The Weight of a Heavy Contract

The Weight of a Heavy Contract

Keith Allison - Flickr

Josh Becket

The Weight of a Heavy Contract

Is he trying too hard to live up to his contract?

Last night on the ESPN game between the Red Sox and Yankees something interesting was said by one of the sideline reporters, I believe it was Tim Kurkjian.  He said that one factor of Beckett’s struggles last year was caused by him trying too hard to live up to his contract.  Is this a common theme?  Does a large contract put too much pressure on a star?

Last April Beckett signed a $68 Million, four-year extension.  

  • In that season he made 21 starts, to a 6-6 record and pitched 127.2 innings, his ERA was 5.78 and he struck out 116.  Per 9 innings he averaged 10.6 hits, 1.4 home runs, 3.2 walks and his whip was 1.535. His strike out to walk ratio was 2.58. 

  • All of that opposed to this year where in 22 starts he has a 9-4 record and has pitched 145 innings, his ERA is 2.17 and he has struck out 127.  His per 9’s are  6 hits, .7 HR, 2.4 walks, with a .938 whip and 3.26 so/bb.  

This is arguably Beckett’s second best career year to only his second season in Boston.  Is it possible that he’s now more settled after a disappointing year last season? Maybe there is less pressure this year to live up to the contract.

This offseason there were several high contracts that probably haven’t lived up to the money.  

Let’s start with Carl Crawford.  Crawford signed a seven-year, $142MM contract.  

Carl Crawford

  • This year Crawford is batting .260 with a .294 OBP, .689 OPS, with 7 HR, 38 RBI, and he has 13 stolen bases.

  • Crawford's 162 game average is .294 ba, .335 OBP, .776 OPS, 13 HR, 77 RBI, and 52 SB.  

It looks like Crawford won’t reach a single one of his career averages.  The pressure of the contract might be weighing on him. For the first time he’s hitting in the bottom of a lineup, for an unfarmiliar team. Either way, this year has been a major disappointment.  Luckily for him, the Sox are playing great so it’s not talked about.  If the Sox win the world series, I’m sure it will still be considered a smart move.

Jayson Werth also signed a seven year deal, his was for $126 mil.  Werth went from the high octane Phillies line-up to the potential filled Nationals.  

  • In the middle of the Phillies lineup last year, Werth hit .296 with a  .388 OBP and .921 OPS.  He hit 27 HR with 85 RBI.

  • This year in Washington he’s hitting .223 with a .329 OBP and .708 OPS.  He has 13 HR and 43 RBI.  

If Werth puts up numbers like he did last year, he could be a good leader for a young team, however, the Nationals can’t afford for him to be a bust if they want to compete in the coming years.

The man who Werth was brought in to replace is slugger Adam Dunn. Dunn signed a 4 year $56 million dollar deal with the Chicago White Sox.   Dunn who has hit at least 38 home runs each of the last 8 years, has 11 at this point.  

  • His career averages are .245 avg, .375 OBP. .508 slug, and .833 OPS, plus 38 HR and 96 RBI.  
  • This year Dunn is batting .163 with a .294 OBP, .302 slug, and .596 ops, with 11 HR and 39 RBI.

This is looking to be the worst year of Dunn’s career.  Dunn’s struggles have been almost as disappointing as the White Sox year in general.

Finally Dan Uggla.  

Uggla signed a 5 year, 62 million dollar extension with the Braves in Jan.  Uggla is currently in a 28 game hitting streak.  When the streak started on July 5th, he was hitting .173, Uggla has now risen his average to  .220, which is still a disappointment.  

  • Uggla’s career averages are .258 avg, .341 OBP, .508 slug, and .822 OPS. He also averages 32 home runs and 95 RBI.

  • This year Uggla is hitting .220, with .286 obp, .430 slug, .716 obp.  However he does have 24 home runs and 55 RBI.

Dan Uggla

Uggla’s power numbers are only slightly behind his average, but his hitting numbers are overall down.  Maybe he’s finally getting comfortable in his first year away from Florida.  It's possible that this streak is him heating up and he will make his numbers respectable compared to an overall weak second base class.  If the Braves go far this year, Uggla will probably have a large part in that.

Maybe these guys are all exceptions and it’s a coincidence that they are all are struggling the same year.  On the other hand, maybe there is something to be seen with these large contracts weighing on players.  I don’t see a viable solution.  It’s possible that some players will see these numbers and consider staying where they're comfortable and take a slight home town discount.  I’m sure Crawford isn’t looking back, but it’s possible that at one point during this season, he wish that he stayed in Tampa.

By Mike Lavery
Monday, 8 Aug 2011

Adam Dunn, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Carl Crawford, Chicago White Sox, Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins, Jayson Werth, Josh Beckett, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Kurkjian, Washington Nationals


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