MLB 2012: 3 Position Players and 3 Pitchers Who Will Fall Apart

Alexander Van ReesContributor IIIMay 15, 2012

MLB 2012: 3 Position Players and 3 Pitchers Who Will Fall Apart

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    As is true with any baseball season, there will be players who surprise you early on in the year. Then, by the middle of May or early June, they are in one of the biggest slumps of their careers.

    I’m not saying that these players will go through a terrible down period. However, I do not think they will finish the year as they started due to either previous injuries, age, inexperience, etc.

    Check out my list of three hitters and three pitchers from the MLB who have started the year off with a bang but will not find the same success throughout the rest of the year.

1. Carlos Beltran

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    The 35-year-old Puerto Rican Carlos Beltran debuted for the Kansas City Royals in 1998, and he was supposed to be one of the up-and-coming young stars in the American League.

    He strung together a couple of strong seasons together, but he really stepped his game up when he was traded to the Astros in 2004.

    However, since making the move to the National League, he has struggled to stay healthy and in the lineup every day.

    Between 2009 and 2010, Beltran only appeared in 145 contests. Not to mention, over the last three seasons, his power numbers have dropped—until this year.

    Currently with the St. Louis Cardinals, he leads the NL with 13 home runs and is second in the majors to Josh Hamilton’s 18, while he is batting at a .295 clip with 32 RBI.

    Last season, he spent the season with the Mets for the majority of the year and then was traded to the former World Series Champs, the San Francisco Giants. In 142 contests, he smacked just 22 long balls. In ’09 and ’10, he only crushed 17 home runs in 145 games.

    Beltran has gotten off to an impressive start this season with the home-run numbers, but I think he will quickly fall apart. He might be able to keep his average up, but I think his power numbers will see a decrease over the course of the season.

    He is getting older, and he has suffered through injuries a couple of seasons ago. I think he will definitely slow down shortly.

2. Bryan LaHair

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    Although the Chicago Cubs are struggling as a team to play .500 ball, there are some players who have been putting up strong numbers in the Windy City.

    Rookie Bryan LaHair, who has been around since 2008, is not only hitting well, but is launching home runs left and right.

    The 29-year-old out of Massachusetts debuted for the Mariners in 2008, but he played in AAA for the entire 2009 and 2010 seasons. In 45 games for Seattle, he delivered three home runs and 10 RBI.

    After being traded to the Cubs, he made his debut with them last season and ended up appearing in 20 games—he was able to connect for two home runs and drive in six over his 69 plate appearances.

    This season, he is putting on a hitting display, as he has jolted nine home runs already and is among the home run leaders in the NL. Not to mention, he has driven in 20 RBI over just 32 contests and is batting at a .356 clip.

    Entering this season, he had just five home runs over his first 65 contests, and this season, in half the number of games, he has almost double his home-run total.

    LaHair has impressed the Cubs fans, and if he can continue to produce the numbers he has so far, he will be a huge fan favorite for the northside club.

    However, he might be too young and inexperienced, and he is a possibility of a player who will fall off over the remainder of the season.

3. Derek Jeter

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    Growing up in the 90s and watching baseball, it was hard not to notice and pay attention to No. 70 for the Yankees.

    No, it’s not Tino Martinez or Paul O’Niel, but the captain himself—Derek Jeter.

    He made a name for himself as one of the greatest Yankees to ever put on a uniform for their beloved city.

    Although he has posted impressive numbers at the dish this year, I think he will fall apart and struggle the rest of the season.

    Currently, Jeter is batting .267 with five home runs and 15 RBI. Those sound like strong numbers, correct?

    Well, yes. However, his average continues to slip as it gets warmer this month. Entering May, he was batting at a .400 clip.

    Of course, that is very tough to maintain, and no one thought or expected he would be able to keep it up. However, his average has dropped recently, and it continues to decline.

    On May 3rd and 4th, Jeter was still managing to bat over .400 (as he hovered over .404). Since then, he has gone just 9-for-36 (.250 average) with no home runs and no RBI.

    Already, the .314 career hitter is cooling off, and it is just May. Critics thought that Jeter was putting together another stellar season, and this one was so important because of his age.

    However, it seems as if he is succumbing to his age—I think he will fall off over the course of the rest of the season.

4. R.A. Dickey

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    The 37-year-old former Texas Ranger and current New York Met, R.A. Dickey, is putting together a strong season on the mound.

    He sports a 5-1 record with a 3.65 ERA in seven starts.

    In his 10 years in the big leagues, the knuckleballer has only recorded two winning seasons, and the most wins he has finished with in an entire season is 11 back in his first season with the Mets in 2010.

    Over his entire career with four teams, he has compiled a 46-51 record with a 4.30 ERA in 211 career appearances (113 games started).

    Last year, he tossed 208.2 innings and sported a 3.28 ERA. However, he only earned an 8-13 record. His best season occurred in 2010 with the Mets—he went 11-9 with a very impressive 2.84 ERA.

    Dickey has definitely evolved and adapted to the NL over the last couple of seasons with the Mets. He seems to have found a home in New York.

    However, age should be considered a factor in the future as he nears 40.

    Although he has pitched well for the Mets, I see them struggling and finishing in the NL East’s cellar this season. Dickey has five wins on the season, but I cannot imagine him ending the year with more than 11.

    Even if he matches his career-high in wins, his hot start should have yielded more than just 11 wins.

5. Kyle Lohse

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    I remember when Kyle Lohse was an up-and-coming young right-hander out of Minnesota.

    There were high expectations placed on his shoulders, and injuries have played a major factor in interrupting his consistency at the major league level.

    Lohse put together a couple of impressive seasons, but his major problem has been his ability to repeat his success.

    In 2002, his second year with the Twins, he went 13-8 and recorded a 4.23 ERA. As an encore, he won 14 games the next year and lost 11 while earning a 4.61 ERA.

    Then, over the next four seasons, he played for three teams (the Twins, Reds and Phillies) and failed to win 10 games over the course of a season.

    He reached nine wins in 2004, 2005 and 2007. However, he also failed to win more games than he lost.

    Over those four years (’04-’07), he went 31-48 with a 4.99 ERA. In 2006, he won only five games, lost 10 and finished with his second-worst career ERA at 5.83.

    Then, in 2008, his first season with the Cardinals, he won a career-high 15 games and only lost six decisions while earning a career-low, at the time, ERA of 3.78.

    Over his next two seasons, he only won 10 games (4.74 and 6.55 ERA respectively), and then rebounded last year with 14 wins and a career-low 3.39 ERA.

    Lohse is only 33 years old, but he is so up and down. Currently, he sports a 5-1 record with a 2.08 ERA, but I just do not see him being able to pitch as well as he did last season. He has only pitched well in back-to-back seasons one time in his career (’02-’03).

6. Joe Blanton

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    The former Oakland Athletic Joe Blanton strung together some impressive seasons when he first came to the major leagues back in the mid 2000s.

    He debuted for the A’s in 2004 but only appeared in three games in relief out of the pen.

    In his first full season with the club, he pitched to an even 12-12 record with a 3.53 ERA. Over the next two years, he racked up 30 wins (16 in ’05).

    He struggled early in 2007 but was still traded to the World Champion Phillies and finished with nine wins.

    In 2009, he earned a 12-8 record with a 4.05 ERA. Over the last two seasons, he has been injured and has not started as many games. He only appeared in 11 games (eight starts) last season.

    Currently, he is 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA. However, I do not think he will be able to keep up with his success. The Phillies are struggling with their offense and will continue to until Ryan Howard and Chase Utley return.

    No one knows how much steam the 31-year-old will have this season coming off of an elbow injury. Although his ERA is under three now, I predict it will exceed 4.5 by the end of the year and he will win 10 games or less.

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