MLB Underachievers: The Most Disappointing Teams in Baseball
The eight playoff teams have been decided. Due the the nature of the short series, each team has a legitimate shot at winning championship.
However, there were 22 teams that proved incapable of making the postseason.
Most of those squads were not expected to battle for a postseason berth. But a few teams were supposed to be contenders yet disappointed the prognosticators and their fans.
So which teams were 2010's biggest underachievers?
5. New York Mets
What would a list of the biggest underachievers be without the Mets?
With the fifth largest payroll in baseball, the Mets should be able to consistently compete for a playoff spot. Or at least finish with a winning record.
But again, these are the Mets.
Their 79-83 record was good for only fourth best in the National League East. And they would be lower, if it wasn't for the fact that the Mets roster had obvious flaws at the beginning of the season.
They lacked outfield depth, rotation depth, and bench depth. Despite their gigantic payroll, they likely were never true contenders.
Still, their season was a classic Mets disaster, topping off with the legal troubles of closer Francisco Rodriguez. Not only did he punch his girlfriend's father, he also succeeded in injuring himself during the assault. He missed the rest of the season.
It was seemingly a microcosm of the Mets 2010 season.
4. Chicago Cubs
Similarly to the Mets, the Cubs had serious roster issues entering the 2010 season.
But when the team with the third highest payroll in baseball finishes with a 75-87 record, they obviously underachieved.
And while K-Rod's assault charge was the defining moment of the Mets season, Carlos Zambrano's issues defined Chicago's disaster of a year.
His June 25th dugout implosion was just another example of Zambrano's continued anger management issues. These antics would be a mere annoyance and team chemistry issue, however the pitcher is costing the Cubs $91.5 million over five seasons and is expected to be a leader.
Zambrano is emblematic of the Cubs biggest issue: poor allocation of resources.
Until that problem is fixed, the monster payrolls will result in nothing more than losing seasons.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers made it to two straight National League Championship Series, only to lose both times to the Philadelphia Phillies.
With almost the entire team returning in 2010, it looked like the Dodgers would compete yet again for a World Series berth.
Instead, they finished the season at 78-81. So what happened?
Underachieving players and injuries.
Rafael Furcal only gave the Dodgers 383 at-bats. Matt Kemp, Casey Blake, and James Loney all posted lower OPS numbers in 2010 than they did in 2009.
And of course, Manny Ramirez. Mannywood became a war zone this season, as he spent most of the season injured or complaining, before he was finally dealt to the Chicago White Sox.
Not to mention, the divorce of the McCourt's cast a pall of uncertainty over the finances of the squad.
The Dodgers could bounce back next season. Players like Andre Either, Clayton Kershaw, and Chad Billingsley could carry the Dodgers back to the postseason in 2011. But this year was a huge disappointment.
2. Seattle Mariners
Seattle wasn't a playoff team in 2009. But with all the hype that they received going into the 2010 regular season, it sure seemed like they were.
After acquiring Cliff Lee in a brilliant robbery of the Philadelphia Phillies, and signing third baseman Chone Figgins, the Mariners were a popular pick as a sleeper in the AL in 2010. GM Jack Zduriencik was praised for his new commitment to building a stellar defensive squad.
The problem? The Mariners couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag.
It wasn't all management's fault. They gambled on Milton Bradley, hoping that he could deliver a much needed middle-of-the-order presence.
Instead, Bradley imploded, both on-the-field and off-the-field. He ended up giving the Mariners just 244 at-bats and a .641 OPS.
In addition, Figgins struggled in his first season in a Seattle uniform. Jose Lopez regressed as well.
Despite solid pitching, Seattle just couldn't score, finishing dead least in baseball with only 509 total runs.
And that's how a preseason favorite ends up with the worst record in the American League.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
On paper, the Cardinals still look like a legitimate World Series contender.
Two aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. The best hitter in baseball in Albert Pujols. A fantastic second banana in Matt Holliday. A legitimate Rookie of the Year contender in Jaime Garcia.
Yet they finished five games out of the NL Central division lead.
How did that happen?
The main reason is that, beyond Pujols and Holliday, the Cardinals lineup was not very deep.
Skip Schumaker, Yadier Molina, Brendan Ryan, and Felipe Lopez all received over 350 at bats. And all had an OPS under .700.
The only two other hitters in the lineup that actually were productive were Ryan Ludwick (.827 OPS) and Colby Rasmus (.856). The former was traded, and the latter spent the second half of the season in a verbal sparring match with manager Tony LaRussa.
The Cardinals weren't an awful team in 2010. But had they been a bit deeper or made a smart midseason move, they might have been the ones matched up with the Phillies right now in the first round.
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