Yahoo! Columnist Jeff Passan recently had a pretty interesting read up taking a look at the "All-Overpaid" and "All-Underpaid" teams in the majors leagues. Taking a twist on an old idea, I'm going to create my own "All-Disappointment" team. These players aren't necessarily going be judged based on their salary, but rather how their actual statistics compare to their preseason projections and expectations. With more than a third of the season in the books, here's what the team looks like:
Catcher: Ronny Paulino, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Paulino had a very strong rookie season (4.7 WARP), but he's struggled greatly in 2007 not living up to some rather high expectations. Before the year began PECOTA projected a .293/.347/.448 batting line and VORP mark of 22.3 runs from Paulino, but on the season he's hitting .217/.260/.337; his VORP at -5.1 runs. When guys like Jason Phillips and Brad Ausmus are "outVORPing" you, you know it's been a rough season so far. Honorable mentions: Chris Iannetta and Jason Kendall.
First Base: Carlos Delgado, New York Mets:
Despite the fact his VORP dropped nearly 28 runs from his previous year with the Marlins; Delgado enjoyed another very good season in his first with the Mets. His VORP of 35.2 runs was 9th best among major league first baseman with at least 100 PA's and he posted his 9th straight .300+ EqA season at .307. Even though he was approaching his age 35 season and his ability to hit left-handed pitching was deteriorating even further, PECOTA was still optimistic, projecting a .271/.365/.517 batting line from Delgado and a VORP of 31.3 runs. On the season Delgado leads all Met hitters in home runs with eight, but he is only hitting .226/.300/.385; his VORP at -1.2 runs. Honorable mentions: Paul Konerko, Adam LaRoche and Richie Sexson.
Second Base: Tadahito Iguchi, Chicago White Sox:
In his first two major league seasons, Iguchi has arguably been one of baseball's best values. Over the last two years Iguchi has made a total of $4.7M and has posted VORP's of 23.8 and 25.5 runs respectively. The White Sox picked up his option this winter and many thought he would once again give the Sox a great deal of bang for their buck as he will make a mere $3.25M this season. PECOTA projected Iguchi to hit .288/.357/.437, good for a VORP of 24.3 runs, which would indeed give the White Sox a great deal of production for very little cash. Instead, Iguchi has flopped in his contract year, currently hitting .242/.332/.333; his VORP at -0.2 runs. We've seen worse second baseman out there this season, but given Iguchi's consistency over the past two years, this one's a shocker. Honorable mentions: Adam Kennedy and Josh Barfield.
Third Base: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals:
I hate to pick on the rookie, I really do, but we've gotten so little from Gordon after expecting so much before the year began. In his first professional season of baseball last year, Gordon hit .325/.427/.588 with 29 home runs in 576 PA's. His first year looks even more impressive considering his major league equivalents were a .302/.386/.538 batting line and a VORP of 65.4 runs. Needless to say, PECOTA was very optimistic projecting a .282/.364/.511 line and a VORP of 32.6 runs. Gordon has of course struggled mightily in his first major league season, hitting .172/.287/.278 with only three home runs in 180 AB's. His VORP of -11.2 runs is dead last among major league third baseman. Still, you have to wonder how long this is going to last. Gordon's BABIP of .228 is freakishly low given the fact 20.6% of his batted balls are going for line drives. He'd still be struggling even without the alarmingly low BABIP, but luck should start evening things up a bit. Honorable mentions: Joe Crede and Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Shortstop: Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks:
Once again, I really don't like picking on the youngins too much, but Drew is another guy playing well below expectations. The Florida State product was outstanding in 226 PA's last season with the D'Backs, hitting .316/.357/.517 with 5 home runs also showing above average defense at shortstop. PECOTA was very optimistic about Drew and his 2007 season projecting similar rate stats at .287/.349/.504, but also projecting a power surge with 23 home runs in 517 PA's. On the season Drew hasn't delivered on either front, posting below average rate stats and showing very little power. Drew is currently hitting .242/.303/.338 with only two home runs in 198 AB's. His VORP of -1.5 runs is currently 5th worst among major league shortstops. Honorable mentions: Omar Vizquel and Julio Lugo.
Right Field: J.D. Drew, Boston Red Sox:
Stephen's older brother also makes the team due to his very cold start with his new team. When Drew appeared Red Sox-bound back in December, Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus predicted Drew would struggle a bit given the change in league and park effects. PECOTA projected a VORP of 20.9 runs, which is good, but not great given his previous season in Los Angeles (34.9 VORP). As predicted, Drew has struggled this season, but to a very extreme extent. On the season Drew is hitting a mere .224/.340/.311 and his VORP of -3.0 runs is second to worst among major league left fielders. Honorable mentions: Jermaine Dye, Carlos Quentin and Delmon Young.
Center Field: Bill Hall, Milwaukee Brewers:
Before the 2006 season began, Bill Hall did not have a starting job in the Milwaukee Brewers starting lineup. A J.J. Hardy injury, thirty-five home runs and a .899 OPS later and all of a sudden this guy is one of your star players, much less a jobless utility infielder. Hall's big season prompted PECOTA to project a .278/.346/.522 batting line and a monstrous VORP of 46.7 runs from center field for the 2007 season. Though he earned that starting job in the Brewer lineup, he's played like a utility-infielder thus far into the year. Hall is currently hitting .263/.319/.424 with only six home runs in 198 AB's. His VORP of 3.5 runs is still a positive digit, unlike many of the players featured on this team, but given his rather demanding projection, he fits in well with the other players mentioned. Honorable mentions: Mike Cameron and Jim Edmonds.
Note: Rocco Baldelli was not included due to the fact he has appeared in 15 games as a designated hitter.
Left Field: Pat Burrell, Philadelphia Phillies:
In a way, Pat Burrell is a poor man's Adam Dunn, expect by poor I'm referring to production, not salary. Like Dunn, Burrell is a three-true outcomes type guy who will regularly walk 90+ times, strike out well over 100 times and hit 30 or so home runs. He is making $13M this season, which is a bit much, but he's a guy plenty of teams would like to have their lineup. After a bit of a down year last season in which Burrell hit .258/.388/.502 with 29 home runs in 567 PA's (production many teams would still love to have from their left-fielder), PECOTA projected better things in 2007, forecasting a .262/.379/.525 batting line and 30.6 VORP. Instead, Burrell has hit .224/.386/.385 thus far into the year with six home runs in 161 AB's. There is a major bright spot however: Despite his struggles, Burrell is walking in over a quarter of his PA's. Honorable mentions: Raul Ibanez and Terrmel Sledge.
Designated Hitter: Frank Thomas, Toronto Blue Jays:
Is there any doubt that The Big Hurt was the majors best bargain last season? Signed by the A's for a meager $500K, Thomas hit .270/.381/.545 with 39 home runs 559 PA's in his first season not wearing a White Sox uniform. PECOTA projected Thomas' health would hold up and projected a .263/.375/.552 batting line and a VORP of 30.3 runs from Thomas in 536 PA's this year. PECOTA was right in the fact Thomas' health hasn't been a problem thus far, but he hasn't done much with the bat. Thomas is currently hitting .217/.358/.386 for the Jays with eight home runs in 184 AB's. Thomas is only five home runs away from 500 in his career, a milestone I'm certainly looking forward to watching, but given his struggles in such a hitter-friendly environment in Toronto, is it too farfetched to say we'll never see the Frank Thomas of old again? We'll just have to wait and see. Honorable mentions: Mike Piazza and Mike Sweeney.
Starting Pitcher: Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs:
Carlos Zambrano's recent dugout fight with Cubs catcher Michael Barrett can also summarize his entire season: Total Frustration. I've gotten into detail just how good Zambrano has been over the past three seasons, and even though PECOTA doesn't project good things in the longrun of his career, they still liked him for 2007 projecting a VORP of 39.1 runs. This season has been a completely different story from the previous three and his current VORP of -3.3 runs is 11th worst among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched. His velocity is down as are his strikeouts, while his H/9, BB/9 and HR/9 marks have each shot up. There are many different opinions as to what exactly is wrong with Zambrano. Some believe it may be his new lower arm slot, some believe he is hiding an injury, some believe it is just mental. Whatever the case, he's struggling like never before and his recent altercation with Barrett might signal an end to his career with the Cubs if he continues to pitch poorly. Honorable mentions: Anthony Reyes, Dave Bush and Bronson Arroyo.
Relief Pitcher: Jorge Julio, Colorado Rockies:
Julio was traded from the Diamondbacks to Florida before the season began and was the favorite to close games for the Florida bullpen which was a virtual mess at the time. Two blown saves and a 12.54 ERA later, Julio was traded from Florida to Colorado where he isn't going to sniff high-leverage situations. Julio makes the team as our relief pitcher due to the fact he is dead last in WXRL at -1.968. Simply put, Jorge Julio has been really really bad this season. Honorable mentions: Scott Eyre, Tom Gordon and B.J. Ryan.