Every Major League Baseball season has its disappointments. There are always players who fail to live up to the sometimes exceedingly-high expectations that are placed upon them.
The 2012 season will not be any different. I would like to say that it would be. I would like to say that every Major League baseball player will live up to expectations. That definitely will not happen though; it is unfortunately inevitable.
Because of that, here is one star from every franchise who will disappoint in the rapidly approaching season. I want you to realize right now that I said disappoint, not fail. If a certain player hit 40 home runs last year, hitting only 20 home runs this year would be a disappointment. However, some players would have the best power numbers of their career if they hit 20 home runs.
Therefore, I want to reiterate that we are not necessarily looking at absolute failure. Rather, we are looking at players who will not live up to the expectations that are placed upon them and will therefore be disappointing.
Remember what I just wrote. I think that Ian Kennedy will have a very good year. However, it will be very difficult for him to replicate what he did in 2011.
He probably won't go 21-4 again even if he replicates that very nice 2.88 ERA from last season. For example, last season Roy Halladay had a 2.35 ERA, and he only went 19-6. Ian Kennedy will have a great season, but he will probably not replicate that sky-high win total from 2011, and some fans will definitely be disappointed by that.
Chipper Jones has been the face of the Atlanta Braves for a long time. It has been so long, in fact, that he will turn 40 approximately one month into the season.
At some point, all great players begin to slow down. Even though last season seemed to be a nice recovery from a less-than-stellar 2010, I tend to think that this year will not be as solid. I still wish him the best, but age will eventually catch up to him.
J.J. Hardy has had a very up-and-down career. He's been a professional for seven years, and for three of those seasons he hit 24 or more home runs. However, for the other four he hit 11 or fewer home runs.
Last season, he hit 30 home runs. Baltimore fans will surely be hoping for a repeat performance. However, given the volatility in his career so far, it is definitely possible that he doesn't quite produce the same amount of power that he did last season.
Kevin Youkilis has been popular in Boston. However, he has been plagued by injuries for the past two seasons. Even though these two seasons were not necessarily terrible, they were definitely below the standard that he had previously established.
Injuries worry me. I think that Red Sox fans expect him to return to his 2008 or 2009 form where he drove in nearly 100 runs, hit over 25 home runs and batted over .300. If those are the expectations or at least hopes in Boston, I am sorry that Kevin Youkilis will probably disappoint again.
After a very impressive sophomore campaign, Starlin Castro seems to definitely be one of the fastest rising stars at shortstop.
I put him on this list because of his alleged sexual assault case. I am not saying that he did anything, and he has cooperated with the police throughout the investigation. However, I put him on this list because if this is not resolved shortly, it could be a major distraction. Distractions are normally not good for production and could lead to a disappointing level of production.
John Danks recently signed a five-year extension with the Chicago White Sox. Obviously, the Chicago White Sox feel that he will be able to produce a very high level and arguably be the ace of the team.
The reason that he might be disappointing, however, is not necessarily his fault. The Chicago White Sox will probably not give him overwhelming run support. Because of that, his win total will probably be quite a bit lower than it should be. While it might not be a fair assessment of a pitcher, many fans are disappointed by low win totals.
Jay Bruce is still young and still improving. For each of the past four seasons, both his home run and RBI totals have continued to rise. He will turn 25 right around Opening Day, so he has definitely had a great career so far.
Another statistic concerns me though. His strikeout total has risen every season. He has to make sure to stop that trend in 2012. Last season he struck out 158 times. Having this many strikeouts might begin to really impair his batting average more than it already does, and that definitely might be disappointing for Cincinnati fans.
Asdrubal Cabrera definitely had an excellent 2011. In fact, he has played in the major leagues since 2007, but more than half of his career home run total and more than one third of his career RBI total came in 2011.
That is why I worry a little bit about him. Perhaps 2011 was an indication of great things to come. That definitely could happen. However, I wonder if he will be able to replicate that same amount of power this year. Maybe he will prove me wrong, but I don't think that he replicates the performance.
Todd Helton is in the same boat as Chipper Jones. He has had a very long and solid career. The problem is, of course, that he is getting older. He is 38 years old and will turn 39 before the end of this season.
2011 was a better year for him than 2010, but given his age, I think that he might slide downhill a little bit farther. In three out of the last four years, he has played under 130 games. Unfortunately, durability and age might simply catch up with Helton. It is always disappointing to see a favorite player age.
Justin Verlander is going to be amazing in 2012. He is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, so I do not want all of you to jump all over me without hearing me out.
Justin Verlander won 24 games last season. Just like Ian Kennedy, that is a very impressive feat, but it is hard to duplicate. Also, with Victor Martinez being hit by an injury, the Detroit lineup will not be able to produce as much as it did last season. Of course, the implication of this is that Justin Verlander could pitch just as well as he did last season, but his win total will probably not reach the same level. I'm sure that some people will be disappointed by that even though I do understand that a pitcher is a lot more than just a win total.
Carlos Lee has been steadily declining ever since his career year in 2007. He really has never experienced a drastic drop, but the track has been evident. Admittedly, 2011 was better than 2010, but he is still not what he used to be.
The Houston Astros are rebuilding, so the decline of Lee will probably not be their biggest issue. However, without very much protection in the lineup, his statistics will probably drop even faster than absolutely necessary. It is hard to be the biggest bat on a rebuilding team.
Aaron Crow had an amazing rookie season. However, reports are coming out of Kansas City that he will be moving to the rotation. This could be a good thing, but this could be a bad time for him to make this transition.
First, the sophomore slump is a very real phenomenon that could potentially impact Crow. Also, it is difficult to make that type of transition. Although he had been a starter throughout the minor leagues, it is sometimes hard for pitchers to handle changing roles like that.
Maybe he will overcome both of these dilemmas, but it will be hard for Crow to replicate his rookie season.
Mike Trout is going to be a great ballplayer. Since the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's outfield is definitely getting older, Trout will have a spot there for quite a few years.
However, I am not so sure he will have that spot next season, and because of that, people will probably be disappointed. The simple fact is that the Angels still have Torii Hunter in right field and Vernon Wells in left. Trout himself will not necessarily disappoint, but the situation that he will be in will be disappointing. Angels' fans will want to see their hot prospect play a bigger role in their success.
Andre Ethier just signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I'm sure they are hoping that he will bounce back to his 2009 form and be the bat that Matt Kemp needs to protect him in the lineup.
However, last season was a bit disappointing because of a knee injury. He needed surgery to fix it, and I worry about his ability to bounce back. A lot of power is generated from the lower body, so if he is not back to pre-surgery form, he very well might duplicate last season. Again, last season wasn't bad, as his average rose, but he is not the powerful bat that Dodgers' fans would probably want behind Matt Kemp.
Josh Johnson is an excellent pitcher. He has started 113 games in his career, and he has a 2.98 career ERA. The problem has always been his durability.
He has always been troubled by injuries, and 2011 was no different. When he did pitch, he was excellent, and he is planning on returning to full strength before spring training. However, he has had such a spotty health history that I'm still not completely sold on his arm. If he pitches, I doubt he will be disappointing, but I worry about him making it to the mound for a complete season.
Ryan Braun is almost certainly going to serve a 50-game suspension because he failed a performance-enhancing drug test—I say "almost certainly" because his appeal is still in process. He could get out of serving it, but I highly doubt he will.
I am not trying to imply that he is guilty or not. However, no player has ever had an appeal like this overturned. In the situation of J.C. Romero, GNC lost a law suit that showed it was their fault that the substance he had taken was unusually tainted, but he was still suspended anyway because he technically had broken the rules.
This situation will obviously be disappointing to Milwaukee fans because they will be missing their biggest bat for almost one third of the season.
I like Joe Mauer a lot. Last season was definitely difficult as he battled a variety of different injuries and illnesses, but that is not the precise reason I put him on this list.
Think about catchers in general. There are not very many who are 6'5". Why is that? Catcher is a very demanding position. However, it makes sense that it is even more demanding on larger athletes. His joints have had to deal with that much more work for all of these years, and I think that he might need to think about transitioning to another position. Minnesota Twins fans would probably be disappointed by that though.
Jason Bay has definitely not had a good experience with the New York Mets. In the time before he came to New York, the fewest home runs he ever hit in a complete season was 21. In two seasons in New York, he has only had 18 in total.
Because of this, I tend to think that trend will continue. Although the New York Mets are rebuilding, they do have a few decent bats around Bay in David Wright and Ike Davis. However, I don't necessarily see this trend changing in the near future even with the support.
Ivan Nova went 16-4 last season for the New York Yankees in only his first full season with the club. However, like I indicated for Aaron Crow of the Kansas City Royals, there is always that potential for a sophomore slump.
Nova did have a very solid season, but there were some flaws that might not develop into a similar record this season. For example, opponents hit .258 against him. One out of every four batters getting on base could be a little bit of potential for concern. He might still have a very good season, but if opposing batters have just a little bit more success against him in terms of getting on base, there would be an awful lot of base runners for him.
Dallas Braden will return full time in 2012 to be near the top of the Oakland Athletics rotation. He missed virtually all of 2011 after having surgery on his pitching arm.
Of course, plenty of pitchers have returned from injuries in their career and had great seasons. Many have not. Also, Braden has not been known for his overwhelming workloads throughout his career. Because of that, it is hard to tell how he will recover next season. The Oakland Athletics are rebuilding anyway, but it could be a little bit disappointing if he doesn't recover the way that people expect him to.
Ryan Howard tore his Achilles tendon on the last play of the Phillies' 2011 playoff series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Recovery time is normally approximately six months, according to this article from USA Today.
Ryan Howard will disappoint again this season because a lot of power is generated from the lower body. Howard's main offensive weapon is his power, so I worry about anything that might compromise that ability. He is already going to miss time in 2012, but I worry about his effectiveness when he does return.
Joel Hanrahan had an excellent year last year for the Pittsburgh Pirates, highlighted by his especially low 1.83 ERA. However, before last season, he had never posted an ERA below 3.62.
Hanrahan has always been a good reliever, and I do not doubt that he will be good next year. However, I do not know if he can replicate his excellent success from 2011. If his ERA slides back up to its customary level, he very well might slide in his other statistics as well. I think that it would be disappointing for the Pirates, who might actually have a chance of competing this season, to have their closer slide a little bit.
Carlos Quentin will almost inevitably see his production drop. However, he may not lose any power. Where am I going with this?
It is very hard for athletes to put up good power numbers while playing in San Diego. They definitely have a pitcher's ballpark. Because of that, Quentin will probably not show the same power that he did while playing for the Chicago White Sox. Of course, many people will probably wonder at and be disappointed by those lower numbers even though they won't necessarily be his fault.
Ryan Vogelsong had a breakout season in 2011. However, I wonder if he can sustain that type of hot streak into another season.
He won 13 games last season, and he has won 23 games in his career. He posted a 2.71 ERA last season. He has a career 4.71 ERA. I am not denying that last season was great, but it was almost too great. 2011 was so much better than the rest of his career that I really wonder if he can put up that type of performance one more time. He might do well, but maybe not exceptionally well.
Ichiro Suzuki is the most successful Japanese player ever to come to Major League Baseball. He was one of the premier leadoff men in baseball for the past decade. However, every great era must come to an end.
Ichiro is, of course, a speed player. He was able to beat out ground balls and steal bases with the best of them. Of course, age does not help a player's speed. His average also fell below .300 for the first time ever last season. He is 38 years old, so age might finally be catching up with him.
Adam Wainwright will be returning from an injury that robbed him of all of his 2011. However, in 2010, he won 20 games with a very nice 2.42 ERA. If the St. Louis fans in general are expecting something similar to this, they will be disappointed.
The reason that they will be disappointed is because the St. Louis Cardinals are almost definitely going to watch his workload this season. He will not get the opportunity to put up similar numbers because obviously the Cardinals would rather have him take a little bit more of a break to protect his arm. Also, the Cardinals are saying that a reasonable workload will probably be 150-170 innings. It will be a nice return, but if people are expecting 2010 all over again, they could very well be disappointed.
B.J. Upton spent most of 2011 on the trading block. He has quite a bit of potential, but he has never quite been able to put everything together. For example, last season, he showed his power and speed, but his average dropped down to .243.
Everybody is waiting for a return to 2007 where he hit .300, but his average has been quite a bit lower every season, and I do not think that 2012 will be any different. Maybe he will finally be traded and that will help, but it is very possible that he only demonstrates some of the potential that we all know he still has.
Yu Darvish is the best pitching prospect to ever come out of Japanese baseball. His numbers in Japan were substantially better than any of the other pitchers who have tried to make the transition. Of course, the problem is that Major League Baseball is a whole different ballgame.
Some pitchers, such as Hideo Nomo, have done very well in their debut, but Darvish is expected to be an immediate ace. Obviously those very high expectations are a lot to ask of any pitcher. Darvish has a big transition ahead of him, and that will make putting up these types of numbers that much more difficult.
Adam Lind hits for quite a bit of power, but he does not hit for much average. He also does not draw very many walks and strikes out a fair amount. This combination worries me, and I think it is only a matter of time before his average plummets even farther.
Adam Dunn put up similar numbers with more walks or more strikeouts obviously earlier in his career, but it eventually caught up to him. If you have trouble making consistent contact, the power will eventually decrease. That is why I worry about Adam Lind.
Bryce Harper hasn't even played a game in a Washington Nationals uniform. However, he is already being labeled as the center of the franchise for many years to come. Unfortunately, many people expect him to immediately pick up that role.
He very well might have a good season. In fact, I expect that he will. However, the expectations are so high that I think this disappointment is almost inevitable. It is not necessarily his fault that he could be disappointing, but he is still a rookie and still needs to develop some before he becomes the superstar that he is expected to be.