“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” One of the best quotes of all-time from one of the best movies of all-time, A Bronx Tale.
I’m talking about the highest paid players in baseball simply underachieving on some hefty contracts. Is it entirely their fault? Absolutely not.
Teams spend top-dollar for the biggest names on the market with hopes of putting butts in the seats. The ultimate goal is hoisting that Commissioner’s Trophy after winning the World Series. Or is it making money? Or in this case, losing it.
Either way, here’s a list of the top ten highest paid athletes in baseball and what they’re doing this year.
Alex Rodriguez, $27.5 million
Alex Rodriguez is having a tough 2013 and he hasn’t even played a game. He’s mired in rehab assignments and the Biogenesis saga. It’s a chess match between the Yankees and Rodriguez and in the end, I’m not sure if anyone will win.
Felix Hernandez, $25 million
He signed a huge deal with the Mariners to stay in Seattle and remain the face of the franchise. He’s 11-4 with a miniscule 2.34 ERA and 158 strikeouts for a team that is five games under .500. And he’s only 27 years old and he certainly lives up to his nickname, King Felix.
Josh Hamilton, $25 million
On the heels of a 43-homer, 128 RBI year a season ago, he’s hitting .220 with 15 homers and 43 RBI for the underperforming Angels. Sure, those are pretty good numbers but is he worth $25 million in his first year in LA? No way.
Ryan Howard, $25 million
Honestly, I follow All or Nothing Tattoo on Twitter and Instagram and hear more about him on there because of tattoos than I do about him on the field. He’s currently on the DL and is hitting pretty well against righties (.302, 8 HR) but miserably against lefties (.173, 3 HR). He’s a good guy too, it’s a shame he can’t stay healthy.
Zack Greinke, $24.5 million
He’s 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA for the resurgent Dodgers. His strikeouts are way down and he’s already been on the DL in his first season in Tinseltown. He’s also walking a lot of batters including one in each of his last 13 starts.
CC Sabathia, $24.5 million
He’s let up 7+ runs in his last three starts and is just 9-9 with an ERA almost as robust as his waistline. At 33, it’s looking like he’ll be getting by on his name alone as he rides into the sunset in a very expensive car wearing a Yankees uniform.
Albert Pujols, $24 million
He just got sent to the DL with plantar fasciitis. Maybe it’s because he’s weighed down by the hundred-dollar bills in his pockets or the .258 batting average. Hurt or healthy, it doesn’t seem to matter as this season has been a train wreck for both Pujols and the Angels. His runs, home runs, walks and average have all decreased over the past three seasons while his strikeout rate has gone up for someone many considered one of the best hitters of all time.
Cole Hamels, $24 million
At 4-13, he’s clearly not as good as he once was. Neither are the Phillies. Thanks to a solid July, his ERA has fallen by half a point and his strikeouts are still up there (129 K in 141 IP). He’ll be 30 in December and still has plenty left in the tank, the Phillies just need to right the ship.
Cliff Lee, $24 million
He was an All-Star and thanks to a 10-4 record, the Phillies are in third place in the NL East (11 games back). Lee is a strike-throwing machine and looks to be aging like a fine wine.
Prince Fielder, $23.8 million
With Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera aching a little, it’ll be very important for Prince to keep the Tigers atop the AL Central until Miggy’s 100%. He’s hitting just .261, well below his career average of .284. At almost 30, his contract still has seven years left–I give him two more years in the field before the only part of the field he sees in the lefty’s batters box.
Hernandez and Lee, they’re just fine.
Hamels, maybe we can chalk it up to a dismal season in Philadelphia.
Rodriguez and Pujols, they’re just robbing their respective teams.
Regardless of what you think or I think of what anyone thinks, these players got these contracts based on past performance. Pujols, Sabathia and Fielder, to me, were always a liability because of their weight and Sabathia because of the volume of innings he’s thrown over his career. Greinke I never thought could do it in a big market though he’s holding his own out in LA.
These guys are all veterans who have proven they are/were dominant players. I just hope the younger generation (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey) don’t meet the same fate when they sign their big contracts.