In Major League Baseball, being a starter for a team means you have the stuff the coaches saw to make you their man at that position. To become a Sandy Koufax at catcher, a Ken Griffey Jr. in centerfield, Cal Ripken Jr. at shortstop or whatever legend that made the game at your starting spot.
Depth charts are filled out, spring training is gone through, position competitions come and go. Finally, the skippers of each team trot out their players to begin the season with high hopes that they have brought out the best starting nine on the field. But as the season rolls on, people begin to see that some of these major league starters don’t play like major league starters. By the power of Grey Skull, they just stink. Now some people will promote patience throughout their slump. I mean, these guys are professionals who have made it to a starting spot in one of the most prestigious leagues in the world. Slumps are just a part of the game when people make their adjustments and learn how to pitch to batters or how to align their defense properly against the best of hitters. Right?
But then it just keeps going and people begin to wonder whether or not these players deserve a starring role. With than 25 games left in the season, it’s safe to assume that the players who have gone through their season long slump, and haven’t been able to dig themselves out of it yet, are not going to. Starters on teams who no longer deserve to be starters have made themselves known and it’s time to highlight the stinkiest of the stinky as we start to wind down the rest of the season.
*All stats are correct as of September 11th, 2015 and are taken from baseball-reference.com.
15. Colby Rasmus
Left fielder/utility outfielder for the Houston Astros, Rasmus has never been one to have a very high average throughout the course of a season. His MLB career average is only .244 and, this season, he’s only hitting .230 with an on base percentage of .300. To put both of these statistics in perspective, the league average for both of these stats is .255 and .316 respectively which means he is a below average player. This is also further backed up by his WAR being 2.1. Not bad, but definitely not good. He’s a marginal player at best with below average hitting, average defensive skills and a terrible tendency to strikeout a lot (134 times this year). His speed isn’t world-burning either, having only swiped two bases this year and only 30 in his entire career. The biggest part of his value as a player is that he can play all three outfield positions. Hopefully, this skill will keep him in the league long enough for him to figure out his hitting.
14. Ian Desmond
Ian Desmond is having a surprisingly bad season with his past success kept in mind. The former All-Star has hit very well in the past three seasons, hitting 20+ home runs and over 70+ RBIs, with his average hovering around .275, earning him three Silver Slugger awards over those three seasons. But this year has been an incredibly down year for Desmond, swinging a paltry .239 average combined with a .292 OBP. Definite far cries from his incredible batting averages from those glory years. He is also third in the league in strikeouts, having fanned at the ball 160 times. What makes it even worse for Desmond is that he’s also a terrible defender. In the league, out of the top 23 qualified shortstops, he is 22nd on the list in defense, having committed 23 errors this year alone. That isn’t a statistical anomaly either (like his hitting), as since he became a full time starter in 2010, he averages 23.1 errors per year. Let’s hope his hitting rebounds so the Nationals can justify this former Silver Slugger of having a spot on their roster.
13. Torii Hunter
Torii Hunter is one of the greatest defensive players and consistent hitters in baseball history. Patrolling the wide open ranges in center and right field, he irritated many a hitter by taking away home runs or hits in the gaps with his amazing speed, skill, and just unfair throwing arm. It seems though in his long career, age has finally caught up to the five time All Star. Hunter’s stats for the year are way below his career averages, hitting a .234 average (.277 career), .290 OBP (.332 career), and being 2 out of 6 in stolen base attempts. In his glory years, his WAR average was around 3.2. This year? His WAR is -1.3. It’s almost about that time for Torii to hang it up and call it quits.
12. Nick Ahmed
The shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks has been utterly dreadful this year. During his sophomore campain, Ahmed has hit a .218 average with an OBP of .268. He has little to no power to speak of, swatting eight home runs all year with only 29 RBI. Offensively, he is an anchor that drags down whatever good offense the D-Backs try to put together. His only saving grace as to why he is still the starter on this team is that he plays good defense, which helps his WAR sit at 2.0.
11. Jace Peterson
The former 1st round pick of the Padres, now turned Braves 2nd baseman has been going through some growing pains. With a .238 average and .313 OBP, he offers very little as a hitter to the Braves organization. His power is lacking, even for a second baseman, having only launched five home runs, but his RBIs are at a decent spot with 51 RBIs. He’s definitely a work in progress, but his current stats would lead you to assume that he’s not exactly worthy of his first round pick status. His WAR is 0.2 at the moment, which is dreadful. He may be good in the future, but as of right now, Peterson is not the man for the Braves at second base.
10. Luis Valbuena
Career wise, Luis Valbuena has never been a very big average person. There has only been one time in his entire career in which he has batted .250 in a season and that was back in 2009. Valbuena is swinging a terrible .210 average with an OBP of .297. The occasional pop in his bat is nice, even with his home run total making it to 22 this year, but being that he is usually the 6th or 7th batter in the lineup, he is absolutely not a dependable bat. His WAR also suggests that he is a terrible defender as well, being that his WAR is 1.5 at the moment. Houston may have finally made a turn and ended Valbuena’s reign of ineptitude by subbing in Jed Lowrie for him at 3rd base, but with over 90 games under his belt at 3rd base, that is a ton of playing time that could have been spent better elsewhere.
9. Logan Morrison
The man from Kansas City has been having a very tumultuous career. Sans one year in which he swung a healthy 23 home run, 72 RBI season with a .330 OBP, Morrison has been having injury plagued seasons and statistically bad years. This year is the first year in which he has not been hampered by injury in the past four years and it hasn’t exactly been stellar. Swinging only a .225 average with a .299 OBP, he has never lived up to the potential he showed while in the minors. Probably one of his most prized skills was his ability to not strike out, which he still has thankfully. His WAR is at an astounding 0 and with little options behind him for the Mariners, he keeps his job just because they need someone over there to catch that dang ball.
8. Starlin Castro
A man with very little speed (4 out of 9 SB) and a pedestrian .254 average, Castro bats anywhere from the two spot all the way to the six spot and with his average power and less than average OBP, he is an anchor in that lineup whenever he comes to bat, stopping rallies with ease. It seems that the Cubs are starting to move away from Castro, having relegating him to a more support role in the middle of the infield instead of the every day starter, but it’s a wonder why it took the Cubbies until now to make the move. To keep things in more perspective, Castro’s WAR is -0.5.
7. Jimmy Rollins
J-Roll use to be one of the most popular players in the league. Having been a mainstay in the Phillies lineup for such a long time and earning a reputation as one of the premier players in the league, it seems that Rollins has finally hit a wall in terms of being a productive player. Hitting well under his career average, Rollins is batting .220 this year (.265 career avg) with even more average numbers across the board (12/20 SB). He strikes out more (83 right now, but striking out 90+ times in the past four years), he gets on base a lot less (.279 OBP) and his defense has significantly fell from where it was even just a year ago (Range decreased, less assists, more errors). Sporting a WAR of -0.4, J-Roll, like some of the older players on this list, has had time hit him on the head.
6. Chris Owings
The other middle infielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks makes this list as well. Clocking in a terrible .239 average with an even more spotty .270 OBP, Owings is a terrible player all the way around. He strikes out at an extremely high rate (122 strikeouts this year) and walks rarely (19 BBs this year). Combined with terrible power (four homers all year) and little aptitude in hitting runners in (39 RBIs), the former first round pick is not doing himself any favors in trying to keep his job. His two saving graces are that he can play adequate defense, having only surrendered four errors this year, and being 16/20 on SBs. Owings still has time since he’s only been in the majors for a couple years, but time is ticking on the patience of a hitter with this kind of line.
5. Pablo Sandoval
One of the biggest free agent signings of the past year, Kung Fu Panda has played nowhere near his career averages and it’s one of the main reasons the Red Sox aren’t in playoff contention this year. Since he became a starter with the Giants, Sandoval has average 17 home runs a year, 73 RBIs a year along with a .292 average. Those stats this year? 10 home runs, 45 RBIs, and a .248 average. Those are just the popular stats that are down this year and we’ve barely scratched the surface in how bad he’s been, especially with how much money he signed for in the offseason. Defensively, he has committed more errors, gotten less assists, and less put outs in fewer chances. He has one of the worst WARs in all of the MLB, sitting at a laughable -0.7. To say that Kung Fu Panda doesn’t deserve a starting spot with how bad he’s done is an understatement and he’ll need to perform the Wuxi Finger Hold on this year to make it go away forever.
4. Chris Carter
It’s really weird that three players from a first place team in the American League have made this list. Nonetheless, the 1st baseman for the Astros weighs in with our first below the Mendoza Line average, swinging an appalling .181. He’s also struck our 138 times this year. He’s on pace to make sure he doesn’t strike out as much as he did last year (182 times) or the year before that (212 times), but that’s because he hasn’t had as many at bats. Watching him bat is like watching a Wacky Inflatable Arm Man trying to do the YMCA. Just painful. His painful hitting is made better by the fact that he does have decent power numbers at the tune of 18 home runs, but even that is not enough to warrant a starting position. His defense is simply average, having only committed 8 errors this year, but that is obviously not enough for Carter to deserve a starting nod.
3. Omar Infante
The second baseman for the Royals is in one of the funniest spots in recent memory. Earlier this year, he was nearly voted in as the All-Star Second Baseman for the American League, just by the sheer support of the Royals fan base. Now, we all know that it was more enthusiasm from the fans than admiration of his skill that nearly made him an All Star. Infante is swinging a very bad .217 average this year, with an almost equally as bad OBP at .230. Now that is a byproduct of the Royals aggressive hitting approach, but that is still utterly terrible. He’s hit ONE home run this year. To say there is little pop to his bat is about as big of an understatement as saying the New England Patriots cheat sometimes in the NFL. The sheer ineptitude in his batting is outweighed by his ability to play very steady and consistent defense at second base, so you may be wondering why he is ranked so high on this list. The Royals are a team in contention for a World Series and for a team to be brought down by an every day starter whose WAR is -1.1 and hits balls like he’s smacking a beach ball with a tennis racket makes it that much more important to replace him. He’s the worst baseball player on a World Series team and yet he still has a starting spot.
2. Adam LaRoche
Being a designated hitter, you’re asked to do one thing and do it well. As you could probably guess, that is hitting the small white leather sphere all over the park and cause the other team fits of rage and frustration as you step up to the plate each time. In this regard, Adam LaRoche is utterly terrible. With a .213 average, an OBP of .298, and not even over 100 hits in the season, LaRoche is the worst designated hitter in the league right now. With only 12 home runs and 44 RBI, he is terrible in almost every facet of hitting. His 130 strikeouts over the year overshadows the only good part of his hitting and that is his above average ability to get walks. What is worse is that the White Sox don’t have any recourse for this, especially with nothing to play for except pride. LaRoche is going to be their designated hitter until season’s end. So may God have mercy on that lineup because LaRoche sure won’t.
1. Mike Zunino
The catcher for the Seattle Mariners is having a terrible year. He had been the every day starter behind the dish for the Mariners until they became tired of how bad he was doing. A quick rundown of how bad he was: a .174 average with an OBP of .230. On this entire list of terrible baseball players, he hits the crescendo of sadness. With occasional pop (11 homers), but absolutely no clutch ability (28 RBIs), he makes hitting coaches shake their heads and cry over how they can make this kid a better player. What makes matters even worse is that he was striking out a career high rate before the Mariners pulled the plug on him this year. His only saving grace is that he is a good defensive catcher, catching runners at a good rate of 35%. But even that isn’t good enough to have even kept him up here in the majors for the rest of the season. Then again, when you can’t even hit water falling out of a boat, you may as well not try your luck with hitting a baseball until next year.
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