With the 2013 MLB season coming to a close on Sunday, many teams are ready for the playoffs, while in the American League, the Wild Card is still up for grabs. The Texas Rangers are just one game out heading into Wednesday September 25th, while the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays both cling to a one-game lead.
Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” tactic has taken the fans by surprise again, as the Oakland Athletics are 94-65. The team has spent around $60-million dollars this year, good for 27th in 2013. Their highest paid player is outfielder Chris Young, who has a salary of $8.7-million dollars.
The Washington Nationals, who were highly rated coming into the 2013 season, did not play to expectations, falling short of making the Wild Card. Despite a late playoff run, the Nationals couldn’t make up for their slow start to the season.
Many of the teams that are celebrating because they clinched a playoff spot have had players who surprised everyone, putting together All-Star numbers. But, with surprises comes duds, or players who helped their respective teams fall short of the playoffs.
Now, without further ado, I present my surprises and duds of the 2013 season.
Matt Carpenter – 2B – St. Louis Cardinals – After a great start to the season, Matt Carpenter did not look back. The 27-year-old middle infielder is currently batting .321 with 11 home runs, 78 RBI, and a MLB leading 125 runs. He also has a MLB leading 55 doubles and he’s among the Top 10 in batting average and on-base percentage. Carpenter has only played two years in the majors, so the left-handed contact hitter will be one of the best middle infielders over the next few years. Carpenter is a big factor to why the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the favorites to make the World Series. Alongside Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright, this Cardinals team seems unstoppable.
Chris Davis – 1B – Baltimore Orioles – Not a big surprise, right? Chris Davis, the hard hitting lefty from Baltimore, is easily the biggest surprise in the 2013 season. With just a few games left to play, Davis has a MLB leading 52 home runs and is just one RBI behind Miguel Cabrera for first place in that category. His average is a career high .286, just a single point above his first year with the Texas Rangers. His home runs total stopped Cabrera from winning his second straight Triple Crown, as he is currently eight dingers ahead of the third baseman. Despite a MVP-caliber season, Davis could not lead his team into the playoffs, as the Orioles are 81-76, six games out of the Wild Card
Max Scherzer – SP – Detroit Tigers – The only 20-game winner this year is Detroit Tigers starting pitcher, Max Scherzer. Scherzer has put together a monstrous year. He was named the All-Star game starter, posted a 2.98 ERA, and he’s struck out 232 batters, good for second in the majors. He is arguably the best pitcher in the American League, and the favorite for the AL CY Young award ahead of Yu Darvish. He also has an amazing three losses, tied for first in the majors with pitchers who have started 20-plus games (tied with Zack Greinke). Clay Buchholz is 11-1, but has only started in 15 games this year. Scherzer has been a big factor in the Detroit Tigers success, as they have clinched their division and are 92-66.
Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs – Coming into the 2013 season, shortstop Starlin Castro has put together a dismal season. He was regarded as one of the best options at short, but his .243 average says otherwise. Castro only scored 59 runs, while hitting 10 homers with 44 RBI. The 23-year-old is coming off two straight 20-plus stolen base seasons, but in 2013, he only swiped nine bags on 15 attempts. The Chicago Cubs were obviously not predicted to make the playoffs, but with Castro playing this poor, the Cubs are the second worst team in the National League.
Josh Hamilton – OF – Los Angeles Angels – Outfielder Josh Hamilton switched teams in the offseason, signing a huge deal with the Los Angeles Angels. This deal came back to haunt the Angels, as Hamilton has put together his worst season in his major league career. He currently has a .246 batting average, which is way better than his .224 average before the All-Star break. He also has only hit 21 home runs, his lowest total since 2009, when he only played in 89 games. After coming off a season in which he had 128 RBI, Hamilton has just 74 this season. The Angels were expected to win the AL West and perhaps make the World Series this season. That prediction changed quickly, as both Hamilton and Albert Pujols have put together weak seasons. The Angels have a chance to finish the season below .500, as they are 78-80 with just a few more games to go.
R.A. Dickey – SP – Toronto Blue Jays – After a season in which R.A. Dickey won the CY Young award, won 20 games, and posted a 2.73 ERA, the knuckleballer couldn’t find success in 2013. In the summer before this season, Dickey was traded in a blockbuster deal that sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays. He had to pitch in the American League – where he struggled mightily – but all signs pointed to another solid season. Through 33 starts this year, Dickey has a 4.27 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and a 13-13 record. Many fantasy owners selected him early, hoping for another great year, but he couldn’t seem to find his 2012 form, struggling from the start. He is a big reason why the Blue Jays had an awful 2013 season. The team is currently 72-85, 13 games under .500. They were considered the AL East favorites, but they finished last in their division, by a large sum.