MLB: Top 20 Most Disappointing Starts to the 2011 Season

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2011

MLB: Top 20 Most Disappointing Starts to the 2011 Season

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees looks on from the field during the game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 25, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The 2011 MLB season has already shown numerous ups and downs for some of the great players around the league through only the first two months of the year.

    High profile commodities who were suppose to be their team's centerpiece have heavily faltered and seem to be working towards a disappointing 2011 campaign.

    The lack of success from these elite players have corrupted not only fantasy teams and their winning ability, but the winning capabilities of previously successful major league squads.

    Whether it's a lack of pitching from a strikeout artist, a speedy outfielder unable to gain his balance on the base paths or an MVP first baseman who's just starting to come around, the lack of production between the months of April and May is evident.

    Wherever you want to start the discussion, hitting or pitching, the conversation of biggest disappointments so far this season will always come to a close with these 20 players.

20. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers

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    DETROIT - APRIL 13:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers watches the action from the dugout during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Hamilton's on-field play hasn't been a disappointment at all, batting .333 in 39 at-bats, but his past injury woes have carried over into 2011 which has sidelined him for the past month and a half.

    The former 2010 AL MVP broke his arm while sliding into home plate on a questionable wave-in call from third base coach Dave Anderson.

    He's been inactive ever since.

    Nearly two months later, Hamilton is currently rehabbing in the minors and working his way back into the Rangers offense. An offense that has been downright prolific when the 29-year-old is actually in it.

    For Hamilton, his 2011 season arguably starts when he comes back from this injury.

    How will his arm/shoulder holdup over the next four months?

    Nobody knows.

    At this point we can only speculate as to how the year will pan out for Hamilton. 

    His injury riddled start is the sole reason why he made this list, but his potential and probable bounce-back are a few reasons why he won't stay here for long.

19. Zack Greinke, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 04:  Zack Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers walks off the field after pitching in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 4, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    After trading for Greinke this off-season, the Brewers were counting on the former AL Cy Young award winner to counter-part Yovani Gallardo in the rotation, making Milwaukee an instant contender in the NL Central.

    Well, it's two months into the season and Greinke has only been able to make three starts, going 2-1 with a 6.60 ERA through 15 innings.

    After returning from a long DL-stint due to broken ribs, the 27-year-old has been a major disappointment considering the Brewers gave up their heralded prospect in SS Alcides Escobar to get him.

    It will be a matter of time before we can grade the trade that acquired Greinke, allowing him to display his abilities against national league hitters for the next few months.

    Milwaukee's sub-.500 record can't be entirely attributed to Greinke's lack of play and health, but it's a major reason why his 2011 start is one of the biggest surprises in the MLB thus far.

18. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 18:  Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves watches from the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 18, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Heyward hasn't displayed disastrous play over the first two months, but his lack of run production and .214 average has plagued him and the Braves.

    Do I dare say sophomore slump?

    While the 21-year-old does boast seven home runs in 140 at-bats, his grand total of 14 RBI is something that's been of concern in Atlanta for quite some time.

    Considering Dan Uggla got off to a snail's start to begin the season as well, the Braves were hoping and counting on Heyward's production that much more.

    They didn't get what they wanted.

    As it stands right now, Heyward ranks among some of the worst outfielders in the MLB, after looking like a top-20 guy last year.

    His 20 walks are something to smile about, but after compiling only 12 extra-base hits thus far in 2011, he's become one of the biggest disappointments around the league and needs to break through soon.

17. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 30:  Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs on deck during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 30, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 5-3.  (Photo by Christi
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Starting the season healthy, A-Ram was suppose to have a huge bounce-back season.

    It hasn't gone his way.

    The 32-year-old, playing for a contract this winter, has only belted one home run in 150 at-bats.

    Ramirez is currently sporting a respectable .287 average, but his lack of run production while batting behind emerging star Starlin Castro has put a damper on his "comeback" campaign.

    His .367 slugging percentage is over .120 less than his .495 career average.

    Considering Ramirez has consistently been one of the better run producing third baseman in baseball for the past decade, his inability to do so in 2011 is extremely alarming.

    If the former Pirate doesn't start to knock in runs and help the Cubs win games, his stock will continue to decline, making it very difficult to land a substantial deal this off-season.

16. Mat Latos, SP, San Diego Padres

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    PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 01:  Starting pitcher Mat Latos #38 of the San Diego Padres in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 1, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Pad
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Better Latos than never.

    That's what Padres fans are waiting for from the 23-year-old Mat Latos in 2011.

    After crashing onto the scene last year with 14 wins, a 2.92 ERA and 189 K's in 184 innings, San Diego's rotation leader has taking all the wrong strides.

    Currently 1-5 with a 4.38 ERA, he's already lost half of the games he did last year through only his first seven starts.

    Latos has struck out a batter per inning while posting a 1.33 WHIP, but he hasn't lasted more than 6 1/3 innings in any start this season.

    Simply put, Latos has been a downright disappointment to this point in 2011.

15. Nick Swisher, OF, New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13:  Nick Swisher #33 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out with two men on base against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning of their game on May 13, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Ph
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    After posting career numbers in 2010, Swisher's lack of production is a main reason why the Yankees are currently two games out of first place in the AL East.

    With only two home runs and a .223 average to his credit, the outgoing Yankee outfielder has underachieved to the fullest.

    Swisher's low home run total and inconsistency at the plate are factors that have forced people to turn the other way.

    These numbers are very similar to the ones he put up back in 2008 with the Chicago White Sox, when he hit .219 with 24 home runs.

    At this point in the season, especially after a four RBI day on Thursday, Swisher is more than capable of getting hot and turning his success around.

    However, if Swisher's unable to claw his way out of these early troubles come mid-June, his 2011 season may be a wash.

14. Adam Dunn, 1B, Chicago White Sox

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    ST PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 21:  Designated hitter Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox watches from the bench against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 21, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Where has Adam Dunn's power gone?

    Consistently one of the best power hitters in all of baseball, the newly acquired White Sox first baseman has spread thin his power numbers for 2011.

    With only four home runs to his name, Dunn's lack of power is a major concern.

    The 31-year-old has remained a 40 home run threat for the past seven years, making him a go-to option for any team wishing upon a towering base clearer.

    While his .203 average is extremely low for any professional hitter, it's still fairly acceptable compared to his past numbers that hovered around the .230 mark.

    For Dunn, it's all about the power and it always has been.

    If he can't hit home runs, he's not good enough to play. It's as simple as that.

    His two home runs in April are a career low by far, and if everything stays the way it's going, his two home runs this month will prove to be a career worst as well.

    I highly doubt his transition to the AL is the bearer of bad luck, nor is this the decline of Dunn as a power threat in the MLB, but his days of consistently hitting 40 home runs may be numbered.

13. Ryan Dempster, SP, Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 13: Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs walks off of the field after pitching in the 5th inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on May 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Cubs defeated the Giants 11-4. (Photo by Jonat
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Coming into the season, Dempster was a sure bet to post his usual 15 wins and 200 innings of solid pitching for the Cubs.

    However, after posting some of the worst numbers of his career so far in 2011, the Cubs are starting to second guess his potential for the remainder of the season.

    Currently 2-4 with a 6.91 ERA and an ugly 1.57 WHIP, the 34-year-old has struggled with consistency throughout his first 10 starts.

    Dempster's production throughout April was nearly non-existent, failing to record one start in which he gave up less than four earned runs. 

    He also failed to record either one of his three quality starts on the season during the first month of baseball.

    Now pitching himself out of the worst start of his career, Dempster's last four May starts have been very encouraging, surrendering just 10 runs through 25 innings of work.

    While these numbers aren't all-star like, they're something to build upon for Dempster and the Cubs heading into the latter months of the season.

12. Jorge Posada, C, New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees reacts after missing a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Not only has Posada's off-field image taken a hit after the public pull-and-tug with Yankee management, but his on-field success has been the worst of his career.

    Currently batting .183, the 39-year-old is finally starting to show that age can be a factor.

    Posada has jacked six home runs, but he's on pace for his most strikeouts since 2003.

    If the Yankee great starts to become a home run or nothing type of hitter, his services in the Bronx will surely be rendered unworthy.

    The success of newly acquired Russell Martin hasn't helped Posada's offensive stock one bit, neither has the Yankees offensive struggles as a whole.

    As it stands right now, 2011 will mark the end of an era: The end of Jorge Posada as the New York Yankees' premiere catcher.

11. Joakim Soria, CL, Kansas City Royals

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    DETROIT, MI - APRIL 10:  Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws a ninth inning pitch while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Kansas City won the game 9-5. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    One of the first few guys on this list who's disappointing start to the season has flew under the radar, Joakim Soria is surprisingly continuing to struggle for the Royals.

    With only eight saves on the year, even with a productive Kansas City team, Soria has posted some of the worst numbers of his career.

    His 4.32 ERA is considerably higher than his 2.15 career average, and he's currently striking out less than a batter per inning for the first time since 2008.

    Soria has also posted a 1.38 WHIP, which is another career worst.

    The 27-year-old has been one of the most trustful game closers in the league over the past few years, but for some reason he hasn't been mentioned among baseball's biggest disappointments in 2011.

    While it isn't too late at all to turn around his slow start, Soria has to start picking up the pace sooner rather than later before the Royals look somewhere else for their closing services.

10. Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 24: Justin Morneau #33 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after being tagged out at home plate for the final out of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians during their game on April 24, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minne
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    There's not much to say about J-Mo.

    His .245/.309/.366 stat-line says it all.

    Coming back from a season-ending injury in 2010, Morneau has yet to regain his all-star prowess, making it hard for the Twins to win games with a Joe Mauer-less lineup.

    Once one of the most feared first baseman in all of baseball, Morneau has taken a huge step back from his MVP start last year.

    With only two home runs and 13 RBI, the 30-year-old is starting to show signs of career decline.

    I know what you're saying, Morneau is 30?

    Well, he is. It doesn't seem that long ago that he was a highly tauted prospect for Minnesota, but time flies and so does the success of J-Mo early this season.

    It seems as if his scary injury from last year may warrant more recovery than that of the on-field kind.

    Mentally, Morneau doesn't look to be ready to prove why he's still able to produce with the best of them.

9. Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals leaves the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Before I catch any heat for putting the greatest hitter of my generation on this list, let me be the first to say that I realize he's still putting up good numbers.

    However, we're talking about Albert "The Machine" Pujols, a player capable of easily surpassing any competition the MLB puts in his way.

    If the 31-year-old wants to be considered one of the best hitters of all-time, it's only fair to scrutinize his play and magnify his early season struggles in 2011.

    While his seven home runs and 25 RBI aren't among the best even in the national league, they're still good numbers and numbers that need to be respected in this new era of the starting pitcher.

    It's funny to think that Pujols' teammate, the reincarnation of Babe Ruth who took over Lance Berkman's body, is actually out-producing the first baseman in nearly every statistical category.

    With that said, the .264 average that Pujols has put up through his first 174 at-bats needs to be recognized as one of the worst dry spells of his career.

    This alone is the reason why he's been a major disappointment during the first two months of the season.

    Pujols hasn't hit a home run since April 23rd and only has eight RBI during that span.

    Easily one of the worst hitting streaks in his career, currently slating Pujols as the third best hitter on the Cardinals, behind the previously mentioned Berkman and the MVP-like Matt Holliday.

8. Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees bats against the Boston Red Sox on May 14, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The captain may be sinking with the ship.

    Jeter's lack of production, alongside fellow teammates Brett Gardner, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher and even Alex Rodriguez before his two home run game, has poked a hole in the Yankees yacht.

    Consistently one of the most productive shortstops in the game since he came into the league in '95, Jeter is starting to give into the harsh reality of age.

    Now 36, his off-season struggle to sign a huge three year contract may actually turn out to be the mistake that everybody said it would be.

    With a .257 average, two home runs, 13 RBI and only seven extra-base hits, the Yankee great has become a sore thumb for New York rather than a competitive two-hole hitter.

    It's time to start viewing Jeter as a future manager and a past player.

7. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals

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    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals in the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park on April 29, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Money well spent?

    It may be too early to tell, but the Washington Nationals aren't getting what they paid $100 million for.

    Werth, now 32, really hasn't produced like his former self.

    Can you blame him?

    As a Phillie, he had Howard, Rollins and Utley backing him up, and now he's hitting in a batting order without Ryan Zimmerman or Bryce Harper.

    His eight home runs and six stolen bases are right on pace for another 20-20 season, but his .234 average is exactly what he batted in 2003 with the Dodgers.

    Who remembers that?

    So far in 2011, Werth has done nothing but disappoint. 

    His stats in no way warrant a nine figure contract, and his lack of ability to win games for the Nationals makes me wonder if Washington would've been better off letting him go somewhere else.

6. Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    PHOENIX - JUNE 13:  Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 13, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Ca
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    No Wainwright? No problem, we have Chris Carpenter.

    That's exactly what the Cardinals were thinking when they found out Adam Wainwright would be lost for the season after Tommy John surgery.

    Positive thinking can only get you so far.

    Carpenter is putting up some of the worst numbers in his career, handing over the rotation to second year starter Jaime Garcia.

    Currently 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA and a below-average 1.49 WHIP, the 36-year-old is showing signs of his early self as a Blue Jays starter.

    The most alarming statistic thus far in 2011 for Carpenter is in fact his WHIP. In any season that he's pitched at least 180 innings, he hasn't posted a WHIP higher than 1.17 since 2001.

    He's given up 67 hits in only 56 1/3 innings of work through his first nine starts this year and has given up a grand total of 42 hits in his last four games.

    Is it time to panic?

    Maybe. 

    At 36, Carpenter isn't getting any younger. He's still very capable of going seven innings with three earned runs any time he takes the mound, but his inability to get the ball past national league bats has to be considered a disappointment.

5. Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Alex Rios #51 of the Chicago White Sox argues with home plate umpire Cory Blaser #89 after being called out on stikes in the 9th inning against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field on May 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Ori
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Oh, boy.

    With a .203 average, three home runs and four stolen bases, Alex Rios has underachieved with the worst of them.

    After posting career numbers in 2010, .284/21/88/34, the 30-year-old has looked downright awful.

    His 2011 numbers are becoming eerily similar to his 2009 production, in which Rios posted a .247 average and 17 home runs after batting .291 and swiping 32 bases the year before.

    He's become a major pain in the butt for fantasy owners and White Sox fans who can't stand to watch when their former elite outfielder steps to the plate.

    I think that if Rios wants to turn around his season and make fans happy, he has to start running and stealing more bases.

    When he's stolen more than 30 bags, he usually has some of the best seasons of his career.

4. Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20:  Carl Crawford #13 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Where do we start?

    Crawford simply hasn't produced.

    On a personal note, I recently traded for Crawford in my fantasy league for little to nothing. 

    How could you not be excited?

    Anyways, I soon found out that the Carl Crawford of old, who would string together multi-hit games and steal bases by the hand full, simply lost his way.

    I guess that can be attributed to his .212 average and six stolen bases.

    Even though the newly acquired 29-year-old is currently being slated as the no. 8 hitter, he's still capable of putting up solid numbers in an offense like the Red Sox.

    However, that doesn't seem to stop Crawford from fizzling out every time he seems to be fixing his ways.

    Out of his 41 games started, he's only recorded 11 multi-hit games, which can also be associated with his 32K:7BB ratio.

    His May has been better than his April, but then again, that's like saying it's better to run into a bear in the wild than a lion.

    For the Red Sox and Crawford, he's too young and talented to continue to go against his track record, but he has been one of the most disappointing players of 2011.

3. Delmon Young, OF, Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7: Delmon Young #21 of the Minnesota Twins in the dugout following a 2-5 loss to the New York Yankees in game two of the ALDS game on October 7, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Imag
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Remember when I said Soria is among a few players who's disappointing start has ran under the radar?

    Enter Delmon Young.

    What has happened to his near .300 average, 21 home runs and 112 RBI?

    Young's start in 2011 has been one of the worst declines I've seen in my life-time, considering he's currently on pace to hit .201 with zero home runs and 31 RBI.

    I realize it's highly unlikely he goes homer-less, but the on-pace projections that CBS has to offer are pretty humorous.

    While Young's only 25-years-old, his lack of production through his first 80 at-bats is even more significant considering he's playing for one of the worst hitting teams in the MLB thus far.

    I wonder why?

    Young missed nearly a month from mid-April until May 13th, but his success prior to and thereafter have been nearly identical.

    Identically disgusting.

    Right now, Young needs to starts hitting the gaps, gain some confidence, make some plays on the bases, and start to play big league ball.

    A turnaround needs to happen as soon as possible, or we could be witnesses to one of the worst season-to-season declines in a long time.

2. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado Rockies

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 01:  Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies heads for the dugout at the end of the fourth inning agaisnt the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field on May 1, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Jimenez collected the loss as the Pira
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Jimenez was almost on a 98 MPH fast track to the depths of the MLB, and I'm not talking about his fastball.

    Prior to his last start, in which he pitched seven innings of three run ball, Jimenez was pitching like he's never pitched before.

    That isn't a good thing.

    Currently 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA and 23 walks in 36 2/3 innings of work, Jimenez has yet to win a game in 2011 after starting 2010 15-1 before he lost his second game.

    While the 27-year-old is sporting a 1.53 WHIP, he really hasn't given up many hits, just 33 through his first seven starts. It's been all walks.

    If he's walking batters, he's not striking them out.

    If he's not striking guys out, he's not lasting long into games and giving himself a chance to win the start.

    With only two quality starts to his name, Jimenez's production throughout the first two months has been one of the most disappointing among elite pitchers and any pitcher for that matter.

    Considering he's going to get some nice starts against weak divisional offenses like the Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks, the former 19-game winner will have his chance to turn around his fifth major league season.

1. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 08:  Shortstop Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins has to be helped off the field after Bill Hall #22 of the Houston Asrtros slid into second base to interupt the double play at Minute Maid Park on April 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (P
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Considering Hanley Ramirez is consistently mentioned as one of the best all-around players in the MLB, if not the best, he also has to be considered the biggest disappointment so far in 2011.

    Han-Ram was starting to be labeled a "player who doesn't give it his all" leading into the 2011 season.

    His success thus far hasn't subdued those labels and actually has people wondering, how good is Hanley Ramirez really?

    He's good, trust me.

    Is he a top-five player in baseball?

    I think so, but what do I know, I'm not Peter Gammons.

    His stolen base totals through the first two months are right on pace to match his totals from the last two years, so running the base paths isn't his problem.

    His K:BB ratio is right on par as well, dispelling any thoughts that plate discipline is the reason for his struggles.

    It all comes down to extra-base hits.

    Ramirez has only nine, three home runs and six doubles.

    Normal production for the 27-year-old would put him in at about 25 home runs, 35 doubles and three triples at years end.

    Ramirez isn't even close to touching that if he continues his ways at the plate.

    For Hanley, hitting the long ball is the end to his troubles. Not only do chicks dig it, but it's the reason why his combination of speed and power has been his best friend throughout his career, launching him into the upper echelon of MLB superstars.