The 2012 season was packed with a handful of surprises. Most notably, a 20-year-old kid (Mike Trout) was the top fantasy performer and a knuckleballer (R.A. Dickey) was the best pitcher.
You can't expect Trout or Dickey to go away in 2013. But there will be others who enjoyed a magical 2012 season who will return to earth next year.
Here's a look at 10 candidates who surprised in 2012, but will suffer a 2013 letdown.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals ... .315 BA, 65 R, 22 HR, 76 RBI, 12 SB
Before the season started, you couldn't have expected Molina to hit much higher than .290 with 10 home runs. But he came out and earned career-highs in home runs, RBI, steals, runs and batting average.
Be cautious of Molina when drafting in 2013 though. Heading into the 2012 season, Molina's HR/FB rate was above 5.5 percent just once (2011). He posted a mark of 13.8 percent in 2012 and it will be hard to duplicate that number in '13.
While it looks like Molina is developing into a fine hitter, expect a decline across the board next year.
Marco Scutaro, 2B/3B/SS, San Francisco Giants ... .306 BA, 87 R, 7 HR, 74 RBI, 9 SB
Scutaro's ADP was 356 and he finished the season with a ranking inside the top 80. Obviously a trade to the Giants, where he hit at the top of the lineup, boosted his numbers, but there's no way you could have expected this type of season.
Scutaro will be 37-years-old next year and a repeat season is highly unlikely. his was the first time in his career that he hit above .300 and he stole the most bases since he had 14 in 2009.
Scutaro should be viewed as a mid-to-late-round option next year. Don't reach for him based off his '12 stats.
Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds ... 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.05 K/9
Johnny Cueto put together another fantastic season. A year after posting a 2.31 ERA, Cueto backed up his 2011 campaign with a 19-win and 2.78-ERA year in 2012.
For some reason I still can't buy into Cueto.
It largely deals with his K/9 rate, or lack thereof. You don't need to have a great K/9 to be a good pitcher, but the majority of pitchers with 3.00 ERAs or better do.
Pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Justin Verlander, R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez all miss bats.
Perhaps Cueto will prove me wrong again (his ERA continues to outperform his FIP), but I'm still waiting for the lack of Ks to catch up to him.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, Chicago White Sox ... .278 BA, 68 R, 27 HR, 77 RBI
If you had Pierzynski in 2012, then you struck gold. Pierzynski was either a late-round flier or a waiver wire pickup and he rewarded managers with a career-year.
But Pierzynski will be 36-years-old next year and he was mired in a six-year decline prior to 2012. There's no way you can expect Pierzynski to put up the same numbers in 2013.
Don't be the guy who overvalues Pierzynski next season. Just remember that his 18.6 HR/FB rate is nearly three times higher than it was a year ago.
Fernando Rodney, RP, Tampa Bay Rays ... 48 SV, 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 9.16 K/9
When Kyle Farnsworth started the year on the disabled, Rodney was supposed to be a serviceable closer, not an elite one. En route to making the record books, Rodney posted career numbers across the board.
Rodney shouldn't be trusted just yet though. His FIP was 2.13 and that's a 1.53 difference from his 0.60 ERA. His WHIP of 0.78 is 0.58 lower than his average of 1.36.
Somebody will most likely reach on Rodney next year based solely on his '12 season. Don't be that guy.
Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies ... .325 BA, 56 R, 16 HR, 68 RBI 4 SB
It's abnormal to see a player nearly double his home run production at the age of 33, but that's exactly what happened with Ruiz this season.
Chooch benefited from a couple factors. For one, his HR/FB rate was 15.1 percent, the first time it's been above eight percent since becoming a regular. Secondly, he owned a .339 BABIP, which is 44 points higher than his career BABIP.
Don't forget about Ruiz's plantar fasciitis injury that sidelined him for more than a month. It's an injury that tends to linger and Ruiz belted just two homers when he returned.
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds ... .275 BA, 53 R, 26 HR, 80 RBI
Ludwick had one heck of a second half. At the All-Star break, Ludwick was hitting .239 with 12 homers. But after the Midsummer Classic, Ludwick hit .309 with 14 home runs.
Ludwick resurrected his career in 2012. After hitting 37 homers in 2008, this year was the first time he eclipsed the 22-HR plateau.
He might be able to keep it up, but I'd like to compare him to the 2010 version of Aubrey Huff. At the age of 34, Huff blasted 26 homers for the Giants in '10. What has he done since? Not much. He has hit 13 homers in his last 674 plate appearances.
Ludwick is 34 this season. Could he be another Huff? I wouldn't risk betting against it.
Wade Miley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks ... 16-11, 3.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.66 K/9
Miley came out of nowhere and stepped up big for the D-backs in 2012. Miley was most likely undrafted in your league, but he finished the year as a top 25 pitcher
Miley only gave up six home runs in 99,1 innings at home this season. A number like that is very rare. According to ESPN's Park Factors, Chase Field was sixth in home runs. Furthermore, look at the other pitchers of the D-backs staff at home:
Ian Kennedy - 15 HR in 99.1 IP ... Trevor Cahill - 10 HR in 98 IP ... Patrick Corbin - 6 HR in 52.1 IP ... Josh Collmenter - 10 HR in 55 IP ... Daniel Hudson - 5 HR in 25 IP ... Joe Saunders - 11 HR in 59 IP.
You have to expect Miley's HR/FB rate to inflate playing his home games in Arizona.
Kyle Lohse, SP, St. Louis Cardinals ... 16-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 6.10 K/9
Lohse's season is one of the biggest surprises of 2012. He posted career-bests in wins, ERA and innings pitched.
A 2.86 ERA was unforeseen. Prior to '12, he had an ERA less than 4.00 just twice in his career (2008 and 2011). And while his ERA was 2.86, his FIP was at 3.51, suggesting he was rather lucky.
Like Cueto, Lohse doesn't strike many hitters out. I think it will be very hard for Lohse to continue his 2012 success next season.
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs ... .262 BA, 68 R, 32 HR, 108 RBI, 6 SB
Soriano was able to turn back the clock in 2012. For the first time in five years, Soriano hit 30-plus homers and drove in 100-plus runs.
Soriano enjoyed a rare, healthy season. For just the second time in six years, Soriano played in more than 140 games.
He will turn 37-years-old before next season starts, and you cannot imagine he will be able to stay on the field like he did this year.
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