‘No-star team’ features monetary black holes
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
Ruiz, part of the crumbling old guard in Philadelphia, deserves this spot because his .637 on base-percentage entering Saturday is fifth worst among catchers with at least 180 plate appearances. Ruiz will haul in $8.5 million this season — and the Phillies are on the hook for $8.5 million more in 2016. First base: Mike Napoli, Red Sox
A symbol of how far Boston has fallen since its improbable 2013 World Series title, Napoli is making $16 million to hit .194 with a .357 slugging percentage and .654 OPS — the worst numbers of any first baseman with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Second base: Omar Infante, Royals
This guy was leading the allstar voting a month ago? Infante is in the second year of a fouryear, $30.25 million deal, and his .539 OPS is the lowest of any player in the game with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Third base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
In a season in which he’s pulling in $16 million, he’s hitting .251 with a .284 on-base percentage and .387 slugging percentage— good for his lowest OPS since he was a rookie in
1998. And the Rangers owe him $18 million next year. Shortstop: Ian Desmond, Nationals
Desmond’s .598 OPS is the second worst among shortstops, and he has 20 errors, the most in the National League. This from a guy who is making $11 million in his final season before free agency. Outfield: Michael Bourn, Indians; Melky Cabrera, White Sox; Angel Pagan, Giants
Bourn is slugging a woeful .274, and he isn’t offsetting that lack of talent with game-changing speed; he has just seven stolen bases in 11 attempts — and he’s making $13.5 million this year with $14 million more due in 2016.
Cabrera has just four homer sand 34 RBI and is slugging just .343 in the first year of a three-year, $42million contract.
Pagan, an essential part of San Francisco’s last two World Series teams, is hitting well below his career averages this year, when he’s making $10.25 million — with $11.25 million more owed in 2016.
This is a time of the season in which we celebrate the best in the sport, and the All-Star Game on Tuesday night in Cincinnati could provide a Bryce Harper home run or a lunging catch from Lorenzo Cain or a 100-mph, game-ending strikeout from Aroldis Chapman. ¶ But the reality is that for every breakout season or block in a Hall of Fame résumé, there’s someone who’s heading into the all-star break in a slump, unable to shake the early-season doldrums. So meet our “no-star team.” ¶ What we’ve tried to do is not only highlight — ormaybe it’s lowlight — the players who endured the worst half-seasons in the game but factor in what their team is paying for that (non-)performance. Are these the worst players at each position? Maybe not. Are they the worst deals? Indeed. These are MLB’s biggest monetary black holes. ¶ It might be advisable to shield your eyes and peer at this through the cracks in your fingers. Some of these numbers are just downright ugly. Starting pitchers: Rick Porcello, Red Sox; CC Sabathia, Yankees; Matt Garza, Brewers
Acquired in an offseason trade with Detroit, Porcello was supposed to anchor Boston’s rotation in this, his final year before free agency in which he’s making $12.5 million. The Red Sox were so sure of that prospect that they signed him to a four-year, $82.5 million deal before he threw a regular season pitch for them — and which doesn’t begin until next year. The return: a 5.90 ERA.
Sabathia, of course, is a reason the Yankees won the 2009 World Series. But that was a long time ago, and now it’s uncertain where he fits in a rotation that is struggling as a whole. He is eminently hittable, allowing a .300 average and .829 OPS against him and has a 5.47 ERA to go along with 1.415 walks and hits allowed per inning. The cost: $23 million this year and $25 million more in 2016.
Why aren’t there more Brewers on this list? Maybe because they don’t normally pay big bucks. But Garza is in the second season of a four-year, $50 million deal and is allowing base runners at an alarming rate; his 1.55 WHIP is the second worst among qualifying starters. That goes along with a 5.55 ERA and a miniscule 2.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio that isn’t characteristic of a front-of-the-rotation starter. Relievers: Fernando Rodney, Mariners; Jonathan Broxton, Brewers
Rodney entered the season very much as Seattle did: poised for a breakout and contention for a division crown. Last year, as the Mariners were alive until the last day, he saved a league-high 48 games and had a 2.85 ERA. Now, though, he’s in step with the disappointing Mariners — four blown saves in 20 opportunities, a 5.40 ERA and an astronomical 1.543 WHIP. All this is in the second year of a two-year, $14 million deal.
Broxton was acquired by Milwaukee in the middle of the 2014 season, when he had a 1.86 ERA with Cincinnati. The Brewers now own a contract that will pay Broxton $9 million this year and will cost $2 million to buy out for 2016. The performance for that pay: a .310 average against to go along with a 6.75 ERA and 1.531 WHIP.
The Red Sox signed right-hander Rick Porcello to a four-year, $82.5 million deal before the season, but he is 5-9 with a 5.90 ERA for Boston at the all-star break.