Whether these MLB players are letting down fans of their favorite team or destroying fantasy rosters, they are all major league disappointments. As we are just shy of the season’s halfway mark, the sample size is large enough to decipher who just struggled a little out of the gate and who is failing to play to expectations.
Before starting, it’s worth pointing out the difference between disappointing performance and just being bad. Baseball is filled with perennially disappointing players and guys who just never panned out for one reason or another. All of the players on this list, however, came into the season with high expectations based on a variety of reasons including previous achievements and exorbitant new contracts. One thing is for sure, they’ve all left a lot to be desired.
Since winning back-to-back Cy Young awards in 2008-2009, Tim Lincecum has continued to be one of the best pitchers in the game. This season, however, has been a different story. Although he ended a near two month winless drought on Wednesday, he’s a long way from salvaging his season. He currently holds a record of 3-8 with a 5.60 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, both rank worse than 100th amongst qualifying pitchers. The most worrisome thing for the Giants, though, is that in the 16 games The Freak has started, they are 4-12. The Giants are currently first in the NL West despite his disappointing start, but they will need him to rebound in the second half if they want to capture the division crown.
1. Tim Lincecum
When the Milwaukee Brewers lost Prince Fielder to free agency this offseason, they knew players like Rickie Weeks would have to help fill the void if they were going to repeat as NL Central Division Champions. Weeks may not have the biggest name on this list, but he was given a four year, $38 million contract extension and started at second base for the NL All Star team just a year ago. His play this year though, can really only be described as unacceptable for a guy on a major league roster. With only 48 hits through his first 71 games, Weeks has a .185 batting average which is dead last in all of baseball. It doesn’t look like the Brewers are going to end up contending this season, especially with the lack of production from Weeks.
2. Rickie Weeks
In his first season with the Boston Red Sox in 2011, Adrian Gonzalez was nothing short of spectacular. He fell just shy of winning his first batting title with an average of .338 and finished in the top 10 in the AL MVP voting. But as things have turned sour in Boston this season, Gonzalez’s offensive output has suffered as well. Not only is he failing to replicate his numbers from last season, it’s unlikely that he’ll reach his career averages. Through 74 games, Gonzalez is hitting .266 with a .733 OPS, and has hit for only six home runs while driving in 40. Obviously the Red Sox have much larger problems on their hands than just Gonzo’s underwhelming performance so far, but he certainly hasn’t helped their cause.
3. Adrian Gonzalez
The Miami Marlins made a lot of changes in the offseason before moving into their new ballpark. Ozzie Guillen was hired as manager while Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano were brought in to stabilize their pitching staff. Perhaps their biggest splash was signing Jose Reyes to a six year, $106 million contract. After winning the NL batting title with a .337 average in 2011, his average has dropped 68 points while his slugging percentage has dropped 113 points from .493 to .380. Like the Red Sox, the Marlins have larger issues than just one player as they have dropped out of serious contention to win the NL East. But if Reyes continues to struggle for the rest of this season, they’ll have to be concerned about ever getting their money’s worth.
4. Jose Reyes
Expectations for Albert Pujols have never been higher after he signed one of the most lucrative deals in MLB history this offseason (10 years $240 million). Who knows if it’s the pressure to live up to his deal or switching from the NL to the AL, but it’s clear that Prince Albert has performed well below his standards. After starting off with a dreadful streak of 111 at bats without a home run, he’s shown signs of life but has hardly righted the ship. Pujols is still batting .261 with a .320 OBP and .769 OPS, which are all well below his career averages. His 12 home runs through 73 games ranks tied for 22nd in baseball. He obviously has the ability to get his numbers by season’s end, but so far he has been the most disappointing player in the major leagues.
5. Albert Pujols
So disappointing to the Boston Red Sox was the performance of Kevin Youkilis that they traded him Sunday to the Chicago White Sox. Although the Red Sox’s desire to give more playing time to the emerging Will Middlebrooks made Youkilis expendable, his abysmal stat line, nagging injuries, and public disputes with manager Bobby Valentine certainly factored in. At the time of the trade, the “Greek God of Walks” was only carrying an on base percentage of .315, which is 73 points lower than his career mark. He was also batting just .233 with four home runs and 14 driven in. With the sample size being much too small on his new team, it’s hard to say whether or not the change of scenery will help him turn around his season. One thing is for sure, he better if the White Sox are to win the AL Central this year.
6. Kevin Youkilis
If he wouldn’t have inked his five year, $65 million deal this offseason, John Danks of the Chicago White Sox probably wouldn’t be considered to be such a disappointment. However, the White Sox gave Danks big money expecting that he would take the next step in his career and anchor what looked to be an undependable staff. As it turns out, Danks was the one who really struggled out of the gate with a 3-4 record, 5.70 ERA, and 1.49 WHIP before landing on the DL on May 20. With the timetable for his return perpetually in question, Southside fans probably shouldn’t count on his help holding off the Indians and Tigers anytime soon.
7. John Danks
It seems as though New York Yankee Mark Teixeira could be put on this list every year. Being the notoriously slow starter that he is, it almost seems pointless to talk about him. We all know that his numbers will be where they ought to be by season’s end. Nonetheless, it’s still a list about the most disappointing players through the first three months of the season. At the end of the year, we can do a list of guys who had bounce back second halves. Through 71 games this season, Teixeira has posted a .248 batting average and has only slugged .450. These are 32 points 78 points below the averages for his career, respectively. His 12 home runs put him in a seven way tie for 22nd. All of this is nothing new for the Yankee’s slugger, and that’s probably the real reason why it’s so disappointing.
8. Mark Teixeira
Most players considered to be the most disappointing are generally underachieving on a team that is likewise not playing to expectations. With the Texas Rangers leading all of baseball in wins, Michael Young doesn’t really fit into that group. That being said, his performance has been lackluster this season especially considering he received MVP consideration in 2011. After posting a career best .338 batting average last year, Young is only hitting .274 through 73 games this season. He was never known for big home run power, but he has managed just three so far while driving in only 31 runs. He’s also slumping with a .659 OPS, which is 136 points off of his career pace. The Rangers keep on rolling even without him at his best, but they could be downright scary if Young finds his form.