MLB: Roy Oswalt and Each Team's Biggest Underperformer of the First Half
Every MLB team has that one guy—sometimes multiple guys—year in and year out who underperform with regard to their expectations. That one guy can't handle the pressure of playing in a big city like New York or just playing in the big leagues period.
Each team has had one underperformer in the first half of the 2011 season, someone who has either not lived up to expectations or someone who just doesn't live up to what they're being paid.
Let's take a look at each team's player who needs to pick it up in the second half to avoid some serious fan backlash:
Arizona Diamondbacks: Joe Saunders
Pitcher Joe Saunders has been the most underperforming pitcher on what was supposed to be a pretty decent staff for the Diamondbacks.
Making $5.5 million this year, Saunders has only won five games and earned himself an ERA of more than 4.00. In a contract year, Saunders was predicted to go back to his 2008 form, where he won 17 games for the Angels.
In an arbitration-eligible year and free agent-eligible in 2013, it'll be interesting to see what happens after this season.
Atlanta Braves: Dan Uggla
Dan Uggla has struggled mightily the first half of 2011.
Yes, he has hit home runs, but he hasn't hit for average at all.
In 323 at-bats, Uggla has had only 59 hits; 14 of those hits were home runs. If you do the math, you'll find the $9 million man is hitting only .183. If that's not underperforming, I don't know what is.
Uggla is due to make $62 million over the next five years. Hitting .183 won't earn him his dough.
Baltimore Orioles: Jeremy Guthrie
Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie has stumbled big time to a horrible 3-11 record during the first half of the 2011 season.
Now I understand Guthrie is no Cy Young, but that does not excuse a three-win season, especially since the rest of the rotation has not been struggling nearly as much. Jake Arietta and Zach Britton are both having phenomenal seasons so far.
Earning $5.75 million including award bonuses, it'll be interesting to see what happens in his arbitration this offseason.
Boston Red Sox: John Lackey
Every Boston Red Sox fan knows John Lackey has been the most disappointing member of the ball club in 2011.
This may be hard to believe, but this is the same John Lackey who had his coming-out party his rookie season in 2002 when he helped the Angels win a title.
In the first half of the season, Lackey has had some bad luck, but also has had some bad outings. He has five wins in 13 starts, and his ERA is over 7.00.
Lackey is due to make $15.25 million per season through 2014; a 5-8 record with a high ERA does not make him seem worth that money.
Chicago Cubs: Geovany Soto
Picking an underperformer for the Cubs was a tough one. This whole team is underperforming, but out of everyone on the everyday roster, catcher Geovany Soto is the most underperforming.
The former Rookie of the Year has struggled in an injury-plagued first half of 2011. Since coming off the DL May 29, Soto has only hit .234 with more than 30 strikeouts.
In order for the Cubs to succeed, Soto (among others) have to start hitting. He needs to make his way back to rookie form where he averaged .285 and hit more than 20 home runs.
In an arbitration-eligible year, it'll be interesting to see where Soto's career goes from here.
Chicago White Sox: Adam Dunn
This was one of my easier picks.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Adam Dunn deserves to be called the most underperforming player on the White Sox.
Having just signed a four-year deal worth $56 million, Dunn should be hitting for a higher average than .166 and should have more than just eight home runs, especially having "The Cell" as his home.
If Dunn turns it around and starts hitting after the All-Star break, imagine the Sox' lineup. Konerko gets protection (for once), and the middle of the order with Dunn, Konerko and Quentin looks really scary.
That could be the spark to turn this team around.
Cincinnati Reds: Edinson Volquez
Volquez has underperformed his expectations the past few years. Reporters and anchors have been predicting him to be the next big thing, but he has never fulfilled that prophecy.
Other than 2008 when he won 17 games with an ERA just over 3.00, Volquez has showed his flashes of brilliance, but has also struggled mightily.
Earning just more than $1 million this year, it'll be interesting to see what happens in arbitration.
Cleveland Indians: Shin-Soo Choo
Hitting over .300 every year since 2008, people expected big things out of Choo in 2011.
He went on the 15-day DL June 28 with a broken thumb after undergoing surgery. Prior to his injury, he was slumping.
Choo is currently only hitting around .240. That's 60 whole points below his usual average.
Due back in September, Choo won't have a lot of time to make up for lost time. He's only going to end up maybe .260 to .265, at best.
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
Ubaldo Jimenez was absolutely dominant in 2010 on his way to winning 19 games with an ERA under 3.00.
In the first half of this season, he's 3-8 with an ERA over 4.00.
Everyone around the MLB and in Colorado expected enormous things out of Jimenez this season. That absolutely has not happened.
Due $2.8 million this season, Jimenez will greatly underperform the expectations of Jim Tracy, the fans and Rockies executives.
Detroit Tigers: Magglio Ordonez
Magglio is a great ball player. Don't get me wrong.
He is just mightily underperforming this season due to injuries.
Unfortunately his injuries are happening this season, and he is a free agent at year's end. I wonder what team will want to invest in the aging, now more injury-prone Maggs.
So far this season Ordonez is hitting .204 with two home runs. In his entire career he has never hit for a lower average than around .280. He's a career .300-hitter, not to mention he has almost 300 career home runs.
He is one of the only players on this list that once healthy this season, could go on an absolute tear.
Florida Marlins: Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez is supposed to be the undisputed leader and stud of the Marlins.
He's been the exact opposite in 2011.
The talent is there—the attitude is not.
In the first half of this season, Hanley is hitting a lowly .236 with only seven home runs. He's also struck out 50 times this season; he struck out 93 times total last year.
Owed more than $11 million this season, Ramirez needs an attitude adjustment. Hopefully Grandpa Jack can provide exactly that in his short stint as interim manager of the Marlins.
Houston Astros: Brett Myers
Brett Myers plays for a very bad ball club, but that is still no excuse for his terrible win-loss record and ERA. This season Myers sits at 3-8 with an ERA over 4.50.
Now, I understand the expectations for Myers weren't to go out and win 20 games for this club, but they also weren't to lose eight and have an ERA of almost five in the first half.
Having just signed a two-year extension, Myers' contract isn't up until after 2012 with an option for 2013.
It'll be interesting to see how the Astros decide to use him in the coming months.
Kansas City Royals: Jeff Francis
I'm not sure if there is a more underperforming individual in the league right now.
This is the same Jeff Francis who helped bring the Rockies to the World Series in 2007. Francis won 17 games and posted an ERA around 4.00 that year.
Since, he has been mediocre at best.
Looks like the Rockies got rid of him at the right time. In a contract year, it'll be interesting to see where the lanky left-hander ends up—if even in baseball—in 2012.
Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells
In 2006 while still with the Blue Jays, Wells signed a seven-year deal worth $126 million. Now he's on a different team hitting far from his previous career batting average.
How times have changed.
The aging Wells seems to be aging quicker than ever. Having appeared in around 60 games this season, he is hitting a lowly .216 during the first half of 2011; his previous career low was .260 in 2009.
Owed $21 million this season with the option to opt out at season's end, it will be interesting to see whether Wells wants to stick around in L.A. or whether the Angels want him around to waste another $21 million.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly has always been a solid pitcher. He won 15 games or more three times in his career—and then the Dodgers happened.
Before this season started, Lilly signed a monster three-year deal worth $33 million. He's making money so he doesn't have to perform.
Lilly has stumbled to a 5-9 record with an ERA of almost 5.00 so far this season—not exactly what the Dodgers were hoping for.
If Lilly finds his groove in the second half, he could be a force. Until then, he'll keep giving up runs.
Milwaukee Brewers: Zack Greinke
The former Cy Young winner has underperformed expectations this season, even with his 7-3 record thus far.
Greinke has gotten dinged up quite a bit in 2011. He's given up 10 home runs in 12 starts, has an opponent batting average of .258 and has an ERA over 5.50.
I'll put this in perspective:
In his magical 2009 Cy Young campaign, Greinke gave up 11 home runs all season.
Like I said, he's given up 10 long bombs in 12 starts.
Due to make $13.5 million this season and next, it'll be interesting to see if the Brewers want to invest in his future with the club.
Minnesota Twins: Francisco Liriano
In another injury-plagued season, Liriano has struggled.
During the first half of 2011, Liriano has compiled a 5-7 record with an ERA over 5.00 after 15 starts. Hard to believe this is the same pitcher who had an ERA under 3.00 in his first full season.
Arbitration-eligible in 2012 and a free agent in 2013, it'll be interesting to see where Minnesota decides to go with the young pitcher. Liriano would probably like to stay, but are the Twins willing to invest, is the question.
New York Mets: Jason Bay
The $16 million man has struggled under the lights of New York, and people are starting to question whether or not he can handle the pressure.
In his second season with the Mets, Bay is only hitting around .240 with six home runs and 28 RBI.
Not the kind of production you want out of a $16 million outfielder.
Many people think his years in Pittsburgh when he was hitting around .300 with 30 long balls are a thing of the past. Many people call that a fluke.
Bay is under contract until 2013 with a club option for 2014. As it's looking now, he could be looking for work by then.
New York Yankees: Jorge Posada
The once-fan favorite catcher has been doing a lot of sitting and not playing recently due to lack of production and some comments made to the media.
The once-everyday catcher is starting to look more and more on his way out of New York. He's under contract this season, owed $13 million. Next season he's a free agent and could be in a different uniform for the first time in his career.
In 70 games, Posada is hitting .236 with nine bombs and only 29 RBI. Now I know other than a few years Posada has never hit for an extremely high average, but he usually is a great defensive catcher who holds his own.
It looks as if Posada will be gone from New York in 2012.
Oakland Athletics: Hideki Matsui
The once-playoff MVP is struggling in 2011.
Now turned DH and not playing everyday, Matsui is having problems at the plate. He's hitting a meager .211 with only six home runs so far in 2011.
Keep in mind Matsui is a career .285-hitter and has more than 150 career home runs.
Owed just more than $4 million this season, Matsui is a free agent at season's end. With his age catching up to him, it'll be interesting to see whether the A's will want him around with their younger team or if another club is going to take a chance.
Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Oswalt
Now, picking an underperforming player on the Phillies may have been one of the hardest decisions ever because the Phillies, all around, are just way too good.
Nonetheless, Roy Oswalt is underperforming, in my opinion. In an injury-plagued first half, Oswalt has a losing record with an ERA in the upper 3.00's.
His opponent batting average is above .270, and he hasn't been striking many people out.
According to the Phillies' website, Oswalt could be due back in August.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Paul Maholm
This one was hard to choose because the Pirates aren't underperforming. In fact, they're overperforming.
Even though Paul Maholm's ERA is awesome at a career best 3.08, he is the underperformer because of his mediocre sub-.500 5-9 record.
Maholm is owed a little more than $5.5 million this season. He will be a free agent in 2013.
San Diego Padres: Orlando Hudson
O-Dog has been a little injury-plagued during the first half of 2011, but so far is on pace for his worst year in his 10 years of MLB service.
He's currently about 40 points below his career-worst batting average (currently .237) and 77 points below his career-worst slugging percentage.
Hudson has only played in 51 games; in those games, he's struck out 44 times and has only 40 hits.
Orlando Hudson is under contract until 2012 with an option for 2013.
San Francisco Giants: Miguel Tejada
Miguel Tejada is on pace for his worst year at the plate for the first time since 1998.
Tejada is hitting a lowly .236 with an even worse OBP of below .300. Some people are beginning to think the aging, once-All-Star shortstop has lost a step or two. That might be true.
Currently Tejada is under a one-year deal worth $6.5 million. After this season, he may be out of baseball for good, as it seems he is past his prime.
Seattle Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro is on pace for the worst season of his career in 2011. The career .328-hitter is hitting almost 50 points below his career average.
Ichiro has never hit below .300 in his 11-year career, and he's never had below 200 hits. He's on pace for below every single one of those statistics in 2011.
Currently, Ichiro is hitting .276 with less than 100 hits.
What's going on with the single-season hit leader?
Ichiro will find his swing again and could be back for a big second half.
St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter has had a mediocre first half with a 4-7 record and an ERA of 3.74.
In the past eight seasons, when healthy, Carpenter has been dominant. He has never won less than 15 games, and he even won 21 games in 2005.
Carpenter will be fine in his standing with the Cardinals. He's going nowhere; he just has to find his Cy Young stride again.
Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton
B.J. Upton is another one of those ball players who hasn't really lived up to the superstar status.
So far this season, Upton is hitting a very mediocre .230 with 13 bombs and 45 RBI. Many people may think I'm crazy for picking him, but what were your expectations?
That's what I thought.
Upton is arbitration-eligible in 2012 and 2013, so it'll be interesting to see what happens out of arbitration.
Texas Rangers: Derek Holland
Picking an underperforming player from the good teams are hard to pick.
The only reason Holland is my underperformer from the Rangers is because as of right now, he is pitching like the most underdeveloped starter in the Rangers' rotation.
The tall youngster currently has a 6-4 record with an ERA over 5.00. He has the potential to be a dominant pitcher in this league if he can start putting it together every five days.
Currently making only $400,000, Holland could have big contract waiting for him after this season.
Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Fancisco
Frank Francisco is underperforming in the closer role for the Blue Jays.
In his one year as closer for the Rangers in 2010, he has converted 25 of 29 saves. Not bad for a first-time closing pitcher.
Different story so far in 2011.
Francisco has an 1-4 record with an ERA well above 4.00. He's also converted only 10 saves of 14.
When a team depends on pitching, you have to get more out of the back end of the 'pen—something the Blue Jays have failed to do.
Francisco becomes a free agent this offseason, so it'll be interesting to see if the Toronto wants him back for 2012.
Washington Nationals: Jayson Werth
Before the season started, Werth signed an enormous deal worth $126 million over seven years. I don't know if he's "Werth" the money.
So far in 2011, Werth is hitting a low .218 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI.
He could be on the books for a big second half, but only time will tell.