We have all seen some player rise to "superstar" status. Sadly, we have also seen many a player fall to "nobody" status just as fast.
It is sometimes hard to believe how fast someone's career can take a turn for the worse. Injuries are consistently a factor in this, other times, it is unknown what drives a player into the cellar.
In this article, I will do my best to put together a team of "has-beens" that at one time we thought would still be superstars today.
I quite possibly could have missed someone or multiple someones.
As I started to research this team, I noticed that it is much harder to find these types of players than ones that achieved the opposite status. Most notably, it was hard to find a shortstop. They seem to be the most consistent out of all the positions, most likely because of the importance of defense.
The lineup will be staffed by one person from each fielding position.
The pitching staff will be staffed with three starting pitchers and a closer.
I will start this list with position players.
CATCHER—Paul Lo Duca
Lo Duca broke on to the scene with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001 when he hit .320 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI. While he has had some pretty good seasons since, he has yet to reach those numbers again.
Only once since has he hit more than 10 home runs, that was 2004 when he hit 13. He has only had more than 65 RBI one time since, 2004 when he had 80. And he has hit over .300 once since, in 2006 when he hit .318.
In this time, he has managed to make four all-star teams. As a catcher, his stats remained respectable, but nowhere near his first full season in 2001.
Since his 2006 season, where he hit .318 with five home runs and 49 RBI he has totaled only nine home runs and 69 RBI. His batting average (.286 career) dropped to .272 in 2007 and then more to .243 in 2008.
Defensively he dropped of even more. In 2003 he was ranked first in the National League in throwing out base runners trying to steal, with 57. In catching 57 of 140 would be thieves, he threw out 41% of attempts to steal. 2004 was a lot different, he only threw out 36 of 129 (27%), he ranked last in the majors with 93 stolen bases against.
His career isn't over and a return to All-Star form is not completely out of the question. Even if so, I wonder why he never reached the numbers of his 2001 campaign.
FIRST BASE—Richie Sexson
Richie's career has had a few stops; Cleveland, Milwaukee, Arizona, Seattle and then New York. Starting in 1999 when he hit 31 home runs and drove in 116 runs and running through 2003 when he hit 45 home runs and drove in 124, he was one of the most productive first baseman's in the game.
In those seasons, Sexon averaged 111.6 RBI, 36 home runs and 87.6 runs scored. His best season was 2001 when he hit .271 with 45 home runs, 125 runs batted in and scored 94 himself. 2003 was a near mirror image when he batted .272 with 45 home runs, 124 runs batted in and 97 runs scored.
After his excellent 2003 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks showed just how valuable they believed he was. They packed Junior Spivey, Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, Chad Moeller, Chris Capuano and Jorge de la Rosa and sent them to Milwaukee in a trade for Sexson and pitcher Shane Nance.
This trade was a horrible one for Arizona. They were unable to resign him and he was only under contract for 2004. That season he only appeared in 23 games for the Diamondbacks. Injured by a reverse subluxation of his left shoulder twice while attempting check swings.
He then signed with the Seattle Mariners and had a bounce back 2005 season in which he hit 39 home runs and drove in 121 runs while scoring 99. He dropped of a tad in 2006 when he hit 34 home runs and drove in 107.
Since 2006 Sexson has only hit 33 home runs and driven in 99 runs. Even worse than that, the .261 career hitter has not hit above .221 (.205 in 2007).
He found himself released twice in 2008, first by the Mariners, whom he was hitting .218 with 11 home runs and 30 runs batted in. He was them signed by the Yankees and he hit .250 with one home run and six runs batted in. They released him on August 24 and he has yet to be signed.
SECOND BASE—Junior Spivey
Spivey's career was lost as fast as it started. He made his debut in 2001, with the Diamondbacks. He played in 72 games and had a typical rookie year. What came in 2002 was completely unexpected.
That year, Junior hit .301 with 16 home runs, and 78 RBI. He was a vital part of the Diamondbacks finishing with a 98-64 record and first in their division. This was recognized as he got 8 points and finished tied for 14th in MVP voting.
2003 saw a huge drop of, as he hit .255 with 13 home runs and 50 batted in. That season was the last time he would play in over 100 games. He was then traded to Milwaukee for recently mentioned Richie Sexson.
After a season and a half in a Brewers uniform where his stats continued to drop, he was traded to the Washington Nationals. Even there, his batting average was lower than the previous year and a half where he had hit only .233.
Since his stint for the Nationals, Spivey has yet to see major league action. He was signed by the Cardinals in the winter of 2005 and became a free agent the following fall. In 2007 he played for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball until the Boston Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract. He resigned in January 2008, but was released during spring training and has yet to sign another contract.
Angel broke out with the Royals in 2003, hitting .287 with 17 home runs, 73 RBI, and 92 runs scored. He also swiped 21 bags while being caught only five times. He was recognized as the American League Rookie of the Year and looked to have a bright future as the next offensive shortstop.
Since 2003 he has yet to match any of those stats. Combining his best stats from 2004-2008, you can come up with this mock season; .270 with 11 home runs, 55 runs batted in and 72 runs scored with 14 stolen bases.
Outside of his declining numbers at the plate, Angel was one of (if not the) worst fielding shortstops in the AL over his career. He committed 77 errors from 2003-2005 and an abysmal .955 fielding percentage which ranked him below all Major League shortstops.
He lost his spot in Kansas City when the Royals traded for Tony Pena, Jr. in 2007. He has since spent most of his career in the minor leagues, though he did find himself at shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers after he was acquired following the injury to Rafael Furcal.
THIRD BASE—Hank Blalock
At an early age of 22, Blalock made himself known to most of America. He was voted the starter of the 2003 All-Star game, and hit the game winning home run off of Eric Gagne. He finished that season with 29 home runs and 90 runs batted in while hitting .300. He also found himself being compared to George Brett on accounts that he could hit for power and average.
The emergence of Hank gave the Texas Rangers a duo to rave about. His 23 year old teammate, and corner infield counterpart, Mark Teixeira also had a big rookie campaign. The 2003 Rangers lineup featured four fantastic players under 28; Hank Blalock (22), Mark Teixera (23), Michael Young (26) and Alex Rodriguez (27).
2004 saw Blalock's average drop, but his production remained high. He hit 32 home runs with 110 runs batted in, scored 107 runs and hit a respectable .276. Since 2004 his numbers have dropped consistently.
Starting in 2005 his totals in home runs have been 25, 16, 10 and 12. His RBI totals have went from 92, to 89, 33 and 38. He has however shown after seasons of .263 (2005) and .266 (2006) that he still has the potential to hit for average .293 (2007) and .287 (2008).
It was found in 2007 that he had Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), which is a disorder affecting the brachial plexus (nerves that pass through neck). He had his first rib removed to counter this, and spent most of 2007 rehabbing.
Early in 2008 Blalock injured his hamstring and found himself right back on the disabled list. Talk has been that the Rangers would move Blalock from third to first in attempt to take stress off his shoulder and neck.
Blalock, at only 27, could still have a solid career. Prior to his hamstring injury, he hit 3 HR in 85 at bats. When he returned to the lineup, and got back to full strength, he showed his true potential by hitting .354 with 7 home runs and 21 runs batted in the final month. Five of those home runs came one a piece in consecutive games.
LEFT FIELD—Matt Lawton
With a solid first full season with the Minnesota Twins in which he hit .248 with 14 home runs and 60 runs batted in, Lawton showed his potential in 1997. He followed that up with a 1998 season in which he hit .278 with 21 home runs and 77 runs batted in.
In 2000 Matt made his first All-Star team when he hit .305 with 13 home runs and 88 RBI. He then followed that up with a solid campaign that he split between the Twins and Mets. Lawton hit .277 with 13 home runs and 64 runs batted in combined.
Following 2001 he signed with the Cleveland Indians. In his first two seasons he hit below .250 and exactly 15 home runs. In those seasons he failed to reach 60 runs batted in and it looked that his career was on a complete downfall. Then at the age of 32 he showed why he was once an All-Star, hitting .277 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI. Once again, he was an All-Star and it looked that his career was turning the corner again.
Those hopes were dashed when he spent his 2005 season split between three different teams; the Pirates, Cubs, and Yankees. He hit only .254 that season which saw his value drop.
That value was dashed even more when he became the 12th player in the MLB to test positive for the anabolic steroid, boldenone on November 2.
Despite the infraction the Mariners signed him to a one year contract. He spent final MLB season appearing in only 11 games, only one more than he was suspended for his use of steroids
He has not had an at-bat since that season and most likely will never again.
CENTER FIELD—Scott Podsednik
Podsednik was never thought to be a hitting prospect. Drafted in 1994, he spent most of his first eight years in professional baseball at low minor league levels. Struggling with low batting averages, his speed likely kept him on a roster.
Late in his minor league career Scott showed signs of being a decent hitter. The Rangers traded him to Seattle in 2001, where he was sent to AAA for the first time. He then hit .290 and prompted a call-up in September.
In 2002 he found himself right back in the minors, but after a trade to Milwaukee he found himself a Major League spot in 2003. In that season he hit .314 while scoring 100 runs. He showed his speed swiping 43 bases while being caught only ten times. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Dontrelle Willis and ahead of Brandon Webb.
He followed up that season by hitting .244 with 85 runs. Despite his terrible batting average and an on-base percentage of only .313, he managed to steal 70 bases. After being acquired by the White Sox, Podsednik turned it back around in 2005.
He brought his average back up to .290 and scored 80 runs, along with 59 stolen bases. It wasn't as secret that injuries were catching up to him, as he was caught stealing a career high 23 times.
He followed that up with 40 stolen bases and 86 runs scored while hitting .261. That would be the last of the Scott Podsednik everyone saw between 2003 and 2005 for over the past two years he has hit around .245, scored only 52 runs and stolen 24 bases while being caught nine times.
He is still likely to find a spot on a Major League Baseball team, but it is yet to be known if the 2005 All-Star will have a revival.
RIGHT FIELD—Preston Wilson
A New York Met's prospect that broke out with the Florida Marlins in 1999, Preston Wilson had a bright future. Though he struck out a lot, his batting average was normally tolerable and his power and knack for driving in runs was coveted.
In his breakout campaign, he hit .280 with 26 home runs and 71 RBI. He also showed potential on the base paths, swiping 11 bases in 15 attempts. Like Podsednik, he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.
He followed his rookie campaign with a great sophomore season by hitting .264 with 31 home runs, 121 RBI, and 36 stolen bases. Over the next two seasons in Florida he hit 23 home runs in each, with only 71 and 65 runs batted in, with a high .274 batting average in 2001.
In 2003 he found himself in hitter friendly Coors Field playing for the Rockies. What now seems to be a season deserving of an asterisk, he had his best season by far. He hit a career high in three triple crown categories; .282 batting average, 36 home runs, and 141 runs batted in. He was an All-Star that season and received Most Valuable Player votes.
Outside of a 2005 campaign, in which he hit 25 home runs and 90 RBI, between Colorado and Washington, Wilson has not showed flashes of returning to his 2003 form. Other than 2005 he has hit a total of 18 home runs and driven in 77 runs.
He did get to enjoy what looks to be the end of his career in 2006 when he was acquired by the Cardinals after being released by the Astros. Filling in for Jim Edmonds, Wilson went on to win a World Series ring with the Red Birds.
He was resigned, but injured early in 2007. He was out for the rest of the season and didn't garner any interest in 2008. Even after missing most of the past two years, it may not be the last we see of Preston Wilson. The year of rest may allow him to come back stronger after his knee injury.
Everybody knows the story of Mark Prior. He was the number two overall pick in the 2001 Amateur Draft, though many believed he was the top prospect. The Twins passed on him, drafting Joe Mauer instead. The Chicago Cubs then decided to draft Prior rather than their other target, Mark Teixeira.
It didn't take Prior long to reach the majors. After nine minor league starts between AA and AAA, in which he was 5-2 with a 2.29, Mark found himself promoted. He succeeded in 19 starts, going 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA.
2003 came with many ups and one huge down. After pitching great in 30 starts in which he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, Prior showed why many thought he was the next great pitcher.
That year, in the playoffs, he went 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA. That loss is one of the notorious defeats in recent years. With five outs to go and the Cubs bound for their first World Series since 1945, Prior had a three run lead.
Without going that far into it, Steve Bartman may or may not have caused Moises Alou to not catch a ball. The Cubs went on to lose and Mark Prior has yet to match that season in which he was third in Cy Young voting and was chosen for the All-Star game.
From 2004 to 2006 Mark was on and off the disabled list, making only 57 starts. He has made zero over the past two season as a member of the San Diego Padres and finds himself a current free agent.
If he can ever find himself healthy, he is likely to make some sort of impact. He will be able to find himself a team, being that he is only 28. Until then, and if he stays healthy, he is the top pitcher in this category
Zito could quite possibly be the number one starter on this team. He is not only because he has not fallen quite as far, considering he is still on a major league roster.
He broke onto the scene in 2001 (Oakland A's) with a 17-8 record and followed that with a 23-5 2002. In that season he won the Cy Young after finishing with a 2.75 ERA. He was also an All-Star.
Those numbers dropped drastically the next year even though he was once again an All-Star. His record dropped to 14-12 and his ERA jumped to a still great 3.30. His record was more reflected on the Oakland A's than his performance.
He continued this success with similar seasons of 10+ wins and 10+ loses through 2006 with Oakland. His ERA was twice below 4.00 and as high as high as 4.48. Despite the drastic differences in his ERA since his 2001-2003 seasons, the San Fransisco Giants signed him to a huge contract.
He answered by going 11-13 with a 4.53 ERA in his first season. This was a surprise, for most thought his ERA would drop moving from the American League to the National League.
Written off as a fluke season, he followed up 2007 with a terrible season in 2008. In this season he went 10-17 with a 5.15 ERA. His first two seasons have him dubbed my many as the worst free agent acquisition in baseball history.
The only upside for Zito is that because of the huge contract, he will get an opportunity to turn his career around.
Bartolo started his Major League career in 1997 with the Cleveland Indians. From 1998 to 2005, he averaged a record of 17-9 with only two seasons with an ERA above 4.00.
He won 20 games in 2002 with identical 10-4 records for both Cleveland and the Montreal Expos who acquired him mid season. He then found himself in Chicago for one season.
After that, he signed with the Angels and had a good 2004 campaign with an 18-12 record to go with an unusually high ERA at 5.01. Unlike Barry Zito, Colon turned it around after his first season with a new club.
In 2005 Bartolo won the American League Cy Young when he went 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA. That season he found himself on his second All-Star team and received MVP votes.
Since then, he has made a total of 35 starts. Mostly due to a partially torn rotator cuff that he endured during the playoffs in 2005. He made seven starts in 2008, and is currently looking for employment.
From a starting pitcher in 2001 to an All-Star closer in 2002, Eric Gagne made the switch from the rotation to closing games sexy once again.
In 2002 he saved 52 games while dominating. His ERA was 1.97 and his WHIP was an astonishing 0.862. He also struck out 114 batters in 82.3 innings. Prompting the MVP and Cy Young voters to give closers respect. He finished 12th in MVP and 4th in Cy Young voting.
He wasn't done setting the standard as a closer. His 2003 season was even better. That year, he saved 55 games. He pitched the exact same amount of innings, 82.3, but struck out 23 more hitters, almost 15 per nine innings. His Era dropped to 1.20 and his WHIP was a disgusting 0.692. He was the 6th place finisher in MVP voting and won the Cy Young award.
2004 brought his third straight All-Star selection, and to this point his last. He saw his ERA raise to 2.19 (not bad) and his whip rise to 0.911 (not bad). He still managed to save 45 games, and garner attention from both MVP and Cy Young voters.
Since that season, his save totals have dropped considerably, with a high of 16 in 2007. This is largely due to injuries between 2005 and 2006.
He seemed to be back when he had a 34 game stint with the Texas Rangers in 2007. During that stint he saved 16 games and had a 2.16 ERA with a 1.050 WHIP. He was then traded to Boston where his ERA more than doubled to 6.75 for the remainder of the season.
His 2008 season was spent with the Milwaukee Brewers who went against conventional wisdom and signed him to a rather large and surprising contract. He paid them back by contributing 10 saves with a 5.44 ERA. Nothing near what they expected.
He too is a pitcher that could still have successful years, but hasn't shown much life since 2004.
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