These players have put up the worst first half stats in 2011.
The MLB All-Stars have been selected, and there is no shortage of debates on the merits of the players who made the mid-summer squads. Most of the candidates, though, have some merits to debate.
This piece is not about those players.
Here, we turn a harsher spotlight on the players who have suffered through difficult first halves, offering little to no evidence to support a case for All-Star votes. In contrast to the stars that get to shine out in Phoenix next Tuesday, the following men will be referred to as the Dim-Star Teams. Make no mistake, there are a few legitimate stars on these rosters, but itâs hard to convince anyone of that based on their first-half lines.
(All statistics through games of July 6th.)
CâJorge Posada, Yankees (.236 avg., 9 HR, 29 RBI, .324 OBP)
Hip-Hip-Jorge finally began to heat up in June, but he still rates a place of shame for asking out of a game, suffering from little more than a bruised ego. When he threw a tantrum after being asked to bat ninth on May 14, he was batting .165. Heâs hit .308 since, reminding us that motivation is a very mysterious thing.
1BâDerrek Lee, Orioles (.233 avg., 7 HR, 24 RBI, .293 OBP, .351 SLG)
Last year was the first time since 1999 that Lee failed to bat .270, and his weak start to this year seems to show that 2010 was less an aberration and more Father Time making his inevitable rally. The slugging average is especially disturbing from a guy who slugged .521 from 2000 to 2009. Even Leeâs usual 30-plus doubles canât be counted on at his current pace.
2BâAaron Hill, Blue Jays (.242 avg., 4 HR, 24 R, .281 OBP, .341 SLG)
Hillâs 2009 power explosion seems like it happened a decade ago. Heâs making himself somewhat useful on the basepaths (10-for-10 in steals), but unlike Posada, he didnât make a June rally. All of his averages dropped from May to June, and the only real bright spot so far is that heâs batted .294 against the Jaysâ AL East opponents.
3BâChone Figgins, Mariners (.183 avg., .231 OBP, .244 SLG, 9 SB, 6 CS)
As an Angel, Figgins was one of the most dangerous offensive players in the game, batting over .290 and stealing 40 bases per year. Since the Mariners paid him handsomely, heâs struggled to get that mojo back. This season, heâs forgotten how to hit any breaking pitches, the kind of problem that gets a player shipped back to Triple-A if heâs not raking $8.5 million.
SSâReid Brignac, Rays (.187 avg., 9 RBI, .233 OBP, 3 XBH in 160 AB)
Brignacâs never been known for a booming power bat, but many major league hitters could take a bratwurst to the plate and get three extra-base hits in 178 at-bats. Only the fact that his backup, Elliot Johnson, is batting .204 and striking out every third at-bat keeps Brignac in the lineup.
LFâCarl Crawford, Red Sox (.243 avg., 6 HR, 31 RBI, 33 R, 9 BB/46 K, .275 OBP)
Crawfordâs rallied after a hideous April in which he batted .155 with one homer. Still, for a $14 million salary thatâs going to balloon over $20M next season, Red Sox Nation was wondering what took so long. His hamstring injury could scarcely have come at a worse time. Still, if he ever remembers how to hit lefties (.151 through June), the streaking Boston offense might never cool down.
CFâAlex Rios, White Sox (.216 avg., .266 OBP, .315 SLG, 6 HR, 20 RBI)
Like Crawford, Rios was terrible in April (.163 with 15 strikeouts) and is having serious issues with a particular pitching hand, batting .190 against righthanders. Unfortunately for Rios, there are a lot more righties than lefties in this game. He appears to be letting it get to him, as heâs now incurred Ozzie Guillenâs wrath (I know, join the club) for a lack of basepath hustle.
RFâShin-Soo Choo, Indians (.244 avg., 5 HR, 28 RBI, 65 K in 266 AB)
Choo batted .250 in April, a decent start by most playersâ standards. Then, a DUI arrest put him in a funk that he wasnât able to pull out of before breaking his thumb a couple of weeks ago. One has to expect that Chooâs luck should get better when he returns. After all, the only way it could get worse is if the South Korean government decides to revoke that military exemption.
DHâAdam Dunn, White Sox (.166 avg., 8 HR, 32 RBI, 110 K in 253 AB)
South Side fans had visions of Dunn stroking 35-plus home runs at the Cell just like he did in Washington and Cincinnati. Instead, theyâve watched him do little more than strike out at a rate that makes Rob Deer look like Joe DiMaggio. He hit lefties so badly that last week, a mere single (only his second off a southpaw this year) touched off a sarcastic standing ovation. Dunn was concerned that he would need to get used to not having to play in the field, but who knew that reducing a playerâs workload would end up like this?
SPâFausto Carmona, Indians (4-10, 5.78 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .275 BAA, 15 HR allowed in 104.1 IP)
Carmonaâs season looked salvageable through April and May. Opposing hitters were batting a reasonable .253 against him, and he was allowing a home run every 36 batters. Then, in June, the Indiansâ early-season magic started to wear off and Carmonaâs hole only got deeper. His OBA jumped to .336, and he allowed six homers to 128 batters, an average of one every 21.3 hitters faced.
RPâChad Durbin, Indians (7.01 ERA, .329 BAA)
The Indians were fast out of the gate, but theyâve come back to Earth in June. Durbinâs done the same, just much faster, sort of like a skydiver with a moth-eaten parachute. April was ugly, but he rallied in May (2.84 ERA, .260 BAA). June, however, was a nightmare for Durbin. Hitters lit him up for a .415 average and his ERA was a voluminous 10.38. In his defense, however, he didnât allow a tater all month and only walked one batter outside of a disastrous game at Yankee Stadium on June 10.
CâJohn Buck, Marlins (.213 avg., 9 HR, 31 RBI, 60 K in 268 AB, .292 OBP)
Buckâs .281 average with Toronto is now looking like an aberration, as heâs lapsed back into his comfortable .220 range in Florida. His powerâs been consistent month to month, as have his frequent strikeouts, but his average jumped to a still-shaky .244 in June. Luckily for him, heâs now in Miami, where heâs seemingly only whiffing in front of 200 or so people per day.
1BâLyle Overbay, Pirates (.238 avg., .311 OBP, 6 HR, 34 RBI)
Overbay is the typical Pirate free-agent signing, a second-tier player willing to join a downtrodden team for middling money. While the team has made a near-miraculous move up to .500, Overbay has muddled through, stroking the occasional double and being otherwise quiet. Pirates fans may soon be seen at games wearing a No. 37 jersey with a âpâ in place of the âbâ in Overbay. The less mature may substitute a âgâ instead, but letâs not speak of those people.
2BâDan Uggla, Braves (.183 avg., 14 HR, 32 RBI, .256 OBP, 77 K in 323 AB)
Itâs common knowledge that Ugglaâs glove is about as soft as a frying pan, but this year, his batâs been as strong as a dish towel to boot. His strikeout rate is about the only thing thatâs rising as the season wears on. If a pitcher throws him a fastball, heâll kill it, but asking him to hit anything else is like asking a basset hound to speak Latin. A .210 mark against curveballs is the best heâs managed so far.
3BâMiguel Tejada, Giants (.236 avg., 3 HR, .269 OBP, .322 SLG)
Remember Tejadaâs days as a 30-HR hitter? Donât feel bad, neither does anyone else. This season, Miggyâs been nothing but distracted by pesky baserunners, batting only .226 with runners on base and .222 if theyâre in scoring position. This one looks like another case of age overtaking ability.
SSâIan Desmond, Nationals (.216 avg., 3 HR, 22 RBI, .259 OBP, .298 SLG, 79 K in 305 AB)
Odd that Desmond has stolen 20 bases thus far, since it barely seems like heâs been on base 20 times. Desmond has the speed to be a leadoff man, but heâs barely on a nodding acquaintance with the strike zone, chasing a lot of bad cheese outside. Hanley Ramirez got some consideration here, but his .355 and seven RBI in Jack McKeonâs first eight games as manager could be the first signs of his switch being flipped.
LFâRaul Ibanez, Phillies (.236 avg., 10 HR, 40 RBI, .285 OBP)
For a career .280 hitter, this seasonâs production has been a major letdown. Raulâs been a roller coaster for Phillies fans, suffering through a horrible April, lighting pitchers up in May, then scuffling through June again. He only knocked in five runs in all of June, a figure that heâs almost equaled in the first week of July alone.
CFâChris Coghlan, Marlins (.230 avg., 5 HR, 22 RBI, 7 SB, 6 CS, .296 OBP)
Coghlanâs 2010 season ended when he tore up his knee trying to give Wes Helms the Cream Pie of Doom. Now, heâs blaming that same knee for his struggles in May and June. Coghlan was strong in April, batting .287 and driving in 16 runs, but heâs batted a flat .200 since and currently sits on the DL rather than at Triple-A New Orleans, where the Marlins were trying to put him.
RFâJayson Werth, Nationals (.218 avg., 10 HR, 30 RBI, 84 K in 312 AB)
Year One of the Nationalsâ âHell No, Weâre Not Cheapâ campaign is going reasonably well in the standings, but the teamâs not getting a great return on their massive investment in Werth. He hit .287 in May, and looked like he was on his way back from a tough start. The month of June did not stick to that script, seeing Werth slump to a .154 average with 25 strikeouts in only 91 at-bats. The carnage is bad enough that heâs begun to get mental health days, which we could all use every now and then.
SPâJake Westbrook, Cardinals (7-4, 5.34 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, .301 BAA, 40 BB/52 K in 97.2 IP)
Westbrookâs another player who looked like he was rallying after a harsh April. Hitters batted only .250 off him in May, and he didnât allow a home run in five starts. When the calendar turned, though, so did Westbrookâs season. The hittersâ average ballooned to .358, his ERA kept hovering around five, and no one was missing anything he threw. As long as Tony LaRussa keeps him away from the Cubs, Nationals, and Padres, he might be okay.
RPâRyan Franklin, Cardinals (8.46 ERA, 1-for-5 saves, 1.84 WHIP, .367 BAA, .700 SLGA)
Speaking of keeping a pitcher away from somebody, the Cards have decided to keep Franklin away from everyone, as they finally had enough and released him last week. He started badly, blowing a save against the Padres on Opening Day, then never got any better. He faced 133 batters and allowed 20 extra-base hits. Sports psychologists nationwide are probably blowing up Franklinâs cell as you read this, and he might be a difficult patient.