Author's Note: This is part of a five-part series examining players on the San Diego Padres roster who need to improve during this offseason if the Padres are to be successful, and if the paychecks given to these players are to be legitimately earned. The other players examined are Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, Edinson Volquez and Orlando Hudson.
After a surprising 2010 season in which they narrowly missed a postseason berth, the San Diego Padres and their fans entered the 2011 cautiously optimistic, despite the loss of Adrian Gonzalez.
That optimism was misplaced, however, as the Padres finished the season with a 71-91 record, good enough for dead last in the NL West.
The offseason so far has also been rocky, as the Pads have lost their top two starting pitchers from last season, Aaron Harang and Mat Latos. The transactions the club has made so far this offseason bode well for the future but make the forecast for the upcoming season quite bleak.
If the Padres are to have any hope of once again pulling off a surprising season and overachieving, they are going to need several of the players currently on their roster to step it up big time and improve dramatically during this offseason.
One of those players is shortstop Jason Bartlett. Bartlett is tied with Orlando Hudson for highest salary amongst everyday players on the Padres roster, raking in 4 million dollars in 2011. As with Hudson, Bartlett's salary is almost one-tenth of the Padres' overall payroll of 45.9 million dollars.
The Padres were hoping to get their star of the near future when they acquired Bartlett from the Rays during last offseason. What Bartlett did in his first season in a Padres uniform certainly didn't live up to those expectations.
Bartlett led San Diego in plate appearances in 2011, getting into the batter's box 554 times. Unfortunately, that was the only category in which he led the team.
Bartlett hit only .245 with two measly homers and only 40 RBIs. Bartlett has never been a power hitter, but the Padres surely expected a whole lot more than a .245 batting average and 40 RBIs for 4 million dollars a year.
Bartlett's .307 slugging percentage was the worst of any MLB player in 2011 who had at least 500 plate appearances.
Bartlett was one of the most underperforming players in all of MLB last season. If he wants to shed that dubious title, he needs to be one of the hardest-working players in all of MLB this offseason.