MLB’s 10 Most Disappointing Player Starts To 2013 Season
10 Most Disappointing Player Starts to 2013 MLB Season
The first month of the young 2013 Major League Baseball season is coming to a close, so obviously it's time to begin addressing the biggest disappointments to start the year. I mean, what kind of baseball fans would we be if we didn't critique the month of April like it was August?
Deeming players disappointments so early is certainly unfair, but some of the early struggles could turn into season-long stress inducers. Will Matt Kemp figure out how to hit the ball again? Are the Toronto Blue Jays a serious contender in the American League East, given the struggles of their recent acquisitions? Are Roy Halladay's days of dominance a thing of the past?
Baseball is a unique in the sports world because of the romanticism involving the past and the emphasis on statistics instead of "eye tests." Based mostly on statistics through the first month, I will attempt to identify the most disappointing players thus far in the young baseball season and more importantly, which players with slow starts leave cause for concern and which players are just in an early slump.
Resisting the erge to be overly critical is hard for baseball fans and writers, but nitpicking game-by-game performances has become a staple in America's Pastime. Feel free to announce my inaccuracies and fallacies below by defending your favorite team with blind naivety in the comment section. I think I can handle the premature criticism.
John Engel is a Pac-12 college basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.
10. Hanley Ramirez
2013 Statistics: Has Not Played
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez fell victim of an unfortunate injury during the championship game of the World Baseball Classic, in which he was competing for his native country of the Dominican Republic. Ramirez tore a ligament in his left thumb and underwent surgery on March 22, forcing him to miss the entire 2013 season to date. Unique to this list, Ramirez' inability to play, instead of depressing performance, lands him as one of the most disappointing players this season. No one blames Ramirez for wanting to play for his country in the WBC, but the format of that event will have to change in the near future. Major League teams will not allow their top players to play in games that don't really matter right before spring training when they certainly aren't in the physical condition necessary to compete in the event.
Ramirez told ESPNLA Dodgers beat writer Mark Saxon that he is feeling great, and will be back sooner than expected. He is predicted to be assigned to a minor league team for rehab in the coming week.
9. Derek Jeter
2013 Statistics: Has Not Played
Much like Hanley Ramirez, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter's disappointment stems from his inability to play because of injury. Jeter fractured his ankle on Oct. 13 in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS and isn't expected to return until at least the All-Star break. The Yankees believed Jeter, 38, would be ready to play by Opening Day following surgery, but his rushed rehab has set him back even further. Despite alliances, it seems most are now "rooting" for the Captain to return to the field in 2013.
In a news conference at Yankees Stadium, Jeter assured fans he would return sometime this season.
"No doubt," Jeter said.
Even though Jeter seems to be confident on his return, don't expect to get much out of a near 40-year-old middle infielder.
8. David Price
2013 Statistics: 0-2/ 5.52 ERA/ 19 ER/26 SO/1.419 WHIP/ 10.7 H/9.
In five starts thus far, defending American League Cy Young award winner David Price is yet to earn a win for the Tampa Bay Rays. Meanwhile, teammate Matt Moore is emerging as an early favorite to keep the award in Tampa with his stellar start. Price is showing signs of diminishing velocity, but is still throwing 95 mph, so that shouldn't be much of a concern. He hasn't been able to find success at the same time has Rays hitters, which has resulted in a high ERA and SO/BB ratio. Price bounced back with his best start of the season on Apr. 23 against the Yankees -- 8.0 innings, 3 ER, 5 SO -- but still received the loss.
7. B.J. Upton
2013 Statistics: .150 BA/ 3 HR/27 SO/.225 OBP.
The Atlanta Braves have been so successful in the first month of the season, much of outfielder B.J. Upton's struggles have been overlooked. Upton signed a 5-year, $75.25 million contract this offseason with the Braves, while brother Justin Upton moved to Atlanta via a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.Justin is hitting over .300 and leads the major leagues in runs (19) and home runs (11), while B.J. has presented many of the same struggles he has faced his entire career this season with the Braves. He will strikeout a lot, hit at least 20 home runs and steal a lot of bases, but he is certainly not as well rounded as his brother.
6. Roy Halladay
2013 Statistics: 2-2/ 5.08 ERA/ 16 ER/ 28 SO/ 1.094 WHIP.
The early struggles of Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay have been well documented through his first five starts of the season. Diminishing velocity, and the loss of a strikeout pitch, have left Halladay bruised and battered. After 15 season in the league, it's understandable that the 36-year-old righty was bound to lose his stuff eventually. He had his best start of the season on Apr. 24 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just one earned run in six innings, but still couldn't secure the win. The future doesn't look great for Halladay, and 2013 may be his last season as an elite pitcher in the NL.
5. Blue Jays Starting Rotation
2013 Statistics: 5.30 Rotation ERA.
The Toronto Blue Jays made a significant plunge to become relevant again in the AL East this offseason by adding pitchers Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson to their starting rotation. They were added to an already strong group of Brandon Morrow and Rickey Romero. The three additions are currently 3-3 with a 5.62 ERA and at the forefront of the Jays' struggles is Dickey, the reigning NL Cy Young award winner. Most assumed that Dickey wouldn't be able to play to the level he reached last season, and following his best start of the season against the Chicago White Sox, he left the mound with back and neck pain.
4. Matt Cain
2013 Statistics: 0-2/ 6.59 ERA/ 21 ER/ 26 SO/ 1.256 WHIP.
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain hasn't been able to find any consistency in his first five starts this season. His velocity is down and he's giving up a lot of home runs (6).
3. Josh Hamilton
2013 Statistics: .225 BA/ 8 RBI/ 2 HR/ .281 RBI/ 24 SO.
Josh Hamilton struggled in his first couple of series with the Los Angeles Angels but is starting to show some composure at the plate. Early this season, it didn't even look like Hamilton wanted to hit the ball, as his lazy swings and lackluster emotions led to countless at-bats capped with K's. Hamilton's prime looks to be closing much faster than the Angels anticipated, and his power numbers will certainly be much lower than he posted with the Texas Rangers last season. Hamilton can go on incredible hot streaks and follow them with unbelievable droughts, and Los Angeles is hoping the worst is behind him.
2. Jason Heyward
2013 Statistics: .121 BA/ 2 HR/ 5 RBI/ 12 SO.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward has been so good so fast that a minor set back early this season has led to some questions. Heyward's early struggles won't last long, however, if his 2012 campaign is any indication.
1. Matt Kemp
2013 Statistics: .250 BA/ 1 HR/ 9 RBI/ .289 OBP.
Matt Kemp waited 75 at-bats to hit his first home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which was eventually overshadowed by a walk-off grand slam by Jodany Valdespin of the New York Mets. Kemp has had one of the slowest starts in the NL among superstars, and has been a key component in the Dodgers' offensive struggles through the first 20 games. Kemp is obviously frustrated, but perhaps a home run was all he needed to find his power once again.