MLB: 5 Biggest Overachievers in the National League East

Matt BoczarContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2012

MLB: 5 Biggest Overachievers in the National League East

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    From former league MVP and Cy Young award winners, to some of the largest contracts in the major leagues, the National League East features a little bit of everything.

    The division also features a number of players who, based off of past performances, may be considered overachievers following their 2011 season.

    Whether a player had one of their best seasons last year after spending multiple years in the majors, or whether a player had a breakout year while playing in one of their first full seasons, a number of players spent last season overachieving in the National League East.

    These players may use this season to prove that last season’s overachieving was the start of a new standard for their performances going forward.

Antonio Bastardo

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    Bastardo has pitched in many different roles for the Philadelphia Phillies.

    After starting five games in 2009, Bastardo made 25 relief appearances in 2010, going 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA.  However, few could have expected the success Bastardo had last season.

    While pitching in both the eighth inning and closer’s role last season, Bastardo went 6-1 with 70 strikeouts and a 2.64 ERA in 65 games.  He also held opponents to a .144 batting average.  Prior to last season, Bastardo had never appeared in more than 25 games, had more than 30 strikeouts, or had an ERA under 4.00 in a season.

    Bastardo may use this season to solidify his place in the Phillies’ bullpen while turning in performances similar to those he displayed through the first four months of last season.

Michael Morse

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    Morse finished in the top 10 in the National League in home runs, batting average, and RBI last season, the first season in which he played in over 100 games.

    Morse batted .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 146 games for the Washington Nationals last season.  He also finished with 158 hits, 88 more than he had the previous season.  Last season, Morse more than doubled his hit, home run, and RBI totals from the previous season.

    After finishing with the highest batting average of his career in a season in which he played at least 50 games, Morse signed a two-year deal with the Nationals during the offseason to avoid arbitration.

    Morse may use this season to once again put himself among the National League’s top hitters.

Emilio Bonifacio

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    Bonifacio played six different positions for the Florida Marlins last season, while posting the highest batting average of his career.

    Bonifacio batted .296 with five home runs and 36 RBI in 152 games last season.  His .296 batting average surpassed his .261 average from the previous season, while his hit, home run, RBI, and stolen base totals were the highest of his career.  Bonifacio also batted .321 from the right side of the plate last season.

    After batting .305 following the All-Star break, Bonifacio won his arbitration case during the offseason.

    Bonifacio may make more starts in the outfield for the Marlins this season while he looks to match his success from last season.

R.A. Dickey

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    Dickey, who had never made more than 30 starts in a season prior to last year, and who has a career 4.34 ERA, finished in the top 15 in the National League in ERA last season.

    Dickey went 8-13 with 134 strikeouts and a 3.28 ERA in 32 starts for the New York Mets last season.  The 37-year-old has now had an ERA under 3.30 in two consecutive seasons, after previously never having an ERA under 4.50 in a season in his career.  Dickey has also struck out over 100 batters in consecutive seasons.

    Dickey led Mets’ starting pitchers in innings pitched and ERA last season, and had a 1.82 ERA for the month of September.  Dickey also gave up three earned runs or less in nine of his 13 losses last season.

    The knuckleball-thrower played a key role in the Mets’ starting rotation last season, and may continue to increase his strikeout total while lowering his ERA this season.

Eric O'Flaherty

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    O’Flaherty lowered his ERA for the third consecutive season last year, while finishing in the top five in the National League in holds for the Atlanta Braves.

    O’Flaherty went 2-4 with 67 strikeouts and a 0.98 ERA in 78 games last season.  O’Flaherty, who has a career 3.14 ERA, saw the highest strikeout total of his career last season while pitching in 78 games for the second time in three seasons.  He also held opponents to a .221 batting average last season, including a .195 average against left-handed batters.

    O’Flaherty also became the first relief pitcher in major league history to pitch in at least 70 games while also posting an ERA under 1.00.

    O’Flaherty may use this season to continue to add to the success of the Braves’ bullpen.