariners haven't sniffed the playoffs since.
Verlander and Felix Hernandez could probably sit around and talk about stuff.
Like Felix, Verlander is on a team running a bad run differential. Seattle is worse in this category, but that isn't likely to make Verlander feel better.
Verlander is a year in and year out Cy Young candidate. He can throw hard and knows how to pitch.
The offense and defense around him just isn't very good.
The problem with doing these sorts of things early in the season is that teams and players may not be where they'll end up.
The Cubs are only a half-game back in the NL Central. Will they stay in contention?
Starlin Castro is off to a hot start, hitting .408/.432/.563 in the young season. Will he maintain that line?
At least one of those we can surely answer no to. Castro probably isn't the next Ted Williams, but he isn't the next Yuniesky Betancourt, either.
The other, well, some year has to be next year, right? This could be the year the Cubbies break through, but I wouldn't count on it.
This may be a "to be determined" entry, but I sense at season's end we'll be raving about Castro and shaking our heads at the Cubs.
Upton was at the center of trade rumors this past offseason. In fact, the first ever article I wrote for Bleacher Report was on that subject.
Well, he's still on an Arizona team that has Willie Bloomquist on its roster.
Upton is off to a good start; his WAR already north of one.
This should be a slam dunk for a good player who will be on a bad team come season's end.
There are two reasons this could be a bad selection.
2. Matt Kemp will regress.
Using what we have in front of us right now, though, Kemp is off to a hot start and the Dodgers have been otherwise mediocre.
Kemp was a good player two seasons ago, and near replacement level in 2010. Is that sustainable?
Right now, he's running a BABIP of .490, which helps to explain his .438 batting average. Nearly half the time his bat touches a ball, it's landing on grass or over a fence. Obviously, even the most optimistic person doesn't believe that can continue.
Kemp's career BABIP is .349, which is far better than the .295 he put up last year.
This means that while his 2011 performance to date isn't sustainable, we can safely assume he'll do better than his 2010 performance.
If Kemp returns to his 2009 form, he's a good player. Stuck on a potentially bad team that doesn't have the financial flexibility right now, or farm system depth, to get much better anytime soon.
Shortstops that can hit are in big demand and short supply. So, even though the Mets are lousy, Reyes may not be stuck there for long.
At some point, Sandy Alderson may start tearing down some of the pieces in place.
While Reyes' bat stands to regress some, and he isn't a wizard with the glove, it isn't hard to believe that the Mets will try to sell high.
Then again, a team like the Brewers that could use an upgrade over the black hole that is Yuniesky Betancourt may not be willing to give the Mets what they'd want.
The Brewers build through the draft and development. While they don't have a top shortstop prospect to look forward to, they also may not be willing to ship off what the Mets would require to soften to screams from the New York fans if Reyes is traded.
So, at the end of the day, I expect Reyes to be a good player stuck on a bad team.
With each loss, I still sit back and think: "There's no way this can continue."
No way. No how. The Red Sox can't stay this bad, and they'll still make the playoffs.
That's what I think, anyhow.
With each loss, though, you have to start wondering if this will be one of those colossal failures we look back at in 20 years and scratch our heads about.
So, for right now—again Red Sox Nation, I stressed right now—the Red Sox are a bad team, and Josh Beckett is pitching out of his mind.
Did I mention this opinion is based on currently known information?
Cabrera was an MVP candidate last season, and he's off to another good start in the 2011 campaign.
Unfortunately, however, the Tigers aren't very good. They aren't as bad as some other teams, but they're likely not doing much in the AL Central this season.
He's making $20 million per year and by the time his contract expires in 2015, that number will have increased by a couple million per.
Cabrera is still only 28. Consider, though, at the end of this deal and has already moved to a non-premium position. He's got that DUI looming over his head right now and he'll be on the wrong side of 30 as an aging slugger.
He did win a ring with the Marlins in 2003, though. So at least he won't have to wonder about that someday.
I don't know that Felix is stuck yet. At only 25 years old, he's only tied to the Mariners through his age 27 season.
That's pretty remarkable, considering what he's already accomplished.
All indications, however, are that he loves Seattle and has no desire to leave. If that's true, and he signs another extension, he'd be locked up in Seattle for at least the next decade.
I don't have a crystal ball, and while things have certainly improved, the Mariners franchise was left in shambles by the Bill Bavasi regime and is being rebuilt. Ask Cleveland about rebuilds. They can look good for a while, but nothing is ever certain.
Felix Hernandez may very well pitch for another 15 years. The sky is the limit, but right now, it looks like the sky is falling on top of him.