6 Most Disappointing Teams in Major League Baseball So Far in 2012
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Every MLB season brings its share of surprises. Players and teams exceed or fall below expectations. But how boring would a baseball season be if everything just followed preseason predictions and left no suspense?
There have been a few pleasant surprises, such as the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals. Even if the Dodgers and Nats were generally expected to make a push in their respective divisions, how many believed they would be in first place as the calendar moves toward July?
But the 2012 baseball season has also brought us some considerable disappointments. Upstart teams that were predicted to emerge as contenders have failed to do so. And established powers have fallen down several notches due to age, injury and bad fortune.
Here are six clubs that have been the biggest disappointments in MLB this season.
With a new ballpark, new uniforms and a new manager, the 2012 season was supposed to kick off a new era of Marlins baseball. Instead, the Marlins have kicked themselves down to last place in the NL East, 8.5 games behind the Nationals.
Miami has essentially played itself out of contention with a disastrous June. Wednesday night's 5-3 win over the Cardinals improved their record for the month to a wretched 6-18. That victory may have prevented Ozzie Guillen from loading up on beer and sleeping pills during the Marlins' off-day on Thursday.
The Marlins are hitting .239 as a team with a .686 OPS. Their team ERA is 4.27. Even worse, Marlins relievers have a collective 4.81 ERA. Only the Mets are worse.
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Two games under .500 and 3.5 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central was not where anyone predicted the Tigers to be at the end of June.
Detroit's lineup is full of way too many holes. Ryan Raburn at second base has been a disaster. Brennan Boesch has been a disappointment in right field. And Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta have put up numbers far below their All-Star production of last year.
The starting rotation has become a one-man show. Justin Verlander is still in Cy Young award-winning form. But Doug Fister's injury was a significant blow, Max Scherzer has been inconsistent and Rick Porcello is getting battered.
Injuries wiped out the Phillies from the start of the season with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out of the lineup. Losing Roy Halladay cost the starting rotation its ace. And even some replacements, like rookie Freddy Galvis, have been knocked out as well.
Overcoming a bullpen that's compiled a 4.46 ERA has presented another season-long obstacle for the Phillies. Also not helping is a defense that Fangraphs has ranked among the bottom third of major league teams.
Utley returned to the Philadelphia lineup Wednesday night and provided an immediate boost, batting 3-for-5 with a home run. If Howard can soon join him and Ruben Amaro Jr. finds some relief help, the Phillies could fight their way out of their current fourth-place standing.
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The argument could be made that the Brewers are the most disappointing team in baseball, given that they were expected to compete with the Cardinals and Reds for the NL Central title. Instead, they're in fourth place, 7.5 games behind Cincinnati.
As with the Phillies, injuries have been a major factor in the Brewers' lack of success. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, first baseman Mat Gamel and starting pitcher Chris Narveson each suffered season-ending injuries. Jonathan Lucroy will miss up to six weeks because of a broken hand. And Shaun Marcum is out with an elbow injury.
The Brewers were expected to make a run, but now have to consider trading Zack Greinke, Marcum and Francisco Rodriguez at the trade deadline to try to replenish a depleted farm system, rather than lose those players for nothing in free agency.
Kansas City Royals
Many analysts and observers expected the Royals to make some noise in the AL Central. Unfortunately, that noise has been a loud, painful clang.
Rather than establish himself as one of the next great first basemen, Eric Hosmer has struggled badly. His slash average of .219/.287/.373 is far below preseason projections. Alex Gordon has also taken a step back, compiling a .786 OPS, after what appeared to be a breakthrough season in 2011.
But the Royals' starting pitching is nowhere near ready for prime time. Luke Hochevar has yet to pitch like a No. 1 overall draft pick. Bruce Chen is looking average again. And Jonathan Sanchez is making Giants GM Brian Sabean look like a genius for trading him for Melky Cabrera.
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Perhaps expecting the Rockies to contend in the NL West was asking too much, with the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks in the same division.
But the everyday lineup looked strong with the additions of Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro. And the starting rotation showed promise with young arms like Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Drew Pomeranz.
Somehow, Coors Field has become a launching pad again. The pitching staff has underperformed massively, forcing manager Jim Tracy and the front office to try a four-man rotation and limit starters to 75 pitches per game. The desperate ploy hasn't worked.
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