Sometimes baseball players age gracefully and retire on their own terms. Hall of Famers David Ortiz and Chipper Jones are among that lucky group. Most of them, however, fall off the radar before you know they’re gone.
In 2018, Scooter Janet was a National League All-Star. after fighting for reds And giants The following year, he never signed with a major league team again. Wilson Ramos, Mitch Moreland, Shin-Soo Choo, and Mike Foltyniewicz are just a few others who were All-Stars four years ago and have been off any MLB roster for a long time. It’s hard to fathom that the talent of any player is no longer Major-League caliber, but it’s an important skill for front offices trying to differentiate between a veteran who’s just as much of a deal-bin signing. Can be eliminated and a player who has already turned into a pumpkin.
Hunter Dossier Landed On Himself Pumpkin clock first version Showing alarming signs of decline last year came just months after signing a four-year, $25 million extension in March 2021. This season, the 31-year-old has measured up as MLB’s worst-deserved hitter in terms of the fangraph war and will almost certainly be let loose by Kansas City in the off-season. It would be surprising if he was handed a guaranteed major league contract with another team, at least prior to the ’23 campaign.
The names below haven’t quite advanced into that unfortunate phase of baseball’s life cycle, but the clocks on their careers seem closer to striking midnight than they entered this season. With Thursday the first official day of fall, let’s check out four struggling former All-Stars who could be turning into pumpkins right before our eyes.
Nick Castellanos, Phillies RF/DH
While Castellanos have managed to keep their trend Hitting the occasional poorly (read: incredibly) timed home runOtherwise he hasn’t lived up to his reputation as a slugger in the first season of his five-year $100 million contract. philadelphia,
With a slash line of .265/.305/.397 and just 13 home runs, Castellanos is playing a career-worst 96 Ops+ (excluding his 11-game cameo in 2013), which means he is at league-average. 4% worse. His average exhaust velocity, barrel rate and running rate are also at career lows. The 30-year-old has taken her quirky tendencies to new lengths, as she has two homeless streaks that lasted at least a month (May 30 to June 30, June 30 to August 3). And he certainly didn’t make up for any of this with his normally weak defense in right field, where he had to play far more times than originally planned due to Bryce Harper’s elbow injury. Put it all together and he has been the second-worst right fielder out of 21 qualified players with an fWAR of -0.7, ahead only of our friend Hunter Dossier. Castellanos has not played since September 2, when he left Philadelphia’s 5–4 loss to the Giants in the sixth inning with a shunt and was placed on the injured list shortly thereafter.
Castellanos’ struggle at the plate is the exact opposite of last year’s, his second season with reds, when he made his first All-Star team and scored career-best points in batting average (.309), on-base percentage (.362) and slugging percentage (.576). However, looking back, the Phillies should have paid more attention to their respective home/street divide. Castellanos scored 23 of his 34 home runs at Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly park, while his batting average and on-base percentage were nearly 100 points higher at home than on the road. His slugging percentage was also nearly 250 points higher in Cincinnati, where he recorded 1.109 Ops, compared to a decent but All-Star qualified Ops of .772 on the road.
Still, the Phillies have a hitter-friendly home ground and couldn’t have expected such a sharp drop so soon. What it is with Castellanos’ contract, he really has no choice but to help him figure out a fix. Harper’s elbow will help from being healthy enough to throw it next season, so Castellanos, even if his bat doesn’t return to All-Star level, at least won’t provide negative value in the field. Another encouraging sign was Castellanos’ resurgence 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 things had started to change. Also, may we suggest that the broadcaster of the team recite praise to him during his batting?
UC Kikuchi, Blue Jays SP/RP
Kikuchi has long had the stuff of a shutdown starter, as his fastball clocked 96 mph when he was a high schooler in Japan. He seriously considered bypassing his domestic league draft and becoming the first Japanese prep star to immigrate to America, and a lot of MLB teams were interested in helping him do so. Ultimately, the lefthander stayed at home for nearly a decade and became a three-time NPB All-Star before signing Mariners Before the 2019 season.
Kikuchi struggled extensively in his first two seasons, however, earning him his first All-Star appearance before a first-half breakout last year. The second half in which he looked like the replacement-level pitchers he did during his first two seasons at Seattle didn’t matter. blue Jays signing her in March for a three-year, $36 million deal, because they clearly felt they could use her promising tool kit and make her a formidable starter. It hasn’t worked that way.
Instead, the 31-year-old has been worse than ever, as his -0.9 fWAR ranks last among pitchers with at least 90 innings. Toronto’s coaching staff apparently told him to put his cutters in the junk, as its use dropped from 35% in 2021 to 6% in ’22. That might have seemed like a reasonable route to do, as the Hitters pulled it off last season. But while he’s been able to induce a respectable amount of swings and misses—his whispers rank in the 76th percentile—when hitters have made contact, the results have been disastrous. Their average exhaust velocity, hard-hit percentage and barrel rate all rank in the first percentile. To make things worse, Kikuchi’s control has been dramatically off, with his 5.34 BB/9 walk rate ranking the last of 137 pitchers with at least 90 innings. That impeccable combination makes him the only pitcher (minimum 90 IP) to allow at least two home runs and five walks in nine innings.
Jace still has Kikuchi under contract for two more years, so they can try to change his attitude once more over the winter instead of releasing him and eating $20 million of dead money (his contract is 16 million dollars this season and $10 million in the next two). But he was demoted to the bullpen already last month, and has gotten worse there, recording a 7.50 ERA despite racking up 23 strikes in 12 innings of relief work. Quite simply, if Kikuchi continues to walk and the house moves like hot cakes, he won’t have much time left in the big leagues.
Eroldis Chapman, Yankees RP
Once the most dominant force in the game, Chapman is no longer close, period. The 6’4″ southern paw allowed runs in five straight appearances before moving on the injured list with Achilles tendinitis in May, clearing an escape route with Clay Holmes. Yankees‘Closer work. Once Chapman returned on July 2 and all three were gone. Guardians He faced in the seventh inning, that was.
His return shows that Chapman’s once debilitating control issues are coming back to haunt him this year. With 23 walks in 32 innings, his 16.1% walk rate is his worst since 2011, his second season in the Majors and his last before coming close. Of more concern to a pitcher of Chapman’s profile, however, his strike rate has fallen off a cliff despite adding one. bad splitter Last year in his repertoire. While the 25.9% strike rate is still an above average mark, it is a far cry from his career-high 52.5% and even last year’s 39.9%. His fastball velocity averages a career-low 97.6 mph, but that’s less than a tick slower than in years past, so it doesn’t seem to be just a matter of velocity that leads to a career-high 4.41 ERA. And after last year hitters threw their fastballs for .306 batting average and .600 slugging percentage, this year the figures have gone up to .191 and .277, respectively. The slider has been his worst pitch, including nine extra-base hits from six hitters this year.
Whatever the issue, it is one of the more remarkable relief careers of the modern era. But Chapman, the record holder for the fastest pitch in MLB history and a seven-time All-Star who made an ASG appearance as recently as last year, is not alone in this regard. Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jensen are the three active pitchers with at least 300 saves. All have struggled to varying degrees over the years, and all are in their 13th season at the age of 34. Perhaps we are looking at some examples of what it will look like when a modern fireballer reaches its expiration date.
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