Major League Baseball is a unique beast. It has humongous rosters compared to other leagues thanks to the fact that almost every pro team has farm teams at the AAA, AA, high-A, and low-A levels. This means that 30 teams have at least four players at each position just waiting for a chance to break into the big leagues. When you take this into consideration, it’s a wonder that any team would employ someone who just wasn’t cutting it statistically, with so many hungry players on their heels.
There are, however, many players across MLB that are seemingly more of a hindrance to their team than help, whether it be a starting pitcher with a terrible earned run average, a closing pitcher who just can’t stop blowing saves, or a position player who’s hitting, fielding, or both aren’t up to snuff. This list will run down a few of these issues, explaining why each player doesn’t deserve their roster spot on their given squad. Enjoy!
15. Bartolo Colon
The man they call “Big Sexy” is undoubtedly a living legend, be it for his play, his personality, or a combination of the two. The 5’11”, 285-pounder is playing his way into retirement this year though, as his age-44 season seems to be the one where his long career finally catches up with him. Colon was signed by the Atlanta Braves as a free agent and had a horrible start to the season. He posted a ridiculous 8.14 ERA through 13 starts with the club before being released in early July.
The Dominican-born hurler was then picked up by the Minnesota Twins, where he has stepped up his game a little bit, to the tune of a 4.02 ERA. Regardless, Colon is well past his prime and needs to retire at the end of the season, or else risk tarnishing is Hall-of-Fame reputation further. There are lots of up-and-coming youngsters that deserve a roster spot much more.
14. Kyle Schwarber
This young 24-year-old outfielder has way more hype around him than he is deserving of. Schwarber was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft to the Chicago Cubs, making his major league debut in the 2015 season. During his amateur/college career, Schwarber posted awesome batting averages in the .300-.400s. In his major league debut, he also looked great, making his career seem quite promising.
After helping the Cubs to the World Series last year, the 2017 season has shown this player does not deserve his roster spot. He posted a .120 batting average in the month of May – the worst in all of baseball. After being sent down to AAA, he has since returned to the Cubs, keeping a roster spot from a better young player. The Ohio native still holds the lowest stats as an outfielder on the Cubs squad. Overall, there are other players in the minors that are more deserving of a spot, but this underachieving player is blocking the way for them.
13. Jordan Zimmermann
Though he is not very old, Jordan Zimmermann already seems to be past the prime of his career and is aging very poorly. The Wisconsin-born pitcher began his career slowly, combining for a 4.71 ERA in his first two seasons in Washington. He then broke out, with ERAs below 3.66 for the next five years, earning him strong Cy Young consideration in 2013 and 2014.
Since the 31-year-old’s 2016 signing with the Detroit Tigers, things have gone downhill. Zimmermann has battled a number of injuries and currently sports an ugly 5.62 ERA in the 2017 season. Zimmermann’s decline has hit hard and fast. The former ace is now completely unreliable every time he steps on the mound, and is now at the point of simply taking up a roster spot from a more deserving youngster.
12. Curtis Granderson
This experienced outfielder has spent a lot of his time in Major League Baseball since being drafted third overall in the 2002 MLB draft to the Detroit Tigers. In the peak of his career he was breaking franchise records, one of which was becoming the second player to have at least 30 doubles, 15 triples, 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases in a single season.
Since peaking in his career, this 36-year-old has passed his prime. In this most recent 2017 season, Granderson has only had 4 stolen bases compared to 26 during the peak of his career. Alongside his decrease in speed, he has had a large decrease in his batting average. He has a low batting average of .224 which is far below the average of the team and his career peak in 2007. This formerly strong outfielder is now unworthy of the spot he is occupying. A new player would be much more sufficient to help in the upbringing of the young New York Mets.
11. Kevin Gausman
Gausman is one of the younger players on this list, so he still has time to prove us wrong. For now, though, the righty pitcher does not deserve his spot in the starting rotation of the Baltimore Orioles. At just 26 years of age, Gausman has already played in parts of five MLB seasons, making his debut in 2013. In his rookie year, the Colorado native posted a 5.66 ERA – high, but not terrible for a first-year pitcher. Over his next three years, Gausman began to show his growth, combining for a 3.77 ERA.
This season, however, he has hit a wall. Gausman has seemingly lost his control, walking batters at a significantly higher rate than his career average en route to a 5.25 ERA in 2017. If Gausman can’t pull it together next year, he needs to be moved out of the Orioles’ rotation to make room for a more capable arm.
10. Dansby Swanson
The next person on this list is a 23-year-old who has recently been drafted to MLB in the 2015 entry draft. As a 1st-overall pick by the Atlanta Braves, one would expect Swanson to be making an impact for the club by now. In his first half-season, the Georgia native put up solid offensive numbers, hitting .302 with 3 dingers. He was a bit of a defensive liability, though, making 6 errors in his short stint.
The defense has not really improved in 2017, and the offense has decreased to meet it. Swanson is batting a lowly .224 with just 6 homers and 41 RBI in nearly a full season, proving that he is not major league-ready. The Braves are not a great team overall so it’s not like he is slowing them down by being their everyday shortstop, but there has to be someone around that could do a better job than he is.
9. Alcides Escobar
Alcides Escobar was a huge part of the Kansas City Royals’ World Series runs in 2014 and 2015, taking home ALCS MVP honours thanks to his heroics against the Toronto Blue Jays. Though his postseason numbers were great, they didn’t necessarily match his regular season stats. Escobar has always been a streaky hitter throughout his 10-year MLB career, yo-yoing anywhere between a his .234 AVG in 2013 and his .304 AVG in 2009.
Unfortunately, the past two seasons have seen Escobar closer to his 2013 numbers. The problem with the Venezuelan’s game is that his numbers in other categories do not make up for his low batting average. He is not exactly a defensive stud, as his play at shortstop has regressed from his 2015 Gold Glove season, and his power numbers are almost non-existent, as he has only notched 4 home runs and 41 RBI in 123 games. To top it all off, he has only stolen 4 bases – down from 17 in 2015 and 31 in 2014! Escobar’s all-around game has gone down the toilet and the Royals may be smart to let him walk in free agency after this season.
8. Wade Miley
The second Orioles pitcher to land on this list, Miley is yet another reason why the club is not having a successful 2017 season. The southpaw starter has only really been a reliable arm for about two of his seven MLB seasons, as he combined for a 3.44 ERA from 2012-2013.
Since then, he has a terrible 4.77 ERA and has won just 43% of his decisions. In the 2017 season, the 30-year-old has a 5.11 ERA and has walked a league-high 76 batters to this point. None of Miley’s career totals represent those of a man who deserves a major league starting job, and the Orioles would be smart to replace Miley, along with Gausman, in their rotation if they want any chance at a playoff push in 2018.
7. Byron Buxton
Byron Buxton may be one of the speediest youngsters in the game today, but that does not mean his is ready to be an everyday big-leaguer. The 23-year-old Georgia native was selected 2nd-overall in the 2012 draft by Minnesota and had his development slowed by injury, not making his MLB debut until mid-way through 2015. While his defense has been solid and his stolen base numbers are ever-increasing, the fact is that Buxton just isn’t an MLB-caliber hitter.
Over parts of three seasons, Buxton has a batting average of just .230 and has only racked up 21 home runs and 73 RBI in 243 career games. There is still time for the center fielder to find his bat, but until then he should not be a daily starter in the big leagues. He belongs in AAA, where he can hone his craft and let a more effective player help the Twins in their playoff push.
6. Matt Moore
Matt Moore’s career derailment is a huge shame. The lefty pitcher began his time in MLB with the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2011 at age 22. He had a great run over the next three-and-a-half years, posting a 3.53 ERA and earning an All-Star nod. Then, in early 2014, injury struck, forcing Moore to undergo Tommy John surgery and causing him to miss the rest of the year.
Moore came back a different pitcher, jumping to a 4.76 ERA in the past three years and winning just 41% of his decisions. The now-28-year-old should be in the prime of his career, but instead is playing the worst baseball of his life. The Floridian is a detriment to the last-place San Francisco Giants, posting a 4-12 record this season along with his 5.38 ERA. As a relatively young pitcher, Moore still has time to figure things out again, but until he does that he does not deserve a job in the starting rotation of any big league team.
5. Trevor Story
Trevor Story set the baseball world on fire after debuting with the Colorado Rockies in 2016. His power numbers were off the charts, as he recorded seven home runs in his first six games, en route to NL player of the month honours for April. Obviously something had to give and he slowed down to more pedestrian numbers, but still managed a solid rookie campaign, putting up 27 homers and 72 RBI in just 92 games, along with his .272 AVG.
2017 has been much harder for the 24-year-old Texan. Story has become the Rockies’ everyday shortstop, though his numbers don’t justify that status. He is hitting just .225 and has regressed to 18 HR and 56 RBI, beginning to succumb to the enemy of many power hitters: the strikeout. Story doesn’t have great speed for a shortstop and has made a rather high 18 errors already in his short career. The youngster set the bar too high for himself right off the bat and now his poor play is sticking out like a sore thumb on an otherwise successful Rockies squad.
4. Tim Anderson
Another youngster with time to still prove himself is Tim Anderson. The 24-year-old White Sox shortstop made his debut in 2016 after being selected 17th-overall in the 2013 MLB Draft. He had a decent half-season as a rookie, batting .238 and swatting 9 home runs. Anderson’s problem, though, comes on the defensive side of things. He has already racked up 39 errors in 210 career games, a lowly fielding percentage of .954.
Anderson has actually racked up a negative Wins Above Replacement rating in 2017, batting just .239 and playing lackluster defense. The rebuilding White Sox have lots of young talent at all positions, so it’s a surprise that no one has been brought in to replace the struggling Anderson at shortstop.
3. Francisco Rodriguez
K-Rod has been around for a long time. Currently pitching in his 16th MLB season, the 35-year-old has finally lost the battle with father time. Rodriguez first pitched for the Angels back in 2002 and after two solid years in the ‘pen he was transitioned to the closer role. From 2005 to 2016, K-Rod racked up an outstanding 416 saves with an ERA of just 2.81, making him one of the best, most consistent closers in MLB history.
The 2017 campaign has not been friendly to Rodriguez or the Detroit Tigers. Before this year, the righty had converted 86% of his saves. In 2017, he sits at just 53.8%, blowing almost as many saves as he has actually converted, and his ERA is an outlandish 7.82. Time to retire, K-Rod. See you in the Hall of Fame.
2. Tyler Clippard
Another late-innings pitcher who is struggling mightily this season is Tyler Clippard. The MLB veteran has played for five different teams in his 11-year career, making his debut with the New York Yankees in 2007. For the first ten seasons of his MLB tenure, Clippard featured mainly as a setup man, pitching to a 2.95 ERA and racking up 56 saves when he was called upon to close.
After returning to the Yankees in mid-2016, Clippard was once again solid, recording a 2.49 ERA and converting two out of his three save opportunities. 2017 has treated him much differently. The 32-year-old Kentucky native may be past the prime years of his career, and it’s showing on the scoreboard. This season, he has a questionable 4.95 ERA and, worst of all, has blown five of his six save attempts! Clippard should not be placed in the closer’s role any more, as the Yankees have plenty of capable arms to do the job.
1. Jose Bautista
Joey Bats may go down as one of the top five Blue Jays of all time, but at this point it is simply time for the player and the team to admit that retirement is the best option. The former MLB home run leader has completely fallen off the wagon as he plays in his age-36 season. Bautista had a crazy beginning to his career, bouncing from team to team before landing in Toronto in 2008 at the age of 27. He found himself north of the border, beginning to rack up power numbers at a rate that had people questioning whether he was using PEDs. In his seven full seasons in Toronto from 2009 to 2015, the right fielder cranked 240 home runs and piled up 622 RBIs. Unlike most power hitters, Bautista had a uniquely high base-on-balls rate as well, earning a whopping 630 walks during this time period.
After injuries derailed his 2016 season, the Jays hoped Bautista would bounce back as they signed him to a $18M deal in free agency. He has managed to stay healthy but his numbers are not pretty at all. He is batting just .211, has hit just 20 home runs (his lowest since 2008), and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has skyrocketed. To top it all off, he has been below-average defensively, making him more of a hindrance than a help to the Blue Jays lineup. Given the number of highly talented young outfielders in Toronto’s system, it is abundantly clear that now is the time for Bautista to step aside.
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