MLB's 50 Most Memorable Moments of 2012

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2012

MLB's 50 Most Memorable Moments of 2012

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    The 2012 MLB season left all fans with many cherished memories, and it's difficult to put the top 50 moments together without forgetting other great performances.

    From Opening Day in Japan right through to the World Series, unforgettable moments abounded throughout.

    We will take a look back at last season and recall all of the greatest performances, achievements and disappointments.

    Remember, pitchers and catchers report in just 50 days!

Ichiro Suzuki Makes Successful Return to Japan

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    On March 28, 2012, the Seattle Mariners took on the Oakland Athletics on Opening Day in Japan.

    In front of 44,227 screaming fans at the Tokyo Dome, Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki made a successful return.

    Suzuki, who started his professional career with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan's Pacific League, delighted the crowd with a 4-for-5 performance, leading his Mariners to a 3-1 win in extra innings.

Miami Marlins Begin Brand New Era in New Ballpark

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    When the 2012 season started, the Marlins franchise had undergone a complete transformation.

    The team was armed with a new name—the Miami Marlins—a new logo, new uniforms, a new manager and new players that cost ownership close to $200 million.

    It also opened a brand new stadium.

    On April 4, 2012, the new-look Marlins hosted the St. Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park, built on the site of the old Orange Bowl just two miles west of downtown Miami.

    Unfortunately, the Marlins weren't able to send the hometown crowd away happy, losing to the Cardinals 4-1.

    The allure of the new stadium wore off quickly, as the Marlins performed well under expectations. They drew only 2.2 million fans in the debut season at Marlins Park, just 12th out of 16 teams in the National League.

    Judging from their recent transactions, attendance next season could be considerably lower as well.

Ozzie Guillen Angers Cuban-Americans with Castro Comments

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    "I love Fidel Castro."

    That is how an article in Time Magazine started in an April issue this past spring. And the words were uttered by new Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.

    Guillen, certainly no stranger to soundbites during his eight-year run as manager of the Chicago White Sox, wasn't quite finished there, however.

    "I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen went on to say. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that mother------ is still here."

    Love and respect for a dictator did not earn Guillen any brownie points at all in his new hometown in South Florida.

    His comments served to anger the Cuban-Americans who sought to escape Castro's oppressive regime.

    The Marlins suspended Guillen for five days for his vitriolic comments, and Guillen's words likely didn't help him to retain his job at the end of the season.

An Unlikely Moment of Perfection from Philip Humber

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    Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber started his 2012 season a bit late, working into the sixth inning and giving up just one run to the Baltimore Orioles on April 16.

    Five days later, Humber provided a start that was significantly better.

    Working against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on April 21, Humber breezed through his outing, retiring every single hitter in order.

    When pinch-hitter Brendan Ryan couldn't check his swing on a 3-2 pitch, Humber walked off the mound with just the 21st perfect game ever thrown in Major League Baseball history.

Paul Konerko Hits No. 400

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    On April 25, 2012, Paul Konerko put himself in rarefied air.

    In the top of the ninth inning of a game against the Oakland Athletics, Konerko greeted new reliever Grant Balfour by taking his first pitch and launching it over the left-field fence.

    The blast not only allowed the Chicago White Sox to tie the game at 2-2, it was also Konerko's 400th career home run. He became just the 48th player in MLB history to reach the milestone.

Josh Hamilton's Four Homers and 18 Total Bases

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    Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was already off to a hot start by the time May 8 rolled around.

    At the end of the night, Hamilton was positively sizzling.

    Playing against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, Hamilton became just the 16th player in league history to record a four-home run night.

    Hamilton did it in record fashion—every home run was a two-run blast, and he added a double to right field as well, allowing him to tie an American League record with 18 total bases.

Aaron Hill Hits a Bi-Cycle?

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    It's a pretty rare feat for an MLB player to hit for the cycle. To do it twice in one season almost never happens.

    Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill first accomplished the feat against the Seattle Mariners on June 18, hitting a home run in the seventh inning to complete the cycle.

    Eleven days later, Hill and the Diamondbacks were facing the Milwaukee Brewers.

    Hill doubled in the first inning, singled in the third, homered in the fourth and tripled in the sixth to give him his second cycle in 12 days.

    Hill became the first player to hit for the cycle twice in the same season in 81 years.

Johan Santana Finally Gives the New York Mets a No-No

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    New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana had to endure 18 months of grueling rehab following surgery on his left shoulder just to get back on the mound for the 2012 season.

    When Santana did finally return, he gave the Mets something they had never seen on June 1: a no-hitter.

    After 50 seasons and 8,020 games, Santana no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out eight and walking five batters in a 134-pitch performance that truly tested his surgically-repaired shoulder.

    For the Mets, it was a first after 35 one-hitters through franchise history.

Bobby Valentine Disses Kevin Youkilis in Press

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    Bobby Valentine has never been shy about talking to the press. In fact, he oftentimes used the press to send messages to his team in the past.

    However, in mid-April, Valentine may have crossed a line.

    Just two weeks into his first season as the Boston Red Sox manager, Valentine, took a moment on local television to criticize third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

    “I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Valentine told WHDH TV. "But [on Saturday] it seemed, you know, he's seeing the ball well, got those two walks, his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he'll move on from there."

    It was obviously the first sentence that was the most damning.

    Valentine was sharply criticized for his comment, most notably by second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

    "I really don't know what Bobby is trying to do," Pedroia said. "That's not the way we go about our stuff around here. He'll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other's backs here."

    Youk was gone just two months later to the Chicago White Sox, but Valentine fed even more fuel to the fire with comments after Youkilis' departure.

    "I think the comment I made early, he (Youkilis) made a big issue out of, and I don't think he ever wanted to get over it," Valentine said.

Jamie Moyer Sets New Old Record?

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    Jamie Moyer underwent Tommy John surgery following a start in Winter League ball in 2010. Considering he had just turned 48 years old at the time, you would have been excused if you thought his career was over.

    But this is Moyer were talking about.

    He vowed to come back in 2012 following his surgery, and come back he did.

    Moyer, pitching for the Colorado Rockies on April 17, looked sharp in his outing against the San Diego Padres. He gave up just two runs on six hits in seven innings, earning his first victory of the season.

    In the process, Moyer also became the oldest player in Major League Baseball history to record a win. At 49 years and 150 days old, he broke the record previously held by Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers on Sept. 13, 1932, when Quinn was 49 years and 70 days old.

    Moyer would win only one more game before being released by the Rockies on June 4.

Yankees Closer Mariano Rivera Tears ACL

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    Legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has always enjoyed a pregame routine of running down fly balls in the outfield.

    On May 3, Rivera's pregame routine cost him the entire season.

    Rivera had started the season in typical fashion at the age of 42, picking up five saves and posting a 2.16 ERA. On that night, however, Rivera's season came to a crashing halt when he crumpled in a heap at the warning track in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

    The news was certainly devastating for Yankees fans. However, they fortunately had a star closer in the background in Rafael Soriano, who shined in Rivera's absence.

Jered Weaver Fires No-No

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    On May 2, 2012, the Los Angeles Angels took on the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium.

    With ace Jered Weaver on the bump, their chances for a win were pretty good.

    Weaver gave them more than just a win.

    Weaver no-hit the Twins for the first solo no-hitter at Angel Stadium since 1975 and the 10th in franchise history.

Albert Pujols Starts off with a Whimper Rather Than a Bang

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    After signing a 10-year, $240 million contract to take his incredible talents to Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels fans breathlessly awaited the offensive onslaught from slugger Albert Pujols.

    They would have to wait a few weeks.

    Pujols stumbled through the month of April, hitting just .217 with no home runs and four RBI.

    He had never struggled that badly to start any season, and the home run drought to start the season was indeed troubling.

    Finally, on May 6, Pujols ended the drought with a two-run homer off Toronto Blue jays starter Drew Hutchison.

    It would be another 10 days before Pujols hit another long ball.

Fenway Park Celebrates 100th Birthday

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    In April 1912, the Boston Red Sox opened Fenway Park. It received very little fanfare at the time, largely due to the news regarding the sinking of the Titanic.

    However, 100 years later, Fenway Park celebrated its birthday in grand style.

    On April 20, the Red Sox rolled out a lot more than the red carpet for the centennial celebration. Literally dozens of former Red Sox stars were invited to Fenway to join in the festivities, including Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr and longtime baseball ambassador Johnny Pesky. 

    It was a great day of celebration for Red Sox fans—one of the few celebratory moments they would have all season.

Delmon Young and a Senseless Act of Violence

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    In the early morning hours of April 27, 2012 in New York City, Detroit Tigers left fielder Delmon Young committed an incredibly stupid and senseless crime.

    The inebriated Young was standing outside the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan when he witnessed four tourists from Chicago who had approached a panhandler.

    The panhandler was wearing a yarmulke and a Star of David around his neck.

    After the four tourists walked away from the panhandler toward the hotel, Young angrily confronted the group and started hurling anti-Semitic epithets at them. He also assaulted at least one of the four men as well.

    Police were called to the scene and Young was arrested on a second-degree aggravated harassment charge. Young was also suspended for seven days and agreed to anger management counseling and alcohol evaluation.

    Young is currently a free agent and has yet to sign with a new team.

A New Era Begins on April 28

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    On April 28, 2012, two highly-touted rookies were called up to their respective teams to help make a difference. In the end, they could be recognized for making a difference in various ways.

    The Washington Nationals recalled 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper to make his major league debut on the same day the Los Angeles Angels recalled 20-year-old center fielder Mike Trout to make his 2012 debut.

    Trout had played in 40 games the previous season for the Angels, but was still considered a rookie.

    Harper would go on to hit 22 home runs, becoming just the second teenager in MLB history to collect over 20 home runs before his 20th birthday. While Trout would record one of the most spectacular rookie seasons in MLB history.

Kerry Wood Whiffs a Batter and Promptly Retires

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    On May 18, 2012, the Chicago Cubs were facing the crosstown-rival Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field.

    With one out in the top of the eighth inning and a runner on first, Kerry Wood came on in relief of starter Jeff Samardzija.

    Wood faced White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo and promptly struck him out on three pitches.

    Wood then walked off the mound and promptly retired.

    "It's just time," Wood said after the game. "It was time. We saw how things were going this year and just not being able to recover and bounce back and do my job, essentially. You know, do what I'm supposed to do, day in and day out. Just the grind of getting ready every day. To go through it, hours to get ready for 15 pitches and go out there and not be successful.

    "You know it was just time, time to give someone else a chance."

    It was a fitting end to a career that started back in 1998, when Wood tied a major league record by striking out 20 batters in a single game.

A New Era Begins in Los Angeles

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    In the beginning of May, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the proud new owners of new owners. So to speak.

    A group headed by Mark Walter began its stewardship of the iconic Dodgers franchise, replacing a man who had become an absolute pariah among fans—Frank McCourt.

    The new ownership group included local legend and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Johnson put an end to any questions about the previous ownership in a succinct way.

    "Frank (McCourt) is not here," Johnson said. "He is not part of the Dodgers any more. We should be clapping for that."

    The class of new ownership was on display as well, as the group invited former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley to the introductory press conference. The O'Malley family owned the Dodgers from 1950 to 1998.

Nelson Cruz Collects Second 8-RBI Night of His Career

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    Very few players in MLB history can say they drove in eight runs in one game.

    Even fewer can say they did it twice.

    Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz collected eight RBI in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.

    One year later, Cruz struck again.

    On May 25, victimized the Blue Jays once again, this time with a 4-for-5 performance that included a bases-clearing double and an opposite-field grand slam home run. Cruz also added an RBI single in the sixth inning.

Alex Rodriguez Ties a Legend

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    Legendary New York Yankees Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig set a whole lot of records during his career, including one that stood the test of time for 74 years.

    On June 12 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Gehrig's record was finally matched.

    Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez took a full-count pitch from reliever Jonny Venters and crushed it over the left-field wall with bases loaded.

    For Rodriguez, it was the 23rd grand slam home run of his career, tying him with Gehrig.

    After the game, Rodriguez took a moment to reflect on the achievement.

    "It means a lot," Rodriguez said. "It's very special. This game is very, very difficult. If you're not going to enjoy these great moments, then it's not any fun. Lou Gehrig is not only one of the all-time greats, but he's one of ours."

A Combined No-No for Seattle Mariners

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    On Friday, June 8, the Seattle Mariners were on the good side of things for a change.

    Just six weeks earlier, the Mariners were victims of the perfect game thrown by Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber.

    On this night, however, the Mariners turned the tables.

    Six Mariner pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was only the third no-hitter in Mariners history and just the 10th combined no-hitter in MLB history.

    The six pitchers used also tied a major league record.

Prince Fielder Dominates Home Run Derby in Both Leagues

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    At the All-Star Game festivities in Kansas City, new Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder was representing the American League for the very first time and joined some elite company at the Home Run Derby.

    Fielder belted 28 home runs in three rounds, including a record-tying 12 in the final round to defeat Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, to capture his second Home Run Derby title.

    He joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only repeat winners of the event, but Fielder was the first to capture one from each league.

City of Kansas City Shines During All-Star Festivities

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    Kauffman Stadium was the site of the 83rd annual All-Star Game, the first time since Kauffman Stadium opened back in 1973. By all accounts, it was a fantastic and gracious host.

    The International Baseball Federation listed just a few of the successes and milestones achieved during the festivities in Kansas City.

    MLB commissioner Bud Selig chimed in with his thoughts on how well the host did.

    "It's been really wonderful. Every event has been sold out, even the Futures Game. All the events have been good," Selig said.

    "It's an uplifting event, to say the least, and the Royals have really gone the extra mile to make this happen. So I want to thank them and acknowledge how I feel."

    Maybe now Royals owner David Glass can go the extra mile with his own team as well.

Justin Verlander Takes All-Star Loss in Ugly Outing

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    Justin Verlander was named the AL starting pitcher for the Midsummer Classic in July, and for Verlander, it was not a shining moment.

    He gave up five runs on four hits in just one inning of work, including a bases-clearing triple by San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

    Verlander's 35-pitch effort put the AL behind the eight ball for the rest of the way, eventually losing 8-0 to the senior circuit.

Matt Cain Is Perfect for a Night

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    On Wednesday night, June 13, San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain wasn't just dominant, he was perfect.

    Cain retired 27 straight Houston Astros hitters on his way to a 10-0 victory. However, it wasn't just the perfect game that stood out—Cain struck out 14 batters and was aided by an incredible perfect-game-saving catch by Gregor Blanco in the seventh inning.

    As Peter Barzalai of USA Today wrote, Cain's effort put it right up there among the most dominant performances in MLB history.

Felix Hernandez Flashes Some Perfection of His Own

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    Just over two months after one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League reached perfection, Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez spun a gem of his own.

    On August 15, Hernandez set down 27 straight Tampa Bay Rays hitters at Safeco Field for the third perfect game of the year and the 23rd overall in MLB history.

    Hernandez struck out 12 in his outing, including infielder Sean Rodriguez for the final out of the game.

Melky Cabrera Embarrasses Himself and Baseball

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    San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera was off to an incredible start in 2012. He won the All-Star Game MVP Award and was leading the National League in batting heading into games on August 15.

    However, that morning, the baseball world learned that Cabrera tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone and would be suspended for 50 games.

    It was later revealed that an elaborate cover-up of the positive test was attempted by creating a fake website and a fake product.

    And how was Cabrera rewarded for his supreme stupidity? The Toronto Blue Jays signed him to a two-year, $16 million contract.

    Yeah, that's justice.

Clay Buchholz Strikes out the Side on Nine Pitches

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    On Thursday, August 16, just one day after Felix Hernandez registered the 23rd perfect game in MLB history, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz registered some perfection of his own.

    Pitching against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in the bottom of the sixth inning, Buchholz struck out the side—with nine strikes.

    It was only the 47th time a "perfect inning" had ever been recorded in baseball history.

Billy Hamilton Steals His Way to Record Books

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    On Tuesday, August 21, Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton ran like a deer—and right into the record books.

    Playing for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Hamilton stole his third base of the game and his 146th of the season in the third inning. That broke the professional baseball record, previously held by Vince Coleman in 1983 with 145 thefts for Macon in the Single-A South Atlantic League.

    Hamilton would end the season with 155 stolen bases overall.

A Whopper of a Trade

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    In a deal that was shocking in its scope, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers exchanged nine players in the most expensive trade in MLB history.

    The Red Sox sent starting pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, left fielder Carl Crawford and utility infielder Nick Punto to the Dodgers.

    The Dodgers sent first baseman James Loney, utility infielder Ivan DeJesus, prospect pitcher Allen Webster and two players to be named later (Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands).

    The Red Sox shed $251.5 million in salary in the deal—the first time in history two $100 million players had been included in the same deal.

Homer Bailey Adds Another Masterpiece

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    The 2012 MLB regular season had already seen six no-hitters and three perfect games by the time September 28 rolled around.

    Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey added one more gem for good measure.

    Bailey threw the seventh no-hitter of the season that night, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0.

    Bailey struck out 10 and walked one during his stellar performance, registering the first no-hitter by a Reds pitcher since 1988.

Texas Rangers Melt Down in Final Days

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    On Monday, September 24, the Texas Rangers defeated the Oakland A's, 5-4, in the first game of a three-game series. The victory put the Rangers five games ahead of the A's in the American League West with just nine games to play.

    The Rangers, however, never charged to the end.

    Texas would win only two of their remaining nine games and were swept by the A's in the final series of the season, losing the AL West title by one game.

Chipper Jones Retires on Sour Note

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    Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones won a World Series ring in 1995. However, during his 19-year career, Jones saw more than his share of disappointment and heartbreak as well.

    That's how Jones would walk into retirement.

    Jones committed a crucial throwing error in the fourth inning of the National League wild card series game with the St. Louis Cardinals. His errant throw to second base erased a double play and allowed the Cardinals to score three runs to take the lead, 3-2.

    The Cardinals held onto the lead for the rest of the game, sending the Braves home packing, 6-3 and sending Jones off into retirement.

    Jones did collect a broken-bat single in his final at-bat in the ninth inning, but it wasn't the way he wanted his career to end.

Baltimore Orioles' Magical Turnaround

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    In 2011, the Baltimore Orioles finished the season with a 69-93 record. It was their sixth straight season with at least 90 losses.

    The Orioles hired Dan Duquette as their new vice president of baseball operations in November of 2011, and Duquette made a few tweaks, including trading for starting pitcher Jason Hammel and signing free-agent pitcher Wei-Yin Chen.

    Aided by one of the best bullpens in baseball, the Orioles made a 24-game turnaround on their way to a 93-69 record. They fell just short of the New York Yankees in the race for the AL East title, but still made the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons.

    All of a sudden, baseball's future in Baltimore is bright once again.

Oakland Athletics' Magical Turnaround

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    If you were one who believed the Oakland Athletics would win the American League West in 2012, you were in a very small circle.

    In fact, many believed the A's would lose close to 100 games. They dealt away three-fifths of their starting rotation (Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Guillermo Moscoso) from the 2011 season, traded their closer (Andrew Bailey) and saw one of their best position players walk away via free agency (Josh Willingham).

    In the trades made by general manager Billy Beane, he received a gaggle of prospects who weren't expected to provide much impact by 2012.

    However, those same prospects were the key to the A's success.

    Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Ryan Cook and Josh Reddick were four such prospects who came to Oakland in return trade packages, and each one of them contributed mightily to the success of the A's last season.

    With the second-lowest payroll in baseball, the A's proved (again) that money isn't always the answer.

Washington Nationals Bring Postseason Baseball Back to Nation's Capital

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    Washington, D.C. hadn't seen a postseason baseball game in 79 years.

    The 2012 Washington Nationals ended that drought.

    Manager Davey Johnson guided his Nats to a 98-64 record to capture the NL East crown—the first in franchise history—and the title assured that Washington would indeed see postseason for the first time since the Washington Senators played the New York Giants in the 1933 World Series.

Buster Posey Breaks out with Tremendous Second Half

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    In 2012, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey was returning to the field after a nasty home-plate collision ended his 2011 season.

    Posey suffered a broken fibula and severely strained his left ankle ligaments as a result of the play, and it was tough for anyone to say how he would bounce back following a lengthy rehab.

    Posey silenced his critics in a major way.

    After a solid first half, in which he hit .289 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI, Posey sizzled after the All-Star break, hitting .385 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI.

    Posey would capture the National League batting title with a .336 average and would lead his Giants to a second World Series title in three seasons.

    His efforts were recognized with the NL MVP award as well.

    So much for questions about his injury.

Miguel Cabrera Breaks Long-Standing Triple Crown Drought

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    In 1967, Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski put together a magical season, hitting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI. Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown just a year after Baltimore Orioles right fielder Frank Robinson achieved the feat as well.

    It would take another 45 years for anyone to reach that level of excellence again.

    Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera had already captured a batting title, a home run title and an RBI title during his career—but not in the same season.

    Cabrera changed that in 2012.

    He hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI to lead all three categories and become the first player since Yastrzemski to capture the elusive Triple Crown.

First National League Wild-Card Game Ends in Controversy

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    The infield fly rule was originally put in place to stop infielders from purposely dropping fly balls in order to try and turn a double play.

    On October 5, the infield fly rule was literally stretched to the limit.

    In the first ever National League wild card game, the Atlanta Braves were trailing the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning.

    With runners on first and second, shortstop Andrelton Simmons stepped to the plate and lofted a fly ball to short left field. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma backpedaled and was almost camped under the ball. However, he backed off, thinking that left fielder Matt Holliday had a bead on the ball. But Holliday had already pulled up, thinking that Kozma had it.

    The ball dropped safely for a base hit, loading the bases with just one out.

    But wait!

    Left-field umpire Sam Holbrook raised his hand on the play, signalling that the infield fly rule was in effect. Simmons was automatically out on the play, and while Braves runners were allowed to advance on the play, there were now two outs.

    The ball traveled 215 feet, in all probability making it the longest fly ball ever in which the infield fly rule was put into effect.

Jayson Werth Makes the Wait Pay Off

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    Trailing in the NLDS two games to one, the Washington Nationals had their backs against the wall in Game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

    With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called on Lance Lynn to replace Mitchell Boggs to start the inning.

    Facing Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth, Lynn quickly worked the count to 0-2. Werth, however, held tough, fouling off a succession of pitches and working the count full.

    On the 13th pitch of the at-bat, Lynn grooved a mid-90s fastball down the heart of the plate.

    Werth made him pay for it.

Raul Ibanez and His Late-Inning ALDS Heroics

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    New York Yankees designated hitter Raul Ibanez did not start Game 3 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. But he certainly ended it with a flair for the dramatic.

    Ibanez entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Alex Rodriguez with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees trailing 2-1.

    Facing Orioles closer Jim Johnson, Ibanez deposited Johnson's second pitch into the right-field bleachers for a solo home run, tying the game at 2-2 and sending it into extra innings.

    In the bottom of the 12th inning, Ibanez was the first batter for the Yankees. Facing reliever Brian Matusz, Ibanez took the first pitch and again drove it into the right-field seats, giving the Yankees a walk-off 3-2 win.

    With his epic night, Ibanez set three separate records: He became the oldest player in playoff history to hit two home runs in a game, the oldest player with a walk-off homer in postseason history, and the only player in postseason history to hit two homers in a game in which he did not start.

An Epic Cardinals NLDS Comeback

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    The Washington Nationals were given new life in Game 4 of their NLDS matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals when Jayson Werth hit a dramatic walk-off home run.

    The Nationals capitalized on that chance early in Game 5, plating six runs against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright and knocking him out of the game in the third inning.

    The Cardinals battled back, however, and chipped away at their six-run deficit, closing to within a run in the top of the eighth inning.

    The Cardinals answered in the bottom half of the frame, adding the all-important insurance run to give them a 7-5 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning.

    With closer Drew Storen on the hill, the Nationals were just three outs away from advancing to the NLCS.

    However, the Cardinals middle infielders delivered in the clutch.

    Second baseman Daniel Descalso and shortstop Pete Kozma both delivered two-run singles in a four-run ninth inning, capping a terrific comeback and giving the Cardinals a 9-7 win and the NLDS victory.

Oakland A's Take Detroit Tigers to Limit in Epic ALDS Battle

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    The Oakland Athletics were down two games to one in their ALDS matchup with the Detroit Tigers. Facing a 3-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning against Tigers closer Jose Valverde, the A's were just three outs away from elimination.

    Valverde got in trouble early, giving up a single to Josh Reddick and a double to Josh Donaldson, putting runners on second and third with no one out.

    Seth Smith followed up with a double to right-center field, plating both Reddick and Donaldson and tying the game at 3-3.

    Valverde retired the next two batters before facing Coco Crisp with Smith still on second. Crisp hit a single to right field, scoring Smith with the winning run and forcing a fifth and deciding game.

    The Athletics once again showed their resilience in a season that was indeed special.

Derek Jeter Goes Down in a Heap

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    New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was already dealing with a tender ankle when the top of the 12th inning began in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

    Jeter dove to his left, attempting to stop a ground ball off the bat of Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta. In the process, Jeter fractured his left ankle.

    Jeter had previously never missed a postseason game in his entire career.

New York Yankees Sluggers Become Punchless in ALCS

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    The New York Yankees scraped by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS to move on and face the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.

    The Yankees moved on despite hitting just .211 against the Orioles pitching staff. But their impotence at the plate would prove to be their downfall against the Tigers.

    The Yankees' quartet of Robinson Cano (1-for-18), Curtis Granderson (0-for-11), Alex Rodriguez (1-9) and Mark Teixeria (3-15) combined to hit just .094 in the four-game sweep by the Tigers.

Barry Zito Finally Gives Giants Fans Reason to Cheer

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    Up until Game 5 of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, Barry Zito had very few friends in the City by the Bay.

    That was largely because of the seven-year, $126 million contract signed by Zito in 2006 and, to put it nicely, the fact that he had failed to live up to that contract.

    Zito did a lot to turn around those feelings with his start in Game 5.

    With his Giants facing elimination and down three games to one, Zito turned in a gutsy performance. He worked 7.2 scoreless innings, allowing just six hits and leading the Giants to a 5-0 victory.

    Zito would also win Game 1 of the World Series, holding the Detroit Tigers to just one run on six hits in 5.2 innings.

Marco Scutaro and His NLCS Performance for the Ages

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    The San Francisco Giants fought back furiously to win the National League pennant. Facing a three-games-to-one deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants won three straight.

    While the Giants pitching staff held the Cardinals at bay over the final three games, their offense was led by a midseason pick-up: second baseman Marco Scutaro.

    Scutaro hit .500 and collected 14 hits during the series, tying an LCS record. He had six multi-hit games, including three hits and a walk in the seventh and deciding game.

Kung Fu Panda Registers Record-Tying Night in World Series

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    In Game 1 of the World Series between San Francisco and Detroit, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval put on a power display. It was a display that had only been seen three times before in MLB history.

    Sandoval hit home runs in his first three at-bats in Game 1, becoming just the fourth player in history to hit three homers in a World Series game (Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols).

    Sandoval would end the series with a .500 average and would capture the World Series MVP award as well.

R.A. Dickey Makes History with Cy Young Award

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    New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey dominated hitters throughout the year.

    And he did it with the knuckleball.

    No knuckleball pitcher ever rose to the heights of Dickey's 2012 season. He finished with a 20-6 record, a 2.73 ERA and a league-leading 230 strikeouts.

    Yes, he led the league in strikeouts using a knuckleball.

    For his efforts, Dickey was award the National League Cy Young Award—the first time the award had ever been given to a pitcher using a knuckleball as his primary weapon of choice.

Underdog San Francisco Giants Sweep Favored Detroit Tigers

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    The Detroit Tigers dispatched the New York Yankees in four straight games to win the American League pennant.

    They then waited over a week while the San Francisco Giants fought back from behind to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games for the National League pennant.

    Naturally, Vegas oddsmakers immediately named the Tigers as favorites.

    One popular sportsbook,, made the Tigers a -175 favorite to win the World Series. For the fans who are unaware, that means a gambler has to bet $175 on the Tigers in order to win back roughly $100.

    Those are pretty significant odds. It just goes to show that Vegas isn't always right.

    If one happened to have a couple of extra dollars burning a hole in their pocket, the Giants' odds of sweeping the Tigers were +1800.


    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.