- Dave Cameron, FanGraphs
As we begin to climb higher on the ladder of our rankings of the top 500 players in baseball, we've seen similarities between groups begin to emerge. The 401-500 section contained a lot of middle relievers, No. 5 starters and utility infielders. In the 301-400 section, we found a lot of aging former stars hanging on as role players and trying to squeeze a bit more life out of the end of their careers. And now, Monday, in looking at the group from 201-250, one common theme stands out among the many names on the list -- underachievers.
This list is full of guys who have, at some point in their careers, flashed the potential to be stars. Many of these players are former top prospects, and some even have had success in the big leagues, but they've never become what they were supposed to be. For players like Delmon Young, the clock is now working against them, and we have to assume that they'll never live up to the expectations that they generated early in their careers. For four others on this list, however, 2012 is their make-or-break year -- they'll either become what they were supposed to be or enter camp next year fighting for a spot on a big league roster.
Colby Rasmus (No. 202), CF, Toronto Blue Jays
Given that Rasmus has been an above-average player in two of his three seasons in the big leagues, it might seem unfair to label him as an underachiever, but it's hard to find one thing he's improved upon since getting to the big leagues, and he's already managed to alienate himself out of one organization. His trade to Toronto last summer was supposed to be his chance to start over, but instead he hit .173/.201/.316 for the Blue Jays, and showed little progress in making contact or closing his holes against left-handed pitching. Rasmus, 25, generated excellent results in 2010, but even then there were warning signs, as his strikeout rate and extreme fly ball tendencies suggested his batting average was due for a crash. It's hard to be a star as a .240 hitter, and Rasmus has yet to prove that he can be the all-around performer he was billed as.
Dave Cameron looks at some of baseball's biggest underachievers, who happen to reside in the 201-250 range of the ESPN 500.