Top 100 Moments That Shaped the 2012 Major League Baseball Season
The 2012 baseball season will go down as the year of Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, R.A. Dickey and the Oakland A's incredible run to the AL West crown.
There were seven no-hitters pitched—three of which were perfect games—and the Orioles and Nationals returned to the postseason after lengthy droughts. Every baseball season has many dramatic twists and turns, unexpected highlights, poignant moments and personal accomplishments, and 2012 was no different.
Players like Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki, Paul Konerko and Albert Pujols all reached personal milestones and, believe it or not, a Mets pitcher finally pitched a no-hitter after 50 seasons without one. So when all is said and done, how does it all shake out? This list looks at the top 100 moments that shaped the 2012 Major League Baseball season.
They include the great accomplishments, the grand disasters and the moments that make this game as great as it is. The rankings are based on how they shaped the 2012 season, taking into account their historical significance as well.
Starting with 10 honorable mentions, here's a look at the 100 moments and accomplishments that shaped the 2012 MLB season.
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Matt Harvey strikes out 11 in debut
In a year that saw a number of highly-touted pitching prospects debut, none had the first game that Harvey did. He had 11 strikeouts in just 5.1 innings to set a new Mets record for strikeouts in a debut performance.
Ichiro records 2,500th career hit
R.A. Dickey throws 44.2 innings without allowing an earned run
One of the best stretches of pitching this season came from R.A. Dickey, who went 44.2 innings without allowing an earned run. His ERA went from 3.06 to 2.00 over the five-game stretch.
Mike Trout wins AL Rookie of the Month four straight months
Mike Trout had perhaps the greatest rookie season ever in the major leagues, so it's no surprise that the hardware has and will come rolling in this year. Trout started his trophy collection by picking up the Rookie of the Month Award in each of his first four full months in the bigs.
Braves retire John Smoltz's No. 29
Only one player had his number retired this season and it was the Braves' John Smoltz. Smoltz's No. 29 was retired in a ceremony on June 8.
A's set record for most strikeouts in a season
The 2012 Oakland A's will be remembered for one of the most improbable runs to first place in recent memory, but they also set a dubious record along the way. When Roy Oswalt struck out Chris Carter on September 26, it was Oakland's 1,325th strikeout of the season—a new American League record.
Tim Welke's blown call
Tim Welke's blown call at first base didn't come under the pressure cooker of a high-intensity situation and didn't determine the outcome of a game by any means. However, the fact that he awarded Todd Helton a force out at first despite the fact that he was a clear three feet off the bag was so egregious that it had to end up an honorable mention here.
Dusty Baker's stroke
In one of the scarier developments of the 2012 season, Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a "mini-stroke" in late September. Luckily for Baker, the stroke happened while he was in a hospital. Incredibly, Baker missed just 11 games and returned for the team's final series of the season.
Cardinals retire Tony La Russa's No. 10
Love him or hate him, you have to respect Tony La Russa's place as one of the game's greatest managers. The Cardinals retired La Russa's No. 10 jersey on May 11. La Russa managed the Cardinals to two World Series titles in his 16 years as the Cardinals manager.
San Diego Padres franchise sold
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100. Reds win 10,000th game in franchise history
On April 20, the Cincinnati Reds joined an elite group of franchises that have won 10,000 games in their existence. The Reds topped the Cubs 7-4 for the historic win. The Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals and Braves are the only others to reach the mark. The Reds came into existence in 1882 as the Red Stockings.
99. Brad Mills gets fired
The Houston Astros were unarguably the worst team in Major League Baseball this year, and it wasn't even close. The Astros went through a midseason purge of players and coaches, including manager Brad Mills. Mills, who was fired after 121 games this year, finished his stint as Astros manager with a record of 171-274.
98. Mike Morse's invisible grand slam
In one of the oddest moments of the 2012 season, Washington Nationals star Michael Morse hit a grand slam without even holding a bat in his hand. Morse belted a drive that was originally ruled to have stayed in the park. During the confusion, Morse was thrown out trying to scramble back to first base as the other baserunners had to hold up to see what the ruling was on the play.
After the umpires reviewed the play, they correctly ruled that the ball cleared the fence. They then ordered Morse to retrace his steps back to home, put all the runners back on their original bases and had them all circle the bases correctly to make things official.
To add some levity to the already hysterical situation, Morse mimicked swinging the bat again and circled the bases as Nats play-by-play man Bob Carpenter went into a mock home run call.
97. Yan Gomes becomes first Brazilian-born MLB player
There is no question that over the past two decades baseball has become a global sport. This season, the global reach extended just a bit further when Yan Gomes made his debut for the Blue Jays. He became the first Brazilian-born player to play in the major leagues when he was called up on May 17.
96. Magglio Ordonez retires
As with any season, a number of veterans end up retiring from active play. One such star this season was Magglio Ordonez, who retired officially on June 3. Ordonez might not have the cumulative stats to merit Hall of Fame consideration, but when he was healthy, he was one of the best pure hitters in the game.
Ordonez was a six-time All-Star over his 15-year career for the White Sox and Tigers, and was the 2007 AL batting champ. Ordonez's biggest career hit came in the 2006 ALCS when he blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Tigers a walk-off win and sweep of the A's to advance the Tigers to the World Series.
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95. Manny Acta is fired
It may seem like long ago, but there was a time when the Cleveland Indians looked like they were going in the right direction.The Indians finished with 80 wins in 2011 under Acta and were as close as three games out of first place on July 21.
However, the Indians hit a major swoon and finished just 68-94. Acta was let go with six games remaining in the regular season.
94. Mariners put up 21 runs on the Rangers
The Seattle Mariners had one of the most anemic offenses in baseball in 2012, but apparently nobody notified Derek Holland of that. On May 30, Holland gave up eight runs in just 1.2 innings to the Mariners before giving way to reliever Yoshinori Tateyama. Incredibly, Tateyama fared worse than Holland.
The Mariners scored eight more runs off Tateyama—who lasted just 0.2 innings—on their way to a 21-8 victory over the Texas Rangers. Justin Smoak belted two homers and finished with six RBI in the contest.
93. NL wins All-Star Game snoozefest
After a 13-year winning streak by the American League, the National League has now gotten the better of the junior circuit for three straight years after an 8-0 win in Kansas City this July. The NL scored five runs in the first inning off an erratic Justin Verlander, then tacked on three more runs in the fourth. The other 16 half-innings were as uneventful as can be.
92. Jose Reyes' 26-game hitting streak
Jose Reyes had the longest hitting streak during the 2012 season, hitting safely in 26 straight games through August 9. In fact, it was the longest streak in the majors since Ichiro Suzuki's streak of 27 in 2009. Reyes' streak came to an end against R.A. Dickey and the New York Mets, when he failed to get a hit in all four at-bats against the knuckleballer.
91. Bryce Harper becomes youngest position player in an All-Star Game
Bryce Harper wasn't elected to the All-Star Game by the fans or players and wasn't originally selected by manager Tony La Russa. He was placed on the Final Vote ballot, but fell far behind in early voting. However, when Giancarlo Stanton pulled out of the game with an injury, Harper was named as his replacement.
Harper, who was 19 at the time, became just the third teenager (and first teenage position player) to make the All-Star Game, joining Bob Feller and Dwight Gooden. Harper went 0-for-1 with a walk.
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90. Big debut for Jurickson Profar
The 2012 season may always be known as the season in which Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were permanently called up to the majors. And, if the pundits are correct, Jurickson Profar could join them in that group.
The super-prospect became the first person to play in the majors who was born in 1993 and made a huge impact in his debut. Playing for an injured Ian Kinsler, Profar socked a home run in his first major league at-bat and then later doubled in the game.
89. Yasmani Grandal hits switch-hit homers for first two MLB hits
As impressive as Profar's debut was, he was topped by the Padres' Yasmani Grandal. The catcher was called up on June 30, and in his start, he hit home runs from each side of the plate for his first two big-league hits. It was the first time any player accomplished that feat.
88. Andy Pettitte returns
After retiring in 2010, Andy Pettitte kept in pitching shape by throwing intense batting practice sessions to his sons. He had been secretly in contact with the Yankees since December of 2011 and finally made the shocking decision to come out of retirement as the Yankees were winding down spring training in late March.
After a bumpy start in his first game back against the Mariners on May 13, Pettitte looked incredibly sharp from there, as the Yankees won five of his next six starts. Pettitte had no pitch restrictions and topped 94 pitches in each of his first eight starts.
An injury caused him to miss two months, but Pettitte returned strong in September and will give the Yankees a great boost in the postseason. He finished the year with a 5-4 record and a 2.87 ERA.
87. Blue Jays and Indians play the longest opening-day game
Fans of the Blue Jays and Indians got to enjoy the thrill of opening day longer than any fans ever have when the two teams hooked up for an opening-day record 16-inning affair. The Jays tied the game with a three-run ninth inning and won it in the 16th on the strength of a J.P. Arencibia home run.
The game lasted over five hours and broke the previous record of 15 innings, which was done twice. The last time a season opener went as many as 15 innings was in 1960, when the Tigers topped the Indians 4-2.
86. Bryce Harper steals home against Cole Hamels
Bryce Harper's actions after being intentionally hit by a Cole Hamels pitch in early May gave fans an indication of just how the rookie was going to play this game. After being plunked by the Phillies lefty, Harper then went first-to-third on a single to left by Jayson Werth and was clearly pumped up by his own aggression.
On Hamels' second lazy pickoff attempt to first base, Harper broke for home and slid hard under the throw from first basemen Laynce Nix. Hamels had earlier admitted to hitting Harper intentionally. Harper however, played it off perfectly, saying he understood why Hamels did what he did and actually complimented Hamels as a great pitcher and person.
85. Mike Trout robs J.J. Hardy
Mike Trout's entire season has been one highlight after another. Whether on the bases, at the plate or in the field, Trout showed he was capable of an eye-popping moment at any time.
Trout made a habit of robbing home runs from opponents, but perhaps his most impressive catch came against J.J. Hardy of the Orioles on June 27. See the associated picture for all you need to know.
84. Moose Skowron dies
Every year, baseball says goodbye to past legends who have passed on. This year was no different as a number of former big leaguers left us. One such superstar was Moose Skowron. Skowron was an eight-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion with the Yankees.
A key member of the great Yankee teams of the 1950s, the colorful Skowron remained active in baseball up until his last days. Also a beloved member of the White Sox family, Skowron lost a long battle with lung cancer on April 27 at the age of 81.
83. A's cash in on Yoenis Cespedes
In a surprising development in early February, it was announced that the Oakland A's were the winners in the bidding for Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes. According to ESPN at the time of the announcement, the A's weren't believed to be serious bidders for Cespedes.
After a slow start and a stint on the disabled list, Cespedes caught fire and was a major cog in the A's incredible push to the postseason. He ended the year batting .292 with 23 home runs despite missing 30 games.
82. Giancarlo Stanton belts 494-foot home run
In a stat that should surprise nobody, Giancarlo Stanton socked the longest home run in the majors this year. The mammoth shot was hit to dead center field at Coors Field and was confirmed at 494 feet by ESPN's True Distance Hit Tracker. It was the longest home run in Major League Baseball since Wladimir Balentien's 495-foot blast in 2009.
81. David Wright sets Mets' career hits record
The Mets franchise has been around for 50 years, but one of the things it lacks is a home-grown star who has spent his entire career with the team. Because of that, many of the Mets career records aren't as lofty as one might expect.
Late this year, David Wright became the team's all-time hits leader when he beat out an infield single against the Pirates for his 1,419th career hit. He passed Ed Kranepool who retired from baseball in 1979.
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80. Marlins open new ballpark
On April 4, the Miami Marlins opened the only new ballpark of the 2012 season when they christened Marlins Park with a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
With a new ballpark, new franchise name and a number of new free agents, anticipation was high for baseball in Miami in 2012. Unfortunately, the team was a disaster from the start and the Marlins finished in last place in the NL East.
79. Orioles hit three home runs to start a game
On May 10, the Baltimore Orioles became the first AL team to start a game with three consecutive home runs. Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis each victimized Rangers' starter Colby Lewis with the long ball.
78. Cardinals belt seven doubles in one inning against the Cubs
The St. Louis Cardinals achieved a rare feat when they knocked seven doubles in a single inning in a game against the Cubs on July 21. They were the first NL team to do it since the Boston Bees in 1936.
77. Adam Dunn strikes out in 32 straight games
It should come as no surprise that Adam Dunn broke yet another strikeout record. However, the extent to which he shattered this record is shocking, even for Dunn. Dunn started the season by striking out in 32 straight games, blowing past the old record of 15 games set by Howie Goss in 1963.
76. Jamie Moyer becomes oldest MLB player to record an RBI
The 49-year-old Jamie Moyer holds a number of age-related records in baseball, mostly dealing with pitching. However, he can count some age-related offensive records to his credit as well. When he stroked a two-run single on May 16 in a game against the Diamondbacks, he became the oldest player in Major League history to drive in a run.
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75. Phillies trade Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence
One of the more shocking team developments in the early part of the season was the awful play of the Philadelphia Phillies. To be fair, the Phillies fought through a number of injuries to start the season, but their aging team simply could not get things going at all in the first half.
The Phillies considered themselves out of the pennant race at the trade deadline and, despite having the second-highest payroll in baseball, began selling off pieces. Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino became the biggest casualties as the Phillies dealt the stars to the Giants and Dodgers respectively.
74. Bryce Harper hits first career home run
Bryce Harper set a number of milestones and records during his rookie year, and ranking near the top of the list of achievements has to be his first career home run.
Harper smacked a solo shot off of the Padres' Tim Stauffer in a home game in his 54th career at bat. At 19 years and 211 days old, Harper became the youngest player to hit a home run since Adrian Beltre did so in 1998.
73. Pudge Rodriguez retirement ceremony
On April 23, Pudge Rodriguez signed a one-day contract with the Texas Rangers and officially retired as a member of the team on which he debuted. The Rangers held an on-field ceremony followed by Rodriguez making one final throw down to second base from his catcher position to Michael Young.
Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner and helped lead the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship.
72. Roy Halladay's shoulder injury
There were a number of reasons for the disappointing play of the Phillies in 2012, but Roy Halladay's shoulder injury was one of the biggest. Halladay missed six weeks with the shoulder injury and simply wasn't the same pitcher in 2012.
Even though he won seven of his final nine decisions, the 35-year-old Halladay finished just 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA.
71. Brewers trade Zack Greinke
Although he is one of the top pitchers in the game, Zack Greinke found himself on the trading block once again in 2012. The Angels were the lucky recipients of his services when they sent top prospect Jean Segura, Ariel Pena and John Hellweg to the Brewers in return for the All-Star righty.
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70. Kerry Wood retires
In his fifth career start at the age of 20, Kerry Wood pitched one of the great games in Major League Baseball history. His one-hit, 20-strikeout performance announced him to the world as baseball's next great pitching prodigy. Whether it was overuse or mechanical flaws, Wood broke down and didn't reach the heights predicted for him.
He did however manage a 14-year career and two All-Star appearances. On May 18, Wood struck out the White Sox' Dayan Viciedo and walked off the field for the last time.
69. Chris Davis goes from DH to winning pitcher
One of the strangest moments in an incredible Orioles season came in a 17-inning win against the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles ran out of pitching options as the game wore on, so Buck Showalter turned to Chris Davis, who was the DH in the game.
Davis had college pitching experience and gave the Orioles two scoreless innings. When Adam Jones hit a three-run homer in the 17th inning, Davis became the first AL position player to pick up a win since Rocky Colavito did so in 1968. It had to take the sting out of an 0-8 day at the plate for Davis.
68. Darrel Akerfelds dies
One of the sadder stories in Major League Baseball came on June 24 when Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 50. The popular Akerfelds had been the bullpen coach in San Diego since 2001 and battled the disease valiantly for over a year.
67. Darwin Barney's 141 game error-less streak
Darwin Barney's 141-game error-less streak at second base is both impressive and heartbreaking at the same time. The impressive part is that out of all the second basemen who have ever played the game, nobody has ever had a longer error-less streak at second base.
The heartbreaking part is that Barney was three outs away from holding the record on his own, instead of sharing it with Placido Polanco. In the ninth inning of a game against the Diamondbacks, Barney threw away a ball that most second basemen wouldn't even get to. The error wasn't charged to Barney on the hit, but only because a baserunner was able to score on the overthrow.
66. Chipper Jones' final home run
As you'd figure from one of the great clutch players of this generation, Chipper Jones made his final Major League home run count. The future Hall of Famer went deep for the final time in his career on September 2 in a game against the Phillies. The home run was a three-run shot to cap a five-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Braves a walk-off 8-7 win.
Jones' homer was the 468th of his career, which places him 32nd all time, just ahead of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
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65. Bryce Harper becomes third teenager ever with two multi-homer games
When Bryce Harper connected for two home runs in a game against the Cubs on September 5, it was his second mutil-homer game of the season. The rookie phenom became just the third teenager to ever accomplish that feat. The others were Mel Ott and Ken Griffey, Jr.
64. Steve Delabar becomes the first to strike out four batters in an extra inning
Four strikeouts in an inning is generally considered a rare feat by a pitcher. In 2012 though, it happened on eight separate occasions. However, Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays made history within that subcategory of accomplishments.
In the 10th inning of a game against the White Sox, Delabar struck out Dayan Viciedo leading off the frame. He then got Tyler Flowers to swing at a pitch in the dirt for strike three, but a wild pitch allowed Flowers to reach first. Delabar then struck out Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza to become the first pitcher to ever strike out four batters in an extra inning.
63. Yu Darvish lives up to the hype
The last Japanese pitcher to come to America with as much hype as Yu Darvish was Daisuke Matsuzaka. Although he has had some marginal success, Matsuzaka didn't live up to the high expectations that came with a $51 million dollar posting fee and a $52 million dollar contract.
The same can't be said though for Darvish. The 6'5" righty was the power pitcher he was advertised to be, striking out 221 batters en route to a 16-9 rookie season for the Rangers. Darvish was selected to the All-Star Game in July and may have been the second-best rookie in the AL this year.
62. Brandon McCarthy fractures skull
One of the scariest moments of the season came on September 5 when A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive from the Angels' Erick Aybar. Things looked promising when McCarthy was able to walk off the field with minimal help, but word got out later in the night that things were worse than they seemed.
McCarthy had to endure two hours of brain surgery after suffering an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture on the play. Luckily, things went well after that and he was released from the hospital less than a week later.
61. Ernesto Frieri pitches 13 hitless innings in relief
Ernesto Frieri was downright dominant all season and it all started with an incredible streak at the start of his Angels career. The righty reliever pitched hitless innings in each of his first 13 appearances with the Angels. He struck out 27 of the 50 batters he faced during that time.
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60. Carlos Beltran becomes first switch-hitter to 300 home runs and stolen bases
When his career is finally over, Carlos Beltran will go down as one of the best all-around switch-hitters to ever play the game. Beltran has been a power and speed threat his entire career and on June 15, he did something no other switch-hitter has done. With a successful steal against the Royals, Beltran became the first switch-hitter to register 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases in his career.
59. Kris Medlen's record winning streak
With Kris Medlen on the mound, the Braves were unbeatable during the regular season, and that's not just hyperbole. When the Braves beat the Mets on September 30, it marked the 23rd straight start for Medlen in which the Braves came out victorious. The 23 straight team wins topped the old mark of 22, which was held by Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell and Whitey Ford.
58. Six Mariners combine to no-hit Dodgers
The Seattle Mariners used a combined six pitchers to complete a 1-0 no-hit victory over the Dodgers on June 8. The six pitchers tied the record for most pitchers to ever combine for a no-hitter. It was the first combined no-hitter since the Astros no-hit the Yankees in 2003.
57. Ryan Howard hits 300th homer in second-fewest games ever
Ryan Howard has been one of the game's best power hitters during his career in Philadelphia and when he blasted his 300th career homer, fans gained a perspective on just how prolific he's been. Howard homered against the Braves to become the second-fastest player to ever reach 300 home runs. Howard accomplished the feat in 1,093 games, falling short of the mark of 1,087 games by Ralph Kiner.
56. Tampa Bay Rays set AL strikeout team record
Considering all the great pitching staffs in the history of the American League, one of the great accomplishments of the 2012 season was that the Rays set the AL team strikeout record. James Shields struck out J.P. Arencibia on September 23 for the Rays' 1,267th strikeout of the season. The old record was held by the 2001 Yankees.
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55. Albert Pujols' struggles to start season
The was virtually no way Albert Pujols could live up to the 10-year, $254 million contract he signed with the Angels as a free agent. However, nobody could have expected the utter atrocity of the first seven weeks of Pujols' debut season in California.
Through May 23—one-quarter of the way through the season—Pujols found his batting average at a paltry .213 with just four home runs and and 20 RBI. He was able to finish with 30 home runs, 105 RBI and a .285 average, which is incredible considering the depths he reached during the season's early months.
54. Ozzie Guillen loves Fidel Castro
Ozzie Guillen's career as the new manager of the Marlins got off to a shaky start, and it wasn't just because of a poor product on the field. In early April, Guillen declared that he loved Fidel Castro and respected him for avoiding death over the past 60 years.
The comments in the Time Magazine piece by Sean Gregory got the manager suspended for five games and nearly cost him his job. Praising the Cuban dictator in a city full of many people who suffered under his reign was one of the dumbest things Guillen has ever done—and that's saying a lot.
53. Kevin Youkilis traded from the Red Sox
Although the marriage between Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox seemed doomed from the start, fans can point to June 25 as the beginning of the end. On that day, the Sox shipped off Kevin Youkilis in a trade with the White Sox.
The move made baseball sense, as the Red Sox had an emerging star in Will Middlebrooks at third, Adrian Gonzalez at first and David Ortiz at DH. However, trading a company man like Youkilis angered fans and sent the clubhouse further into a downward spiral.
52. Omar Vizquel announces retirement
When Omar Vizquel took the field for the last time on October 3, his double play partner was Adeiny Hechavarria. To put things in perspective, Hechavarria was born 12 days after Vizquel made his Major League debut in 1989.
Vizquel's 24-year career came to a close this season after hitting .235 in 60 games for the Blue Jays. Vizquel, who made his ML debut in the same game as Ken Griffey, Jr., was the last active player to have played during the 1980s.
51. Red Sox honor Johnny Pesky
The links to baseball during the World War II era are dwindling and when Johnny Pesky died in August, one of the all-time greats from that era was gone. Pesky was a Red Sox institution and his impact cannot properly be stated in a couple of lines in a slideshow.
Pesky was part of the Red Sox family for 70 years and was rightly considered one of the game's great ambassadors. A presence at Fenway Park even into his 90s, Pesky had the right field foul pole officially named after him in 2006 and his number retired in 2009.
In one final gesture to the legend, all Red Sox players wore his No. 6 in a game against the Angels after his death.
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50. Angels pitchers combine for 20 strikeouts in a game
September 25 was a historic day on the mound of the Angels. First, Zack Greinke became the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 13 batters while pitching five or fewer innings. Then a parade of Angels relievers continued to mow down Mariners, as the Angels ultimately registered 20 strikeouts.
It was the fourth time a team had 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game and the first time it was done by a group of pitchers rather than an individual.
49. David Ortiz hits 400th home run
On July 4, David Ortiz became the 49th player to hit 400 career home runs when he belted a shot to right off of A's starter A.J. Griffin. Ortiz was just the sixth player to accomplish that feat while wearing a Red Sox uniform.
48. Fernando Rodney sets record with 0.60 ERA
On August 8, Fernando Rodney's ERA stood at 0.85. That number was incredible to be sure, but a 22-inning scoreless streak to end the season pushed his ERA to a historic 0.60. Rodney came into the Rays' final game of the season and retired Jim Thome, the last batter of the year, to drop his ERA down .01 points to set an all-time record for pitchers with more than 50 appearances.
The old record was held by Dennis Eckersley, who had an ERA of 0.61 in 1990.
47. Al Brancato and Al Veigel pass away
The number of players still alive who were active during the 1930s is dwindling and got even smaller this year when Al Brancato and Al Veigel died. That leaves just four known players still alive who played during the 1930s. To put things in perspective, Viegel's first manager was Casey Stengel, who was about the same age as Joe Girardi is right now at the time.
Brancato played five season for the Philadelphia A's while Viegel played just one year for the Boston Bees. Their careers missed overlapping Babe Ruth's by just four seasons. Ace Parker, Art Kenny, Mike Palagyi and Bobby Doerr are the only known players still alive to have played in the 1930s.
46. Pirates record their 20th straight losing season
On August 6, the Pirates were 16 games over .500. The team was looking like a legitimate playoff threat, Clint Hurdle was being bandied as the NL Manager of the Year and Andrew McCutchen was considered a prime MVP candidate.
Then it all fell apart.
The Pirates went into a free fall they couldn't get out of and a 5-18 stretch to end the month of September brought them to 82 losses. It ensured a losing season in Pittsburgh for the 20th straight year, a record for major American sports.
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45. David Price becomes Rays' first 20-game winner
The Tampa Bay Rays have had a nice stretch of success in recent years, most of the time thanks to great starting pitching. The team's ace, David Price, finally broke through for the Rays to become the first pitcher in franchise history to win 20 games. He finished 20-5 and is a prime Cy Young candidate.
44. Bobby Valentine is fired
The Bobby Valentine experiment lasted one season in Boston, and some were surprised it even lasted that long. The Red Sox were a disaster from the start—on the field, with the media and in the clubhouse. Valentine didn't learn any lessons from his decade-long hiatus from the majors, as he was even more abrasive and divisive than he was in the past.
43. Barry Larkin and Ron Santo inducted into Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame ceremonies are always one of the highlights of the year and this season was no different. Reds' mainstay Barry Larkin took his rightful place in Cooperstown, as did Cubs legend Ron Santo.
Santo's candidacy had been hotly debated over the years, with a Golden Era Committee finally voting for his election in 2011. Sadly, Santo died in 2010 and never got to enjoy his induction.
42. Jim Thome hits 13th career walk-off home run
On June 23, Jim Thome boosted his legend even more when he belted his 13th career walk-off home run to set a new Major League record. To see the significance of that, just take a look at the players he had been tied with before the big hit: Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson.
41. Derek Jeter tops 200 hits for the eighth time
The incredible career of Derek Jeter just keeps on going. While most players should be slowing down at age 38, Jeter actually improved on what was a very good 2011 season. Jeter was a hit machine all season long, finally ending the year with 216 hits. The total was the second highest of his career and marked the eighth time he topped the 200-hit plateau.
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40. Paul Konerko hits 400th career home run
Paul Konerko continued to put together one of the more underrated careers in the Major Leagues of this generation with another productive season in 2012. On April 25, he became just the 48th player to top 400 home runs for his career.
39. Adam Dunn hits 400th career home run
Konerko wasn't the only White Sox player to top 400 homers this year, as teammate Adam Dunn duplicated the feat on August 18. The lefty slugger enjoyed a revival in 2012 after a dismal 11-homer 2011. Dunn slugged 41 home runs this season at the age of 32 and could approach the magical 500 homer mark in a few years if he continues his renaissance.
38. R.A. Dickey wins 20th game
One of the great stories of the 2012 season was that of R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer entered the season with a 40-51 career record and got off to a nondescript 2-1 start to the season. Dickey however went on an incredible stretch and won his next 11 decisions, most in dominant fashion.
Throwing a hard knuckleball, Dickey did have some bumps in the second half, but on September 27, in his penultimate 2012 start, Dickey topped the Pirates for his 20th win of the year. He was the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola in 1990 and the first primarily-knuckleball pitcher to win 20 since Joe Niekro in 1980.
37. Aroldis Chapman's 29 scoreless innings to start the season
When Aroldis Chapman is on his game, he is just about unhittable. Unfortunately for the rest of the National League, Chapman was "on" for the entire first two months of the season.
Chapman started the year by not allowing an earned run in his first 29 innings pitched. Over that time, Chapman also had 52 strikeouts, allowed just 7 hits and opponents had a .074 batting average against him.
36. Jamie Moyer becomes oldest pitcher to win a game
When Jamie Moyer made his Major League debut, the opposing pitcher was Steve Carlton. The 67-year-old Carlton was in the Hall of Fame for 18 years by the time Moyer retired. Fun facts like these came out just about every time Moyer took the mound.
On May 16, Moyer recorded what could be the final win of his career at the age of 49 years and 183 days. He did so while pitching for the Rockies against the Diamondbacks, two franchises that weren't even in existence when he began his Major League career.
Despite not throwing a pitch over 80 mph, Moyer struck out five Diamondbacks, including Paul Goldschmidt who wasn't even born when Moyer debuted.
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35. Ichiro traded to the Yankees
In one of the more shocking off-field developments of the 2012 season, Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the Yankees after an incredible 11-and-a-half year career in Seattle. Ichiro had quietly asked to be traded to a contender and no real rumors surfaced as the Yanks and Mariners worked out a deal while New York was in town to play Seattle.
The legendary Japanese superstar had an expected revival while in the throes of a pennant race, batting .322 in his 67 games as a Yankee.
34. Jim Johnson tops 50 saves
In a year in which so many brilliant performances were turned in by closers, no reliever may have been more important to his team than Jim Johnson. Johnson's success was a key reason why the Orioles were so successful in one-run games and why the Orioles found themselves in the postseason.
Johnson became the first Orioles pitcher to save 50 games in a season and the first closer to top 50 saves since Frankie Rodriguez had 62 in 2008.
33. Ryan Braun becomes fastest player to 200 home runs and 100 stolen bases
Ryan Braun has already developed quite a resume for himself in his short six-year career. He has a Rookie of the Year, MVP award and five All-Star Game appearances under his belt.
When Braun hit his 200th career home run against the Mets on September 16, he became the fastest player ever to record 200 homers and 100 stolen bases. Braun accomplished the feat in five years and 114 days.
32. Vin Scully announces he will return
When Vin Scully began his broadcasting career in 1950, the Dodgers lineup was filled with Hall of Famers like Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella. While many of those Dodgers legends have sadly left us, Scully is still going strong.
The 84-year old Scully announced that he will be returning for his 64th season announcing Dodgers baseball next year. Scully is the last active link to the Golden Era of Major League Baseball and calling him a national treasure is actually an understatement.
31. Aaron Hill hits for the cycle twice in one month
Aaron Hill's cycle accomplishment was so rare that it hadn't been done in close to 130 years. When Hill hit for the cycle on June 29, he became just the fourth person to ever hit for two cycles in the same season. What made it even more rare was that his previous cycle came just 11 days earlier on June 18. Hill was the first person to hit for two cycles in the same calendar month since John Reilly did so in 1883.
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30. Mike Trout becomes youngest 30/30 player
The accomplishments in Mike Trout's rookie season just keep pouring in. The latest here is that he became the youngest player to ever join the 30/30 club. For good measure, Trout became the first rookie to register 30 homers and 40 stolen bases in a season as well.
29. Felix Hernandez hurls three 1-0 shutout wins in one month
When Felix Hernandez is on his game, he is completely dominant. When he shut out the Twins on August 27 in a 1-0 Mariners win, it was Hernandez's third shutout of the calendar month. In each of those shutouts, the Mariners won 1-0. Hernandez became the first pitcher since Carl Hubbell in 1933 to have three 1-0 shutout wins in one month.
28. Doug Fister strikes out nine consecutive batters
Doug Fister is more of a sinkerball pitcher than a strikeout pitcher, so when he was able to erase Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens out of the record books, it came as a pretty big surprise. On September 27, Fister struck out nine consecutive Royals, which topped the previous AL record of eight. Ryan and Clemens were among the AL pitchers who had struck out eight consecutive batters.
27. Homer Bailey's no-hitter
There were seven no-hitters pitched in 2012, which tied the Major League record for most in a season. The record-tying no-hitter came on September 28 when Homer Bailey spun a gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1-0 win. It was the 15th no-hitter in Reds history.
26. Alex Rodriguez belts 23rd grand slam
Anytime a player can join Lou Gehrig in the record books, it's a special occasion. Alex Rodriguez did just that on June 12 when he hit his 23rd career grand slam off the Braves' Jonny Venters. The slam gave the Yankees a come-from-behind win and tied Gehrig for the most grand slams in Major League history.
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25. R.A. Dickey throws back-to-back one-hitters
R.A. Dickey turned in perhaps the most dominant back-to-back since Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters. Dickey twirled back-to-back one-hitters and combined for 25 strikeouts in those games. He gave up a first-inning infield single against the Rays on June 13, then pitched 12.2 hitless innings before giving up a clean single to right to the Orioles' Wilson Betemit the next game.
Dickey became the first pitcher in the Modern Era to hurl back-to-back low-hit games with double-digit strikeouts.
24. Washington Nationals have MLB's best record
One of the great team stories of the 2012 season was the rise of the Washington Nationals. The general consensus was that the Nats were moving in the right direction behind their great young talent, but you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody who picked them to have the success they did this year.
Buoyed by young superstars like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez, the Nats reeled off 98 wins, good for the highest total in the bigs this year.
23. Craig Kimbrel's historic season
In a season that featured great performances by a number of closers, nobody had a better statistical season than Craig Kimbrel. The stats speak for themselves: 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings, 116 strikeouts in 62.2 innings pitched, 0.65 WHIP and a .126 batting average against.
22. Albert Pujols hits 450th career home run
Even in the midst of a down-season by his own terms, Albert Pujols still found a way to make history. Pujols hit his 450th career home run on May 24, becoming the fourth-youngest player to accomplish the feat.
21. Derek Jeter records hit No. 3,284
Derek Jeter enjoyed one of his finest seasons at the age of 38. He led the American League with 216 hits, waltzing past legends on the all-time hits list along the way. In September, Jeter recorded career hit No. 3,284, which put him past Willie Mays into 11th place on the all-time list. He finished the season with 3,304 hits and has his eyes set on passing legends like Eddie Collins, Honus Wagner and Cap Anson next year.
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20. Red Sox and Dodgers complete $250 million dollar trade
The biggest trade of the 2012 season was completed in late August when the Dodgers and Red Sox agreed to a blockbuster deal with Adrian Gonzalez as the centerpiece. The Sox shipped Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers and in the process shed a quarter of a billion dollars in future payroll.
19. Melky Cabrera suspended 50 games
Melky Cabrera was enjoying a breakout season for the Giants when it all came crashing down on August 15. Cabrera was tearing up the National League, was the All Star Game MVP and even broke Willie Mays' team record by recording 51 hits in the month of May.
In a shocking development though, Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for high testosterone levels, which infers the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Cabrera did not appeal the suspension and also voluntarily withdrew himself from eligibility for the NL batting crown, which he would have won easily.
18. Jered Weaver's no-hitter
Jered Weaver turned in one of the great pitching seasons in the American League in 2012, with his crowning achievement coming on May 2. On that day, Weaver hurled his first career no-hitter and the 10th no-hitter in franchise history. The no-hitter came in a 9-0 win over the Twins.
17. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout called up on the same day
The 2012 season was littered with incredible highlights from Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. The two phenoms will forever be linked together and they will be compared to each other in a number of ways throughout their careers. Although it obviously wasn't planned ahead of time, Harper and Trout became big leaguers for good at the same time on April 28 when the Nationals and Angels called each of them up respectively.
16. Fenway Park celebrates 100 years
The 2012 season in Boston was by and large a complete disgrace, but they did at least enjoy one shining moment. The Red Sox recognized the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park with an incredible reunion before a game against the Yankees. Over 200 former players returned for the celebration, including Hall of Famers Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski and nonagenarians Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr.
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15. Dodgers franchise is sold
On May 1, the sale of the Dodgers received approval from Major League Baseball and two separate courts. Frank and Jamie McCourt's messy divorce was one of the driving forces that forced the sale of one of baseball's signature franchises.
The team was bought by Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, a company that includes Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, for $2.1 billion.
14. Mariano Rivera tears ACL
On May 3, Yankees fans found out that Superman isn't invincible after all. On that day, legendary closer Mariano Rivera collapsed near the outfield wall of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City after his knee buckled while chasing down a fly ball in batting practice.
Rivera was diagnosed with a torn ACL and for the first time in his 18-year career, he missed a significant amount of time. The 42-year old closer vowed to return next season though, as he wants to retire from the game on his own terms.
13. Buster Posey's return
Speaking of returns, how good was it to see Buster Posey back on the field healthy again in 2012? Posey's 2011 season ended on May 25 when an ugly collision at home plate left him with a fractured tibia and torn ligaments in his ankle.
Not only did he return healthy in 2012, he put together a season that made him one of the favorites to win the NL MVP award. Posey led the NL in batting with a .336 mark, becoming the first catcher to lead the NL in batting since Ernie Lombardi did so in 1942.
12. Alex Rodriguez belts 631st home run
For the remainder of Alex Rodriguez's career, he is going to be passing a number of legends as he establishes his final place among the great statistical lists in baseball history. Rodriguez hit just 18 home runs in 2012, but that number allowed him to move into fifth place all-time. With his second home run of the year, Rodriguez passed Ken Griffey's total of 630. Rodriguez needs 14 more home runs to pass Willie Mays' total of 660.
11. Orioles clinch a postseason berth
For the first time since 1997, the Baltimore Orioles returned to the MLB postseason and nobody saw it coming. The Orioles finished 2011 with a 69-93 record and didn't make any major moves in the postseason to signal hope for any kind of playoff run.
However, behind a stout bullpen, a great manager and incredible performances in one-run games, the Orioles actually reversed their 2011 record and finished 2012 93-69.
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
10. Chipper Jones' farewell tour
In 1989 Braves, manager Russ Nixon chose to let a bunch of young kids play in order to rebuild the Braves from the ground up. As a result, they won just 63 games and were awarded the top pick in the 1990 MLB draft. With that pick, the Braves took Chipper Jones and their franchise was never the same.
The Braves were a laughingstock for most of the 1980s, but by the time young pitchers like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz developed, Jones came along and helped the Braves to an era of dominance never seen in the franchise's long history.
Jones retired at the end of 2012 and will go down as one of the greatest switch-hitters to ever play the game. The future Hall of Famer was given gifts and a nice sendoff in just about every city he played this year and ultimately helped the Braves to the postseason one last time.
9. Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg
Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo had a plan in place to shut down Stephen Strasburg around 170 innings as the franchise cornerstone continued to recover from Tommy John surgery. What he probably didn't foresee was that the Nats would be ahead of their development schedule and become arguably the best team in baseball in 2012.
The Nationals stuck by their plan as many wondered if the team would really shut down one of the best starters in the game as the playoffs approached. Whether or not it was the right move remains to be seen.
8. Nationals return to the postseason
The Washington Nationals franchise hasn't had much success since entering the league as the Montreal Expos in 1969. The team had a ton of talent in the early 1980s, but only managed to make the postseason once in 1981.
The Nationals were a trendy pick as a team on the rise in 2012, but in a division with the Phillies and Braves, it looked like they might be a year or two off. Instead, the Nats ripped through the NL East and returned to the postseason for the first time in three decades.
7. Philip Humber's perfect game
On April 21, Philip Humber of the White Sox threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history with a 4-0 whitewash of the Seattle Mariners. Incredibly, by the end of the season, Humber's performance would be considered only the third-best pitching performance of the season as it was the first of a record three perfect games in 2012.
6. Felix Hernandez's perfect game
On August 15, Felix Hernandez made history with his perfect game in more ways that one. It was the third perfect game of the season, a new Major League record, and the first perfect game in Mariners history. Hernandez's perfect game came against the Rays, who have had three perfect games pitched against them in their short history.
The Mariners were victims of Philip Humber's perfect game on April 21, thus making them the first team in Major League history to be on both ends of a perfect game in the same season.
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5. Josh Hamilton's four-homer game
The best single offensive game of the season belongs to Josh Hamilton. On May 8, Hamilton blasted four two-run homers in a 5-for-5 game. Using the ESPN rating, Hamilton's performance easily rated as the top offensive game of the season. It was the first four-homer game of his career.
4. Johan Santana's no-hitter
Some might argue that a no-hitter shouldn't rank above two perfect games on this list. However, the fact that Santana's no-hitter was the first in the Mets' 50 years of existence carries a certain historic weight to it. The Mets had thrown 37 one-hitters before Santana turned the trick against the Cardinals on June 1.
3. Matt Cain's perfect game
Matt Cain's perfect game wasn't just the best pitching performance of the 2012 season, but it was also one of the best pitching performances of all time. According to Bill James' game score formula, Cain's perfect game was tied for the second-best game of all time by a pitcher.
In the 10-0 win over the Astros, Cain used 125 pitches to navigate the perfecto. He recorded 14 strikeouts along the way, tying Sandy Koufax for the most in a perfect game. It was the first perfect game in Giants' history.
2. Oakland A's clinch AL West
Just as the Orioles successful season came out of nowhere, so did the A's. The only difference was that even in the second half of the season not many people gave the A's a second thought. The A's were 13 games behind the Texas Rangers on the final day of June, but then went on a historic 57-26 run to win the AL West on the last day of the season. Incredibly, the only day the A's were in first place all season was after the final game had been played.
The A's overcame a five-game deficit with just nine games to play. To do that, they also had to overcome a 5-1 hole in the team's final game to beat the Rangers 12-5, finish the three-game sweep and clinch the West.
1. Miguel Cabrera wins Triple Crown
The top moment that will define the 2012 season wasn't a moment at all. It was the sum total of one of the great offensive seasons of this generation: Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown.
Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski did so for the Red Sox in 1967 and was just the 15th player to accomplish the feat.
From Sept. 1 through the end of the season, Cabrera batted .333 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI and batted .400 over the final week of the season to top Mike Trout by .004 for the batting title.
Cabrera ended the season with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI to lead the Tigers to the American League Central title.