The very unusual coronavirus-shortened 2020 MLB regular season comes to an end on Sunday. Sixteen teams will reach the playoffs, which leaves 14 planning for 2021 already. Here are the two most disappointing teams of the season, one from reach league.
How to Bet Biggest Disappointments this season
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have the best all-around player in the sport in Mike Trout, who is having another MVP-caliber season – although he’s not going to win his fourth such award. This offseason, Los Angeles made two huge moves in signing All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon from the Washington Nationals – the Nats don’t win the 2019 World Series without Rendon – and adding World Series-winning manager Joe Maddon after the Chicago Cubs let him walk.
Yet the Halos are going to miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season – Trout has never won a playoff game, only reaching the postseason in 2014 – and finish with a losing record for a fifth straight year. That’s the longest such streak for the Angels since a franchise-record seven straight losing seasons from 1971-77.
The pitching staff has largely been the culprit. Trade acquisition Dylan Bundy has been good in the rotation, but that’s about it. Julio Teheran was another offseason addition but was a mega-bust on a one-year, $9 million contract. Teheran brought a track record of durability and consistency. He had averaged 32 starts with a 3.64 ERA over the previous seven years, and he was still 29 when spring training began. But his ERA is a laughable 9.49. Teheran tested positive for COVID-19 in June, just before he was to report for summer camp. Things went downhill from there.
It’s likely that owner Arte Moreno has had enough and will not bring back general manager Billy Eppler. He entered the year in a lame-duck situation, with his contract set to expire at season’s end. Two former successful MLB GMs, Dave Dombrowski and Jeff Luhnow, have been mentioned as possible replacements. Both have won a World Series title within the past three years, Dombrowski with the Red Sox and Luhnow with the Astros.
Hey, at least future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols passed Willie Mays for fifth on the career MLB home-run list this season. The 40-year-old Pujols now trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696). The 2021 season will be Pujols’ last on a ridiculous contract. He would need a very good year to catch A-Rod for fourth.
Many experts projected the Diamondbacks to finish second in the NL West this season and compete for a Wild-Card spot after the team added free-agent pitcher and former World Series hero Madison Bumgarner and traded for Pirates All-Star outfielder Starling Marte in the offseason.
However, the Snakes have face-planted and will likely finish last in the NL West. Bumgarner got $85 million has been a mega-bust without a victory on the year and an ERA of 7.36. That’s shocking.
GM Mike Hazen waived the white flag at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline by sending out four veteran players, saving the organization more than $3 million while acquiring at least a half-dozen young players. Marte (traded to the Miami Marlins), closer Archie Bradley (Cincinnati Reds), left-hander Robbie Ray (Toronto Blue Jays) and left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin (Chicago Cubs) were all traded.
“There are moments in time when you can’t go chasing something that isn’t there and for this season it hasn’t been there,” Hazen said.
The offense is third-worst in the majors with a .680 OPS. The team’s 1.45 WHIP is tied for fifth-worst out of 30 teams.
The most disappointing position player has been third baseman Eduardo Escobar, who had 35 home runs and a 111 OPS+ last year. But in 2020, Escobar is having a career-worst year at the plate, hitting .198 with four home runs and 18 RBIs. His OPS of .578 is the lowest of his career since he started getting regular playing time with the Minnesota Twins in 2013.
His batting average is 58 points lower than his career number of .256 and his .262 on-base percentage is nearly 50 points off his career average of .308. His 55 OPS+ is the worst among National Leaguers who’ve been afforded over 200 plate appearances.
Yet, an offseason overhaul of the franchise isn’t likely.
“I feel like we have the talent to do the things that we want to accomplish. I don’t think we’ve necessarily executed on them as consistently as we need to,” Hazen said this week. “Those are things I believe are fixable from getting with the players and getting with the coaches and the front office … there are subtle things. … “I still believe in this group of players, I do.”
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