Big Names Already Blowing Their Chance to Impress This Spring
Major League Baseball is an inherent hierarchy. At the top, there are 25 roster spots on each franchise. Each man that occupies one of these positions has proven himself at one point or another.
In fact, some of these have proven themselves quite well. Some of them have become superstars, or at least solid everyday players.
For some of these players, though, 2013 has been less than kind. Some players that are typically strong have either stumbled out of the gate or not even stepped onto the field yet. I’m going to highlight six of these players in particular for you now.
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
I know that he only missed his second start of the year because of a blister, but Tim Lincecum needs to get on the field and prove that last year was simply an aberration. His first time out did not help.
After winning a pair of Cy Young awards and four consecutive top 10 finishes in the voting, 2012 saw Lincecum only go 10-15 with a 5.81 ERA. Obviously, that needs to get better this season, so even though it was only one start, it would have been nice to see him return to his old self right off the bat this spring.
Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs
It looks as if Matt Garza is going to miss the first month of the season, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Certainly, as a free agent at the end of the year, he was hoping for a little bit better start to the year than he got. Injury limited him to only 18 starts last year, and he is going to now have to bounce back very well to prove that he has moved beyond his injuries.
Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves
As a statistics major, I know that a small sample size can certainly be deceptive. A few outliers can skew results significantly.
However, as I was looking through some numbers, Dan Uggla scared me a little bit. I understand that he strikes out a lot, but 10 strikeouts in 18 at-bats is a bit concerning. Maybe I’m overreacting, but at the very least, that is a very significant cold streak that I’m sure he is not enthralled with starting spring training.
Maicer Izturis, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays brought in Maicer Izturis as the probable front-runner for the second base slot in their reinvented lineup.
However, he has failed to collect a hit in his first 12 at-bats, and his competitors—Mark DeRosa and Emilio Bonifacio—are both off to strong starts. Unless he is able to get his bat moving, it might be another year of utility work for Izturis.
Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
I know that Charlie Manuel is not worried about his closer, but Jonathan Papelbon currently has a 43.20 ERA. That makes me a bit nervous.
Again, the statistician in me says that these bad performances are simply outliers and that he should eventually return to some type of average. However, if you look at the rest of his spring training career, he has generally been pretty solid except for 2011. Unknown territory makes me nervous.
Bruce Rondon, Detroit Tigers
Bruce Rondon might not be a big name yet, but he certainly has a big arm. As the probable front-runner for the closing job with the Detroit Tigers, he has not done an awful lot to stand out so far.
Opponents are hitting .313 against him, and he has given up more than a hit per inning. Obviously, that needs to turn around, but the positive sign for him is that the Detroit Tigers do not seem ready to give up on him whatsoever, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. He has time to turn it around.
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