With a couple weeks left in the regular season, 108 players have already hit at least 20 home runs, and several more figure to join the group before the year’s out. We all know it’s a homer-happy game these days, but even if you’re capable of launching the ball over the fence on a consistent basis, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a valuable player. Seventeen of the sport’s 20-HR hitters have posted 1.0 fWAR or worse so far this year, setting them up to end the season as below-average players by that metric. Say what you will about fWAR, but it’s generally able to pinpoint who is and isn’t particularly useful to his team’s cause. With that said, let’s take a look at this year’s least valuable sluggers as the campaign nears its end…
Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins (HRs: 28; fWAR: 1.0)
- While Rosario has seldom been a big on-base threat since his career started in 2015, this year’s .299 OBP is the second-worst mark of his career and has helped tamp down his value. Despite a .276 average and a .491 slugging percentage, Rosario has managed a so-so 101 wRC+ to this point. Thanks to that and below-average defense (minus-4 DRS, minus-3.5 UZR), Rosario’s smack dab between average and replacement level this season.
Jay Bruce, OF, Phillies (HRs: 25; fWAR: 1.0)
- In fairness to Bruce, injuries have limited him to just 314 plate appearance this year, making his home run amount all the more impressive. Still, between Seattle and Philly, Bruce has put up another unspectacular season in a growing line of them. He’s a .227/.274/.543 hitter with a 106 wRC+, though the long-panned outfielder has accounted for 2 DRS and a 0.8 UZR in the corners.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Indians (HRs: 24; fWAR: 0.8)
- The 28-year-old Puig has stumbled through one of the worst seasons of his career, which obviously isn’t what he had in mind for a platform campaign. The pending free agent and longtime Dodger has slashed a middling .255/.315/.455 over 555 trips to the plate between the Reds and Indians. Puig’s still a good outfielder (4 DRS, 0.4 UZR), but above-average offense has been his calling card for most of his time in the bigs. His decline in output at the plate this season has likely cost him a solid amount of money.
Franmil Reyes, OF, Indians (HRs: 34; fWAR: 0.8)
- The 24-year-old Reyes joined the Indians last month in the same trade as Puig, but the results haven’t been stellar in either case. Although Reyes has a shot at 40 homers, his .250/.313/.516 line (109 wRC+) isn’t great, especially for a DH. Reyes still has another two years left before he hits arbitration, though, so it’s doubtful the Indians will grow tired of him in the immediate future.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (HRs: 25; fWAR: 0.8)
- Jimenez hasn’t made the type of star-caliber impact the White Sox may have wanted immediately from the hyped 22-year-old, but most players his age are still in the minors. A league-average batting line (101 wRC+; .249/.297/.473 in 437 PA) with 25 dingers isn’t anything to scoff at for a rookie. But it’s up in the air whether Jimenez will evolve into a viable outfielder. He has accounted for minus-11 DRS with a minus-4.6 UZR thus far.
Ryan McMahon, INF, Rockies (HRs: 20; fWAR: 0.7)
- As with Jimenez, the fact that McMahon’s not off to a dazzling start doesn’t mean he won’t morph into an indispensable long-term piece for Colorado. The 24-year-old McMahon has fared respectably at three positions, mostly second base, while slashing .258/.338/.455 (91 wRC+) in his first full season in the league.
Renato Nunez, DH/1B, Orioles (HRs: 29; fWAR: 0.7)
- Let’s say this for Nunez: He’s much more successful than the vast majority of waiver pickups. Nunez has at least turned into a passable hitter since the Orioles claimed him off the scrapheap from the Rangers in May 2018. However, for a DH, more is needed than the .251/.314/.471 showing (102 wRC+) that Nunez has given the rebuilding Orioles in 547 plate appearances this season. The O’s are in the process of trying to find long-term building blocks, and the 25-year-old Nunez hasn’t really established himself as one yet, homers aside.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Blue Jays (HRs: 21; fWAR: 0.5)
- Hernandez’s aggregate production has been far from excellent this season, but the 26-year-old has trended upward since a horrid stretch from April through June. Overall, Hernandez – who’s trying to prove to the Blue Jays he’s a long-term cog – has batted .215/.292/.436 with an 89 wRC+ and subpar defense (minus-5 DRS, minus-3.5 UZR). Offensively, if the powerful Hernandez is ever going to be a significant asset, he’ll have to slash his strikeouts. He has fanned in 33-plus percent of PA this season, continuing a K-happy career that began in 2016.
C.J. Cron, 1B, Twins (HRs: 24; fWAR: 0.4)
- The Rays non-tendered Cron last offseason after a 30-homer campaign, and early this year, he looked like one of the best buy-low pickups of the winter. Cron stormed out of the gates after joining the Twins for $4.8MM, but he has slowed down considerably since then. Cron has only batted .254/.315/.478 (104 wRC+) in 470 PA, which could again make him a non-tender candidate during the upcoming winter as he gears up for his final trip through arbitration.
Randal Grichuk, OF, Blue Jays (HRs: 25; fWAR: 0.3)
- The five-year, $52MM extension the Blue Jays handed Grichuk before the season isn’t looking like a particularly shrewd investment at the moment. Never known for getting on base, the .281 OBP the 25-year-old has put up thus far is the lowest he has ever recorded over a full season. In all, Grichuk’s just a .230/.281/.437 hitter, giving him a woeful 85 wRC+. It hasn’t been a case of bad luck, according to Statcast, which credits Grichuk with a .296 expected weighted on-base average that falls shy of his real wOBA (.305).
Justin Smoak, 1B, Blue Jays (HRs: 20; fWAR: 0.3)
- With three Jays on this list, maybe it’s no surprise the rebuilding club’s among the majors’ worst teams. Unlike Grichuk, though, Smoak is something of a Statcast darling. The soon-to-be free agent’s .212/.349/.406 line and 104 wRC+ through 464 PA aren’t anything special for a first baseman, but his .372 xwOBA (compared to a .332 wOBA) is one of the highest in the sport.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Padres (HRs: 20; fWAR: 0.2)
- The Padres’ decision to hand Hosmer an eight-year, $144MM guarantee before the 2018 season continues to look rather questionable. The former Royal logged weak production a year ago, and though Hosmer has improved this season, the results aren’t nearly good enough for the money he’s making or the offense-driven position he plays. The grounder-hitting Hosmer’s .280/.327/.443 line in 603 PA has amounted to a 95 wRC+. He has given the Padres 0.0 fWAR over 1,280 PA since signing his franchise-record contract.
Domingo Santana, OF, Mariners (HRs: 21; fWAR: 0.2)
- Santana’s offensive output has tanked in the second half, though ongoing elbow problems have surely contributed to his late-season decline. The Mariners will hope Santana will look more like the player who registered a 127 wRC+ in the first half of 2019, not the one who has limped to a dismal 36 wRC+ since, when next season rolls around. Regardless, Santana’s defense may continue to be a major concern. With minus-15 DRS and a minus-16.0 UZR, he has been one of the worst outfielders in the game this year.
Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers (HRs: 24; fWAR: 0.1)
- Although this is the third season with at least 20 homers for the 25-year-old Odor, the Rangers are understandably growing frustrated with his inconsistency. Odor has alternated between valuable and valueless since he came on the scene in 2014. Unfortunately for Texas, Odor has been closer to the latter this season. He has gone down on strikes a personal-worst 30.4 percent of the time en route to an ugly line of .203/.283/.421 (73 wRC+) in 517 trips to the plate.
Matt Adams, 1B, Nationals (HRs: 20; fWAR: 0.0)
- The 31-year-old Adams has only managed a .226/.277/.476 line with a wRC+ of 86, thanks in part to a career-high strikeout percentage (34.3). The lefty-hitting Adams has continued to struggle against same-handed pitchers in the process, making it look all the more likely the Nationals will buy him out for $1MM in lieu of exercising a $4MM option after the season.
Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, Angels (HRs: 22; fWAR: minus-0.1)
- Pujols hit the 655th homer of his career Monday, leaving him just five shy of tying the legendary Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time list. Needless to say, the 39-year-old Pujols is one of the greatest players who has ever lived. That said, his years-long decline has continued in 2019 – the eighth season of a 10-year, $240MM contract that hasn’t gone to the Angels’ liking. Pujols, with his .251/.311/.448 line and inability to contribute as a defender or base runner, is on track for a second straight season of below-replacement-level production.
Khris Davis, DH, Athletics (HRs: 20; fWAR: minus-1.1)
- This has been a disastrous season for the man known as Khrush, whom the low-budget Athletics awarded a two-year, $33.5MM extension before the campaign. Davis was coming off his third straight season of 40-plus home runs (and fourth consecutive campaign with a .247 average) at that point. But injuries have helped limit Davis to a horrid .220/.287/.383 line with a 78 wRC+ through 474 PA in 2019. That’s obviously not going to cut it for someone whose bat determines whether he’s valuable.