Every MLB Team's Player Most Thrilled to See the End of 2012
In just two days, the calendar will turn to a new page and 2012 will be but a distant memory. For many players in MLB, they’ll look back fondly at their performance and their experience.
Others, however, just can’t wait to erase some horrible memories.
The end of 2012 means a new beginning. For quite a few players, it also means a chance to redeem themselves after a season marred by injuries, poor performance or other types of drama that made the season completely forgettable.
Here is a look at one player from each MLB team who will be absolutely elated to see the end of 2012.
In some instances, we will include players no longer with the team.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton
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Right fielder Justin Upton didn’t just have to endure a down season production-wise, he dealt with trade speculation all year long.
Upton was the subject of trade talk virtually the entire year—and for almost three years running.
For most of this past summer Upton’s name was popular on the trade rumor circuit. He’s dealing with rumors again this offseason, especially now that the Diamondbacks have signed free-agent outfielder Cody Ross.
Upton may not know where he’ll be next season, and he’ll likely look back at 2012 as a year of complete uncertainty for sure.
Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens
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Starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens was on top of the world in July 2011. He had completed a fabulous first half, posting a 12-3 record and 1.87 ERA in 16 starts, earning an All-Star selection in the process.
Then the bottom fell out.
Jurrjens strained his right knee in early August, the same knee that required surgery the previous October. He limped to the finish line in 2011 with a 1-3 record and 5.88 ERA in seven second-half starts.
The 2012 season was much more of the same.
Jurrjens was simply awful from the start, posting a 3-4 record, a 6.89 ERA and a 1.862 WHIP in 10 starts. Jurrgens spent almost half the season at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Now, Jurrjens finds himself looking for another team after the Braves non-tendered him in November.
That qualifies as a year to forget.
Baltimore Orioles: Brian Roberts
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Forget the 2012 season? Heck, second baseman Brian Roberts would like to forget the last three years.
Roberts has played in just 115 games since the beginning of 2010—including just 17 games last season.
He battled through a series of concussions and finally made his way back to the Orioles lineup in June after missing over a year.
Just three weeks later, Roberts was again out of the lineup with what was originally thought to be a groin strain.
But this is Roberts we’re talking about—it just wasn’t that simple. His groin injury was actually a torn labrum in his right hip that required season-ending surgery.
Roberts is expected to be ready by spring training, but no question he’ll look back at 2012 as a completely lost season.
Boston Red Sox: Jon Lester
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Considering that the Boston Red Sox had their worst season since 1965, any number of players would be worthy of this particular list.
Prior to the beginning of the 2012 season, Lester had the highest winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 50 decisions in MLB history.
However, after last season, Lester will have some work to do to reclaim that honor.
He posted a 9-14 record and 4.82 ERA in 33 starts—by far the worst season of his career.
The 2013 season brings a level of familiarity for Lester, as new manager John Farrell rejoins the Sox. Lester’s best years were with Farrell as his pitching coach.
Lester already can’t wait for a new year. Upon the news that Farrell was his new manager, he was giddy with excitement:
Welcome back John!!Can't wait to get back to work!! #RedSox— Jon Lester (@JLester31) October 21, 2012
Considering what he went through in 2012, who can blame him?
Chicago Cubs: Ian Stewart
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When third baseman Ian Stewart was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Chicago Cubs last year, he was given a new lease on his baseball life.
Unfortunately for Stewart, it was short-lived.
After hitting just .201 with four home runs in 55 games, Stewart’s season was cut short by lingering pain in his left wrist that required season-ending surgery.
Stewart was re-signed by the Cubs in December with the hope that the surgery cured Stewart’s problems.
He gets another new lease on his baseball life after a forgetful year.
Chicago White Sox: John Danks
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Just before Christmas last year, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher John Danks got a very nice gift when he was given a five-year, $65 million contract.
That gift, however, was not repaid in kind by Danks in 2012.
Danks got off to a rough start, posting a 3-4 record and 5.70 ERA in his first nine starts. He seemed to be back on track after defeating the Chicago Cubs on May 19. However, he went on the disabled list just days later with pain in the back of his throwing shoulder.
Danks underwent season-ending surgery in August after an unsuccessful rehab stint.
A recent check-up gave the White Sox positive news, as Danks is on track to be ready for spring training. No doubt that he is raring to go and wants to put last year behind him as well.
Cincinnati Reds: Scott Rolen
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When his career comes to an end, third baseman Scott Rolen will be remembered as a man who dazzled with the glove and the bat...when he was healthy.
It’s those last four words that have to be remembered.
Rolen has suffered through shoulder issues since his early 30s and has played in more than 130 games only once since 2006.
Those shoulder issues were in evidence once again in 2012, as Rolen was limited to just 92 games.
After the way last year ended, it sounds like Rolen doesn’t want his career to end on such a sour note.
Cleveland Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez
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The Cleveland Indians announced in late October that they picked up the 2013 option on the contract of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
Considering the year he had, Jimenez should be counting his blessings.
Jimenez’s 5.40 ERA in 2012 qualified for the fifth-highest ERA by a starter in franchise history. He led the American League in losses (17) and wild pitches (16), and he even had trouble holding runners on base, giving up a league-high 32 stolen bases.
Jimenez walked 95 batters as well and could have passed the century mark had he not been shut down following his Sept. 22 start.
A forgetful year in Jimenez’s case is a vast understatement.
Colorado Rockies: Jonathan Sanchez
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Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez started his year with the Kansas City Royals and ended it with the Colorado Rockies.
It’s safe to say that not one part of the year was memorable in a good way.
Sanchez posted a 1-6 record and 7.76 ERA for the Royals in 12 starts, along with a 2.044 WHIP and 7.4 BB/9 rate.
Following his midseason trade to the Rockies, Sanchez lost all three of his decisions with a 9.53 ERA and 2.294 WHIP. His season finally and mercifully ended when he was placed on the disabled list in early August with left biceps tendinitis.
The 2012 season wasn’t just forgetful for Sanchez—he’d likely like to erase it from his memory bank completely.
Detroit Tigers: Jose Valverde
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The man they call "Papa Grande" resembled something more like "Papa Gross" after the way his 2012 season ended.
Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde was a perfect 49-for-49 in save opportunities in 2011. In the regular season this year, however, Valverde was a bit more pedestrian, compiling 35 saves in 40 chances with a 3.78 ERA.
During the postseason, Valverde completely imploded. He gave up nine runs in 2.2 total innings, including blown saves in both the Division Series and AL Championship Series.
Valverde is now without a job and will see a huge decrease in pay with whatever team decides to take a chance on him next season.
Houston Astros: Bud Norris
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If there is one thing Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris would like to erase from his memory, it would be his starts on the road in the 2012 season.
The difference in Norris’ home/road splits is literally Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like.
At Minute Maid Park, Norris looked like an All-Star, posting a 4-1 record and 1.71 ERA in 11 starts, with a 0.964 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 rate.
On the road, Norris was 3-12 with a 6.94 ERA in 18 starts, with a 1.690 WHIP and 7.9 K/9 rate.
One could probably peruse home/road splits for each MLB pitcher going back many years and not see such a stark contrast.
If I were Norris, I’d be forgetting every single road trip of the 2012 season.
Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar
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During a press conference at the MLB winter meetings in Nashville in early December, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost expressed optimism concerning starting pitcher Luke Hochevar.
“I look for Luke Hochevar to bounce back,” Yost declared. “I really do. I think Luke has great stuff, and I feel good every time he steps on the mound.
“The optimist in me thinks he’s going to have a great year.”
Yost may be the only one on the planet that shares that optimism.
The first overall pick in the 2006 MLB draft has been a huge disappointment at the major league level, with a 38-59 record and 5.39 ERA in parts of six seasons. Hochevar was 8-16 with a 5.73 ERA in 32 starts last season.
Having optimism is one thing—believing in a pipe dream is another thing entirely.
Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells
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Vernon Wells will look back at his career at some point in the future and will likely completely look past the 2012 season.
In fact, he might look past his entire time with the Los Angeles Angels.
Wells found himself picking up a lot of splinters on the bench last season. With the emergence of Mike Trout, the transition of Mark Trumbo to the outfield and a thumb injury that caused him to miss two months, Wells’ entire 2012 season was a nightmare.
Whether or not Wells is with the Angels next season remains to be seen at this point. But it’s a safe bet that his New Year’s resolution is to forget last season entirely.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Juan Uribe
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After helping the San Francisco Giants win a World Series title in 2010, infielder Juan Uribe signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
To say Uribe has been a bust is putting it mildly.
He played in just 66 games last season while dealing with a left wrist injury. This is one year after Uribe played in just 77 games with an assortment of injuries as well.
Uribe is now the forgotten man in Los Angeles. In fact, they began shopping him aggressively at the winter meetings in December.
The forgotten man in L.A. would definitely like 2012 to be the forgotten year as well.
Miami Marlins: Jacob Turner
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At the beginning of the 2012 season, Jacob Turner was a highly-touted prospect who was looking forward to a long and successful career with the Detroit Tigers.
Now, Turner is wondering what the future will hold for him in South Florida.
Turner found himself as a member of the Miami Marlins following the trade that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers.
He pitched well for the Marlins, compiling a 3.38 ERA in seven starts. However, the future is indeed quite a bit more cloudy—going from a World Series contender to a team that’s in flux—for lack of a better or more positive phrase.
Milwaukee Brewers: Rickie Weeks
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At his press conference during the MLB winter meetings in early December, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke talked about his star second baseman, Rickie Weeks.
Roenicke expects that, for the 2013 season, ”Rickie will be back to being Rickie.”
No doubt that Weeks is hoping for that as well.
Weeks went through a miserable slump for the entire first half of the 2012 season, entering the All-Star break with a .199 average and 28.6 percent strikeout rate.
He rebounded to end the season with a .230 average and respectable .328 on-base percentage, but it was nonetheless a lost season.
An ankle injury suffered in 2011 and lingering pain from that injury likely affected Weeks’ first-half performance. However, it’s still a season he would like to turn the page on.
Minnesota Twins: Nick Blackburn
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As of right now, the Minnesota Twins will have a total of 34 pitchers reporting to spring training in February.
Longtime Twin Nick Blackburn will be among those competing for a roster spot.
For the Twins, it’s almost a matter of throwing things against the refrigerator and seeing what sticks.
After a year in which the Twins posted a team ERA of 4.77—just 0.01 in front of the last-place Cleveland Indians—the Twins will try just about anything to find improvement.
For Blackburn, improvement is the word of the day—or, in his case, the entire 2013 season.
Blackburn was easily one of the worst pitchers in the American League last season, compiling a 4-9 record and 7.39 ERA in 19 starts with a 1.713 WHIP.
Now, he’ll be battling along with 33 other pitchers just get to get another chance.
New York Mets: Frank Francisco
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New York Mets reliever Frank Francisco certainly had a forgetful year.
At least he didn’t throw a chair into the stands.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson signed both Francisco and Jon Rauch last offseason in an effort to bolster a struggling bullpen.
So much for bolstering—he Mets had a bullpen ERA of 4.65, the second-worst in all of baseball.
Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA with 23 saves, and many of those were of the fingernail-biting variety.
He underwent minor surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow, but is expected to be ready by spring training.
Hopefully for the Mets, he’ll come in with a fresh outlook and a short memory.
New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez
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At the beginning of the 2012 season, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez came to training camp with a fresh outlook and a new attitude.
He gave a stirring 10-minute speech to his teammates prior to the start of the Yankees’ exhibition schedule. It certainly seemed like A-Rod was back with a vengeance.
Unfortunately, he ended the season with a whimper.
Rodriguez hit just .272 with 18 home runs during the regular season, missing well over a month with a broken bone in his left hand courtesy of a wayward pitch by Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez.
When A-Rod returned to the lineup in early September, he finished the season with just one extra-base hit after Sept. 14. And he followed up in the postseason by hitting just .120 and riding the pine for several games.
Now, Rodriguez’s 2013 won’t even start until early July at the earliest. He will undergo a second hip operation in four years in January.
For a year that started out strong, Rodriguez’s year ended with a fizzle.
Oakland Athletics: Tyson Ross
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Not a whole lot went wrong for the Oakland Athletics in the 2012 season. Their improbable run to the American League West Division title was easily one of the top stories of the season in Major League Baseball.
However, pitcher Tyson Ross might want a do-over.
It was certainly not a memorable year.
Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay
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For many pitchers in Major League Baseball, posting an 11-8 record with a 4.49 ERA would be considered a fairly productive season.
For Roy Halladay, however, it would be considered disastrous.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner, well-known for his durability, threw just 156.1 innings in 2012—the first time since 2005 that he has not thrown at least 220 innings. A strained latissimus dorsi kept Halladay out of action for almost two months.
Halladay will no doubt be looking to put 2012 in the rear-view mirror as quickly as possible as he prepares to return to form next season.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Erik Bedard
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The 2012 season started out pretty well for Erik Bedard—freshly armed with a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. And he literally was freshly-armed as well, enjoying an injury-free 2011 season after years of shoulder woes with the Seattle Mariners.
However, Bedard’s season quickly turned sour.
After posting respectable numbers in the first two months of the season (3-5 record, 3.12 ERA in 10 starts), things went downhill quickly for Bedard.
Over the next three months, Bedard posted a 4-9 record and 6.35 ERA in 14 starts, prompting his release by the Pirates on Aug. 28.
Bedard will open the new year looking for a new employer.
San Diego Padres: Yasmani Grandal
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The year started out so well for San Diego Padres catching prospect Yasmani Grandal.
Starting out the season in the minors, Grandal hit .323 with a .935 OPS before earning a call-up to the big leagues for good on June 30. He missed time on the disabled list with an oblique strain, but he ended the season with a solid .297 average with eight home runs, 36 RBI and an .863 OPS.
On Nov. 7, it was revealed that Grandal had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, earning him a 50-game ban to start the 2013 season.
You think Grandal would like a do-over on that fateful decision?
San Francisco Giants: Aubrey Huff
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For the sum of just $10 million, San Francisco Giants slugger Aubrey Huff was a glorified cheerleader in 2012.
He batted through anxiety issues that kept him on the disabled list, then sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee leaping over the dugout railing in an attempt to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game performance.
In all, Huff hit .192 with just one home run in 52 games, and his $10 million option for the 2013 season was declined by the Giants.
It was a year to remember for the Giants—and a year to forget for Huff.
Seattle Mariners: Chone Figgins
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In 2011, Chone Figgins suffered through hip injuries that limited him to just 81 games and a .188 batting average.
This past year was even worse.
Figgins played in just 66 games, hitting just .181 with a .262 on-base percentage and just four stolen bases. The Seattle Mariners released him in November, owing him another $8 million for the 2013 season as well.
Figgins’ signing will go down as one of the worst contract decisions in Mariners history and Figgins' entire tenure in Seattle will be long remembered as one of failure—last year included.
St. Louis Cardinals: Lance Berkman
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The 2012 season for Lance Berkman will officially be remembered as a season of knee buckling—and not in a good way.
His balky knees allowed him to play in just 32 games the entire season. Three trips to the disabled list and two surgeries marked Berkman’s 2012 campaign.
There’s still a chance that Berkman could decide to play rather than choose retirement. Who could blame him after how the year transpired for him?
Tampa Bay Rays: Carlos Pena
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The Tampa Bay Rays won 90 games in 2012, despite having an offense that hit just .240 and finished 11th in the American League in runs scored.
Two of the bats brought in to help the struggling offense—Luke Scott and Carlos Pena—largely failed to deliver.
Pena was returning to the Rays after a one-year stint with the Chicago Cubs. However, his return to Tampa wasn’t pretty.
In 160 games, Pena hit just .197 with 19 home runs and 182 strikeouts.
He will now be making 60 percent less money next season for the Houston Astros, signing a one-year, $2.9 million contract.
Texas Rangers: Roy Oswalt
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Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt elected to pass up offers from several teams last offseason, preferring to wait until the season started to find the right situation for him.
That opportunity came in late May when the Texas Rangers inked Oswalt to a one-year, $4 million deal.
The right situation turned out to be the wrong decision.
Oswalt’s time in Texas was miserable. He posted an ugly 5.80 ERA in 17 appearances, nine of them starts. Oswalt spent the latter part of the season in the bullpen after being demoted from the rotation.
He didn’t take the demotion kindly.
"Well, I mean we're 4-2 in the games I started. I guess I should've been 6-0," Oswalt said. "Two bad ones and won four of them so ... I don't know. We'll see how it goes.
"It wasn't my decision. I'm down there to throw when they need me, I guess."
If Oswalt had a do-over, he’d likely rethink that decision.
Toronto Blue Jays: Ricky Romero
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In 2011, Ricky Romero was the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays staff, posting a 15-11 record, a 2.92 ERA, 1.138 WHIP and a 10th-place finish in AL Cy Young Award balloting.
However, after his 2012 campaign, he might just be the fifth-best starter on the Jays’ staff.
Romero posted a 9-14 record and 5.77 ERA last season with a 1.674 WHIP. After the trades that brought Josh Johnson, Mark Beurhle and R.A. Dickey north of the border, along with the emergence of Brandon Morrow, Romero is clearly no longer the ace.
If he could just turn back the clock.
Washington Nationals: Henry Rodriguez
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There’s not much to find that went wrong for the Washington Nationals in 2012. As a team, they far surpassed expectations on their way to a 98-win season and the National League East Division title.
However, for reliever Henry Rodriguez, up, down and wild are adjectives that could describe his year.
Rodriguez ascended to the role of closer after an injury to Drew Storen and the ineffectiveness of Brad Lidge.
At first, Rodriguez thrived, posting eight saves in his first 10 chances and a 2.45 ERA in the first six weeks of the season. However, after a blown save against the Cincinnati Reds on May 13, Rodriguez imploded and his control was non-existent.
He spent time on the disabled list when he slammed his finger in a bathroom door, then back spasms led to another DL stint. Finally, Rodriguez’s season ended in late July with elbow pain that required surgery in late August.
That about covers the gamut, doesn’t it?
Rodriguez is expected to be ready for spring training, but what role he’ll have has yet to have been determined.
Considering everything that transpired, that’s a year that I would certainly want to turn the page on.
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.