Reaching the World Series is probably the most difficult championship to reach out of all four major sports. There are too many factors that come in to play such as a healthy roster, a successful pitching rotation and timely plays. Still, it seems on each winning World Series team there is a player who doesn't quite belong. Though winning a championship is a team effort there is always a player on the roster who did little to nothing to help contribute to the winning.
You may question why bad players end up on championship teams. One reason could be that they weren't always bad. If players played as bad as they did for a short span of time for their entire career, they'd be out of a job. Players go through slumps at the worst times, and sometimes it hurts the team or their own reputation.
Another reason why bad players end up on championship teams is they were often the throw-in player in a blockbuster trade. When teams trade for a superstar player in the hope that it will help them reach that championship level other players are moved around to make room on the roster or to sweeten the deal. Whether or not the player performs at a high level ends up being a moot point if the team they're playing on wins the championship.
After the season is over players who were on the championship team often cash in. Whether it be through the championship team giving them a contract extension or leaving for big bucks in free agency. Fans will argue that players who underperformed during the postseason aren't worthy of getting a championship ring. Regardless of what the public believes, whether or not a player was series MVP or simply a benchwarmer, they get to share in the postseason glory--especially the World Series bonus, championship parade and post-game celebrations.
The following are the worst players on the last 15 winning World Series teams.
15 Alex Rios - Kansas City Royals
Players with long contracts who don't produce are often shipped off in a trade to whatever team is willing to eat their salary. The Toronto Blue Jays did this very thing with outfielder Alex Rios when they traded him to the Chicago White Sox.
Due to Rios' poor production he was traded to the Texas Rangers and was let go after one season. Because of his big contract he was still owed money, the only question was which team was willing to pay it? The Kansas City Royals took on the outfielder in 2014 and was stellar for the team. Along with the big bats of Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon, Rios helped the Royals reach their first World Series in 29 years. After falling to the San Francisco Giants in a best of seven game series the Royals exercised Rios' player option for 2015.
The following year was completely different for Rios. His stats and production both fell drastically. The Royals remained hopeful that he would provide a boost for the team in the postseason to get back to the World Series. The Royals won the World Series last season by beating the Mets four games to one in a best of seven series. However Rios batted .133 while earning only two hits in 15 appearances at the plate.
14 Gregor Blanco - San Francisco Giants
The San Fransisco Giants three World Championships accomplished over the past five years have been a complete team effort. However in 2014 one player didn't carry their load of the work. Outfield Gregor Blanco was non-existent in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. Though Madison Baumgarner stole the show with his flawless starting pitching and dominant relief appearance in game seven but Blanco's meager effort can't go unrecognized.
In 34 appearances at the plate, Blanco only secured four hits while batting a sub-par .186. The outfielder helped little by reaching base on balls six times during the Fall Classic. Though baseball is anything but a one man effort Blanco's wimpy performance has secured him a spot on the list. Two years earlier when the Giants won the World Series, Blanco was a big contributor. He batted .267 and in his 15 plate appearances he earned four hits and had a slugging percentage of .400.
Though his bad performance in 2014 was two years later it was quite a significant drop from the contribution he put forth two years earlier.
13 Stephen Drew - Boston Red Sox
It's no secret Stephen Drew has performed badly the past few seasons. When his agent Scott Boras advised him to hold out for the beginning of the 2014 for more money, he was for lack of a better word screwed. It wasn't until after the start of the season when Drew resigned in Boston, ironically for less money in his original qualifying offer.
The team's dynamic regular season performance earned them a trip to the postseason and won their first World Series at Fenway Park in over 90 years, however Drew's performance was dreadful! In the six game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Drew had only three hits in 19 at bats. His lackluster effort earned him a low batting overage of .158.
Drew's bad play didn't stop in Boston. He was traded to the division rival New York Yankees the following season and barely hit over .200 in the season and a half he played in pinstripes. Though Drew has a reputation of being a decent player from his days with the Arizona Diamondbacks things certainly went south during his time spent with the Red Sox. It makes you think of whatever player could have been on the roster instead of him to collect World Series hardware.
12 Brandon Belt - San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants first World Series Championship since making the move to the Bay Area in the late fifties was astonishing. However winning a second title within a three year period was was something nobody believed to be possible.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt obviously made the starting World Series roster against American League Champion Detroit Tigers, but his performance in the series was anything but championship-like. In the four games the Giants played against the Tigers, Belt had 13 at bats, in his 13 appearances at the plate he only earned one hit. His poor performance in the batters box led to him having a low average of .077. Belt's horrendous play in the World Series as a hitter was displayed most frequently as he struck out seven out of the 15 times he made an appearance at the plate.
Since sweeping the Detroit Tigers in 2012 Belt has gone on to win another World Series and was recently signed to a five-year extension worth over $70 million through the 2021 season.
11 Matt Holliday - St. Louis Cardinals
When the Oakland A's traded All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009 it was a significant boost to the Cardinals to win their division. When the Cardinals were eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers they wanted to keep Holliday with the organization long term, so they signed him to a seven-year deal worth $120 million.
Holliday made it to his second World Series in 2011 when the Cardinals beat division rival Milwaukee Brewers in six games in the National League Championship Series by four games to two. The series was a roller coaster ride with series lead changing multiple times and ultimately being stretched to seven games with the bat of third baseman David Fresse in game six.
It was all successful for everyone but Matt Holliday who batted .158 in the six games he played. In his 19 appearances at the plate he had three hits and scored five runs. Though Holliday managed to be walked seven times he contributed very little in the Fall Classic which the Cardinals went on to win in seven games.
10 Jonathan Sanchez - San Francisco Giants
It always comes down to pitching whenever teams go at it in the postseason. The Texas Rangers shocked the world in 2010 when their electric lineup earned them a division championship and their first American League pennant in franchise history.
What was waiting for the Rangers from the National League were the San Francisco Giants who reached their first World Series since moving to the Bay Area in the late 1950's. The Giants pitching rotation was stacked with talented relievers of both veterans and rookies combined.
The Giants superior pitching shut down the Rangers offense and went on to win the World Series in five games. One pitcher though wasn't as dominant and lead to the Ranger single win the five games played. Left handed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez wasn't a force to be reckoned with at all. In game three of the World Series he gave up four runs in just over four innings pitched. This lead Sanchez of holding an ERA of 7.73 in the World Series.
In all honesty the Rangers should have been swept in 2010 but Sanchez's sub-par performance unnecessarily stretched the series to another game.
9 Nick Swisher - New York Yankees
The New York Yankees or the "Evil Empire" as others would say are the most successful postseason team in professional sports. So when General Manager Brian Cashman assembled a power roster for the 2009 season it was clear they were making another run at a championship.
The Yankees parted ways with Jason Giambi that offseason and signed Nick Swisher from the Chicago White Sox. To enhance their lineup even more the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira to a long-term contract and stuck Swisher in the outfield. Swisher provided a boost in the lineup with his home runs but often struck out and was an inconsistent hitter.
When the Yankees reached the World Series to face the Philadelphia Phillies it was as if Swisher had never swung a bat before. In his 15 at bats he only recorded two hits, this led to Swisher having the team's worst batting average of .133.
The Yankees haven't reached the World Series since 2009 and Swisher continued to deteriorate. His performance at the plate was inconsistent and his speed on the bases began to decrease. He left for the Cleveland Indians in 2013 when they offered him more money in free agency and his career went completely down hill due to injuries. He was released by the team with a lot of money remaining on his contract.
8 Jimmy Rollins - Philadelphia Phillies
For the longest time the city of Philadelphia has been without a professional sports championship. When the Phillies won the National League East in 2008 it gave hope to the City of Brotherly Love. What was even more shocking was the Tampa Bay Rays were the team out of the American League to face them in the best of seven game series.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has always been the power source for the Phillies. Early in his career his speed on the bases allowed him to steal bases regularly and beat out ground balls to first base. His consistent hitting also gave the team a boost in 2008 where he batted for .277 and stole 47 bases. When the Phillies made a deep run in the postseason the team turned to him to be the fire the team needed to win it all.
The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five hard earned games but Rollins was not named MVP. If their was an award for least valuable player Rollins would be a shoe in to win it. He batted only .143 in the Fall Classic with three hits in 21 appearances at the plate. Rollins struck out eight times in the series, that averages out to nearly two per game.
7 Kevin Youkilis - Boston Red Sox
Nobody would ever believe the Boston Red would reverse the curse set by Babe Ruth when he left the organization in the early 1920's. When the organization won it's second World Series in four years it was clear they did not want to go into another championship draught.
The Red Sox earned their second championship in three years against the Colorado Rockies in 2007 with a powerful lineup. Nearly the entire roster hit close to .300 helping the team taste postseason glory. However one player struggled in the four game sweep against the Rockies and that was third baseman Kevin Youkilis. During the regular season Youkilis hit over .280 and drove in close to 90 runs batted in, but the World Series was a different story.
In the four games played against the Rockies Youkilis batted .222, a significant downgrade from his performance during the regular season. Though he managed to have a high OBP (on base percentage) of .417 his stats in the World Series were nothing to ride home about.
6 Albert Pujols - St. Louis Cardinals
It may be hard to comprehend that Albert Pujols a three time National League MVP would have a poor postseason performance, but sure enough the slugger was sub-bar in the 2006 World Series.
In the nail biting National League Championship Series against the New York Mets the Cardinals edged out the competition when Carlos Beltran struck out looking from a curveball dealt by Adam Wainwright. It was here the Cardinals looked to redeem themselves in the postseason after losing two years earlier to the Boston Red Sox.
The Cardinals went on the face the Detroit Tigers who had a better record and were better rested. The Cardinals batted the Tigers around clinching the championship in five games, it wasn't even a competition.
However Pujols didn't do much of the batting which was very uncharacteristic of him. In a season where he was named an All-Star hit over .300 and 49 home runs he was a ghost in the World Series. Pujols batted .200 with 15 appearances at the plate he earned only three hits.
5 Tadahito Iguchi - Chicago White Sox
There are teams that come around once in a lifetime. In 2005 the Chicago White Sox had everything going for them on the pitching and hitting end. There lineup of Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye helped propel the team deep in the playoffs and eventually to the World Series where they would win in four games.
Though Chicago celebrated its first professional sports championship since the Chicago Bulls won the NBA Finals one player was anything but championship worthy. Tadahito Iguchi the Japanese second baseman was barely noticeable in the World Series. In the 18 at bats he was given he managed to get only two hits and score two runs. His lackluster performance earned him a roster worst batting average of .167.
Iguchi went on to play in the big leagues for five more seasons, two with the Chicago White Sox. He never reached another World Series again so he wouldn't embarrass himself in front of another national audience.
4 Jason Varitek - Boston Red Sox
It was hard to comprehend when the Boston Red Sox finally lifted the curse of the Great Bambino. The team was assembled of multiple All-Stars, CY Young Award winners and many other great players. One player who stood out was team captain Jason Varitek. Since 1997 the catcher has been with the organization and was fortunate enough to be with organization to win their first World Series in nearly a century.
During the World Series the Red Sox faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals and handled them easily. In just four games the Red Sox scored 24 runs and swept the Cardinals to win the championship. However team captain Jason Varitek was anything but stellar. In the four games the Red Sox played Varitek had 13 at bats and managed to get two hits. This low performance earned him an abysmal average of .154.
Though Varitek caught the pitching staff which helped lead the Red Sox to winning the World Series his poor offensive performance can't go unnoticed.
3 Luis Castillo - Florida Marlins
Before the Marlins rebranded and became known as the Miami Marlins they won two World Series championships. In 2003 the Marlins resurged in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs when they were down three games to two. When they overcame the deficit they had an opportunity to face the New York Yankees for a shot at the championship.
There must have been something in the air that affected the Marlins play because they continued to bounce back no matter what obstacle was thrown at them. When the Yankees went up in the series one game to none the Marlins bounced back and went on to win the series in six games.
One player who didn't bounce back with the rest of the team was infielder Luis Castillo. Castillo had 26 at bats in the six games against the Yankees and earned only four hits while scoring only one run. It seemed as if Castillo didn't even belong on the roster due to his atrocious play to bat only .154 in the series.
2 Jarrod Washburn - Anaheim Angels
After the film Moneyball was released an average baseball fan would think the A's would have won the World Series in 2002 after the incredible season they put together. When they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs another team emerged as the favorite in the American League. When the Anaheim Angels got hot at the right time they began a run and wound up winning their first World Series in franchise history.
Not all the players on the team made a positive impact on the Angels historic run in 2002. Starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn was given the ball twice in the seven games the Angels played against the San Francisco Giants. In his two starts he recorded two losses and a combined 9.2 innings pitched.
His ERA of 9.31 was so bad it led to the Giants pushing the series to a seventh game. It's shocking that the Angels kept Washburn for another three seasons in L.A. despite his horrid play in the World Series.
1 Damian Miller - Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks definitely had their work cut out for them in the 2001 World Series when they faced the New York Yankees. The Yankees powerful lineup and veteran experience was an extremely hard task to overcome, since they won the last three World Series championships.
When the Diamondbacks superior pitching with Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson shut down the Yankees bats the world was stunned. However not all the players on the Diamondbacks were a positive contributor during the World Series. Catcher Damian Miller may have caught great games for Arizona's two aces, but was a dud in the batters box. In the six games he started Miller hit for .190 earning four hits and scoring three runs with 21 total at bats.
It wasn't as if Miller wasn't making good contact with the baseball--he didn't even come close to hitting it. In the six games he played he struck out 11 times. That's nearly twice each game.