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Winning a World Series is one of the toughest things to do during one’s Major League Baseball career, and 2013 may be the last chance for several notable players.
But why 2013 and not 2014 or potentially even 2015? Well, for one, some of the players on this list aren’t getting any younger. At best, they have a year or two left in the tank, and they may not even be on the roster of a projected contender.
Even those not staring retirement in the face can have short-term chances as well. But this is primarily because a contract with a contender may be expiring soon, and prospects are rapidly rising through the system, leaving that player without a spot on the team in the near future.
Desperate is a very strong term, but it’s an appropriate one in this situation. These players desperately need a Fall Classic victory this season.
*All statistics in this article were obtained via Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.
Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees
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Ichiro Suzuki has been one of the top outfielders over the last 10-plus seasons. Remember his rookie season when he took home both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors? He’s consistently been one of the tougher players to retire at the plate and also one of the best in right field.
But the one problem with Ichiro’s career is that he’s never played on teams that were strong playoff contenders. 2001, Ichiro’s first year in the big leagues, was the only season in which the Seattle Mariners made the postseason during his career there. Seattle, however, would lose to Ichiro’s next and current club, the New York Yankees, in the ALCS.
In the middle of last season, Seattle traded Ichiro to New York, where one would presume he had a much better chance at making the playoffs and potentially winning his first World Series. The Yankees, though, couldn’t get past the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS and were eliminated.
Entering the 2013 season at 39 years old, Ichiro’s time is clearly running out. It seems, however, that he may never get a ring. The Yankees are extremely banged up this year and may not live up to their usual postseason expectations, if they somehow make it at all.
Unless the Yankees make a miraculous run this year, it’s very likely Ichiro could retire without ever even playing in a World Series, much less winning one.
Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies
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Todd Helton is one of the better-known players in baseball who has yet to win a World Series. He’s come close in his career but has never lifted the game’s most prized possession. The main reason: He’s played on some terrible Colorado Rockies teams.
Since Helton made his major league debut with the Rockies back in 1997, Colorado has only been in the postseason twice. The first time, 2007, the Rockies went on quite the run and made it all the way to the Fall Classic. Unfortunately for Helton and the Rockies, the Boston Red Sox swept them in four games. Two years later, Colorado lost in the NLDS.
For most of Helton’s career, the Rockies have finished toward the bottom of the NL West as well as the entire league. The problem is that time is running out for Helton, and the Rockies don’t seem to be getting much better. The starting pitching has been disastrous, and Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can’t do everything on their own.
At some point, Colorado is going to have to put Helton on the bench. His production has been slim to none the last few years, and if the Rockies want to win games, Tyler Colvin needs to be at first base. Although Helton could still make an impact off the bench in a World Series-winning run, Colorado seems miles away from a playoff appearance in 2013.
Jim Thome, Free Agent
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The road to winning a World Series is going to be quite difficult for Jim Thome in 2013. The main reason is that the season has started, and he’s still without a team. But that might actually be a good thing for the left-handed slugger, who could really use a ring to boost his Hall of Fame resume.
Thome, who has 612 home runs to his credit, has bounced around from team to team over the last handful of seasons. Although he’s capable of being a designated hitter, he’s primarily come off the bench for the clubs he’s been employed by.
On a positive note for the left-handed slugger, there’s still a good chance that he'll find a home at some point during the season. Down the stretch, teams will be looking for depth to come off the bench for a postseason push. If he could find himself a job on a contending team that needs a left-handed bat, there’s hope that he could still win a ring.
There haven’t been many teams interested in Thome as of now, but that could certainly change. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported back in March that Thome is home after training in Phoenix, and although he wants a major league deal, the Minnesota Twins would prefer one that would put him in the minors.
Miguel Tejada, Kansas City Royals
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Despite all of the good Oakland Athletics teams back in the early 2000s, Miguel Tejada never got much playoff experience. Oakland made the postseason for four consecutive seasons from 2000 through 2003 but never advanced past the ALDS.
Tejada then played for the Baltimore Orioles for a handful of seasons, never making the postseason. He then played for the Houston Astros, the Orioles again, the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants but still never made an October appearance.
Tejada is hoping that 2013 will finally be the year considering he doesn’t have many left. The 38-year-old infielder signed a deal with the Kansas City Royals over the offseason and just barely made the 25-man roster to start the season. While he might not see a ton of playing time, he’s still on the team.
The problem, however, is that Kansas City doesn’t look like a real contender for a postseason berth this year. The Detroit Tigers control the AL Central, and it’s hard to imagine the division getting either of the two wild-card spots.
The Royals have the potential to make the playoffs, but it’s definitely not going to be easy.
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
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Carlos Beltran is an interesting case. He’s played for some very good teams and has a fair amount of postseason experience, but he’s never been on a club that made it to the World Series. He’s been to the NLCS a trio of times but never to the Fall Classic.
On the positive side, Beltran plays for one of the best teams in the NL, the St. Louis Cardinals. While St. Louis is poised for a big year, it’s still not going to be easy locking up a playoff spot. The Cincinnati Reds could win the NL Central, and the two wild-card spots could end up going to teams in the NL East and West.
So why does Beltran need to win this season?
Well, his contract expires at the end of the year, and there’s no guarantee that the Cardinals will bring him back. Although he’s been dominant for the last couple of seasons, St. Louis has to find a way to put top prospect Oscar Taveras into the lineup.
Now, that’s not to say that Taveras and Beltran can’t coexist in St. Louis, but it may make things somewhat tricky. Beltran could always sign with another contending team, but for the time being, he’s a Cardinal for 2013 and doesn’t have a contract for 2014.
But who knows, maybe this is the year where Beltran finally wins a World Series.