Most overpaid baseball players
Page 2 staff

This week, Page 2 tackles the often-debated subject of which players are the most overpaid in baseball.

Mike Hampton
Mike Hampton's stats don't justify his enormous salary, but he does hit a few home runs.
Take a look at our list, then take a look at how our readers ranked their choices for the most overpaid player in baseball. And be sure to vote in the poll to crown the No. 1 overpaid ballplayer of them all.

1. Mike Hampton, starting pitcher, Colorado Rockies ($9,503,543)
The Rockies signed Hampton to an eight-year, $121 million deal after he helped the Mets get to the 2000 World Series. He tops our list because of the staggering amount of raw cash the Rockies have to pay him over the next six-plus seasons -- about $90 million, according to one estimate. That means they've got to play him or trade him, and while the former is painful, the latter is improbable, unless Denver pays a huge chunk of his contract while he plays elsewhere.

In 2001, Hampton's so-so 14-13 record masked a 5.41 ERA, 1.6 runs higher than his previous worst as a starter (in 1997, with the Astros). And he couldn't blame the thin air at Coors -- his ERA in away games was 5.10. This season, Hampton's gone from bad to worse. He's 4-9 with a 6.86 ERA. The occasional flash of the former self isn't enough for a man making so much. As Bernie Lincicome wrote in the Rocky Mountain News last week: "Reassurances that Hampton is taking baby steps cannot disregard that they are in very expensive shoes."

2. Darren Dreifort, starting pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers ($9.4 million)
Dreifort missed most of last season with a torn ligament in his pitching arm. After a second surgery, he hasn't pitched this year. In 2000, the Dodgers signed Dreifort, at best an average pitcher, to a five-year, $55 million deal that -- even before Dreifort got injured -- some considered the worst signing in the history of the game.

Mo Vaughn
Mo Vaughn can't even hit his weight.
3. Mo Vaughn, first baseman, New York Mets ($12.16 million)
The Big Man is showing his age. In the five seasons between 1994 and 1998, Vaughn batted .300-plus. and sported a .388 or higher on-base percentage. Once Vaughn even had some skillz on the basepaths -- in 1995 he stole 11 bases in 15 attempts for the Red Sox, and hit three triples (total number of stolen bases since 1995: six; total number of triples: three). There was no last season for Vaughn, as he was out all year after surgery for a biceps injury. This season, Vaughn's been nothing short of terrible in almost all categories -- with 66 games under his big belt, he's batting .250, and has only nine HR and 31 RBI. He's a defensive liability, too -- he led AL first basemen in errors in 2000, and he can't move. In fact, he might be the slowest player in the game.

4. Greg Vaughn, designated hitter, Tampa Bay Devil Rays ($8.75 million)
Designated hitter? Vaughn's batting average is astonishing ... astonishingly bad. After 69 games and 251 at-bats, he's hitting a microscopic .163. This follows a bad 2001 season, in which he hit only .213 with three HR and 22 RBI after the All-Star break. Once upon a time, Vaughn was a slugger with decent speed -- he cranked 95 dingers in 1998 and 1999, and stole 10-plus bases in six seasons. But he's suffered injuries top (shoulder) and bottom (legs) that have hurt his bat and his speed.

Matt Williams
Matt Williams will make $9.5 million for another year on the disabled list.
5. Matt Williams, Jay Bell, Todd Stottlemyre, Matt Mantei, Armando Reynoso, Arizona Diamondbacks (combined $36 million)
How can you be world champs and chumps at the same time? Here's how: Williams, a third baseman, makes $9.5 million: 0 AB. Bell, a second baseman, makes $8 million: 0 AB. Mantei, a relief pitcher, makes $4.3 million: 0 IP. Reynoso, a starting pitcher, makes $4.1 million: 0 IP. Stottlemyre, a starting pitcher, makes $8 million: 0-2, 20 1/3 IP, 7.52 ERA.

6. Jose Lima, starting pitcher, Detroit Tigers ($7.25 million)
In seven-plus seasons, Lima's won 60 and lost 72 and sports a lifetime ERA of 5.10. He's being paid big bucks now because, for two years -- 1998 and 1999 -- he was a very good pitcher for the Astros. Now, he's a terrible pitcher for the Tigers, sporting an ERA of 11.12 this season in only 22 2/3 innings pitched.

Charles Nagy
Charles Nagy's done like dinner.
7. Charles Nagy, pitcher, Cleveland Indians ($6 million)
Nagy's best years are long behind him. Sure, he helped Cleveland reach the World Series in 1997, but over the last two-plus seasons, he's pitched only 145 innings for the Tribe. In 1998 and 1999, his last two full seasons, his won-lost record of 32-21 was misleading -- he posted ERAs of 5.22 and 4.95. This year, he's pitched only 18.1 innings -- and has an 11.29 ERA.

8. Wilson Alvarez, starting pitcher, Tampa Bay Devil Rays ($8 million)
Over the past five seasons (including this one), Alvarez has won just 17 games. Of course, he didn't pitch at all in 2000 and 2001 because of shoulder injuries, but even before that, he was largely ineffective, going 15-23 with a 4.47 ERA in the 1998 and '99 seasons, combined. This year, he's pitched 42 2/3 innings and sports a 4.43 ERA (It was 5.30 before his seven shutout innings against Florida on Friday night). Fortunately for the Rays, Alvarez is in the last year of his five-year, $35 million deal, which includes a no-trade clause.

9. Darren Oliver, starting pitcher, Boston Red Sox ($7 million)
Texas signed Oliver for $19 million over three years, and he repaid them with a 13-20 record and a 6.00-plus ERA. The Sox dumped Carl Everett and his bloated paycheck on the Rangers and inherited the last year of Oliver's contract, and the only argument is over who got the worst of the deal. Oliver's "career year" came in 1996, when he went 14-6 with a 4.66 ERA. For the Red Sox this year, about the best that can be said is that he's kept his ERA under 5. As ESPN's scouting report on Oliver says, he has an "amazing inability to make big pitches."

10. Carl Everett, center fielder, Texas Rangers ($8.67 million)
The Red Sox got rid of Everett, a discipline problem, and the Rangers got a center fielder who's hitting only .200 in a hitter's park. He's only played 38 games this season, and has just five homers and 18 RBI.

Also receiving votes:

  • Raul Mondesi, right fielder, Toronto Blue Jays ($11 million)
  • Albie Lopez, starting pitcher, Atlanta Braves ($4 million)
  • Mark Loretta, second baseman, Milwaukee Brewers ($5 million)
  • Billy Wagner, relief pitcher, Houston Astros ($8 million)
  • Dave Mlicki, starting pitcher, Houston Astros ($6.2 million)
  • Kevin Young, first baseman, Pittsburgh Pirates ($5.6 million)
  • Derek Jeter, shortstop, New York Yankees ($14.6 million)
  • Kevin Brown, starting pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers ($15 million)
  • Ivan Rodriguez, catcher, Texas Rangers ($9.6 million)


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