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Top 15 Athletes Who Gained A Little Too Much Weight in 2015

There’s something jarring about seeing a professional athlete gain weight during the course of an offseason, especially since pro athletes are so commonly associated with incredible feats of strength and athleticism. Such was the case following the end of the NBA lockout in 1999, when some of the game’s best players returned to the court looking noticeably more rotund. Shawn Kemp, whose physical dynamism earned him a starring role in countless highlight reels throughout the early 90s, was the most shocking example, as his weight gain dramatically -- and permanently -- altered his game.

Despite the lack of labor strife that would lock players out of training facilities for an extended period of time, there are many other factors that contribute to an athlete experiencing a sudden weight gain. After signing a lucrative or long-term contract, for example, a player might show up noticeably overweight due to feeling a lack of financial motivation to be in peak physical condition for the start of the season. On the other hand, a player entering a contract year might be actively trying to put on a lot of added muscle to increase their chances of having a big year and earning a big contract as a result.

The athletes earning a place among the top 15 to gain a little too much weight in 2015 all packed on the pounds for one reason or another, with some radically changing their body by packing on a significant amount of muscle, and others simply adding some heft to their midsection due to reduced physical activity stemming from offseason surgery or just out of simple laziness. Whatever the case may be, the following 15 athletes all gained noticeable weight during the course of 2015.

15 15. Yasiel Puig 

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

14 14. Jameis Winston 

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

13 13. Diego Costa 

12 12. Kelvin Benjamin 

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

11 11. Garret Sparks 

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

After enduring an injury and subsequent weight gain that dropped him to as low as fifth (out of five) on the Maple Leafs’ depth chart, Sparks has finally worked his way back into shape and has since made his NHL debut in goal, shutting out Edmonton while racking up 24 saves in his first game.

10 10. Justin Verlander 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

9 9. Willie Cauley-Stein 

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

8 8. Hanley Ramirez 

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger storylines of Red Sox Spring Training was just how big Hanley Ramirez had gotten during the offseason, with David Ortiz saying his own arms looked like toothpicks compared to those of Ramirez. The shortstop-turned-leftfielder-turned-first-basemen checked in at a reported 240 pounds, a gain of 15 pounds over his playing weight in previous seasons. Most observers were encouraged by the added muscle mass, but the season did not exactly go as planned for Ramirez or the Red Sox.

7 7. Mario Balotelli 

via iverpoolecho.co.uk

6 6. CC Sabathia 

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

5 5. Andray Blatche 

via sports.inquirer.net

4 4. Joel Embiid 

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

3 3. Eddie Lacy 

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

2 2. Adel Taarabt 

via pulse.ng

1 1. Pablo Sandoval 

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The former postseason hero of the San Francisco Giants was lovingly referred to as “The Panda,” a playful reference to his portly yet surprisingly athletic frame. One of the reasons Sandoval was allowed to depart the Bay Area was the third baseman’s inability to control his weight, so while the Red Sox were marveling at Ramirez’s biceps during Spring Training of 2015, they were simultaneously sweating over Sandoval’s added girth. One particularly unflattering picture showed just how much Sandoval’s midsection had grown and the Red Sox have since asked that their third baseman return to Spring Training in 2016 at a significantly reduced weight.

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Top 15 Athletes Who Gained A Little Too Much Weight in 2015