MLB's seven most disappointing performances so far in 2022

Author Photo
Joey Votto, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story
(Getty Images)

We’re nearly one-fourth of the way through the 2022 season, and that means it’s time to take a look at some of the most disappointing performances of the season.

At this point, it’s still early enough for these players and teams to reverse course and change the trajectory of their 2022 campaign, but it’s also deep enough into the season to start to be seriously concerned. Let’s take a look at seven: three players and four teams.  

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Marcus Semien, Rangers

Yeah, this season been pretty brutal for Semien, who signed a seven-year, $175-million deal this offseason with the Rangers to play second base. He’s batted either first or second in all of his games, and his on-base percentage is a meager .216. He hit 45 home runs for the Blue Jays last year, but he’s yet to clear the fence in 139 PAs for the Rangers. 

The worst stat: There are 195 players with at least 100 plate appearances so far this season. Semien ranks 194th in OPS+, at 43. 

Detroit Tigers

This was not supposed to happen to the Tigers again in 2021. Last year, the close-but-still-rebuilding franchise stumbled out to a 9-24 start, then played over .500 baseball for the rest of the season as some of the youngsters — especially pitchers — showed reason to hope that the team could actually compete for a playoff spot this year. Instead? The pitchers have been pretty good — staff ERA is 3.42 — but the offense has been pretty awful. Like, really awful. And the Tigers found themselves in a very familiar hole, with a 9-23 record. They’ve won four in a row since that low point, but still, at 13-23, it’s massively disappointing. 

The worst stat: The Tigers have 18 home runs in 36 games this season. The Brewers have two players (Hunter Renfroe and Willy Adames) who have combined for 18 homers. The Yankees have three players with at least 10 homers (Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo). The Angels have three with at least eight (Mike Trout, Taylor Ward and Shohei Ohtani). 

Joey Votto, Reds

Look, everybody loves Joey Votto. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation of what’s happened so far in his Age 38 season. It’s not just the slash line, though that is especially anemic. Votto had 90 plate appearances before landing on the COVID IL and he hit just .122/.278/.135 with an OPS+ of 18. Yikes. In those 90 PAs, he had just one extra-base hit, a double, and eight singles. And he had a minus-0.9 bWAR before going on the IL; that’s a big number for just 22 games and 90 PAs.

The worst stat: When Votto finished second in the NL MVP race in 2017, he walked in 19 percent of his PAs and struck out in only 11.7 percent of his PAs. Care to guess what his walk and strikeout percentages are this year? His walk percentage is down to 13.3 and his strikeout percentage has skyrocketed to 32.2 percent; his previous career worst in that category was last year, at 23.8 percent.

Boston Red Sox

We’ve talked about the Red Sox on Sporting News dot com already, so instead of rehashing everything, I’ll just point you to this piece on how their path has split from the rival Yankees after a similar start. I will point out they’re 4-2 since I wrote about them and their 10-19 record. 

The worst stat: People long pointed out the difference between Trevor Story’s home and away splits while he was with Colorado; he had a .957 OPS at home and .746 OPS on the road.  So far this year: .558 at home, .621 on the road. 

Nelson Cruz, Nationals

It was a little surprising that Cruz wound up in Washington, with a Nationals team that would have to be very surprising to compete for a playoff spot. Most figured he would sign with a team that was more of a definite contender, to provide a bit of pop from the newly created NL designated hitter spot. Maybe those contenders were concerned about the age of the ageless wonder. Through 33 games in his Age 41 season, Cruz has just a .194/.279/.298 slash line; in his previous five seasons, he averaged a .281/.364.550 slash line.  

The worst stat: The MLB average OPS for a DH so far this year is .706; Cruz is at .577.

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Chicago White Sox

Tim Anderson continues to rake at the plate, Luis Robert has rebounded from his slow start to the season and Michael Kopech has pitched very effectively as a five-inning starter (as was the plan for now). Aside from that, though? Pretty much everything else has gone wrong and a club expected to push for 100 wins is mired at .500. Injuries have not helped, of course, but the problems so far go deeper than that. The season started with an Opening Day loss to Detroit, 5-4, in which the White Sox bullpen allowed four runs in the final two innings.

The Sox have 12 batters with at least 60 plate appearances this season, and EIGHT of those 12 have an OPS+ of 90 or below; five are below 60. Two of their more reliable hitters, young sluggers Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn, are adventures in the outfield. And it’s not just those two; defensively, they’ve collectively been just brutal. Like, close-your-eyes-and-stick-out-your-glove-and-hope bad.

The worst stat: FanGraphs has a stat, Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF). It’s early, of course, but 15 teams are in positive numbers (led by the Astros at 16.6) and 15 teams are in negative numbers. The White Sox are dead last, at minus-15.9. 

Jarred Kelenic, Mariners

The Mariners had every reason to believe he’d be a star in the bigs. He showed power and speed through the minors and mashed Triple-A pitching when given the chance last spring. But he constantly looked overmatched in the majors last year, batting just .181 with a .615 OPS.

Still, it’s a first taste of the majors, with a lot going on, and Seattle outwardly expressed confidence that he’d be a different hitter in 2022. Nope. The M’s just sent Kelenic back to the minors recently after he hit just .140 with a .510 OPS. Fellow highly touted prospect Julio Rodrigues struggled at the start of 2022, too, but he’s figured it out, batting .333 with an .875 OPS in his past 22 games. Will Kelenic ever figure it out? It’s becoming a fair question to ask. 

The worst stat: There are 217 players with at least 90 plate appearances, and Kelenic ranks 212th, with a .219 on-base percentage. 

Author Photo
Ryan Fagan, the national MLB writer for The Sporting News, has been a Baseball Hall of Fame voter since 2016. He also dabbles in college hoops and other sports. And, yeah, he has way too many junk wax baseball cards.