Every year in baseball there are players who underperform. But every once in a while, after a player has had a remarkable season, they fall flat on their face the following year. Big disappointments are costly to a team, both in the standings and internally on the payroll. When players begin to play inconsistently, the media and fans will not be shy about expressing their displeasure. Over a span of time, if a player is exposed to heavy criticism it will damage their confidence and permanently affect their ability to play.
If players have a bad season, fans and the media will be quick to turn to the steroid card. It's no secret that multiple players in the past have fallen off dramatically after using performance-enhancing drugs the season before. But if every player underperformed one season after using steroids, wouldn't they be uncovered? Absolutely! Steroids aren't always the reason for the poor performance of players. Age can also play an enormous factor. Over the years players get older, and younger, more athletic players enter the league and take their place.
For pitchers, the fastball speed decreases and the ERA rises, and for hitters the bat speed slows down, resulting in a lower batting average. Players will sometimes have a subpar performance in the prime of their career, and there are many things that can cause this: For example, players may not like the atmosphere in the clubhouse, or a bad manager or a cancerous teammate might make going to work every day a labor, resulting in poor performance.
The great Yogi Berra once said that baseball is 90% mental and the other half physical. It just goes to show that no matter what training regiment players put themselves through in the offseason, it's how you perform against elite pitching and powerful hitting during the regular season that really matters.
15 Jose Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays
Last season the Toronto Blue Jays took the American League East by storm with their dynamic lineup, which included Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki, who was acquired in a mid-season trade with the Colorado Rockies.
Over the past five seasons Jose Bautista or "Joey Bats," as he's referred to by his fans and the media, has been on a tear. One year ago during the 2015 season he hit 40 home runs and drove in 114 runs. Though Bautista played 153 games last season and will fall short of playing 120 this season, his stats this year are significantly reduced.
So far Bautista has hit only 21 home runs this season and 67 RBIs, nearly half of what he produced lat season. To damage his player value even more Bautista will become a free agent at the end of the season. He didn't exactly make it easy for himself when he stated he wanted a five-year $150 million contract before the 2016 season began. Due to his low numbers this year, he will likely receive substantially lower offers.
14 Zack Greinke - Arizona Diamondbacks
When the Los Angeles Dodgers fell to the New York Mets in five games in the National League Division series last season, starting pitcher Zack Greinke's future with the organization became uncertain. When Greinke opted out of his six-year contract with the Dodgers he did it in the hope of cashing in on the free agent market.
It really came as a shock when division rival Arizona Diamondbacks inked Greinke to a six-year $206.5 million contract, the largest in organization history. The Diamondbacks were setting themselves up for a run at the National League West title, but something else was in store for their expensive pitcher.
Greinke pitched like a CY Young candidate in 2015 with the Dodgers, but things were different this season. In his 26 games played, he only won 13 games, six less than he won last season, and held an ERA of 4.37, more than twice as high as the 1.66 mark he posted in 2015 with the Dodgers.
13 Anibal Sanchez - Detroit Tigers
After the Detroit Tigers lost the World Series in 2012 to the San Francisco Giants, they wanted to make elite pitcher Anibal Sanchez a part of their future. That offseason they signed him to a five-year $80 million contract extension. Since then Detroit hasn't been able to reach the World Series, and Sanchez continues to be a mediocre starter.
This season the Tigers failed to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Sanchez underperformed again by finishing the season with a record of (7-13) and an ERA of 5.87. Sanchez is coming up on the final year of his contract and will probably fall short once again.
At one time the Tigers had Verlander, Price and Scherzer in their rotation, and Sanchez was an added bonus. But those days are long gone, and so are the days of Sanchez being an elite pitcher.
12 Curtis Granderson - New York Mets
Centerfielder Curtis Granderson didn't have much of a change in commute when he left the New York Yankees and signed a four-year contract with the Mets in 2014. While playing for the Yankees, Granderson was known for hitting home runs in the Yankees' hitter friendly ballpark.
When Granderson made the switch to Citi Field his home run total was expected to decrease. This season Granderson's homers remained high, with 30, but he only drove in 59 runs, which goes to show that more than half of the bombs Granderson hit were solo shots.
Granderson has also struggled with his batting average in recent years, and this season was no different, as he hit .237. This was probably caused by the centerfielder striking out 130 times.
11 Alex Gordon - Kansas City Royals
It didn't seem possible that the Kansas City Royals would reach the World Series again after losing in 2014 to the San Francisco Giants in seven games. However, in 2015 Kansas City resiliently returned to the World Series and defeated the New York Mets in five games.
That offseason one of the team's biggest questions was outfielder Alex Gordon. Gordon has been with the organization a long time and the club wanted to keep him. When he signed a four-year extension it was expected he would produce more of the same of what he did in the World Series.
This season was a severe drop off for Gordon. The world champion only hit .220, hitting 17 home runs and driving in 40 runs. Hopefully it was just a down year for the Royals outfielder or else they're in store for a disappointing future.
10 Jhonny Peralta - St. Louis Cardinals
It was an uphill climb for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2016 season, due to the Chicago Cubs impeccable performance. For shortstop Jhonny Peralta the climb was that much steeper. Though he only played in 82 games due to injury it was another disappointing season for the overpaid veteran.
Three seasons ago the Cardinals brought on Peralta to hit home runs and to be a pivotal piece of their offense. In 2016 he hit only eight home runs, while driving in 29 runs batted in. Though Peralta was hurt for a majority of the season in the time he played, it barely contributed to the team's offense.
Peralta has one year remaining on his contract, for his sake he will produce more efficiently in 2017 or else he will be scrambling to find a roster spot in the future.
9 Dallas Keuchel - Houston Astros
It seemed in Houston Astros star pitcher Dallas Keuchel couldn't be touched. His performance in the 2015 American League wild card game against the New York Yankees was stellar. After an impressive 2015 season, 2016 was only to be brighter for the young phenomenon with the trademark beard.
Unfortunately from the beginning of the season this year Keuchel struggled. The dominant ERA he possessed last season rose this season to 4.55. Though Houston's lineup remained the same, Keuchel's mechanics weren't as superior. The ace who used to eat innings for his bullpen fell from 232 to 166 innings pitched. Due to his bad performance in 2016 his record kept him out of an All Star game appearance and a trip for a his team to the playoffs.
Keuchel finished the 2016 season with a record of (9-12), nearly the complete opposite of a season earlier where he finished with a record of (20-8) where he was named AL Cy Young award winner.
8 Ryan Howard - Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies postseason runs came to a screeching halt in 2012 when their trifecta pitching staff of Cole Hammels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay all headed to the disabled list. Ironically it was the same time All-Star first basemen Ryan Howard's production began to fall.
Two seasons ago the Phillies displayed their affection for Howard by offering to pay half of his $50 million owed to him to whatever team would take him on. Howard's struggles continued in 2016 as he hit only .196. Though Howard hit 25 home runs he only drove in 59 runs batted in.
A mathematical breakdown would be if the Phillies paid him $1 million for every home run he hit, all of which were in the regular season since they failed to reach the playoffs.
7 Byron Buxton - Minnesota Twins
It's been years since the Minnesota Twins have had a roster worthy of a postseason spot. This past season the Twins had high expectations for young outfield phenom Byron Buxton. However what Buxton put forth this season has fallen way short of expectations.
Buxton was supposed to be a key part of the lineup along with second baseman Brian Dozier and team captain Joe Mauer. In the 92 games he played this season he only batted .225 while hitting 10 home runs. Though Target Field isn't a hitters friendly ballpark, players with expectations like Buxton should have no trouble clearing the fences.
At the end of the 2016 season the Twins finished with the worst record in the league and will select first in next years MLB Draft. Maybe it's possible the Twins can exchange another young talent for Buxton who's looking to be a disappointment.
6 Ryan Zimmerman - Washington Nationals
It was a monumental failure when the Washington Nationals fell behind in the National League eastern division to the New York Mets last season. In order to re-vamp their organization and jostle up the roster the organization hired veteran manager Dusty Baker to run the show.
A majority of the roster reacted positively to the coaching change and played better as a result. However this wasn't the scenario for everyone. First basemen Ryan Zimmerman has had a disappointing season and his offense showed because of it. In 2015 Zimmerman drove in 73 runs with 16 home runs. In 2016 his ability to drive in runs was nearly cut in half as he drove in only 46.
Zimmerman's poor performance is likely because of his age, he struck out 25 more times thi season. Though it could be a random coincidence, it could be a result of his bat speed slowing down which will hurt his production in the years to come.
5 Mark Teixeira - New York Yankees
It's no secret the New York Yankees has been plagued by injuries due to their veteran heavy roster. In his final year of his massive eight-year contract first basemen Mark Teixeira was looking to have an outstanding season to receive that one last contract over the next few seasons.
When his production fell he decided to announce that he would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season, but not before he would display one of the worst seasons a $25 million a year player could produce.
In the 116 games he played Teixiera batted .204, hit 15 home runs and brought in 44 runs. It came as a big surprise because before Teixeira went down with a knee injury last season he was on pace for a spectacular performance, hitting 31 home runs and 79 RBI's.
4 Joe Panik - San Francisco Giants
It's an even year, so it's time for the San Francisco Giants to make another postseason run! It seems almost every time the Giants make their appearance in the Fall Classic an unexpected players rises to the occasion and helps bring the team to the promise land with a big victory. However don't hold your breath on second baseman Joe Panik to do the job this year.
Last season second baseman phenom Panik hit over .300 in batting average in 100 games of play. This year Panik played in 27 more games than last season and his averaged plummeted to .239.
Though the Giants have ousted the New York Mets in the National League wild card game San Francisco continues to struggle to produce runs, especially when playing on the road. The team could sure use Panik's offense, but would probably need to return to last season to receive the production that could help them in this present time.
3 Shin-Soo Choo - Texas Rangers
It came as a big surprise when the Texas Rangers signed mediocre outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a six-year deal deal worth over $100 million. However what came as an even greater shock was in the 2015 season he actually produced for what he was being paid for. He hit above .270 with 22 home runs and over 80 runs batted in.
Though the Rangers lost in the American League division series to the Toronto Blue Jays, Choo's positive performance gave hope to the Rangers on what could be for future seasons. This year has been a complete drag for Choo as he's only managed to play 48 games because of injury.
In the time he's played Choo only hit seven home runs and 17 RBI's. Though injuries aren't an excuse for a player's poor performance, the expectations Choo had going into this season after his performance last year have fallen incredibly short.
2 Homer Bailey - Cincinnati Reds
Pitching a no-hitter is an elite accomplishment in major league baseball. But when a player does it twice, it's truly remarkable. Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey tossed his first no hitter in 2012 and miraculously tossed his second one in 2013. That offseason the ball club signed him to a six-year extension worth over $100 in hopes he'd toss a few more gems for them.
Over the last two seasons Bailey pitched in a combined eight games because of injuries. In 2015 it was revealed he would need Tommy John surgery and missed the entire year. For almost two seasons Bailey sat on the bench. He finally returned to the mound this season won only two games and finished with an ERA over 6.00.
Though the Reds faced a tough task battling against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in their division for a playoff spot, Bailey's performance isn't acceptable for what they're paying him on a yearly basis.
1 Clay Buchholz - Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox made the premier move of the offseason by signing free agent pitcher David Price to a seven-year deal worth over $200 million. This was a sigh of relief for veteran pitcher Clay Buchholz, because he wouldn't be looked at as the team's ace anymore. A role he was never comfortable in.
Though Price was now in the rotation and Boston has a lineup to be reckoned with Buchholz's production has gone way down. Buchholz only played in 18 games last season but finished with a record of (7-7) and an ERA of 3.26. This year he played in 37 games and finished with a worse record of (8-10) and held an ERA of 4.78.
A performance like this is just unacceptable considering the Red Sox had the best lineup in baseball and a defense in the outfield and up the middle like no other.
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