All 30 MLB Teams' Biggest Surprise, Disappointment of 2012

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

All 30 MLB Teams' Biggest Surprise, Disappointment of 2012

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    2012 has been a year full of wonderful surprises and crushing disappointments, some more wonderful and crushing than others.

    From Opening Day to the final out of the World Series, baseball once again reminded us why it's the most entertaining game to follow, if for no other reason than the incredible story lines that it creates.

    But 2012 isn't only limited to that eight-month period when meaningful baseball is being played.

    Moves that were made during the Hot Stove Leagues that bookend the 2012 MLB season—the end of the 2012 Hot Stove League and the beginning of 2013's edition—have to be considered as well.

    With that in mind, let's take a look at the past 12 months and what went well for our favorite teams—and what left something to be desired.

     

    Rick Weiner is a Featured Columnist covering all of MLB and a member of B/R's Breaking News Team.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Biggest Surprise: The entire season

    Not even the staunchest Orioles fan expected them to contend for a playoff spot in 2012, much less the American League East crown.

    Yet that's exactly what the Orioles did.

    With each passing month, we all waited for the Orioles to collapse—except they never did.

    Timely hitting, quality pitching and a phenomenal coaching staff led by manager Buck Showalter took the Orioles to a 93-69 record and a spot in the American League playoffs—the first time that the team finished above .500 or played meaningful baseball in October since 1997.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Jim Johnson's ALDS performance

    After a regular season that saw Jim Johnson lead all of baseball with 51 saves in 54 chances, the Orioles were confident in his abilities heading into the playoffs.

    That confidence only grew when you looked at how Johnson had pitched against the New York Yankees, Baltimore's opponent in the American League Division Series, during the regular season.

    In eight appearances against the Bronx Bombers, Johnson saved three games, pitching to a 1.12 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, walking one and striking out five.

    Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun put Johnson's ALDS performance in perspective after Game 3 of the series  (via Twitter):

    Jim Johnson had allowed 3 HRs in 71 regular-season games. He has given up 2 in three postseason games vs Yankees.

    — Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) October 11, 2012

    While Johnson picked up two saves in the five-game series, he took the loss in Game 2, blew the save in Game 3 and finished the series with a 10.38 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.

Boston Red Sox

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    Biggest Surprise: The salary purge

    Saddled with a highly paid, underachieving roster, Boston GM Ben Cherington did the one thing nobody thought possible.

    In one fell swoop, he blew the whole thing up.

    Cherington unloaded 1B Adrian Gonzalez and injured OF Carl Crawford and their $100 million contracts, along with SP Josh Beckett and IF Nick Punto—a total of $260 million in salary—to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 1B James Loney and a handful of prospects (h/t MLB.com).

    While it did nothing to help the Red Sox in 2012, Cherington managed to add quality young pieces to the organization without surrendering any of his own youngsters, such as C Ryan Lavarnway, 3B Will Middlebrooks or OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Jon Lester

    From Bobby Valentine to the way Kevin Youkilis was run out of town to the entire season as a whole, there are plenty of worthy candidates for biggest disappointment of 2012 for the Red Sox.

    But it's the performance of Jon Lester that was most troubling.

    While everything crumbled around him, Lester was expected to take the ball every fifth day and give the Red Sox a chance to win. Instead, Lester had his worst season since becoming a full-time member of the starting rotation in 2008.

    His 4.82 ERA was the highest of his career, and for the first time, Lester failed to reach double-digit wins, had double-digit losses and allowed more hits than innings pitched.

New York Yankees

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    Biggest Surprise: Raúl Ibañez's playoff performance

    Raúl Ibañez etched his name into Yankees lore alongside players like Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Jim Leyritz with his performance in the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

    With the Yankees staring at a 2-1 series deficit, Ibañez hit a game-tying home run off Orioles closer Jim Johnson in the bottom of the ninth inning, only to follow that up with an even more dramatic blast off Brian Matusz in the bottom of the 12th inning, giving the Yankees a 3-2 win.

    Not to be outdone, Ibañez had more heroics in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers.

    With the Yankees trailing 4-2 in Game 1, Mark Teixeira on second base and two outs, Ibañez took Tigers' closer Jose Valverde deep for a two-run, game-tying home run.

    It wouldn't be enough to win the game—or the series—but the veteran did everything he could to carry the Yankees to victory.

    In eight postseason games (he did not play in Game 2 of the ALDS), Ibañez posted a .318/.423/.773 slash line with three home runs and five RBI.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Robinson Canó's playoff performance

    After a regular season that saw him finish fourth in the American League MVP race, with a .313/.379/.550 slash line, 33 home runs and 94 RBI, Robinson Canó, like much of the team's lineup,  did nothing in the playoffs.

    In nine playoff games, Canó managed only three hits, four RBI and scored only one run, finishing the postseason with a slash line of .075/.098/.125.

    That's completely unacceptable for anyone, much less someone considered one of the best players in the game.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Biggest Surprise: The package the Rays got for James Shields

    James Shields getting traded wasn't a surprise. But what the Rays were able to get from the Royals in exchange for him and Wade Davis was.

    Tampa Bay not only picked up a pair of pitching prospects with tremendous upside in Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, but the Rays landed the best hitting prospect in baseball, OF Wil Myers (h/t ESPN).

    Myers projects as the big bat that Tampa has been looking to pair with 3B Evan Longoria in the middle of the lineup. While he's going to start the season in the minors (h/t Hardball Talk), his impact on the major league team will be felt in a big way in 2013.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Evan Longoria's inability to stay on the field

    After a 2011 season that saw him miss 26 of the team's first 28 games due to an oblique injury (h/t Huffington Post), the Rays were counting on a full season of production from their All-Star third baseman.

    Instead, Longoria tore his hamstring at the end of April (h/t ESPN), an injury that kept him sidelined for more than three months, missing a total of 86 games.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Biggest Surprise: Blockbuster deal with Miami

    Nobody saw this one coming.

    Seemingly out of nowhere, GM Alex Anthopoulos reshaped Toronto's roster in one move, acquiring SS Jose Reyes, RHP Mark Buehrle, LHP Josh Johnson, OF/IF Emilio Bonafacio and C John Buck in exchange for SS Yunel Escobar and a handful of prospects.

    The move not only shocked the baseball world, but it put the American League on notice. Toronto is going for it all in 2013.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Ricky Romero

    Coming off a 2011 season that had many people talking about Ricky Romero as a legitimate Cy Young contender, Romero watched his rotation mates drop like flies to injury as he crumbled under the pressure of trying to carry the pitching staff.

    Romero finished with some ugly numbers: a 5.77 ERA, a 1.67 WHIP and 105 walks, the most in baseball.

Atlanta Braves

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    Biggest Surprise: Kris Medlen

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a Braves fan who didn't believe that Kris Medlen was a quality major league pitcher. But nobody thought he was this good.

    After undergoing Tommy John surgery toward the end of the 2010 season (h/t ESPN), the Braves bought Medlen along slowly in 2012. After spending the first four months of the season pitching out of the bullpen, the Braves put him back into the starting rotation in August.

    It was a brilliant move.

    Medlen wasn't good as a starter down the stretch in Atlanta—he was filthy.

    In 12 starts, he went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 83.2 innings of work. 

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Brandon Beachy's injury

    I considered the continued downfall of Dan Uggla and the regression of pitching prospect Julio Teheran, but losing Brandon Beachy was the Braves' most disheartening development in 2012.

    Beachy, 25, was putting up Cy Young-caliber numbers on the young season, posting a 2.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over his first 13 starts.

    Then, his elbow became sore, and it wasn't long before  Beachy was under the knife, having Tommy John surgery (h/t ESPN). It was a disappointing end to a stellar season.

Miami Marlins

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    Biggest Surprise: The shopping spree of 2012

    Miami made bold statement after bold statement prior to Opening Day in 2012.

    From bringing Ozzie Guillen on board to manage the club to signing big-time free agents like SS Jose Reyes, RHP Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell, the Marlins seemed to be in a great position to contend for the NL East title, or at the very least, one of the two NL wild-card spots.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: The fire sale of 2012

    After finishing with a 69-93 record, 29 games out of first place in the NL East, we all figured that changes were coming in Miami.

    But nobody expected a full house-cleaning.

    Yet that's exactly what we got, with the Marlins shedding the salaries of Reyes, Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, sending the five players to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for SS Yunel Escobar and a handful of prospects.

    This might work out well for Miami in the long run. But in the short run, it further alienates the diminishing number of fans who are still paying attention to the club in South Florida.

New York Mets

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    Biggest Surprise: R.A. Dickey

    R.A. Dickey had been a solid pitcher for the Mets since he joined the club in 2010, going 19-22 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over his first two seasons in Flushing.

    But the year Dickey had in 2012 was scintillating.

    The 37-year-old knuckleballer went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, leading baseball in innings pitched (233.2) and strikeouts (230) on his way to winning the National League Cy Young award.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Ike Davis

    With a slash line of .271/.357/.460 over the first 183 games of his major league career, big things were expected from 1B Ike Davis in the middle of the Mets' lineup in 2012.

    Instead, big disappointment was what emerged.

    Things got so bad that it was rumored that the Mets were considering sending Davis back to the minor leagues (h/t New York Daily News) less than two months into the season.

    While a demotion to the minors never came and his power numbers wound up being respectable—32 home runs and 90 RBI—his slash line was not.

    Davis finished with a .227/.308/.462 line, struggling to get on base with any regularity and finding himself inching dangerously close to the "all-or-nothing" category of hitters, where he either hits a home run or strikes out.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Biggest Surprise: Juan Pierre

    When Juan Pierre signed with the Phillies prior to the 2012 season, the prevailing thought was that he would be nothing more than the fourth outfielder and pinch runner. Instead, Pierre broke camp with the Phillies and played his way into the lineup.

    By the end of the season, Pierre had played in 130 games, posting a .307/.351/.371 slash line and leading the Phillies in stolen bases, swiping 37 bags in 44 tries.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: The 2012 season

    With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard injured to start the season, expectations were a bit tempered in the city of brotherly love.

    But with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the starting rotation, the Phillies were expected to contend in 2012.

    Sitting 11 games under .500 at the end of July with a 46-57 record, the Phillies began to get healthy and results improved.

    Over the season's final two months, Philadelphia posted a 35-24 mark. But it was too little, too late, as the Phillies missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 season.

Washington Nationals

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    Biggest Surprise: Ian Desmond

    Over the first two full seasons of his major league career, Ian Desmond averaged a .261/.303/.374 slash line, with nine home runs, 57 RBI and 21 stolen bases per season, all of which made his offensive outburst in 2012 even more surprising.

    Desmond set career highs in nearly every category, posting a .292/.335/.511 slash line to go with 25 home runs, 73 RBI and 21 stolen bases.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Shutting down Stephen Strasburg

    Instead of taking a page out of the Atlanta Braves' book and using Stephen Strasburg out of the bullpen to start the season, saving the bulk of his innings for the second half of the season, the Nationals named the phenom the team's Opening Day starter.

    Strasburg pitched well, going 15-6 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, but the Nationals, exercising extreme caution with the ace of the pitching staff who was a year removed from Tommy John surgery, shut down Strasburg for the season on September 8 (h/t Sporting News).

    The move annoyed Strasburg, upset his teammates and may have cost Washington a deep playoff run in 2012. as they lost in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series.

Chicago White Sox

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    Biggest Surprise: Chris Sale

    To say that moving Chris Sale from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2012 was a success would be selling the 23-year-old southpaw short, because Sale was nothing short of phenomenal for the White Sox in 2012.

    Sale earned his first All-Star berth and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young voting after going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, striking out 192 batters in 192 innings of work.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: The end of the 2012 season

    The White Sox led the AL Central for much of the regular season, and with 15 games left in the season, Chicago held a three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers.

    Chicago managed to squander the lead, finishing the season 4-11, in second place in the division and on the outside looking in on the American League playoffs.

Cleveland Indians

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    Biggest Surprise: Signing Nick Swisher

    After years of spending frugally, the Cleveland Indians finally made a splash in free agency, signing right-fielder Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million deal with a vesting option that could make it a five-year, $70 million contract (h/t ESPN).

    Swisher gives the Indians the power bat in the middle of the lineup that the team has been searching for, a solid corner outfielder who can also play first base, and, most importantly, one of the best clubhouse influences in the game.

    His infectious attitude and personality will be a positive influence on youngsters like Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis in the Indians' clubhouse.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Ubaldo Jimenez

    Cleveland's big acquisition in 2011, Jimenez continued to prove that he's not close to being a quality major league starting pitcher in 2012.

    Jimenez led baseball with 17 losses in 2012, pitching to a 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 31 starts.

    In 42 career starts for the Indians, Jimenez has gone 13-21 with a 5.32 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. 

Detroit Tigers

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    Biggest Surprise: Miggy's Triple Crown

    Everyone knew that Miguel Cabrera was one of the best players in baseball, but not even Cabrera could have imagined the season he put together in 2012.

    Cabrera became only the 17th player in baseball history—and the first since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat for the Boston Red Sox in 1967—to win the Triple Crown.

    Miggy finished with a .330/.393/.606 slash line, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. Cabrera picked up his second consecutive American League batting title and first MVP award.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: 2012 World Series

    The Tigers scored a total of six runs against the San Francisco Giants in the World Series: three in Game 1, three in Game 4.

    The lack of production from Detroit's lineup was the major reason that the Tigers were swept in the team's first World Series appearance since 2006.

    Take a look at just how bad things got for the Tigers' lineup:

    WORLD SERIES REGULAR SEASON
      BA OPS HR RBI BA OPS HR RBI
    Alex Avila .143 .393 0 0 .243 .736 9 48
    Quintin Berry .000 .111 0 0 .258 .684 2 29
    Miguel Cabrera .231 .837 1 3 .330 .999 44 139
    Andy Dirks .111 .311 0 0 .322 .857 8 35
    Prince Fielder .071 .205 0 0 .313 .940 30 108
    Avisail Garcia .000 .167 0 0 .319 .692 0 3
    Omar Infante .333 .708 0 0 .274 .719 12 53
    Austin Jackson .231 .719 0 0 .300 .856 16 66
    Don Kelly .000 .000 0 0 .186 .523 1 7
    Gerald Laird .000 .000 0 0 .282 .710 2 11
    Jhonny Peralta .067 .333 1 2 .239 .689 13 63
    Ramon Santiago .000 .000 0 0 .206 .555 2 17
    Delmon Young .357 1.043 1 1 .267 .707 18 74

Kansas City Royals

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    Biggest Surprise: Trading for James Shields

    Kansas City desperately needed a quality, front-of-the-rotation arm who could take the reins as the clear ace of the pitching staff.

    That's exactly what Kansas City got in James Shields, who the team acquired, along with Wade Davis, in exchange for four prospects, including the team's top hitting prospect (Wil Myers) and top pitching prospect (Jake Ordorizzi) (h/t ESPN).

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Eric Hosmer

    After a rookie campaign that saw him post a .293/.334/.465 slash line with 19 home runs and 78 RBI, big things were expected from Eric Hosmer in 2012.

    Instead of taking the next step in his development, Hosmer regressed, chasing bad pitches and hitting only .232/.304/.359 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI.

Minnesota Twins

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    Biggest Surprise: Scott Diamond

    One of the lone bright spots on a pretty miserable pitching staff in Minnesota, Scott Diamond emerged as an arm the Twins can build a rotation around in 2013.

    Diamond led the team with a 12-9 record, posting a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, walking a league-low 1.6 batters per nine innings of work.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: The Rest of the starting rotation

    While Diamond stood out in the Twins' rotation, he could have pitched far worse and still been the lone bright spot.

    Twins' starters pitched to a 39-75 record, a WHIP of 1.48 and an ERA of 5.40, worst in the American League and ahead of only the Colorado Rockies (5.81) for the worst ERA in baseball.

Chicago Cubs

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    Biggest Surprise: Jeff Samardzija's emergence

    We knew that Jeff Samardzija was talented, but all indications pointed to him being a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm heading into 2012, his first as a full-fledged member of the starting rotation.

    Instead, Samardzija emerged as a legitimate front-of-the-rotation arm. He led the Cubs with nine wins, pitching to a 3.81 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, averaging only 2.9 walks per nine innings while striking out 9.3 batters per nine innings of work.

    More impressively, if you take July out of the equation, when he went 0-4 with a 10.41 ERA, Samardzija pitched to a 2.80 ERA over the rest of the season.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Bryan LaHair's second half

    LaHair, finally getting a chance to play every day in the majors, made the NL All-Star team after a first half in which he had a slash line of .286/.364/.519 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI.

    Instead of picking up where he left off in the second half, LaHair was unable to keep producing at the plate, and coupled with Anthony Rizzo's arrival, his playing time diminished.

    LaHair posted a second-half slash line of .202/.269/.303, hitting only two home runs and 10 RBI over the rest of the season.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Biggest Surprise: Homer Bailey

    After spending parts of five seasons with the Reds, never quite living up to the expectations placed on him as the team's best pitching prospect, everything finally clicked for Bailey in 2012.

    He set career marks in every pitching category, going 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, striking out 168 batters in 208 innings of work.

    The icing on the cake for Bailey came in his next-to-last start of the regular season, when he threw a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, walking one and striking out 10.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Team's performance in the NLDS

    The playoffs started off great for the Reds, as the NL Central champions took a 2-0 lead in the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 14-2.

    But then the wheels came off.

    Cincinnati would be outscored 16-8 over the final three games of the series as the "Team of Destiny" won the last three games of the series en route to winning the World Series.

Houston Astros

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    Biggest Surprise: Lucas Harrell

    It was a tough call between Jose Altuve and Lucas Harrell for biggest surprise of 2012 in Houston, but Harrell gets the nod.

    The 27-year-old righty, who had gone 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in 42 major league innings prior to 2012, came out of nowhere and emerged as the ace of the Astros' rotation.

    Harrell finished with an 11-11 record, pitching to a 3.76 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 193.2 innings of work.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: J.D. Martinez

    After hitting .274 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 53 games for the Astros in 2011, big things were expected from 25-year-old J.D. Martinez as he received regular playing time in 2012.

    Martinez failed to capitalize on his opportunity, playing in only 113 games, hitting .241 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Biggest Surprise: Norichika Aoki

    An international signing that was overlooked in the wake of the Yoenis Cespedes hype, Norichika Aoki put together an outstanding season for the Brewers in 2012, not garnering nearly enough support in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    Aoki posted a .288/.355/.433 slash line, hitting 10 home runs with 50 RBI, 30 stolen bases and 81 runs scored atop one of the most potent lineups in baseball.

    The emergence of Michael Fiers in the starting rotation was also in the running, but Aoki won out

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Having to trade Zack Greinke

    It wasn't a surprise that the Brewers wound up having to trade Zack Greinke, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing

    Seemingly a great fit with the small-market Brewers, the team offered the free-agent-to-be a five-year contract extension in excess of $100 million, something Greinke turned down (via MLB.com), leading to his eventual trade to the Los Angeles Angels.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Biggest Surprise: First Place at the All-Star break

    It certainly wasn't a big lead, but the Pirates headed into the All-Star break with a 48-37 record, one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central lead.

    While the lead in the division was short-lived, it gave long-suffering Pirates fans hope for the future.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: James McDonald's second half

    Unfortunately, Pittsburgh's division lead didn't last, partly due to James McDonald, the team's best starting pitcher in the first half of the season, who was awful in the second half.

    After going 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 17 first-half starts, McDonald imploded in the second half.

    In 13 appearances (12 starts), McDonald went 3-5 with a 7.52 ERA and 1.79 WHIP.

    While no rational fan expected McDonald to continue pitching like he did in the first half, nobody expected his tremendous collapse to be as ugly as it was.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Biggest Surprise: Lance Lynn

    While he struggled down the stretch, Lance Lynn came out of the Cardinals' bullpen to become a major part of the team's starting rotation in 2012.

    Lynn would lead the Cardinals in wins, going 18-7 with a 3.78 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 180 strikeouts in 176 innings of work. That's not bad for a guy who had a total of two major league starts before the season began.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Carlos Beltran's Second Half

    The first few months of Carlos Beltran's St, Louis Cardinals career were great.

    Beltran hit .296 with 20 home runs and 65 RBI before the All-Star break, finding his name bandied about for National League MVP and making the two-year, $26 million deal he signed in the offseason (h/t San Francisco Chronicle) look like one of the steals of the winter.

    But after the All-Star break, things weren't quite the same. Beltran struggled, hitting .236. While his power remained, with 12 home runs, Beltran was a far less effective run producer, driving in only 32 runs.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Biggest Surprise: Signing Josh Hamilton

    It takes a major move to beat out Mike Trout's MVP-caliber season, but that's exactly what Angels' owner Arte Moreno had up his sleeve.

    For the second consecutive offseason, the Angels snagged the biggest bat available on the free agent market, as the Angels signed perennial MVP candidate Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal (h/t Los Angeles Angels).

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Missing the Playoffs

    After adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to the mix heading into the 2012 season, an AL West title and a trip to the World Series were the expectations in Anaheim.

    After the Angels traded for Zack Greinke at the non-waiver trade deadline, those expectations only grew.

    Yet the playoffs eluded Mike Scoscia's club, as the Angels finished five games out of first place in the division and four games out of a wild-card spot.

Oakland A's

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    Biggest Surprise: AL West champions

    That says it all, doesn't it?

    In a division with the mighty Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers, the small-market Oakland A's shocked the world and won the AL West on the final day of the regular season.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Jemile Weeks

    While the team exceeded fans' wildest expectations, second baseman Jemile Weeks regressed from his solid major league debut in 2011.

    Weeks, who had posted a .303/.340/.421 slash line in 437 plate appearances in 2011, managed only a .221/.305/.304 line in about 80 more plate appearances in 2012.

Seattle Mariners

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    Biggest Surprise: Kyle Seager

    Seattle thought that it was getting its power infusion in 2012 from the addition of C/DH Jesus Montero, but it was a third baseman who wasn't thought to be much more than a role player who provided the biggest punch.

    Seager led the Mariners with 20 home runs, 35 doubles and 86 RBI.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Dustin Ackley

    Justin Smoak would have been a worthy choice as well, but Dustin Ackley was far and away the most disappointing member of the Mariners' lineup in 2012.

    Coming off a season in which he had a .273/.348/.418 slash line and.finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting, many expected a breakout season in 2012.

    Ackley struggled mightily, posting a .226/.294/.328 slash line and failing to establish himself as one of the bright young up-and-comers in the game.

Texas Rangers

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    Biggest Surprise: Robbie Ross

    The 23-year-old southpaw burst onto the major league scene in 2012 with an outstanding season pitching out of the Rangers' bullpen.

    Ross went 6-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, relying on his ability to induce ground balls to dominate the opposition rather than overpower them with his stuff.

    Ross's 62.4 percent groundball rate ranked seventh in baseball among relievers, according to Fangraphs.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: The Josh Hamilton debacle

    Losing Josh Hamilton's production in the middle of the lineup is hard enough to overcome by itself.

    Watching that production join one of your division rivals, as Hamilton did when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels (h/t Los Angeles Times), is virtually impossible to overcome.

    As Mike DiGiovanna notes in the Times article linked above, the Rangers are upset that they never had a chance to match Hamilton's offer.

    If the Rangers truly wanted to keep him, you'd think that they would have made that abundantly clear early in the free agency process and gotten a deal done.

    Someone dropped the ball somewhere along the way.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Biggest Surprise: Wade Miley

    An afterthought entering the season, the Diamondbacks didn't have lofty expectations for Wade Miley, which made his outstanding campaign even more of a surprise.

    Miley started the season in the bullpen but was needed in the rotation on April 23—and he hasn't looked back since.

    Miley pitched his way to a second-place finish to Bryce Harper in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, earning his first All-Star selection along the way.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Ian Kennedy

    Unlike Miley, the Diamondbacks had lofty expectations of Ian Kennedy, who went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 2011, finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young award race and garnering MVP support as well.

    Instead of lead the Diamondbacks' rotation, Kennedy wilted, struggling with his control (he led baseball with 14 hit batsmen) and finishing 15-12 with a 4.02 ERA.

    It was not a terrible season by any means, but when compared to what he did a year earlier, those results look worse than they actually are.

Colorado Rockies

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    Biggest Surprise: Wilin Rosario

    Ramon Hernandez was supposed to be the starting catcher in 2012, mentoring Wilin Rosario until the youngster was ready for the position. But Hernandez was injured early and Rosario ran away with the job.

    Rosario posted a .270/.312/.530 slash line with 28 home runs and 71 RBI, numbers that found him finishing fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year race.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Jeremy Guthrie

    Colorado traded for Jeremy Guthrie thinking that it had acquired a solid veteran arm that would give the team a chance to win every fifth day.

    Instead, Guthrie imploded, going 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over 90.2 innings of work.

    Before the end of July, Guthrie was out of Colorado, traded to Kansas City for another struggling arm, Jonathan Sanchez.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Biggest Surprise: Most expensive trade in history

    Shortly after taking control of the team, the Dodgers' new ownership group made a huge splash by adding $260 million of player salary in a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox..

    The Dodgers landed 1B Adrian Gonzalez, OF Carl Crawford, RHP Josh Beckett and IF Nick Punto in exchange for 1B James Loney and a handful of prospects.

    While it didn't result in a playoff run in 2012, the Dodgers expect big things from that investment in 2013.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: Dee Gordon

    Gordon showed flashes of brilliance in 2011, hitting .304 with 27 stolen bases in 54 games played.

    His inability to draw a walk, coupled with a thumb injury that cost him the majority of the second half of the season (h/t MLB.com) made his 2012 a disappointment on a number of different levels.

San Diego Padres

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    Biggest Surprise: Chase Headley

    A solid player throughout his five-year career, Chase Headley broke out in a big way in Year No. 6.

    Headley set career highs in nearly every offensive category, hitting .286 with 31 home runs and a NL-leading 115 RBI. He was a first-time All-Star, Gold Glove recipient and finished fifth in the NL MVP race.

     

    Biggest Disappointment: First-Half performance

    As San Diego got healthy and continued to add youngsters to the mix, the Padres got better, finishing the season strong, going 42-33 after the All-Star break.

    But that run wasn't enough to overcome a 34-53 first half, one that found the Padres facing a double-digit deficit in the NL West by the middle of May.

San Francisco Giants

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    Biggest Surprise: Winning the World Series

    Facing elimination, the Giants came back in both the NLDS and NLCS to win the series, using that momentum to sweep the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, winning the Giants' second World Series championship in the past three years..

    Biggest Disappointment: Tim Lincecum's first half

    Two-time NL Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum was awful in the first half of the season.

    Over his first 18 starts, Lincecum went 3-10 with a 6.42 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.

    After the All- Star break, those numbers became much better, as he pitched to a 3.83 ERA and 1.34 WHIP and looked more like the All-Star performer that we've come to expect from him.