With just one week to go, the Major League Baseball season is quickly drawing to a close.
By Monday, Oct. 1, some teams will be jubilant, knowing they are in the very least going to a wild card game or straight to divisional series.
For others, like the Baltimore Orioles, it will be a merciful end to one of the franchise’s worst ever campaigns.
On an individual basis, batting champions will be crowned. In the American League, it’s a two-horse race between Boston Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez — who are also both MVP candidates.
In the NL, it’s a tighter race, with Christian Yelich on top.
Pitching-wise, the chase for the Cy Young will have a newbie in Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell, who is the first 20-game winner this season. Over in the NL, Max Scherzer has a stranglehold on it, what with his league leading 17 wins and 277 strikeouts.
While many will be keeping tabs on the bright lights, we have had a look at the low lights. There have been many disappointing teams and players this season. Depending on the interpretation, like disappointing to fans or fantasy stats gurus is of irrelevance. Here are our takes on the most disappointing squads and players with the criteria spelled out in the text.
Disappointing Batter (AL) – Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
For his salary and his overall lack of production, Chris Davis is easily the most disappointing overall batter in the American League. Put it this way, the Orioles are paying $17 million this season for Davis not to hit. His .168 batting average, for starters, is the lowest for any qualified player in either league. He also has the fourth most strikeouts, with 192 — in just 470 at bats (as of Monday). If he was at least drawing walks like any good power hitter, he might be forgiven. However, he has just 41 walks this year and the AL’s worst on base percentage of .243. For a guy who hit 47 homers just three short seasons ago, Davis’ 16 bombs this year are inexcusible. Ditto his 49 RBI, which are far less than a player of his stature should be driving in. He also has the lowest slugging percentage (.296), OPS (.539) and the worst WAR by far (-2.8). Adding fuel to his tire fire of a season is the fact the Orioles are on the hook for four more seasons at $17 million per.
Disappointing Batter (NL) – Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants
Maybe the Giants would like a do-over on the trade that brought three-time All-Star Evan Longoria to the Bay Area. After 10 seasons in that other bay area, Tampa, the Rays dealt Longoria to San Francisco for a four-player package that included Denard Span. Things have not turned out the way they were expected to, from the Giants standpoint, while the rebuilding Rays have done quite well this season. An injury to his hand has marred Longoria’s first season with the Giants, after years of durability. Yet, when he has been healthy, his numbers pale in comparison to his productivity with Tampa. After averaging 26 homers and 89 RBI with the Rays and hitting .270, his average as of Monday was just .245 in 119 games, with 16 homers and 53 RBI. Even if he played all games this season, he would have hit about 22 homers and driven in 72. All his other numbers are way down too, including walks (22), OBP (.284) and OPS (.703). His WAR was half what it was in 2017, too (1.8 to 3.6).
Disappointing Power Hitter (AL) – Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
In this category, it’s just not good enough to hit epic bombs. We picked Gallo over Chris Davis, in that the latter was already tabbed most disappointing batter in the AL. One would think that in his second season, Gallo would have learned to be more selective. While he is on pace to hit the same number of homers he did in 2017 with 41 (he had 39 as of Monday), he was also on pace to eclipse the 196 strikeouts he had last year (he had 195). Basically, when he isn’t hitting homers or doubles, Gallo is striking out. In 552 plate appearances, he has just 101 hits for a .212 average and 72 walks to give him a .319 OBP. The Rangers, who are mired in last place in the AL West, could use a lot more consistency out of their young power hitter. To put a finer point on it, in six games this season where he went 0-fer, every official at-bat was a strikeout.
Disappointing Power Hitter (NL) – Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies
Before we throw shade at Desmond’s mediocre year, we will say he has always been a prolific free swinger. However, before going to Colorado and signing a monster contract that pays him a team high $22 million a year, he was way more productive. After an injury filled 2017, Desmond had played in 152 games as of Monday, but was hitting just .234 (.264 career average), with 20 homers and 84 RBI. He was also tied for 12th most strikeouts in the NL with 139. Now, his homers and RBI are pretty much in line with yearly averages, yet his OBP at .303 says his batting eye has regressed somewhat. Analytics-wise, Desmond has slipped from 2.7 with Texas in 2016 to a dismal -0.7 this season. If Desmond somehow puts together a monster week to help vault the Rockies into the wild card or even the NL West lead, we’ll take back some of the things we said.
Disappointing Clutch Hitter (AL) – Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros
For this category, we looked a league leaders in Left In Scoring Position (LISP) and in the AL there are four players who are tied with 53 runners LISP. We picked Gonzalez over the others, in that his team is defending champion and if his trend continues it may not bode well for the post-season. In addition to stranding those 53 runners, Gonzalez’s productivity is way down from a breakout 2017 season, where he hit a career high .303, with 23 homers and 90 RBI, in just 134 games. This year, the homegrown utility man is sporting a .251 average, with 16 HR and 67 RBI in 141 games. His strikeouts are way up (99 to a career high 124 this year) and his OBP is at .328 (.377 in 2017) and OPS at .745 (.907 in 2017). He’s going to have to pick it up come next week.
Disappointing Clutch Hitter (NL) – Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies
If Philly speedster and lead-off hitter Cesar Hernandez would have been able to deliver better with runners in scoring position this season, the Phillies may not have been on the outside looking in at the playoffs this week. Hernandez has enjoyed career highs in homers (14) and RBI (57), but he was also the major league leader in LISP with 54. It may be telling, then, that his strikeouts are among the league leaders too, at an unhealthy 147 (not good for a lead off man in any way). As the Phils have swooned in August and September to fall out of the NL East title chase and the wild card with a 19-29 record, so too has Hernandez. He has hit a collective .232, with six homers and 22 RBI, as well as five stolen bases against four caught stealing (he has six caught stealing all season and 19 stolen bases).
Disappointing Base Stealer (AL) – Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
When you’re the American League Leader in caught stealing, it’s never a good thing. Especially if you’re Rougned Odor, who hits in the middle of the order and is expected to create offence. Not only are his homers and RBI down this season (18 HR and 63 RBI compared to 30-75 in 2017), but the fifth-year second baseman has been caught stealing an AL worst 12 times, with 12 stolen bases. Odor did miss a chunk of games this season with a hamstring injury, yet, when healthy his numbers haven’t been all that impressive. His 50 percent stolen base average compared to his first four seasons is also notable, as he was 59 percent (39-for-66) lifetime coming in. The Rangers are where they are because regulars like Odor and Joey Gallo (above) haven’t quite been up to snuff.
Disappointing Base Stealer (NL) – Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
After a cup of coffee with the Padres in 2016, young centerfielder Margot broke out in 2017 with a fine rookie season, hitting .263 in 126 games, with 13 homers, 39 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 24 attempts. This season, however, Margot is just 10-for-20, making him — in our humble opinion — the most disappointing base stealer in the National League. Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte is the NL leader in caught stealing with 14, but he has 33 successful swipes to offset them. Margot, on the other hand, is tied for third in caught stealing at 10. So, after going 19-for-26 (he had two stolen bases in 10 games in 2016), Margot has inexplicably become a much easier target in 2018. The Padres are a rebuilding last-place club and guys like Margot are going to have to up the ante if the team is going to climb up.
Disappointing Fielder (AL) – Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are hot, hot, hot heading into the post-season. Third base Rafael Devers glove, though, is not, not, not. Of all qualified American League fielders, Devers is having the toughest time at the hot corner. We will cut the 21-year-old second-year player some slack, but not too much, considering the team he is playing for. So far in 2018, Devers has made 23 errors on 319 chances in 111 games for a league worst .928 fielding percentage and dWAR of -0.9. The Red Sox, who clinched their division long ago and who might win 110 games this year, may have to make a tough call when the divisional series start later next week. Eduardo Nunez, who is nursing a hamstring injury, is a much better fielder at third and a better overall hitter, so Devers may find himself doing spot duty in the post-season.
Disappointing Fielder (NL) – Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
Eugenio Suarez is the classic example of “good hit, bad glove” MLB player. The fifth-year infielder has sterling offensive numbers this season, including a career high .284 batting average as well as best numbers in homers (32) and RBI (101). But, he’s been a defensive liability at his chosen position, third (he sometimes fills in at shortstop), making 19 errors, most in the NL, for a dismal fielding percentage of .946. The Reds are a last place club in the NL Central for a reason, then, and that is overall performance — or lack thereof — of all regular position players. For Suarez, his overall defence at third has to be a letdown, considering that in spring training his defence at the hot corner was lauded by manager Bryan Price.
Disappointing Pitcher (NL) – Gio Gonzalez, Milwaukee Brewers
For Gio Gonzalez, though, it’s been a bummer of a year. After a great season in 2017, when he finished sixth in Cy Young voting, Gonzalez now has the dubious distinction of having the highest WHIP among all qualified NL pitchers at 1.469. Things have gone better in Milwaukee, for sure, but he was strictly pedestrian on one of the better pitching staffs in Washington (he was traded to the Brewers on Aug. 31). With Washington this year, he was 7-11, iwth a 4.57 ERA and gaudy 1.531 WHIP prior to the trade. For the Nats, the question whether to deal him or not was probably made after a horrid start at home to the miserable Miami Marlins on Aug. 19. In that start, his worst of the season — and maybe of his career — Gonzalez was shelled for 10 hits and eight earned runs in 4.2 innings during a 12-1 pasting. Walks have also killed him this year, as he’s issued 77 free passes, fifth worst on the senior circuit.
Disappointing Pitcher (AL) – Andrew Cashner, Baltimore Orioles
There is only one pitcher with more losses in baseball than Andrew Cashner’s 15 and that is James Shields of the White Sox, who has 16. But, Shields has started more games (32 to 28) and has better overall numbers. Cashner is the second highest paid pitcher on the O’s staff at an average $8 million a season until the end of 2019, but their worst overall performer. A prized free agent after a good year in Texas, Cashner has not impressed anyone in Baltimore. And after his 28th start, a 10-0 loss to Oakland where he was dinged for eight hits and eight earned runs in two innings during a 10-0 loss to Oakland on Sept. 12, likely not getting another start. Overall, the 32-year-old veteran has a 4-15 record, with a 5.29 ERA and 1.582 WHIP, the highest in the AL.
Disappointing Reliever (MLB) – Bryan Shaw, Colorado Rockies
Prized for being a durable and reliable set-up man in Cleveland, Bryan Shaw has been nothing but a disappointment for the Rockies, who are still fighting hard for the NL West title. For five seasons with the Indians, Shaw was a familiar face, making 378 appearances and leading the AL in that category on three different occasions. He owned a 21-22 record, with a 3.11 ERA and 1.188 WHIP. This season, he is 4-6 for Colorado, with a 6.15 ERA and 1.804 WHIP in 59 games. He has also blown five saves this season and given up a career high nine home runs. For those reasons, he hasn’t been utilized that much in a frantic September push for a NL West crown, which is way more likely than a wild card spot in a tight, tight National League race. If the Rockies didn’t believe he was having a bad year, all the evidence they needed was gathered on Aug. 30 in a 3-2, 13-inning loss to San Diego. In his fourth-last appearance, Shaw was tagged for a game-winning deep left-center homer by Padres rookie Franmil Reyes.
Disappointing Pitcher (MLB) – Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles
We say it’s good thing that Baltimore isn’t paying young starter Dylan Bundy that much to pitch. He had a couple of promising seasons leading up to 2018, two years where he kept things under fair control with a 23-15 overall record, an ERA just over 4.00, 44 homers against in 66 games (42 starts) and 256 strikeouts in 279.1 innings. This year, though, Bundy has been absolutely pounded. He has given up a MLB worst 38 home runs in 29 starts, to go along with his dismal 8-15 record, 5.37 ERA and 1.395 WHIP. The only saving grace is the fact he has 172 strikeouts in 162.2 innings. One start this season, a 15-7 loss to equally lousy Kansas City on May 8 tells the whole story. He didn’t record an out in the first inning, surrendering back-to-back homers after an inning opening single, and four total before being yanked. His final line was 0.0 innings pitched, five hits, four walks and seven earned runs.
Disappointing Team (AL) – Toronto Blue Jays
For the second consecutive season, the Toronto Blue Jays have been a major league disappointment. For two seasons prior to 2017’s crash to a 76-86 record, the Jays were contenders, leaving Blue Jays fans breathless with some of their heroics. Their pitching staff was supposed to be their bread and butter, but due to injuries and sub-par performances from the likes of Aaron Sanchez (4-6 in 20 starts, 4.89 ERA), Marcus Stroman (4-9, 5.54) and Marco Estrada (7-13, 5.57) it’s not been a great year on the hill. And we won’t even get into the Roberto Osuna troubles. At the dish, the team has hit a collective .244 but still has managed 209 homers, fourth best in baseball. It’s their situational hitting and base stealing though, that leaves much to be desired. The Jays on base percentage was just .312 as of Monday (ninth worst), they’d drawn just 479 walks (20th overall), stolen 41 bases (29th), had just five sacrifice hits (worst) and 36 sacrifice flies (22nd). The tear down and rebuild can’t happen soon enough.
Disappointing Team (AL) – Minnesota Twins
Just one season removed from making a visit to the AL wild card game, the Twins have been pretty much MIA this year. As of Monday, their record was 72-83, 15 games back of Cleveland for first in the AL Central. While their pitching hasn’t been all bad, the performances the Twinkies have gotten from a few starters has left much to be desired. One in particular, is free agent acquisition and power hitter Logan Morrison. In 2017 with Tampa Bay, the big first baseman hit .246 with career bests in home runs (38) and RBI (85). However, before going on the 60-day DL in August, Morrison was batting just .186, with 15 HR and 39 RBI in 95 games. The other under-performing regular was utility man Miguel Sano, who was hitting .199 as of Monday, with 13 HR and 41 RBI in 71 games. Last year, he hit .264 in 114 games, with 28 homers and 77 RBI. If those two could have stayed healthy this year and productive, the Twins wouldn’t be among the bottom feeders in dingers (161, 23rd overall) or runs (689, 15th).
Disappointing Team (AL) – Los Angeles Angels
Before the season, many esteemed publications (think Baseball America), were picking the Angels to finish no worse than second in the AL West to Houston and even make the wild card playoff. But predictions are just that and the Angels sub-par season is just cold hard reality. The will finish no higher than third in the AL West, sitting in fourth as of Monday with a 75-81 record, 23.5 games back of Houston. Outside of perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout (.316 batting average, 38 homers) and Justin Upton (30 HR, team leading 84 RBI), no one batter is having a career year. But offence is the least of the Halos’ concern this year. Their pitching has been bottom tier, with a collective 4.20 ERA (19th overall) and a .251 batting average against (19th also). They don’t have a true closer and are fifth in baseball in most blown saves at 25 in just 57 opportunities for a lousy 56.14 percent conversion rate — beat only by San Francisco’s 55.38 percent mark.
Disappointing Team (NL) – Washington Nationals
Like the Los Angeles Angels, the Nats have a home-run hitting MVP candidate — Bryce Harper — as well as a legitimate Cy Young contender in pitcher Max Scherzer. Even more than the Angels, though, the high-flying Nationals were picked by many to finish first again in the NL East. However, they must have been reading their own press clippings, as the Nats have diddled for the middle all year long and were 78-78 on Monday with no hope of making the playoffs. With a run differential of +79 this year, it’s hard to pinpoint just what went wrong with this club. Well, not that difficult to put a finger on, if the seasons turned in by formerly solid pitchers Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez (since traded to Milwaukee) are taken into consideration. We told you about Gonzalez’s problems above and Roark has been equally miserable. In 30 starts this year, he is 9-15, with a 4.34 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. It’s the second straight season the veteran has seen a downturn, too. Overall, a cruddy season for a team many expected to at least contend.
Disappointing Team (NL) – New York Mets
There really isn’t an under-achieving team in the NL Central, so we’re going to double down on the East Division, where the milquetoast Mets also reside. There were predicted to run neck-and-neck with the Nationals, but have failed miserably to live up to expectations. On April 11, the Mets were 11-1 and on a tear. It’s been all downhill since, with a 62-82 record to prove it. Their pop-gun offence hasn’t gotten a boost from anyone and as of Monday the team was hitting a collective .236, which is third worst in baseball. High priced help like Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier have not done much at all and Yoenis Cespedes has spent most of the year on the disabled list. On the pitching side, Jacob deGrom has had a Cy Young worthy year and Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard (when healthy) have been good too. On the face of it, then, the offence — which has scored 663 runs (20th overall) — has been the biggest letdown.
Disappointing Team (NL) – San Francisco Giants
A team that has won three titles since 2010 and went to the NLDS in 2016 was supposed to be able to shake off a brutal last place finish in 2017. At the very least, the Giants should have been able to make noise in the NL West and as of Aug. 31, they were still 68-68 and not that far away from the lead in the NL West. But, the Giants dropped 11 straight to start September and were 4-16 for the month to sink to 72-84 and out of it all together. Where the team has really lacked is in the offensive department. The Giants had 589 runs as of Monday, which was only slightly above the worst scoring team in baseball, Miami. Their 130 homers was just four more than, you guessed it, the Marlins had and the club’s .241 batting average tied with Texas for seventh worst. The pitching can’t shoulder much of the blame, as the Giants lost nine games by two runs or less during the team’s awful September stretch.