As I watch the All-Star Game, the cynic in me can't help but focus on the chumps who have given fantasy owners the proverbial kick in the junk. I'm sure they feel bad enough already, but in the interest of fairness, their lack of achievement deserves recognition as well. I'm not talking about a ribbon with the word "Participant" emblazoned on it; I'm referring to something much more prestigious: a spot on the Tidy Cat All-Litterbox Team of Turds.
The process in naming the TCALTT is a selective one that involves a pile of stats, a case of Miller Lite, testimonials from disgruntled fantasy owners, and the Best of Sinbad on DVD, which is just as terrible as the players on this team.
All statistics through July 12.
Russell Martin -- As the top catcher off the board in most drafts, his measly 12 extra-base hits are the first of many disappointments. His first home run didn't come until late June, and while his propensity for steals sets him apart from other backstops, he has just one since the end of May. If you're hoping for a second half surge, very few things suggest that will happen. Martin's workload in recent years is unprecedented for this era, and his Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) matches his career mark. His strikeout rate (K%) has climbed to nearly 20 percent, and I don't expect significantly improvement as the season wears on.
Reserve: Geovany Soto -- He's now on his second DL stint, and we recently found out he tested positive for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic. There is no truth to the rumor that he strained his oblique reaching for a bag of Doritos. Soto's .230 average is partly a product of a low BABIP, but an early shoulder injury has zapped some of his power with just eight homers and 10 doubles compared to 35 two-baggers last year.
Chris Davis -- 44.2 percent. If you guessed that is the body fat percentage of David Wells, you are correct. That gaudy number is also the percentage of at-bats in which Davis has struck out this season. Prior to his recent demotion, Davis was punched out 114 times in 258 at-bats. It's to the point where he's like the little leaguer who never hits the ball and then forgets to run when he does. The strikeouts are enhanced by a historically low 64.0 percent contact rate, which is well below the league average of about 82 percent. It's tough to say when or even if Davis will be back with the Rangers this season, but it's easy to say that I hate him.
Reserve: David Ortiz -- I know he doesn't qualify at first in all leagues, but I'm a National League guy so there will be no DH here. Of course, calling Big Papi a hitter of any kind this season is a stretch.
Howie Kendrick -- Like Davis, Kendrick earned himself a Triple-A vacation thanks to an awful early slump. After hitting .346 in the minors, Kendrick is back in the show and trying to prove he's more than a Quadruple-A player. His walk rate is still incredibly low (5.4 percent) while his K% is on the rise. Even in the minors, he fanned 12 times in 78 at-bats. His BABIP may be deflated, but his lack of plate discipline has led to a 65 percent first pitch strike percentage. Some people don't believe in Santa or the ShamWow. I don't believe in Howie Kendrick.
Reserve: Kelly Johnson -- Is a good leadoff man behind in the count over 57 percent of the time after the first pitch? Should he have a sharp increase in his fly ball rate despite limited power? Conventional wisdom says no, as does Bobby Cox.
Jimmy Rollins -- A consensus first round pick, Rollins has been the biggest non-injury disappointment. It's hard to pick a low point but an 0-for-28 stretch and being benched in favor of Eric Bruntlett are obvious candidates. Most would blame his .242 BABIP, but part of that has to do with a nine percent increase in fly balls, which is not good news for a guy slugging .355. On the basepaths, Rollins is on track to steal fewer than 30 bags for the first time since 2003. Charlie Manuel needs to show J-Roll some Willie Mays Hayes footage to get him back to hitting groundballs if there's any chance of his season turning around.
Reserve: Rafael Furcal -- Projected by many as a fantasy sleeper, Furcal has been caught stealing nearly as many times as he's been successful. However, he's hitting .357 since Man-Ram's return with 11 runs scored.
Garrett Atkins -- In 2006, Atkins cracked 29 homers and 48 doubles. So far in 2009, he has six bombs and eight doubles. You can draw your own conclusions, but Atkins has been terrible in virtually every way, except I hear he's nice to kittens. His groundball rate has increased, and he still can't produce away from Coors Field. There's a decent chance Atkins gets dealt by the deadline, but a trade will only make things worse.
Reserve: Jhonny Peralta -- I would be doing this team a disservice if I failed to include a member of one of the most disappointing teams in all of baseball. Despite a decent BABIP, Peralta has increased his strikeout percentage and boasts a woeful .380 slugging percentage. It's also amazing that his groundball rate is up over 10 percent since he's as good at running as his parents are at spelling.
Magglio Ordonez -- Just two years ago, Ordonez hit .363 with 28 homers, 54 doubles and 139 RBIs, but with just four round-trippers and 10 doubles so far this year, his power is clearly gone. In the meantime, his K% and groundball rate have shot up, which finally earned him a spot on the Tigers bench.
Alfonso Soriano -- Fonsi continues to see fewer fastballs (down to just 45.6 percent this year) and is struggling to do much with the breaking stuff as evidenced by a sharp dip in line drives. Back when he was stealing 40 bases, the corresponding rise in grounders wouldn't have been a concern, but he'll be lucky to steal 15 bags this year. Cub fans hope a recent drop in the order will spark him.
Chris Young -- His pitching namesake has also struggled, but a sub-.200 average earns him the title of "Worst Chris Young in Baseball." A couple years ago he came close to 30-30, but now 15-15 seems questionable. His K% is dangerously close to 30, and his fly ball rate is near 54.7 percent, thanks in part to 24 infield pop-ups.
Reserves: Milton Bradley, Jay Bruce, Manny Ramirez -- Things seemed destined to go awry with Bradley in the Windy City, and that's exactly how it's gone down. Of course you've had a few minor injuries and questionable fielding, but his power numbers are way down to the tune of a .381 slugging percentage. Bruce has provided the expected power, but his .207 average is being held down in part by a .202 BABIP. Now he's out 6-8 weeks with a fractured wrist, so fantasy owners won't see that normalize. As for Manny, I think we all figured it would be pot or psychedelic mushrooms that he'd get busted for, right?
Ryan Dempster -- I would like to submit Dempster as Exhibit A in the case of Great Contract Year vs. Mediocre Career. The Cubs shelled out some serious coin to re-sign him after last year's success. The problem is that so many of his numbers were completely out of character like his K/9, BB/9, HR/9, Home Run-to-Fly Ball Rate, and Strand Rate to name a few. What you're seeing from Dempster this season is the real deal, including an apparent lack of coordination, which recently resulted in a broken toe.
Cole Hamels -- Hamels owners couldn't have expected to hit the break with five wins and a near-5.00 ERA. Still, his walk and strikeout rates are improved, and the main culprits are a high BABIP and slow start due to an ankle injury. Last season's workload is a concern as is his tendency to give up the longball, but I look for a solid second half from Hamels with 6-8 wins and a 3.75 ERA.
Francisco Liriano -- He's struggled mightily to the tune of nine first-half losses. Liriano continues to show a reluctance to use his slider since Tommy John surgery, and consequently he's inducing fewer groundballs while surrendering more home runs.
Derek Lowe -- You may argue that Lowe isn't that big of a disappointment given his eight wins, but he's won just twice since May 23. What's more alarming is that his K/9 are down from 6.27 to 4.87, while his BB/9 are way up. His contact rates are rising too, and as I said a few weeks ago, I'm not sold on a rebound.
Reserves: John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ervin Santana, Brandon Webb, Chien-Ming Wang -- What has two thumbs, wishes Tim McCarver would shut up, and doesn't care that these guys have disappointed because of injury? This guy!
Carlos Marmol -- Even the acquisition of Kevin Gregg did not deter fantasy owners from setting their sites on the electric Marmol on draft day. Well, three saves later he earns a spot as the TCALTT closer. He failed to take advantage of Gregg's early struggles and more recently has struggled himself. Marmol's BB/9 has actually decreased to its current 9.00 mark. His K/9 are also down, due in large part to hitters not offering at pitches since he can't find the strike zone with a GPS. In the meantime, Gregg has a 1.48 ERA since May 19, which means Marmol won't pick up more than a handful of saves from here on out.
Reserve: Kerry Wood -- Given that the Indians have the worst bullpen in baseball, I would be remiss if I didn't include their leader.
Hey, did anyone hear the President was at the game and in the locker room? Seriously, you'd think that would get more play.