One of the game’s annual pastime’s is fans setting big expectations for their favorite players as each MLB season approaches. While the lofty goals are sometimes met, everyone is typically left disappointed by underwhelming performances.
Some of the more unfortunate instances of disappointing seasons provide examples of talent declining with age. Of course, some big seasons are just followed by down years and we are left questioning the legitimacy of the prior big year.
Whatever the circumstances are, it leaves everyone involved feeling down after an underwhelming season that is nearing its end. Here are the 10 most disappointing MLB players from the 2019 season so far.
Joey Votto, first baseman, Cincinnati Reds
Votto experienced a massive drop in his power totals last year that many hoped was a blip on the radar. It’s now clear that we are seeing the rapid decline of the six-time All-Star and 2010 MVP.
Votto’s 11.7 walk percentage is his lowest mark since 2008. After seeing his batting average drop from .320 in ’17 to .284 in ’18, he’s now hitting .262 across 424 at-bats. We’re seeing more home runs than ever this season across the league, but Votto might not even crack 15 this year. Once one of MLB’s best players, Votto now has one of the league’s worst contracts.
Aaron Sanchez, starting pitcher, Houston Astros
Sanchez’s career might be saved by the Astros. However, his run this season with Toronto made him the worst pitcher in MLB. He holds the highest ERA (5.79) and WHIP (1.60) among qualified starters and his 5-14 record is the worst in the league.
The 27-year-old’s numbers would be worse if Houston’s coaches and front office didn’t make positive changes. Pitching tweaks have paid off with a 3.86 ERA and 1.04 starts in Sanchez’s three starts with the organization. If any organization can salvage this young arm, it will be the Astros.
Khris Davis, designated hitter, Oakland Athletics
Players who provide negative value defensively and become a designated hitter must hit consistently to maintain relevance. Davis showed some of the best power in the sport from 2016-18, but this season is a different story.
Once capable of consistently producing 40-plus home runs a year, he’ll be lucky to crack 25 when the season ends. Davis’ OBP is on the verge of dropping below .300 and he’s no longer a trusted bat in Oakland’s lineup. A contract extension that looked like a bargain, now appears to be a mistake for the Athletics.
Kyle Freeland, starting pitcher, Colorado Rockies
Many considered Freeland a serious Cy Young candidate just one year ago. Now the 26-year-old is trying to stick in the majors on a team that isn’t even contending for a playoff spot.
The southpaw’s ERA skyrocketed from 2.85 last season to 7.09 this year and he’s allowed seven more home runs in 108.1 fewer innings. People thought he mastered Coors Field, but his 9.25 ERA at home this season proves that last year was a fluke.
Matt Carpenter, third baseman, St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis is experiencing plenty of disappointment this season and Carpenter’s underwhelming production is one of the big culprits behind it all. After providing a jump in power last season, the veteran isn’t hitting for power, or average, in 2019.
Carpenter’s .217/.322/.365 slash line is beyond underwhelming, and it took him 380 at-bats to reach 32 RBI. The 33-year-old’s strikeout rate is rising along with a drop in his walk percentage, and his defense remains a negative. It might be time to call his stretch of breakout years over, and for St. Louis to explore replacements.
Edwin Diaz, closer, New York Mets
New York gave up two of its prospects to add Diaz’s shutdown presence in the bullpen. In addition to being stuck with Robinson Cano’s contract, the Mets are now dealing with an underwhelming year from Diaz.
The All-Star’s WHIP nearly doubled from 0.79 in 2018 to 1.48 this year, and his ERA ballooned even further from 1.96 to 5.56. Diaz remains an elite talent capable of dominating opponents, but it might take a change of scenery to rediscover his brilliant form and the lost value means New York loses any deal it makes.
Lorenzo Cain, outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers
Cain’s first year with Milwaukee gave the front office everything it could hope for after signing him to a five-year, $80 million contract. Now it appears the Brewers are paying exclusively for his defense.
The 33-year-old center fielder remains one of the best at his position defensively. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, he’s also experiencing a 60-point drop in batting average and an 80-point drop in OBP. He is owed $51 million over the next three seasons, and it won’t be long before a defensive decline follows the bat.
Yusei Kikuchi, starting pitcher, Seattle Mariners
No one expected Kikuchi to come close to the remarkable first season achieved by fellow countryman Shohei Ohtani. Yet the 28-year-old’s first season in MLB can only be described as a failure.
Kikuchi played a big role in Seattle’s hot start to the season with a 2.53 ERA in his first two starts. Nearly every start since has been a disaster, as seen in his 5.84 ERA and 1.58 WHIP across 23 games. The Mariners needed one thing to feel excited about this season, but Kikuchi couldn’t provide it.
Wil Myers, outfielder, San Diego Padres
A few short years after posting consecutive seasons with 25-plus home run and 20-plus stolen bases then dealing with injuries in 2018, Myers’ performance this season might be indicative of what’s to come.
He’s striking out in a career-high 35.2 percent of his plate appearances and is struggling to maintain a .700-plus OPS. San Diego knows how to maximize young talent, so Myers might just be exposing his early days as a fluke and showing he’s a platoon outfielder in the future.
Masahiro Tanaka, starting pitcher, New York Yankees
Tanaka’s six-season run with the Yankees is putting everyone on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. He dominated opponents in the first half of his MLB career, struggled in 2017 and then rediscovered himself last season.
Now he finds himself spiraling out of control at a time when New York needs someone to be its ace. The 30-year-old’s last seven starts have been a disaster with a 6.92 ERA and an alarming .288 batting average allowed to opponents. The Yankees need their ace to step up at some point this year or they won’t sniff the World Series.