I know the title is dramatic, but every team in Major League Baseball employs and gives playing time to some individuals whom I have to wonder how they amassed so many appearances. It is easy when a guy overperforms what is expected to get behind him and celebrate the good fortune of our favorite team. Frustration is never far away when a player routinely fails in the biggest moments to become an albatross around the necks of their ballclub. With that being said, I want to look at some players who received an undue share of the playing in relation to their tangible value to their teams. I will leave the “clubhouse guy”, or the one who “brings a veteran presence” for another day.
I will exempt catchers from this exercise as the defensive value and wear and tear associated with the position make it a bit of an outlier. I will also keep it to guys who have garnered around 300 plate appearances or 100 innings pitched because unless they are a closer they cannot do too much damage in limited playing time. Some teams don’t really have a guy, which is can be a good thing since the rosters should be optimized. Some players have seen their playing time diminished or they have stopped playing for myriad reasons.
American League East: Cavan Biggio is the selection for the Toronto Blue Jays. I know he is part of the young core they are attempting to build around, but he is 26 now. A .215/.316/.350 and an 81 wRC+(weighted runs created plus) should not be given a regular role. The Baltimore Orioles are a bit of a pick ’em for this exercise. I will go with Maikel Franco here. He put up a line of .210/.253/.355 in 403 plate appearances. Clearly, he wasn’t the power source they were hoping for. Josh Fleming is the one for the Tampa Bay Rays. All of their pitchers aren’t stars. A 5.10 ERA in front of a 4.35 FIP means he has been a bit unlucky, but in 102.1 innings he isn’t more than league average. The Boston Red Sox found 271 plate appearances for Marwin Gonzalez. Their faith wasn’t rewarded with his .202/.281/.285 and 56 wRC+; the -0.6 WAR means they could have given those plate appearances to almost anyone. The New York Yankees didn’t have Rougned Odor the whole way, but they still ran him out there enough to get 354 plate appearances and go .203/.289/.384 in his time. It is crazy his 85 wRC+ is an improvement from his time in Texas.
American League Central: Adam Civale is my guy in Cleveland. 20 starts and 118.1 innings backed with a 4.03 ERA, and a 4.91 FIP means he was a bit lucky to keep his numbers where they are. The main issue is the 18.1% home run to fly ball ratio. A .211/.317/.341 line in 647 plate appearances for Carlos Santana has to make me wonder what the Kansas City Royals are doing this season. Why is a guy with an 82 wRC+ playing that much? Niko Goodrum wasn’t getting it done for the Detroit Tigers. He got himself 317 plate appearances to slash .216/.297/.365. An 83 wRC+ means the Motor City is due for an upgrade. Andrelton Simmons got 446 plate appearances for the Minnesota Twins. I have to wonder how and why. .224/.284/.275 and a 57 (!) wRC+ means he shouldn’t be on the field, no matter how his good glove could ever be. One player who I have hope for turning things around is Andrew Vaughn. The Chicago White Sox gave the rookie plenty of time and opportunity in his 465 plate appearances to find his way. .235/.310/.397 and a 95 wRC+ isn’t terrible given his inexperience, but they are fortunate to be playing in a weak division where they absorb his lack of production while playing positions that prioritize offense.
American League West: Juan Lagares was never the most amazing hitter, but he was a Gold Glove outfielder. Now the glove has regressed and the bat is completely moribund. .236/.267/.375 with a wRC+ of 72 is a sign he should not have earned 318 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels. Jake Odorizzi is the living embodiment of mediocre this year. The Houston Astros were hoping for league average and that’s exactly what they got. 22 starts; 100 innings; 4.14 ERA and 4.56 FIP do not move the needle at all. Maybe there is some value in just showing up. Elvis Andrus is the man for this list to represent the Oakland A’s. The deal for Kris Davis looks like an example of sound and fury signifying nothing. 541 plate appearances of .243/.294/.320 and 72 wRC+ means he needed to play premium defense at short in order to be valuable. He was adequate but not much more than that. Maybe Seattle Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic wasn’t ready after all. The highly touted rookie struggled to the tune of .177/.260/.349 combined with a 71 wRC+ in 365 plate appearances. He hit in the minors, but his first taste of big league action shows more development is needed. Second baseman Nick Solak gets to enjoy the comforts of being in baseball’s witness protection program known at the Texas Rangers. In his 504 plate appearances he put a .237/.309/.358. His 87 wRC+ means he will stay hidden away in the Lone Star State for the foreseeable future.
National League East: The Atlanta Braves had Guillermo Heredia in their lineup to the tune of 343 plate appearances. His 80 wRC+ made up of a .222/.312/.358 slash line shows their faith wasn’t rewarded and explains why they sought reinforcements at the trade deadline. The perpetually rebuilding Miami Marlins ran through quite a few guys and still had Isan Diaz on the field enough for 277 plate appearances. A .193/.293/.282 slash line and a 60 wRC+ has me wondering their reasoning for it. Lewis Brinson was a consideration for this spot as well. I may be harsh on the New York Mets, but that is because I want more from them. Michael Conforto was the guy here for me. In 471 plate appearances, his .228/.342/.376 line and 104 wRC+ was an anchor which really hindered the lineup, made worse when he was supposed to be a focal point. We may be in the final throes of the prospect days of Victor Robles. The Washington Nationals let him try to find his way to the tune of 369 plate appearances. He slashed .203/.310/.295 totaling a 67 wRC+ means he might be headed down a Juan Lagares type career path. Since he is an actual knight, Sir Didi Gregorius may need to go on a quest to find his missing offense. 405 plate appearances of .208/.267/.366 with a 67 wRC+ for the Philadelphia Phillies means he swinging a sword not named Excalibur.
National League Central: I want to like Jackie Bradley Jr., but the Milwaukee Brewers came out on the short end of this deal. Bradley is another player known as a glove-first player, but no glove can survive a slash line of .162/.236/.262, with a 36 (!) wRC+. The St. Louis Cardinals have been about the best team at minimizing the damage. Matt Carpenter has been a great player for them in his career, but 71 wRC+ behind a .168/.307/.277 slash line is a sign the end may be near. At least they only allowed him to the plate 244 times. It is more of the same for Jason Heyward and the Chicago Cubs. His 353 plate appearances of .214/.280/.347 has become the norm rather than an outlier in his time patrolling the outfield in the Windy City. David Bote might have worse this year(64 wRC+ to Heyward’s 68 wRC+), but he has been semi-productive in his recent past. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a couple of guys to pick from as well. Gregory Polanco has nowhere to go but up. In 382 plate appearances, he posted a .208/.283/.354, so a 71 wRC+ should not come as a shock. His days in town may be numbered. How does a guy his 30 home runs and be functionally useless? Eugenio Suarez figured out how. The Cincinnati Reds third baseman posted an 82 wRC+ in 565 plate appearances while slashing .195/.281/.420. If he didn’t hit a homer, then he didn’t do anything.
National League West: Nick Ahmed only works on a cellar dweller type of team. The Arizona Diamondbacks needed someone to pick up the ground balls, so they accepted his 473 plate appearances of .221/.280/.339. They can use an upgrade on his 64 wRC+. Cody Bellinger is the no-brainer choice for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fans of the team will say he has been injured, if that is the case then he should not have 345 plate appearances. The is no place for .165/.241/.303 in a lineup for a team with championship aspirations. His 48 wRC+ would not look out of place for a pitcher. Alex Dickerson has been living the good life as a member of the San Francisco Giants. They have been able to carry his .234/.305/.422. His 98 wRC+ is not a complete killer, but it is enough to have Lamonte Wade Jr. take his role. The big plie of disappointment which is the San Diego Padres can be encapsulated by Ha-Seong Kim. The Korean import failed to impress during his first year in the States. .205/.271/.357 slash line is not what the Friars were hoping for when they brought him over. They hoped for a Korean Chris Taylor (Taylor posted a 113 wRC+ compared to Kim’s 72). They got something less than that. Third baseman Joshua Fuentes did not make the fans of the Colorado Rockies forget his cousin, Nolan Arenado. A 48 wRC+ in 284 plate appearances built upon a .225/.257/.351 slash line is indicative of a player in need of improvement. At 28 there may not be much room to grow.
Fans of all teams have their guys who drive them mad when they fail in the most critical of moments. The guys listed on here may bounce back, but I am not betting on the lot of them. I would not mind being wrong, but I know what I have seen this season.