With the 2018 MLB season coming to a close, the best and worst lists encapsulating the year are beginning to come out. The annual worst position player list, as compiled by Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, had some heavyweight, Hall of Fame caliber members on it this year. It’s not often that Albert Pujols makes any kind of negative list, and even more uncommon that he shares space on it with Miguel Cabrera. Not everyone on the list this year was a surprise, but there were a few names that jump out as unexpected.
To help make more sense of the rankings, the list can be split into two camps. One stable is comprised of players that provided little value due to injuries, and the other is made up of players that under-performed based on the expectations that come with their contracts and past seasons of play.
Beginning with injured players, Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees and David Wright of the Mets made $21 million and $20 million respectively, and neither played a single game this year. Chronic injuries kept both out of action, but their teams — and insurance companies — still had to eat their contract this season. Both also took up a spot on the 40-man roster, further hurting their teams. With that in mind, it is of no surprise that they are occupying the number six and eight spot on the list.
Precisely! And Marty’s point was the length and size of the contract. I’ve yet to see a huge contract that isn’t an albatross by the end of it. Pujols. A-Rod. Miguel Cabrera. To name 3. His argument has always been about the contract, not Votto as a player— Joshua Duncan (@joshslamduncan) September 24, 2018
Similarly, Miguel Cabrera went on the DL for the year on June 12th, and he left his team on the hook for $30 million. In return, the Tigers got three homers and 22 RBIs. Even based on the time in which he was playing, Cabrera did not perform at the level that had gotten him that massive contract — a contract that still has six years hanging. He may not even begin baseball skills again until December, making him a late starter for next season, according to CBS. His season was bad enough to come in at number five.
Yoenis Cespedes had a similarly ill-fated season that landed him at number seven on the list — hitting.262 with nine homers and 29 RBIs before ending his season due to foot injuries per MLB. At $29 million, the Mets struggled to get any production out of him even when he did play. Thanks to short DL stints followed by longer ones, his absence made a mess of the 40-man roster — and meant that the Mets missed out on having the bulk of his contract covered by insurance this season.
Looking at players that have played all year, Chris Davis of the Orioles topped the list at number one. Given his salary of $23 million this year, this placement comes as little surprise. He is struggling to maintain an average above.170, and his 16 homers and 49 RBIs are not what Baltimore expected from him. In terms of production versus cost, no one is worse than Davis this year, at least amongst players who fielded a full season of play.
At $27 million this season, Albert Pujols grabs the second spot on the list. Sitting on 19 homers and 64 RBIs is not awful for most players. Even the.245 batting average is okay, but not when the guy putting up those numbers is considered to be a future Hall of Famer. He still has three years on his $240 million deal, and questions are swirling regarding if this is the beginning of his decline. Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer took the number three spot for the same reason. A slash line of.251 with 17 homers, 65 RBIs, and a.715 OPS sounds great until his $21 million deal for the season is included.
Russell Martin came in at number four, for playing poor defense and hitting.194. If it wasn’t for Gary Sanchez of the Yankees hitting around.170 and leading the majors in errors, Martin would the worst starting catcher in baseball. As it stands, however, he is just the worst value catcher thanks to his $21 million salary versus the $620,000 Sanchez makes according to Baseball Reference.