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MLB Players Who Have Lost Their Luster

I can’t decide if Pablo Sandoval is the luckiest guy in the world or he’s just a really good con man. The Red Sox third baseman was designated this week, effectively ending his time with the Red Sox just halfway through his third season in Boston. He missed all but three games last year with a shoulder injury, and has missed more games this year with injuries as well.

He’s struggled at both home plate and the dinner plate, not managing to hit over .245 with Boston after consistent production in San Francisco while certain East Coast biased networks raved over his “dramatic weight loss”, while his weight always stayed right on par with his average.

It’s a real shame especially considering that he’s making more money than you are at $17.6 million a year. While Sandoval isn’t alone in this phenomenon, he’s pretty much the poster boy for players that have lost their thunder in recent years. Today, we’ll take a glance at a few other players who just haven’t shined as bright as they used to.

Felix Hernández

 As a Mariners fan, this one just plain hurts. King Felix had spent the majority of his career absolutely dominating the competition. He’s a six-time All-Star, a Cy Young Winner, and has recorded a perfect game in his time with an incredibly imperfect Seattle Mariners franchise, but it seems that we’re now seeing the beginning of the end of the reign of the King. After avoiding major injuries most of his career, he was sidelined with various injuries last season, and experienced a major dip in velocity. His strikeout pitch just wasn’t there, and his dominance seemed to vanish.

He’s continued to struggle with injuries this year, but managed to adjust enough to get along. It doesn’t hurt that he plays in arguably the most pitcher-friendly park in the majors, but with the emergence of James Paxton, Felix’s time may be up as the Mariner Ace.

 Curtis Granderson

 Full disclosure, I wasn’t positive that Granderson hadn’t retired before I looked him up for consideration this article. He’s certainly had his moments in his career as a three-time All-Star and posting consistent offensive numbers. One thing that may come as a surprise is that Granderson has not hit better than .259 in the last five seasons, the other four years were .237 or worse. So far this season he’s hitting just .231 and not posing as much of an offensive threat as he may have in previous seasons. With a Mets team struggling without healthy pitching, Granderson may be sent away in interest of someone more effective here soon.

 CC Sabathia

 Sabathia has a résumé to let him sleep well at night. He’s a Cy Young Award Winner, a six-time All-Star, and won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009. He enjoyed solid success for a few more years after the World Series win before a hamstring injury sidelined him in 2013. Ever since then, he’s experienced a major dip in velocity and seen his ERA go way up. He’s enjoyed some surprising success this year, but injuries have again slowed him down. His rehab stint for alcohol abuse in 2015 was just part of what seemed to be a downward spiral for him. We wish him all the best in that respect, but it seems Sabathia is on his way out.

 Hunter Pence

 With a World Series ring for each hand and one of the greatest internet memes you’ve probably never heard of, Pence’s legacy is secure. Also, he could probably collect residuals from the Home Alone movies and nobody would notice.

He’s been a solid contributor rather than a true superstar, but Pence’s performance has tailed off this year, just another sign of the Giants’ woes. While he’s posted a career 28.8 WAR, he’s at -0.8 WAR this season. We shouldn’t expect the Giants to go into full rebuild mode after just one bad season, but the Giants are just one acquisition away from Pence going to a platoon role.

 Shin-Soo Choo

 Choo had better send Christmas cards to Scott Boras for the rest of eternity. Choo is not a bad baseball player, but injuries have derailed what could have been a much more prolific career. He certainly earned every minute of playing time at the major league level, but his 7-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers is far from justified with his play as of late. His 0.6 WAR this season makes his 30.1 WAR seem far away,

With the emergence of outfielder Nomar Mazara, Choo has been taken out of the starting lineup for the Rangers, who feel the pain of that contract every day.

 Adrian Gonzalez

 Gonzalez has been a key role in the sustained success of the Dodgers, bringing his hot bat from San Diego and Boston to Los Angeles, driving in plenty of RBIs and providing plenty of service in the community. He’s basically the epitome of the veteran you want on your team. He’s posted a career 43.3 WAR and 309 homers, this season has shown just 1 long ball and -0.6 WAR.

While the Dodgers have plenty of reason to keep Gonzales around for the clubhouse and the community, the breakout success of Cody Bellinger has come at just the right time to replace Gonzalez at first base.

 Joe Mauer

 Mauer is probably one of the most underrated athletes of the modern era. The St. Paul native turned down a football scholarship to play quarterback at Florida State to play for the Twins after being chosen #1 overall in the 2001 MLB draft.

Mauer has always been a high-average hitter and a defensive stud, but his average, which has been as high as .365 in his career, has tapered off to .285 this year. On its own, it’s a solid average. In perspective, it’s a sign of decline.

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