By: Noah Wright
The 2018 season saw a handful of stars. Some in contention of big time awards like Cy Young and MVP. Others just breakout stars in their own right. But not every single one has come back to the performance they put up a season prior. Some have been downright awful, and those are the ones you’ll see in this list. (NOTE: I’m not including any players whose seasons have been completely obliterated by injuries. So no Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Jameson Taillon, etc.).
- Jose Ramirez:
Ramirez’s season has been the definition of nosedive drop off. Through 328 PA’s, Ramirez has a weak .217/.308/.344 batting line. That has resulted in OPS of just 69 and wRC+ of 68. He’s even seen a bit of a dip in defense with a -.7 UZR, 0 DRS, and .2 dWAR at third. This is off a 2018 season where Ramirez had finished 3rd in MVP voting. Last year, Jose had a line of .270/.387/.552, 39 home runs, and a wRC+ 146. He had gold glove level fielding at third with 3 DRS, .8 dWAR, and 3.3 UZR. Ramirez also had an MVP season in ‘17 when he finished the year in 3rd in MVP voting after posting a .957 OPS, 146 wRC+, and similar defensive numbers.
- Blake Treinen:
If you want to talk about elite bullpen arms, Treinen was the best closer last season with Oakland. He put up an ERA of .78(!), FIP of 1.82, and WHIP of .834 in 80 and a third innings. He gave up just 2 home runs as well. While Treinen was a hard thrower, his control never suffered with a BB/9 of 2.4, and K/9 of 11.2. Treinen had also induced ground balls 51.9% of the time. He earned 6th place in Cy Young voting as well. Although nobody expected him to repeat a .78 ERA, you could probably rely on him to still post elite numbers, but Treinen we have seen in 2019 has looked awful. In just 35 and a third innings, he’s nearly given up more than twice as many earned runs (16 this season, 7 last season). His BB/9 has risen to an unsightly 5.3, while his ground ball percentage has fallen to 43.2%. Opponents are squaring Treinen up big time with his hard hit rate jumping from 29.2% to 41.8%.
- Edwin Diaz:
If Treinen was the #1 closer in the MLB, Edwin Diaz was the #2 closer when he was with the Mariners. He posted an ERA of 1.96, a 1.61 FIP, and .791 WHIP through 73 and a third innings. Diaz was also close to breaking the all time single season saves record when he closed out 53 games for the M’s. While Trienen had an 11.2 K/9 rate, Diaz had a 15.2 per 9 rate, and an elite 2.1 BB/9 rate. Plus Diaz had given up just 5 long balls. While he didn’t have nearly as an elite ground ball % as Treinen, it was still a solid 44.4%. Regardless, after a trade to the Mets, there was no indication that Diaz wouldn’t take as big of a drop off as he has. Through 29 and two thirds innings, Diaz has an ERA of 3.64, and a 3.12 FIP. While his strikeout and walk numbers are still extremely strong (14.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9), home runs have been a huge issue this year. He has already given up 5, as many as he gave up all of 2018. Getting ground balls have been an issue too, as his GB% has dropped to 37.1%. Diaz has given up hard hit balls 47.1% of the time this season to add on.
- Mallex Smith:
Smith was the best outfielder on the Rays roster last season, and for a good reason. Through 544 plate appearances, Smith had posted a solid .296/.367/.406 batting line and 117 wRC+. While Smith has never been a power threat, his wheels and base running easily made up for it. He had 40 stolen bases last year with a 6.6 BSR. Smith’s outfield defense was another notable part of his game. While he did have so-so numbers in the corners, Mallex had 3 DRS, and a 1.0 UZR in center field while only playing there in 71 games the entire 2018 season. When he was traded to the Mariners, he seemed to represent a young (only 26 years old), and controllable piece the Seattle could slot in centerfield everyday. But Smith has been not only bad offensively, but also god awful defensively. His .234/.306/.364 batting line and 85 wRC+ make his speed kind of useless. His defense, like I said earlier, has been god awful. In centerfield, Smith has -11 DRS, -9.5 UZR and a -.9 dWAR.
- Kyle Freeland:
Last year, Freeland broke out to the 4th spot in Cy Young voting. In 202 and a third innings of work, Freeland posted an outstanding 2.85 ERA, 3.67 FIP, and 1.245 WHIP. He kept walks to a minimum, having a 3.1 BB/9. While he wasn’t a huge strikeout pitcher, he still got swings and misses at a solid 7.7 K/9 rate. Home runs weren’t an issue either as he had a .8 HR/9. This was all the more impressive considering he’s a Rockies pitcher, and we all know about the Coors factor. Plus the fact he was only going to be entering his age 26 season, there was a good reason to think he’d improve on his 2018 season, but that hasn’t been the case in ‘19. In just 57 and a third innings, Freeland has given up 47 earned runs. Home runs have been flying left and right, as he’s given up 16 home runs, nearly as many as he gave up in ‘18 (17). His K/9 and BB/9 have both trended in bad directions, seeing him strikeout batters at a 7.4 per 9 rate, and walking them to a 3.8 per 9 rate. His hard hit percentage has also risen over 10% to last year as well (31.6% to 43.7%).
- Matt Carpenter:
Carpenter's 2018 season was one of the best seasons of his career. Carpenter’s 677 PA’s saw him have a .257/.374/.523 batting line, 144 OPS+, and 138 wRC+. Carpenter had hit a career high 36 home runs as well. Another impressive thing about Carpenter’s 2018 season is that he made soft contact just 9.3% of the time, while making hard contact 49% of the time. Carpenter’s 2019 season hasn’t been nearly as successful. In 319 plate appearances, Carpenter’s plate discipline has dropped a significant amount. His OBP has dropped to just .329, and his BB% has fallen from 15.1% to 13.8%. His batting average is currently sitting at a dismal .218, and his prolific power from 2018 has been reduced to a sub-.400 slugging % (.380). Although Carpenter is still making soft contact just 10.8% of the time, he has made hard contact only 41.5% of the time.
- Lorenzo Cain:
Cain was one of the NL’s best outfielders in 2018 in his return to Miluakee after he posted a .308/.395/.417 batting line, and 30 stolen bases in 620 plate appearances. That’s good for a 124 wRC+, which ranked 2nd in NL CF’s. Cain’s bat wasn’t even the best part about his game. He posted 20 DRS, 5.8 UZR, and 2.4 dWAR in center. 2019 however has been pretty disappointing. Although he’s still a gold glove level CF (10 DRS, 1.1 dWAR), his bat has disappeared. His .257/.314/.357 batting line in 331 PA’s would be the worst it’s ever been. This could be in part of a rise in soft contact % (18.1% to 21.1%) and decrease in hard contact (38.3% to 32.5%).
- Aaron Nola:
If there was a pitching version of Jose Ramirez in 2019, it’s Aaron Nola. Nola finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 2018. He had posted an extremely strong 2.37 ERA, 3.01 FIP, and .975 WHIP in 212 and a third innings. Nola was excellent at racking up K’s with a 9.5 K/9, while being just as good with his control (2.5 BB/9, .7 HR/9). He got ground balls 50.6% of the time, while giving up hard contact just 25.1% of the time. This was all on the heels of a solid 2017 season where Nola had a 3.57 ERA, 3.27 FIP, and 1.208 WHIP in 168 innings of work. 2019 has not been so kind to Nola. His ERA has jumped to 4.55, while he has given up 14 home runs in 89 and two thirds innings. Although he’s still getting strikeouts, now at career high rate (10.1 K/9), his BB/9 has risen to 3.7. Hard hit balls have been a problem as well, seeing has his hard contact % is sitting at 39%.