MLB's 5 Worst Contract-Year Players of All Time
We all know Adrian Beltre hits in contract years. Fantasy owners know that they give a player a slight preseason boost if he's in a contract year. The idea is that a player will increase his production when dollars are on the line.
But what about the guys who can't handle the pressure? This is the place for them to stand and be recognized.
These might not be the worst stat lines, but I tried to find the players who most undershot expectations. Please feel free to post in the comment box the ones that I missed or others that stand out to you.
No. 5: Lance Berkman, 2010
Lance Berkman's 162-game average for his entire career is .297, 33 HR and 110 RBI. In 136 games in 2009 he had 25 homers and 80 RBI.
In comes 2010. He was so bad for 85 games with Houston that they finally dealt him to New York to get something for him before it was too late.
On the season, he batted .248 with 14 homers and 58 RBI and only managed to play 122 games.
No. 4: Dontrelle Willis, 2007
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Dontrelle Willis was the most fun pitcher to watch in 2005. He won 22 games and posted a 2.63 ERA to finish second in Cy Young voting. The energy on the mound was a joy to see. He was also 23 years old.
At 24, he dropped back to the pack a little, winning 12 games with a 3.87 ERA, but then came 2007, which was destined to be his last season with the Marlins. He was 25, and everyone expected a return to his elite status and a big contract coming to him afterward. Instead, he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA.
This was another crushing disappointment for Marlins fans, but the blow has been cushioned by Florida's growing cache of young studs.
No. 3: Bartolo Colon, 2007
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Bartolo Colon won 21 games and the American League Cy Young Award in 2005. He battled some injuries and only managed 10 starts in 2006, but he came into 2007 expecting to be dominant and rake in a big contract in the offseason.
He made 18 starts, pitched in 19 overall games, and ended up 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA.
He bounced from Boston to Chicago in the next two years. He didn't pitch at all in 2010 and now has found some success with a bloated strikeout rate in 2011 with the Yankees.
No. 2: Derek Jeter, 2010
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"The Captain" is a career .313 hitter and one of the five best shortstops to play the game. Since 1996, he has had exactly one year in which he played fewer than 148 games.
Coming into 2010, the Yankees were fresh off another World Series title in a year when Jeter was third in MVP voting, batting .334 with 107 runs scored, 18 home runs and 30 steals.
Then he batted .270. His average was 43 points below his career number. His .710 OPS was 123 points below his career average.
As the Yankees do, they still gave him a big contract for the next three years, and they will likely live to regret it.
No. 1: Manny Ramirez, 2009
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Manny was great for the Dodgers. In 2008, in the 53 games after they acquired him, he batted almost .400 with 17 homers and 53 RBI.
In 2009, he looked ready to do the same thing, and then the news broke: Manny Ramirez fails drug test, suspended 50 games. This was a tragedy for baseball, as one of the great pure hitters in its history was exposed.
For the games he played, Manny was still great in 2009. He had a .949 OPS and .290 AVG. But the loss was for all of baseball, and for that, I crown this the worst contract year in baseball.
Why No Pujols?
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Albert Pujols is a career .329 hitter. His 162-game averages are 42 home runs, 127 RBI and 122 runs scored. He has a 1.040 career OPS.
Fifty-six games is not enough to bail on the greatest hitter of this generation. I still think he turns it around in a big way.
Let's be honest: If he hits .330 with 20 home runs after the All-Star break and powers St. Louis deep into the playoffs when Berkman comes crashing back to earth, he will still get the biggest contract ever.