Sometimes new surroundings bring out the best in people, sometimes a fresh start turns out to be a stinker. In sports, new teams, new coaches, new fans, new media, new contracts, new expectations can lead to head scratching results. Let’s look at these players and what changes may have led to their abnormal 2011 seasons.
Vernon “i hope he’s feeling” Wells – Has the Wells run dry? Vernon Wells is hitting .210, but they say he’s the nicest guy in the league! Vernon Wells signed an astronomical contract worth over $125 million dollars, and Scott Boras isnt even his agent. The 32-yr old outfielder has a .275 career average with 237 homers and and an impressive 347 career doubles. IN 2009 Wells had 37 doubles. IN 2010 Wells had 44 doubles. On August 10, 2011, Wells has 8 doubles. 8. He’s making $23 million this year – almost $3 million dollars per double! In his best year, 2003, Wells set career highs in HR (33) and RBI (117) and led the league with 215 hits, 49 doubles, and 373 total bases. His salary was $520k.
Jayson “what is he” Werth – Buck UP! 32-yr old Jayson Werth is a thorough-bread from a family of Olympians and athletes so you have to believe he will have success. Over the off season, he moved from Philly to their NL East rivals, Washington – signing a lucrative 7-year contract worth approximately $126 million! While in Philly, Werth earned approx $12 million in salary over 4 seasons, and in those 4 years, he led the league in doubles once, slugged 36 homers one year, hit over .295 twice, and drove in an average of 92 runs the past 2 seasons. This year, not so great thus far. Werth is hitting .223 (40 points below his career average) with a Slugging % of .379 (compared to .532 last season). Leads to the question, what’s it all Werth?
Adam “is he” Dunn – Dunn goes to the AL – his production goes missing. Adam Dunn has hit over 38 home runs in 7 consecutive seasons entering this year. His ’09 and ’10 season were almost identical statistically. He switched teams and maybe more importantly switched leagues this year, going from the Washington Nationals to Ozzie Guillen’s Chicago Whitesox. With more on the line, Dunn is making $12 million in salary and more than ever he is coming to the plate with added pressure to produce, and more fannies in the seats to please. Before we mention his 2011, let’s mention that Dunn’s best statistical season was 2004, where he slugged 46 HR, drove in 102, had 151 hits, and a career best .956 OPS. That year, Dunn made $445k.
2009: .267, 38 HR, 105 RBI, 146 Hits, 81 Runs
2010: .260, 38 HR, 103 RBI, 145 Hits, 85 Runs
This year? 2011: .165, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 55 Hits, 31 Runs.
Carl Crawford - 5 of his last 6 seasons with Tampa Bay, 30-yr old Crawford hit over .300. He has led the league in triples 4 times, and also steals 4 times – stealing a whopping 60 bags just 2 seasons ago. This year, Crawford signed with Boston and started the year hitting 3rd. Now he hits lower in the order, and has struggled to reach his career numbers. He is currently hitting .269 with only 13 steals, 38 RBI, and 5 triples. He’s gotten hot lately, so there’s a chance he could get closer to his norm. Red Sox have committed $142 million dollars to him, so they are banking on it!
On the flip side
Lance Berkman – Werth, Wells, and Fat Elvis (aka Lance Berkman) were all drafted in the 1st round in 1997. Berk has has the most storied career, hitting over 40 homers twice, leading the league in doubles twice, RBI once, and finishing 3rd in the MVP race twice. The switch-hitting stud is a .295 career hitter with 355 HR and 397 doubles. Now, at age 35, after 2 subpar years with Houston and the Yankees, Berkman joined Pujols and Holliday and the St. Louis Cardinals and is enjoying one of his best seasons ever. Berkman made $14.5 million last year and the year prior, this year he is making $8 million and hitting .292 and leading the league with 28 home runs.
Adrian Gonzalez. Former #1 overall pick, the All Star, Gold Glove First Baseman had excellent seasons in San Diego from 2006 to 2010. He reached 40 homers once, drove in 119 another year, and even hit .304 as a slugger. In those 5 years with San Diego, Gonzalez made a little less than $2 million per year. He was traded to Boston in the off season and is now hitting 3rd in the powerful Red Sox lineup, under the lights in Fenway Park. Early in the season Gonzo signed a 7-year contract worth $154 million dollars, and ever since he’s been acting like the BOSS! Gonzo is hitting .350 with 92 RBI already. He’s on pace to set career marks in almost all offensive categories, and the MVP trophy is his to lose.
Ichiro has been with the same team, Seattle Mariners, for 10 seasons. He is a career .327 hitter, but this year he is batting .269. Not much changed, he’s still making $17 million and in the midst of his 5-year $90 million dollar deal.