MLB Players Who Are Thrilled or Devastated to See 2013 End
For every Josh Donaldson or Matt Carpenter, there’s an Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Even as comparatively predictable as baseball is to other sports, perfectly projecting all of the breakouts and disappointments is too tall of an order for even the savviest of sabermetricians.
And that’s why the opposite ends of the production spectrum either dread or relish "next season."
Take Matt Kemp, for instance. After almost winning the 2011 NL MVP Award and posting a park-adjusted 147 OPS+ in 2012, Kemp was a gimpy dud this past season. In fact, his 105 OPS+ and 263 plate appearances were his worst showings since his rookie year. Needless to say, Kemp is eager for the 2014 season to arrive.
Read on to see the rest of MLB players who are thrilled or devastated to see 2013 end.
Once considered a goodwill ambassador for baseball, Ryan Braun endured a contentious 2013 season. After denying his positive result for performance-enhancing drugs in 2011, Braun was finally exposed this past season in the Biogenesis scandal.
Despite numerous public statements claiming his innocence, it took the 30-year-old almost six months to acknowledge his wrongdoings and accept his suspension sentence.
Needless to say, Braun has a lot to prove to fans, the Milwaukee Brewers and the media in 2014. It’s possible his stature in the game will forever be tarnished, but the least Braun can do is prove he can produce without the drugs.
For just the second time since 1995, the New York Yankees missed the playoffs. In fact, in 2013, the Bombers finished third in the AL East (tied with the Baltimore Orioles) behind the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.
Even though veterans like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson were on the disabled list for most of the season, one of the key contributors to the Yankees’ demise was a mostly healthy CC Sabathia.
Despite an otherwise sterling career 3.50 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 125 ERA+), Sabathia posted a pedestrian 4.78 ERA (versus an 85 ERA+), 1.37 WHIP and 2.69-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. The 33-year-old was particularly vulnerable in the second half, as hitters clubbed a collective .831 OPS against the left-hander.
Steamer projects a normalized 3.86 ERA for next season, so Sabathia is likely eager for 2014 to start.
After owning a career 4.22 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 96 ERA+), 1.25 WHIP and 2.34-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, Travis Wood experienced a career year in 2013. The 26-year-old posted a 3.11 ERA (versus a 127 ERA+), 1.14 WHIP and 2.18-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
But not all of Wood’s season was legitimate. Wood’s 4.50 xFIP and unsustainable .251 BABIP (versus a career .278 BABIP) exposed his career-best ERA as nothing more than a red herring.
With a 4.39 ERA Steamer projection for next season, the right-hander could witness his 2013 ERA spike well over one point in 2014.
Mark Melancon’s past three seasons look like the work of a schizophrenic.
The Boston Red Sox happily dealt away Melancon to the Pittsburgh Pirates last offseason, despite trading Jed Lowrie for the reliever just a year before. But one team’s garbage is another’s treasure.
And if not for an elite campaign from closer Jason Grilli in 2013, Melancon himself could have shut the door successfully. Yet as seal-proof as Melancon’s rebound season was, it’s unlikely the 28-year-old could replicate his unearthly production.
Steamer projects a fruitful but comparatively mediocre 2.74 ERA for the reliever in 2014.
When healthy, few players are more dynamic than Matt Kemp. The only issue with Kemp is that the 2011 NL MVP Award runner-up has endured severe problems staying on the field over the past two seasons.
The 29-year-old’s 2013 was of particular disappointment, as the right-handed hitter posted a mere park-adjusted 105 OPS+ and six home runs over 290 plate appearances. Kemp’s demise from a former 172 OPS+ star to a hobbling player who, at times, was as menacing at the plate as Alvaro Espinoza, even led to some trade speculation during the winter meetings, per ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes.
Assuming Kemp can find some semblance of health, Steamer projects the slugger could approach his 2012 levels. But it’s possible the almost-MVP of 2011 is a goner.