Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Most Overpaid Players of the 2012 Season

Alec Snyder@@alec_snyder62Contributor IIINovember 29, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Most Overpaid Players of the 2012 Season

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    Now that the Major League Baseball offseason has finally had its kick start thanks to free-agent center fielder B.J. Upton signing a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, big-name signings should start to increase in frequency over the coming weeks.

    Add that with the Winter Meetings next week, and you've got a frenzy on your hands, albeit one that's fun to watch.

    For the Philadelphia Phillies, the offseason will be focusing on improving three main positions: center field, third base and the bullpen.

    With the bullpen seemingly taken care of in light of the Phillies' acquisition of Wilton Lopez from the Houston Astros (who else?) as their new setup man, barring any other bullpen additions, that's one item that can be crossed off on the checklist.

    As for the outfield, Upton's signing creates a new discussion concerning the Phillies' center field preference, as he was rumored to be the Phillies' top target.

    And then there's third base, but that doesn't seem to be as high of a priority to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

    In the meantime, with players signing new deals left and right, it's also important to take a look back on players from this past season and see how they fared in terms of worthiness on their contracts.

    Some players, from Juan Pierre to Jimmy Rollins, were worth much more than their salaries indicated. Likewise, there are a few players who failed to live up to expectations, both on the field and contractually.

    This slideshow will examine the Phillies' top five most overpaid players for the 2012 season using FanGraphs' dollar value statistic. A player's overall value was determined by subtracting the player's FanGraphs value from their 2012 actual salary.

    In terms of eligibility for this list, I only chose players who spent the entirety of the 2012 season with the Phillies. Current free agents who were on the Phillies for all of last season are eligible, however.

    Without further ado, I present to you the five most overpaid Phillies of the 2012 season (ranked in ascending order).

    *Salaries courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

5. Placido Polanco

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    2012 Salary: $6.25 million

    2012 Dollar Value: $2.8 million

    Deficit: $3.45 million

    And we thought 2011 was Placido Polanco's downfall.

    As tends to be the case with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., Polanco was signed to one too many years when the Phillies inked him to a three-year, $18 million deal before the 2010 season.

    His 2010 was fantastic. Not so much in 2011. The thought was that Polanco had hit rock bottom in 2011 and would rebound from his sports hernias for 2012.

    No rebound occurred; in fact, 2012 was truly Polanco's rock bottom. Batting average is Polanco's game aside from defense, but in 2012 he hit .257, the worst average of his career (excluding his 45-game rookie stint).

    Additionally, Polanco's OPS of .629 was also the worst of his career, as were the .302 OBP and .327 SLG that comprised it.

    The highlight of his 2012? Polanco reached the 2,000-hit plateau with a home run on May 14. However, it was only one of two long balls for Polly on the year.

    Not surprisingly, Polanco's defense was still relatively good, posting an 8.1 UZR/150. The problem? Polanco was seldom on the field by season's end.

    He only played 90 games on the season, a career low. Injuries hampered his every attempt to get back on the field. Polanco's bat speed vanished, and his once-sterling above-.300 career average has since dipped down to .299.

    If the third base market wasn't as weak as it is in this year's free-agent class, I'm not convinced that Polanco wouldn't retire. Maybe he wants to end on a stronger note or play second base as opposed to third to end his career.

    Nevertheless, the twilight of Polanco's career is certainly approaching the witching hour, and the 37-year-old infielder may have to hang it up sooner rather than later.

4. Ty Wigginton

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    2012 Salary: $4 million (Phillies responsible for $2 million)

    2012 Dollar Value: $-3.2 million

    Deficit: $7.2 million

    When the Phillies acquired Ty Wigginton from the Colorado Rockies last offseason, it was hailed as a move that improved the Phillies bench tremendously.

    Although his defense was known to be a liability, Wigginton was versatile. He was able to play most infield positions, both corner outfield spots and was even the emergency catcher. And with the Rockies chipping in half of his 2012 salary, the deal was even better.

    However, Wigginton's 2012 season was nothing short of brutally horrible. His April consisted of a 13-game hitting streak and left Wigginton as one of the league's hottest players at the time.

    There's a reason why the season goes for 162 games, though. That fire in a bottle has to be sustained, but in Wigginton's case, it blew out rather quickly.

    Yes, Wigginton's 35 years old now, but when the Phillies acquired him, he wasn't expected to have the worst season of his 11-year career.

    Wiggy ended up only hitting .235 with an abysmal .688 OPS in 125 games. He did slug 11 home runs, though it was initially thought that he was capable of hitting at least 20 long balls throughout the season, especially thanks to Citizens Bank Park.

    As for his defense, it was worse than a liability—to call it mediocre is even far too generous. Playing primarily third base coupled in with some first base and some left field by the end of the season, Wigginton posted negative UZR/150 values at all three positions.

    Fielding percentage was a bit more favorable to him at first base and in left field, but he posted a whopping .833 fielding percentage at third base. In short, Wigginton screwed up one out of every six opportunities at the hot corner.

    The good news is that the Phillies had a better option than 2011 for their bench. The bad news is that in the end, it turned out to be just about equal.

3. Roy Halladay

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    2012 Salary: $20 million

    2012 Dollar Value: $-0.2 million

    Deficit: $20.2 million

    In my heart of hearts, I hate including Roy Halladay on this list. I'm upset that FanGraphs holds his 2012 value as low as it is. I can't deny that it's understandable, though.

    Entering his third year in Phillies pinstripes, "Doc" Halladay was coming off back-to-back years of finishing second or higher in the NL Cy Young Award voting, bringing home the bacon in 2010.

    The 2012 season was expected to be more of the same, seeing as Doc had pitched at least 200 innings for six straight seasons and had not been on the disabled list since 2009, and even then it wasn't for long.

    Of course, 2012 didn't happen the way anyone wanted it to for Halladay. Spring training came with news that Doc's velocity was dipping well below its average. At first, it was interpreted as Halladay still getting into his rhythm, and his April suggested no signs of any problems.

    As the season wore on, however, it was made clear that Doc had a shoulder ailment, possibly as a result of the innings log he had put on his arm over the last six-plus years. He hit the DL for 42 games, came back for most of the end of the year, and suffered shoulder spasms to close out 2012.

    When you're paying your ace starting pitcher $20 million a season and they're not on the field for nine or 10 starts of the season, you've got a fiscal problem on your hands. Halladay's value was depreciated by his 4.49 ERA and 1.22 WHIP along with his increased amount of home runs allowed and upped K/9 and K/BB rates.

    The man's still got a fantastic work ethic, and we should see him in a better state come spring training. But for now, we sit back and reflect on the fact that in 2012, the Doctor was not in.

2. Cliff Lee

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    2012 Salary: $21.5 million 

    2012 Dollar Value: $0.5 million

    Deficit: $21 million

    I'm even more upset that Cliff Lee is making an appearance on this list.

    In the second of his five-year reunion with the Phillies in 2012, Lee was coming off an incredibly strong 2011 season that saw him post career highs in strikeouts with 238, ERA with 2.40, innings pitched at 232.2, K/9 at 9.2 and shutouts with six.

    He placed third in the NL Cy Young Award voting only to his teammate Roy Halladay and Triple Crown winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    On paper, 2012 was not Cliff Lee's year. If you're a purist, you'll immediately catch sight of Lee's ugly 6-9 record and the fact that he didn't record a win until July. However, Lee's 2012 was peripherally better than his 2011.

    While his 3.16 ERA and 1.11 WHIP don't support that, Lee did spend about a month on the DL after dueling with Matt Cain in May in a game that saw Lee pitch 10 innings of shutout baseball. The problem? The Phillies couldn't give him any run support, and that was really Lee's MO the whole season.

    Lee posted the majors' best K/BB ratio in 2012 at 7.39, and though he allowed eight more home runs this season than the last, Lee's advanced metrics suggest a marginally better season.

    His FIP was 3.13, and his xFIP was 3.06. In fact, Lee's SIERA, which is considered to be the most advanced pitching stat, registered at 3.00. As you get more intricate with the numbers, the case is made that Lee really was much better than his numbers (and, in my opinion, dollar value) suggests.

    I get it...$21.5 million is a hefty investment for one player, especially one who takes the field in roughly a fifth of the team's games. It's incredibly difficult to live up to a contract like that given the circumstances.

    But if we're only looking at win-loss record, which considering FanGraphs takes the dollar value from their WAR value, there's got to be a flaw in the system. At least, I hope so.

1. Ryan Howard

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    2012 Salary: $20 million

    2012 Dollar Value: $-4.6 million

    Deficit: $24.6 million

    You really didn't expect anyone else at the top of the list, did you?

    Ryan Howard came into the 2012 season...late. Extremely late. After rupturing his left Achilles tendon in the final at-bat of the 2011 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, nobody was really sure just when Howard would make his return to the field.

    Initially, the thought was that he could be back as early as mid-May. Others, of course, thought he'd miss the entire season.

    Regardless, Howard ended up returning to the Phillies lineup on July 6 and slugged his first home run of the season 10 days later. Unfortunately, Howard would only mash 14 home runs in 2012 in 71 games, equating to roughly 32 home runs on a full season.

    His 40-plus home run power has left the building, at least for now. In the meantime, the Phillies are stuck paying him an average of $25 million a season.

    What was encouraging was Howard's RBI total, as that was 66 in such a short amount of time. Of course, RBI counts are always circumstantial based on where the player sits in the batting lineup.

    Howard's other stats were atrocious: .219 batting average, .295 OBP and .423 SLG, coming together for a .718 OPS. For comparison, Howard's worst OPS of his career before that was .835 in 2011.

    Howard's expected to train extensively this offseason in an effort to both strengthen his Achilles tendon and get back to 100 percent health, which he insisted he had not yet achieved despite coming back to play midseason.

    If Howard can get back to his pre-injury form, it'd be a miracle. Sadly, that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

    All we can do is watch the 33-year-old first baseman age into only the second year of his five-year contract extension that, even when Howard makes $25 million a year starting in 2014, still won't be warranted based on the value he's worth.