Every year there are star players who start to decline or free agent signees who don't pan out. That's baseball.
But in 2011, it seems like there have been more disappointing players than usual.
Several big names who just got nine-digit contracts and trade acquisitions who were hailed as the missing pieces have turned out to be busts. Even Albert Pujols is having a relative down year.
In this slideshow are the 21 players who have the most reason to be embarrassed about their performances to date. In blackjack, you need 22 to bust—here we needed only 21.
Poor play alone wasn't the only factor in making this list, though the very worst players make appearances. Big-name busts and failures with big egos edged out worse lower-profile players.
Behold, the men who have egg on their faces yet still get paid millions of dollars to play a children's game!
Pierre has never been a stud with the bat, but his .322 OBP is the lowest of his career, and his 69 wRC+ is his lowest ever in a full season.
In addition, the early numbers on his usually solid defense (-20.0 UZR/150) are terrible. He's currently at -0.9 WAR.
One of last year's best comeback stories, Huff and his victory thong helped lead the Giants to a World Series title.
He cashed in with a $22 million contract last winter and has followed it up by hitting .225 with a .665 OPS. He's been a full win below replacement value.
In 2009, Vazquez led all of baseball with a 2.77 xFIP. After completely bombing in New York last year, a return to the National League was supposed to cure him of his ills.
With a 7.09 ERA (186 ERA-) to date, it's safe to say things haven't worked out the way the Marlins had hoped.
Normally a reliable bet to hit .300 with good power, Ramirez is hitting .210 with a .615 OPS.
Combine that with his usual subpar defense (-3.8 UZR), and the consensus No. 2 pick in fantasy drafts nationwide has been a complete bust.
Sonnanstine isn't that big of a name, but his awful performance to date gets him a spot on this list anyway.
His 7.52 FIP in 12 appearances is the worst among pitchers with at least 15 innings, and at -0.9 WAR, he's been the least valuable pitcher in baseball.
One of the biggest names to be traded this offseason, Uggla was supposed to solve the problem of Atlanta's quiet offense, and the Braves threw in a $62 million extension, too.
He's rewarded their investment by hitting .176 with a 50 wRC+—i.e., he's been half as good as the average MLB hitter.
Everyone knew the Mets overpaid for Bay when they signed him to a $66 million deal in 2009, but no one thought it would be quite this bad.
He's hitting .208 with a .583 OPS this year. He's been below replacement value and he's now getting benched.
Zito's was a popular pick for the worst contract in baseball before the season, but now it looks even worse.
The man with a 6.23 ERA will cash an $18.5 million check this season despite having made only three starts so far.
Big Donkey is nothing if not a consistent hitter, and he parlayed his reliable plate discipline and power into a $56 million deal this winter.
He's rewarded the White Sox for their investment by hitting .179 with an 89 wRC+ and -0.7 WAR.
After emerging as a stabilizing force in the Yankees' rotation last year, Hughes has flopped mightily in 2011.
Posting a 13.94 ERA before hitting the disabled list would be bad enough in a normal city, but in New York? His reputation's taken quite a hit.
Figgins was something of a disappointment last year when he hit .259 and saw a huge decline in his normally sterling defense.
This year, he's hitting .191 with a .491 OPS. At -1.1 WAR, he has been the least valuable player in all of baseball.
The outspoken Volquez hasn't been shy about expressing his disappointment with his team this year. The problem is, he's the pot calling the kettle back.
When he went on a postgame rant about his lack of run support, he had a 6.35 ERA and had just given up seven runs in under three innings.
The man who wants to hold his teammates to a higher standard was then demoted to Triple-A.
The Angels took a lot of flack for trading for Wells and his huge contract in the offseason. That was before he got off to the worst start of his career.
In his big chance to redeem himself, he's hit .194 with a .543 OPS—and that's when he's been healthy enough to play.
Lackey got off to a bad start with his new team last year. The 2011 season was his chance for redemption.
But amidst both physical problems and mental distractions, the Red Sox' $15 million No. 4 starter has started off the season with a 7.41 ERA.
When Ordonez signed a $10 million deal for the 2011 season, it looked like an overpay. But there's a difference between a declining veteran and the worst player in baseball.
Injuries have limited him to just 26 games, but with an anemic bat (21 wRC+) and poor defense (-49.3 UZR/150—really small sample size, but still), he's right behind Figgins with -1.1 WAR in less than half the playing time.
Jeter spent the offseason doing his best to destroy his reputation as a selfless leader by demanding an exorbitant contract to satisfy his ego during his decline years.
After weaseling out a $51 million deal this winter, he's rewarded the Yankees with the worst season of his career: he's hitting .256/.323/.323 with just 0.5 WAR.
The most expensive free agent of the offseason, Crawford is looking like a very bad investment for Boston.
After signing a $142 million contract in December, the former five-tool stud is hitting .249 with an 81 wRC+ and just 0.2 WAR.
Bradley's always been a problem in the clubhouse, but until last year he was consistently hitting well enough to keep his job.
But after being suspended for an on-field argument and posting a .218 average and -0.4 WAR in his first 28 games, the Mariners decided to eat the former All-Star's contract and release him last month.
He's still unemployed.
Posada has looked abysmal since being moved out from behind the plate this year, hitting .217 with -0.2 WAR as the Yankees' primary DH.
In addition, Posada got a ton of bad press after a demotion in the batting order inspired him to take himself out of the lineup last month.
Mazzaro set an MLB record last month when he gave up 14 runs in 2.2 innings of work against the Indians. It was the most by any pitcher in an outing under three innings in the modern era.
In addition, it was tied for the most runs a reliever had given up since 1925, when Nelson Greene allowed 15 earned runs in 6.2 innings.
His face was probably a little red after that game.
Five games into the 2011 season, Ramirez looked like he was done. He'd gone 1-for-17 with no walks or extra bases for an OPS of .118.
Then, facing a 100-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance for the second time in less than two years, he abruptly retired—quitting altogether rather than wait out his punishment.
It was a terrible way to end a career, and fairly or not, it probably destroyed any chance he had of being elected to the Hall of Fame.
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