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#pounditSaturday, September 23, 2023

Eight MLB players having disappointing seasons

Yu Darvish

We’re over two months into the MLB season, and things are really starting to take shape across the league. While we’ve been delighted by the performances of numerous star players, there are also some big names that have, for whatever reason, simply failed to launch in 2019 and have actually turned out to be detrimental to their teams.

Which key players aren’t doing enough this season? Here are eight who have disappointed so far.

8. Manny Machado, 3B, Padres

What Machado has meant to the Padres in terms of legitimacy makes up for a lot of on-field struggles, but he hasn’t really delivered at the plate so far for San Diego. The power has been there — he’s into double-digit homers — but his sub-.250 average would be the worst of his career to date. He’s adjusting to a new league and a ballpark that isn’t exactly hitter-friendly, so a bit of a learning curve was to be expected, but this is not what the Padres paid for.

7. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds

Long the picture of consistency, Votto has seen his numbers slip this year. He still walks a lot, but his batting average has fallen below .260 and he’s striking out over 22 percent of the time, easily a career-worst mark. It was as recently as last season that Votto was still hitting .285 and posting an OBP above .400, as he has done in 10 of the last 11 seasons. It’s going to take a real tear in the latter half of the season for him to do it again.

6. Aaron Nola, P, Phillies

Nola’s 2018, in which he posted an ERA of 2.37, looked like the start of a long period of ace-level pitching. He simply hasn’t been able to follow it up in 2019. His ERA has ballooned above 4.50, almost doubling from where it was at the end of 2018. His strikeouts are up, but worryingly, so are his walks. After hitting just .195 against him last season, opponents are now batting just shy of .270. Even if some of it is bad luck, he has not at all been anywhere near what he was in 2018.

5. Yasiel Puig, OF, Reds

Some hoped that a move to hitter-friendly Cincinnati and away from the bright lights and scrutiny of Los Angeles would do wonders for Puig’s career. It has only done the opposite, as the outfielder is currently posting the worst season of his career. Despite 11 home runs, his power is down, and his batting average is barely lingering above .200, with an OBP in the range of .250. For a guy who doesn’t walk, he simply has to hit with some power, but he’s been a black hole for Cincinnati all season. The move, at least so far, has not worked.

4. Bryce Harper, OF, Phillies

The Phillies did not pay Harper $27.5 million a year to lead the NL in strikeouts, but that is precisely what he has done in his first season in Philadelphia. Harper actually has not been awful; he has hit plenty of doubles and homers, is batting in the mid-.250s, and walks a fair bit. However, that’s not what Philadelphia wanted. The expectations are higher for Harper, and it’s worrying when he can’t even catch up with a good fastball. He’d be the first to tell you that he hasn’t been good enough.

3. Joe Kelly, P, Dodgers

Kelly signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers during the offseason to try to solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Kenley Jansen. Instead, it’s become a running joke that the Dodgers can’t build a Kelly-proof lead. His ERA lies around 7.50, and opponents are hitting nearly .300 against him. It’s an open question as to how long the Dodgers can keep putting Kelly out there in key spots, as that contract looks worse and worse with each passing outing.

2. Yu Darvish, P, Cubs

It’s tough to figure out what has become of Darvish at this point. He leads the National League in walks, and his ERA continues to linger around 5, making him one of the worst qualified starters in the big leagues at this point. He’s still striking guys out at this point, but when he’s walking as many as he is while simultaneously giving up as many home runs as he has, runs will be scored. He’s starting to look like a sunk cost for the Cubs.

1. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Indians

Perhaps no one is more indicative of the Indians’ struggles this season than Ramirez, who has gone from MVP candidate to completely helpless at the plate. After hitting 39 home runs last season, he’s managed just four in the first two months of 2019, while hitting just above .200. His OPS is flirting with the .600 mark after going over .900 in each of the last two seasons. This is a Silver Slugger winner who has completely lost his way at the plate, and he has to hope that he’s hit rock bottom at this point.


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