There is no question that the MLB has some of the best athletes to have ever played professionally. It is a league that is incredibly challenging to find success in because of how talented everyone is, but stars are definitely born throughout it. However, it is important to note that not every top prospect ends up developing into the stars that they were expected to become. In fact, many prospects over the years, even first overall picks, have turned out to be complete busts. Pitchers tend to fall into this category more it seems, and that makes a lot of sense when seeing how there is no way to prepare for the immense talent of MLB batters.
With all that has been stated thus far, we will be looking at the 20 biggest pitcher flops since 2000. It is important to note that although many players on this list were failed prospects, some veterans who were given big contracts also apply. In those cases, these pitchers always seemed to be the long-term aces of their new clubs, but failed to do so immensely, At the end of the day, it is important to remember that these pitchers were dominant at one point in time. Whether it was with their college team or just with a different MLB team, they did have success. This just shows that the MLB is one of the hardest leagues to adapt to and fulfill expectations in.
Nonetheless, let’s look at the 20 biggest MLB pitcher flops since 2000!
20 Luke Hochevar
Luke Hochevar was supposed to be the long-term ace of the Kansas City Royals, especially when seeing that he was a number one overall pick. However, instead of developing into a star pitcher, he was astronomically awful as a starter and was soon labeled as a massive bust.
Hochevar would end up redeeming himself during the later years of his tenure with the Royals by being a very solid bullpen piece. However, when seeing how he was a first overall pick, there is no denying that he is one of the biggest pitching flops in the history of the league.
19 Mark Appel
In 2013, Mark Appel was selected as the first overall pick by the Houston Astros. He was expected to be the ace that would save them from being the worst in the league and had an abundance of potential. The Astros even chose him over Kris Bryant, so it is clear they had high hopes for him.
Yet, Appel would struggle immensely in his development and would never even make it to the team. Appel would then try to make the Phillies’ roster, but failed to do so as well. At age 26, Appel decided to step away from the game and is now one of the biggest busts in history.
18 John Van Benschoten
John Van Benschoten is one of the worst starting pitchers in the history of the MLB and it is shocking to see that he was a first round pick. He was supposed to turn out to be a top notch starter at the MLB level, but instead, appears to have never deserved a spot in the league.
In three seasons in the MLB, Van Benschoten managed to compile a 2-13 record with a ridiculously awful 9.20 era. There is no question that the Pirates made a massive error when they gave him this contract and he will go down as one of the biggest busts in MLB history.
17 Chan Ho Park
After having an absolutely fantastic tenure with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chan Ho Park was rewarded with a huge contract with the Texas Rangers. However, once he arrived with the Rangers, injuries completely derailed his careers and resulted in him losing a lot of his velocity.
Park would end up having some of the worst seasons in the history of the MLB with the Rangers, as he never would be able to have an ERA lower than the 5s. There is no question that Park was a massive flop for the Rangers and one that will forever haunt their fans.
16 Andrew Brackman
Andrew Brackman was drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round in 2007 and was expected to become a true star for them. However, the team and his agent clearly messed up his entire development and he now is a player that many baseball fans never heard of.
In fact, Brackman would end up making the MLB in 2011, but it would only be a duration of three games. From there, he would never play another MLB game because he simply could not find a spot with the roster. Overall, it is quite clear that he was a massive flop because of his circumstances.
15 Casey Weathers
Casey Weathers was envisioned to be the ace of the future for the Colorado Rockies when they took him with the 8th overall selection of the 2007 Amateur Draft. However, his career seemed to be ruined right from the start when he had to get Tommy John surgery the following year.
From there, Weathers simply was never able to make it to the MLB and has lived his entire career with a number of minor league baseball teams. Although the circumstances were the reason behind him failing to make the MLB, it is quite clear that it ultimately has made him a bust.
14 Sean Burnett
Sean Burnett was another starter from the Pittsburgh Pirates that was expected to turn out to be a real star for them. He had an amazing amateur career beforehand and it seemed that he would fit in quite nicely with the struggling Pirates. However, this would end up being far from the truth.
After a season of starting in 2004, Burnett did so horribly that he would not make the team until 2008 from there. Burnett then was a career MLB relief pitcher, where he was able to find success. However, it is quite clear that as a starter, he was a complete bust for the Pirates.
13 Dewon Brazelton
Dewon Brazelton was envisioned as the ace of the future for the Tampa Bay Rays when they took him with the 3rd overall selection in the 2001 draft. Brazelton would make the team the following season and was given many opportunities to shine with the rebuilding squad.
However, it is quite clear that the team made a massive mistake rushing his development and it ultimately led him to become a major bust. Brazelton would only last five seasons in the MLB and would have a career ERA of 6.38. Overall, he just was an awful starter at the MLB level.
12 Mike Hampton
After having one of the best seasons of the 2000s with the Houston Astros, Mike Hampton cashed out big when he was given his monster contract from the Colorado Rockies. At the time, there were some doubts, but they did expect him to still be at least a solid number two or three starter.
However, once Hampton started to play for the Rockies, it became quite clear that the deal was an awful decision. Hampton would only last two seasons with the team and ended up having some of the worst numbers in modern baseball history. From this, it is clear that this was a massive flop.
11 Matt Harrington
Matt Harrington was viewed as a future superstar in the MLB and the Texas Rangers believed that when they took his rights. Harrington would end up playing for the team from 2008 to 2015, but it was quite clear that he failed to come close to ever reaching the expectations given to him.
Harrington was never a star at the MLB level and was essentially average at best. When seeing how much the Rangers expected him to become their future ace, it is quite clear that they had to have been very disappointed. At the end of the day, this was just a massive mistake for them.
10 Kei Igawa
The New York Yankees were pushing for the World Series when they decided to give international star Kei Igawa a massive contract. At the time of the deal, it made a plethora of sense to make because he looked like he was going to be a real star in the MLB.
However, this would not be the case and Igawa now is one of the biggest flops in Yankees’ history. Igawa would last parts of two seasons with the team and carried insanely high ERAs during it. This is one of the worst signings in MLB history and an example as to why GMs must be careful with international free agents.
9 David Buchanan
David Buchanan was once viewed as the future star pitcher of the Philadelphia Phillies and he even showed that by having a very solid rookie season. However, the following season would be astronomically horrendous and saw him put up an ERA that was just under 7.
These stats were so awful that it resulted in Buchanan never making another MLB roster since then. He currently is pitching overseas and is doing a decent job, so perhaps he could one day find an MLB spot in the future. However, it is quite clear that he failed to even come close to the team’s expectations.
8 C.J. Wilson
After having a very strong tenure with the Texas Rangers, the Angels gave C.J. Wilson a very big contract in hopes that he would become their long-term ace. This move made a lot of sense at the time because the team was aiming to have a lot of postseason success and quickly.
Yet, Wilson did not pitch at the level of his contract and turned out to be a massive disappointment for the team. He never ended up pitching at the level of a number one starter and found himself at the bottom of the rotation when it came to the conclusion of his deal.
7 Mark Mulder
Mark Mulder was a real star with the Oakland A’s during the beginning stages of his MLB career and it resulted in him landing a huge deal with the Cardinals. There is no question that the fans of St. Louis were thrilled when this first happened because Mulder was a true ace.
Mulder would have a very solid first season with the Cardinals and looked like he was worth the money. However, he would completely implode in his second season and injuries could be the blame for that. He would never be able to recover fully and would pitch only a few more times, while putting up awful numbers before retiring.
6 Bryan Bullington
Bryan Bullington is another first overall selection from the Pittsburgh Pirates who simply failed to make any impact on the MLB. Upon his arrival to the team, it became quite clear that the team made a pretty significant mistake in bringing him. With that being said, he was off the team in just two seasons.
Bullington can easily go down as one of the biggest busts in the history of the league. The Pirates definitely were negatively impacted by this because they were so desperate to find an ace and failed immensely with him. At the end of the day, he clearly is one of the biggest flops ever.
5 Matt Anderson
Matt Anderson was once seen as a future star for the Detroit Tigers and he was off to the right start in his first season with the team. However, everything took a very quick to turn for the worst and he soon found himself being one of the least reliable pitchers in all of baseball.
The Tigers did not want to give up on their once top prospect and kept giving him many chances to succeed with the team. However, once the injuries started to come more and his stats got even worse, they finally gave up on him and he officially became one of the biggest flops ever.
4 Daisuke Matsuzaka
The Boston Red Sox made a massive splash when they signed top international free agent Daisuke Matsuzaka. He was one of the best pitchers overseas and many saw him to become one of the bests here as well. In fact, his first two seasons showed that he could very well have been.
However, once Daisuke started to have injuries, his play fell off dramatically and he soon saw himself being one of the worst players in the entire league. The Red Sox did not want to give up on him, but ultimately had no choice when his final season saw him put up an 8.28 ERA.
3 Kris Benson
It appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates simply were always bad at choosing their first overall selections as Kris Benson was another bust for them. Although he was able to pitch at a somewhat league average, there is no question that he was a massive flop for them.
Benson was supposed to turn into a solid starter, but he was very unreliable and never was able to keep his ERA down at any point. The Pirates desperately needed him to turn into a star pitcher for them, but he failed immensely and is easily one of the worst picks ever.
2 Mark Prior
For the record, Mark Prior was not a bad pitcher whatsoever for the Chicago Cubs. In fact, he appeared to be the future of the team and already looked like a true ace from the very start of his career. However, this would all take a turn for the worst when injuries started to come.
Prior had all the tools to be a long-term star and maybe even a potential hall of famer because of them. However, injuries ruined all of his success and a horrible 2006 season would mark the end of his career. He would work for years trying out for teams, but injuries kept hurting his process. This is just sad seeing how well he could have been.
1 Barry Zito
Barry Zito was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball when he was with the Oakland A’s. Due to the immense success he had with them during his tenure, he landed himself a massive contract with the San Francisco Giants in hopes that he would be their long-term ace.
However, as soon as he arrived with the team, his velocity took a massive hit and it resulted in his stats getting far worse. Zito would never have a season where he had a lower ERA than 4.00 with the team and even would go over 5.00 on multiple occasions. Overall, he was just a massive flop with them.