Major Underachievers: Biggest Disappointments Of 2010 In The AL West
The 2010 Major League Baseball season is being recognized in a variety of different ways.
Most are calling it the "Year of the Pitcher." Pitching is in style again. The 2010 season has not only seen a great deal of refined pitching, but also no-hitters from Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, Edwin Jackson, and Matt Garza.
Braden and Halladay's efforts were good for perfect games. The revitalization of Major League pitching has thematically been the talk of the season.
Not only that, but it seems like more rookies are stepping up than ever. Many freshmen have grown rapidly throughout the season into franchise mainstays already.
Some names like Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Jaime Garcia, and more have made it look easy for the experience level. These names are just the tip of the iceberg.
But underneath it all, there is always the ugly. There are those guys who just have not produced to the point where they have failed to meet their expectations.
In the first of a six part series by division, it is time to take a look at the biggest individual underachievers of the 2010 Major League Baseball season.
Scott Kazmir, Left-Handed Pitcher, Angels
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When the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquired lefty Scott Kazmir from the Tampa Bay Rays last year, they knew they would be picking up a solid arm for the back end of their rotation.
He was just that for them last year. In six starts for the Angels in 2009, he went 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA and walked just 10.
The Angels would have loved to see that carry over into this season. They didn't, at all. His 2010 production isn't remotely close to that of 2009.
In 20 games started in 2010, Kazmir is 8-10 with a hideous 6.40 ERA. Nobody would be able to tell that he led the AL with 239 strikeouts in 2007. He's struck out 68 and walked 56 this year in 108.1 innings.
It isn't like he was expected to be an elite pitcher, but nobody could have foreseen this loss of power in his arm.
It's reached the point where his future could even be in jeopardy. He's gotten shelled by left-handed hitters more so than the right-handed hitters.
The two-time All-Star has simply been a giant disappointment and liability in 2010.
Brandon Wood, Third Baseman, Angels
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Granted, Brandon Wood has yet to produce at the big league level, so it is difficult to say that he's underachieving.
However, many thought it couldn't get much worse for Brandon Wood. Many were very wrong. A career .180 hitter, Wood went from hitting .200 in 2008, to .195 in 2009, to .166 in 60 games in 2010.
He's technically not underachieving, but for all the stock the Angels have put him, his contributions are purely depressing.
The guy is a former first round pick, and he is 72 of 399 over the course of four Major League seasons.
The most disturbing number that Wood has put together this year deals with his plate discipline, or lack thereof.
He's struck out 52 times, while drawing just four walks. Four walks in 186 plate appearances.
Wood is a disappointment because after every opportunity that he has to redeem himself, he digs a deeper hole to fall into.
Conor Jackson, Outfielder, Athletics
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It is really tough to peg any members of the 2010 Oakland A's as an underachiever, considering the minuscule expectations that the team even had coming into the season.
The pitching has been phenomenal, and for what they have, the offense has been alright.
If anyone is underachieving, its newly acquired outfielder Conor Jackson. Many expected him to bounce back from a weak 2009.
Coming into 2010, he's been suppressed by injury and has failed to maximize on his opportunities.
Before being dealt to Oakland, Jackson hit just .238 with only one homer and 11 RBI in 42 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After being acquired by the A's, Jackson missed time due to a strained right hamstring. Since then, he's played in 17 games and has collected just 13 hits including a home run.
For a first round pick, his development has halted, and its been very disappointing considering the promise he displayed between 2006 and 2008.
Chone Figgins, Infielder, Mariners
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In all fairness, Chone Figgins has done a great job. But this is the kind of production expected from throughout the entire season.
He's hit .280 since the All-Star break, much better than the weak first half that he put together.
Coming off an All-Star season in which he led the AL in walks, Figgins got off to a very slow start and didn't really help a struggling Seattle offense.
In his first month wearing a Mariners uniform, Figgins hit just .200 and did not contribute much of note.
Overall in the first half of 2010, Figgins hit .235 without a single home run.
He has also struggled against right-handed pitchers, batting just .230 against right-handed starting pitching.
This is just a very below average season for a career .287 hitter. At least he has shown off his perennial speed, but that isn't enough to make up for a disappointing year overall for the speedster.
Jose Lopez, Infielder, Mariners
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Probably the biggest fall from grace in the AL West in 2010 belongs to Jose Lopez of the Mariners. In 2009, Lopez found his power stroke and plate discipline. Now in 2010, all of that seems all for naught.
In 2009, Lopez smacked a career high 25 home runs and drove in a career-high 96 runs. He also struck out just 69 times. He seemed like the kind of hitter that could develop his power even further.
2010 has been a different story. He's hitting just .241 with just seven home runs. He didn't draw too many walks last year, but he's only walked 17 times this year.
The patience just isn't there at the plate and it has impacted his approach negatively overall.
Some could have described Lopez as a premier power hitter for his position last year, but after a 2010 marked by under-achievement, he has a lot to bounce back from.
His contract ends this year, but he has a club option in 2011. We'll see if a late season surge can help him regain favor with the Mariners.
Ryan Rowland-Smith, Left-Handed Pitcher, Mariners
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Currently on a rehab assignment coming off of a lower back strain, Rowland-Smith has clearly not been able to pitch up to par in comparison to last season.
For three season in a row, his ERA was below 4.00. He was a reliever turned starter who seemed to adjust well to pitching every fifth day. Then 2010 happened.
So far this year before he missed time because of his back, Rowland-Smith went 1-10 with a massive 6.96 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. He's got 39 strikeouts and 40 walks. The numbers are ugly all around.
Left-handed hitters are even hitting .353 against the Aussie southpaw this year. Things just haven't looked good, and neither do his chances of remaining in the Mariners rotation.
Julio Borbon, Outfielder, Rangers
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There were a ton of lofty expectations tossed out there for Julio Borbon prior to the 2010 season.
Coming off of a 46-game stint in 2009 in which he hit .312 and stole 19 bases, Borbon had the opportunity to become a dominant leadoff hitter in Texas.
Adjusting to a full-time season for the first time has yet to really work out for him.
He has yet to reach any of his 2009 totals this year. 2010 has seen Borbon hit .265 with three home runs and just 10 steals in over twice as many games as last year.
The Rangers have already put together a division-winning season without amazing contributions from Borbon.
Imagine how much more dominant the lineup would be if Borbon performed as well as he did in 2009. Borbon might be young, but he's definitely underachieved.
Scott Feldman, Right-Handed Pitcher, Rangers
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Coming off a season in which he got some mild consideration for the Cy Young Award here and there, Scott Feldman seemed like he was progressing towards being the ace of this Texas Rangers staff.
However, he has reverted to his former self from before the 2009 season. After going 17-8 in 2009 with a 4.08 ERA, Feldman is 6-9 with a 5.44 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 2010.
His strikeout numbers are way down and is much less intimidating to his oppositions. He's disappointing because he was expected to be an important contributing member to the Rangers rotation.
If he doesn't step his game up, his spot in the rotation will be in jeopardy down the stretch in the playoffs for the Rangers who must step up to much more high profile opponents if they progress deeply into the post-season.