Sometimes baseball players advance gracefully and retire on their own terms. Hall of Famers David Ortiz and Chipper Jones are among that lucky group. However, the vast majority of them fall off the radar before you even realize they’re gone.
In 2018, Scooter Gennett was one of the stars of the National League. After the fight for reds And the giants The following year, he did not sign with a major league team again. Wilson Ramos, Mitch Morland, Shin-Soo Cho and Mike Fultenewicz are just a few of the people who were from the All-Stars four years ago and have been out of any MLB roster for a long time. It’s hard to distinguish when a player’s talent is no longer of major league caliber, but it’s an essential skill to have for front desks trying to differentiate between a veteran who might end up as a deal-signator and a player-turned-actor. Pumpkin.
Hunter Dozier himself landed on The first edition of Pumpkin Watch last year by showing alarming signs of decline just months after signing a four-year, $25 million extension in March 2021. This season, the 31-year-old has been considered the worst qualifying hitter in MLB in terms of FanGraphs WAR and is sure to be a Also cut off from Kansas City in the off-season. It would be surprising if he gets a guaranteed major league contract with another team, at least before the 23rd campaign.
The names below haven’t advanced to that unfortunate stage in baseball’s life cycle, but their career hours look a lot closer to midnight than they did this season. As the official first day of fall arrives on Thursday, let’s examine four former struggling stars who could turn into pumpkins before our very eyes.
Nick Castellanos, Phillies RF/DH
While Castellanos manages to maintain his fondness A bad cross hit (read: incredibly) home run in timeOtherwise, he didn’t live up to his reputation as a footballer in the first season of his five-year, $100 million contract. Philadelphia.
With a slash of .265/.305/.397 and just 13 on the ground, Castellanos has a worst career 96 OPS+ (excluding his 11-game cameo in 2013), which means he was 4% worse than the league average. hitter; The average exit velocity, barrel rate and travel rate are also at professional lows. The 30-year-old has taken his scheming tendencies to new lengths, having had two homeless streaks that lasted for at least a month (May 30-30 June, June 30-August 3). And he certainly didn’t make up for any of this with his poor defense on the right court, as he had to play a lot more than originally planned due to Bryce Harper’s elbow injury. Put it all together and he’s the second worst right-hander out of 21 qualified with -0.7 fWAR, just ahead of our friend Hunter Dozier. Castellanos has not played since September 2, when he left Philadelphia’s 5-4 loss to the Giants in the sixth inning with a slashing strain and was put on the injury list shortly thereafter.
Castellanos’ suffering comes to the fore in stark contrast to last year, his second season with reds, when he made his first All-Star and put the career best scores in batting average (.309), base percentage (.362) and slowdown percentage (.576). Looking back, though, Velez should have cared more about the house/road divisions. Castellanos notched 23 out of 34 on his court at batting-friendly Cincinnati Park, while his batting average and percentage at base were nearly 100 points higher at home than on the road. His slowdown was about 250 points higher in Cincinnati, scoring a 1.109 OPS compared to a decent but not All-Star worthy .772 on the road.
However, the Feliz themselves have a very friendly home field and they couldn’t have expected such a sharp downturn so soon. With Castellanos’ contract what it is, they really have no choice but to help him find a solution. Having Harper’s elbow healthy enough to throw it next season would help, that way, Castellanos, even if his racket doesn’t return to the All-Star level, at least it wouldn’t offer negative value in the field. Another encouraging sign was Castellanos’ comeback in August, when he hit .300/.333/.500 in 26 games before his oblique injury. Maybe he was getting comfortable with his new team and starting to turn things around. Other than that, can we suggest that the team’s announcers recite the eulogy while at bat?
Yossi Kikuchi, Blue Jays SP/RP
Kikuchi has always had things like a lockdown start, having his Fastball clocked at 96 mph when he was a high school student in Japan. He had seriously considered becoming the first Japanese superstar to skip the domestic league draft and emigrate to the United States, and plenty of MLB teams were interested in helping him do so. In the end, the left-footed player stayed at home for nearly a decade and became an NPB star three times before signing with sailors before the 2019 season.
Kikuchi struggled quite a bit in his first two seasons, though, before the breakout broke out last year, making him his first All-Star debut in the United States. He didn’t deter the second half looking like the alternate level bowler he did during his first two seasons in Seattle blue jays From signing him to a three-year, $36 million deal in March, they clearly realized they could harness his promising toolkit and make him a great start. It didn’t work out that way.
Instead, the 31-year-old is worse than ever, with fWAR -0.9 ranking last among shooters with at least 90 rounds. He was apparently told by the coaching staff in Toronto to get rid of his chopper, with his use dropping from 35% in 2021 to 6% in ’22. This probably seemed like a reasonable path to take, as hitters started that last season. But while he was able to produce a respectable amount of ups and downs—his average blowout was 76th—when the hitters called, the results were disastrous. Average exit velocity, percentage hit, and barrel rate are all in the top percentile. To make matters worse, Kikuchi’s control waned significantly, with a walk average of 5.34 BB/9 that placed him last out of 137 shooters with at least 90 rounds. This useless combination makes him the only bowler (90 IP minimum) that allows at least two runs at home and five walks for every nine innings.
Jays still has Kikuchi’s contract for another two years, so they may try to change his approach again over the winter instead of releasing him and eating $20 million in dead money (his contract was preloaded to make him earn $16 million this season and $10 million in the next two seasons) . But he was already demoted to the Bulls last month, and was worse there, posting a 7.50 ERA despite stacking 23 strikes in 12 relief runs. To put it simply, if Kikuchi kept hiking and running around the house like they were hot buns, he wouldn’t have much time left in the big leagues.
Aroldis Chapman, Yankees RB
Once the most dominant in the game gets closer, Chapman’s period is no longer any closer. The 6’4-inch Southpaw allowed a run in five straight appearances before moving on to the injured roster with Achilles tendinitis in May, paving the way for Clay Holmes to escape with Yankees“Work closer. Once Chapman came back on July 2 and the three walked away guardians He faced him in the seventh inning, that was it.
His return outing reflects Chapman’s once-exhausted control issues that have come back to haunt him this year. With 23 walks in 32 runs, his 16.1% gait rate is the worst since 2011, his second season in the majors and the last before he even got close to it. However, what’s even more troubling for Chapman’s photo shooter is that his strike rate has fallen off a cliff despite adding bad splitter to his repertoire last year. While the 25.9% strike rate is still a mark above average, it’s a far cry from a career high of 52.5% and even 39.9% last year. His speedball averaged 97.6 mph—career low, but that’s less than one mark slower than it’s been in the past few years, so it doesn’t seem like it’s just a matter of speed that’s causing a career high of 4.41 ERA. And after last year’s hitters hit his Fastball with 306 hits and .600 slowdowns, this year those numbers have shrunk to .191 and .277, respectively. The slider was the worst, with six out of nine additional base hits out of it this year.
Whatever the problem, it quickly sank into one of the most fascinating relief jobs of the modern era. But Chapman, the record holder for the fastest pitch in MLB history and a seven-time All-Star who featured in ASG as recently as last year, isn’t alone in that regard. Chapman, Craig Kimbrill and Kenley Jansen are the three active shooters who have managed at least 300 saves. Everyone has struggled to varying degrees over the past two years, all in their thirteenth season at the age of 34. We might be seeing some examples of what it looks like when a modern fireball player approaches their expiration date.
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