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#pounditMonday, September 28, 2020

10 biggest disappointments of the MLB season so far

Dave Roberts

We’re over a month into the 2018 Major League Baseball season, and we’re starting to get some ideas about who is good and who is bad. Of course, there is plenty of precedent for slow starters coming on strong as the months go on, and those who are quick out of the gates fading as we head into August.

Still, there’s no disputing that there have been a large amount of disappointments so far. All of them have time to reverse the trend and get better. For now, here are ten major disappointments from the first month-plus of the 2018 MLB season.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers

Without a doubt, the Dodgers are the biggest disappointment in baseball through the first month of the season. Yes, there are injuries involved that are beyond their control, but this goes well beyond that. Their only .300-hitting regular is Matt Kemp, who wasn’t even really in the team’s plans this season. Clayton Kershaw has one win despite a 2.86 ERA. Kenley Jansen hasn’t been his usual self closing games. It’s hard to see where these issues can be fixed, and they’ve already fallen eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.

2) Baltimore Orioles’ front office

What are the Baltimore Orioles trying to do? It’s hard to tell. They have virtually no pitching to speak of (even their ace has been shelled), and many of their key hitters aren’t hitting. To make matters worse, Manny Machado will be a free agent at season’s end, and it’s becoming abundantly clear that the Orioles are going nowhere. They probably should have traded Machado last offseason, but in their misguided effort to contend in 2018, they’ve now backed themselves into a corner. They should be looking to trade him at this point, but we’ll see what they, along with owner Peter Angelos, decide to do.

3) Washington Nationals

This is quite possibly Washington’s last chance to make a run with Bryce Harper on the roster, and despite a lot of good individual performances, they’ve gotten off to a very bad start. They were 11-16 at the end of play on April 28, but have come on stronger since then and have closed the gap on the division-leading Atlanta Braves. Still, Harper’s average is down even though his power isn’t, and the bullpen has been shaky outside of Sean Doolittle.

4) Minnesota Twins

After a surprising run to the AL Wild Card Game last October, the Twins were supposed to take another step forward in 2018 and possibly even contend for the American League Central. That very much has not happened. The Twins are 14-17 in a mediocre division so far, have the tenth-best team average in the AL, and have the tenth-best team ERA as well. They haven’t done anything particularly well, and now they’re without Miguel Sano and his hamstring injury, too.

5) Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation

The post-Bautista Blue Jays were viewed as something of an enigma as the season began, but some still thought they could win upwards of 85 games, even in a loaded American League East. They’re certainly going to need better pitching to make that happen. While the Jays sit at a respectable 20-17, it’s not because of their rotation. Only J.A. Happ as performed well, with Aaron Sanchez (4.14 ERA), Marco Estrada (5.21), Jaime Garcia (5.40), and especially Marcus Stroman (7.71) really faltering. It’s not too late for Toronto to improve, but their pitching has to first.

6) Cleveland Indians

What happened to the Indians? They were the American League champions in 2016 and won 102 games to finish with the AL’s best record in 2017. Now, they’re .500 through 36 games. Edwin Encarnacion has hit nine home runs but is flirting with the Mendoza Line, while Jason Kipnis and Yonder Alonso have also failed to perform offensively. Outside of Josh Tomlin, the rotation has been good, and that should stabilize them eventually, but it’s fair to say the Tribe are off to an inauspicious start to 2018.

7) Chicago Cubs

Speaking of 2016 World Series teams, the Cubs weren’t exactly flying either until this week. The Cubs are in fourth place in the NL Central, with the usually reliable Anthony Rizzo hitting .210 and Yu Darvish proving a disappointment so far with an ERA of 6.00. Jose Quintana failed to impress with several poor starts early in the season. The Cubs are equipped to turn things around and need to continue trending upwards.

8) Carlos Santana, Phillies

The Phillies have started well in 2018, going 20-15 and sitting in second place in the NL East. Like the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton, though, Philadelphia’s success has come without huge contributions from one of their key offseason additions. Santana arrived with fanfare but has delivered just five home runs and a .189 average since his arrival in Philly. For a guy who isn’t really there for his defense, those are really bad numbers, and somewhat worrying for a 32-year-old whose power numbers declined from 2016 to 2017.

9) Felix Hernandez, Mariners

It’s been four years now since Hernandez was the all-conquering ace that he was in his true prime, but the former Cy Young winner has transitioned from outstanding to good to okay to downright bad. In eight starts so far in 2018, his walks are up, his strikeouts are down, and his ERA is 5.28. Perhaps it has something to do with an injury he suffered in spring training, but whatever the case, the results are bad, especially for a Mariners team that would like to make a run at a playoff spot.

10) Entire AL Central

A third of the way through May, all it took was a .500 record to lead the AL Central. That’s pathetic. While it was readily known that the Tigers and White Sox were in rebuilding mode, the Royals re-signed Mike Moustakas and are trying to contend, while the aforementioned Indians and Twins are also trying to contend. All three have had disappointing results. And even though the White Sox are rebuilding, they’d like to see better results from veterans like Jamie Shields and youngster Lucas Giolito, who have combined to give up 54 runs. The division looks right now like they will only send one team to the postseason.

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