Matt_Kemp

Tonight, the best baseball players of the year thus far will be celebrated. However, there is also a group of players that have had just as much impact on the year, albeit in adverse way. They are the group of players that you would usually look to revere this time of the year, however they haven’t had the time of season that helps the cause. Rather, they are the reason why the summer hasn’t panned out the way it may have seemed in game 1. Yes, they are the Un-Stars; the players who have to do more, if it is not too late already.

So with no further delay, here is the squad that has left a lot to be imagined thus far on the year…

Catcher

Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks— He’s quietly been one of the most productive catchers in baseball over the past few years, and finished fifth in the NL in on-base percentage a year ago, and has driven in 87 runs on average over the past two years.

At the break, Montero’s average sits at a career-low .224. The rise of Paul Goldschmidt, along with the acquisition of Martin Prado has eased the blow of it, but D’Backs will not be able to hold off the Dodgers and Rockies without a much bigger second half from him.

First Base

Nick Swisher, Indians— The big money signing that was “most likely to not play up to contract level” has lived up to his billing. While he has shuffled between first and right field, his production has not picked up regardless of where his glove is filled out in the lineup. His average his pit stopped in the middle of the .240’s, and he’s on pace to hit only 15 home runs and drive in just over 50 runs. Not much bang for the $11 million bucks he’s bringing in.

Second Base

Dan Uggla, Braves— The great paradox continues. Uggla is leading all NL second basemen, well as the Braves, in home runs with 18, but is once again scraping by hitting .200 and reaching base only 31% of the time. Not to mention he’s still playing his tradition lead glove defense, and the reasons for the Braves offensive struggles become clear: they have many captains of industry in the All Feast or Famine squad, and Uggla’s the Admiral of it.

Third Base

Chase Headley, Padres— The Padres may have sat on him for too long, as one of the off season’s hottest commodity’s has come back to Earth, meteor style. A year after leading the NL in RBI with 115, hitting 31 home runs and snagging a Gold Glove, Headley sits with a .230 average and just 31 runs driven in at the break.

The bright side is that he only had 8 long balls at this point last season, before taking off with his huge second half, but there is also the stark truth that before 2012, he’d hit 36 homers, total. Whatever the numbers are, a quick trade of him would help the Padres save some of the top tier market value he built up last fall.

Shortstop

Starlin Castro, Cubs— The tendency in recent years has been to pay young guys early to lock up their pre-prime years at good price without any interruption from arbitration or agents. The Cubs gave Castro $60 million over eight years at the ripe young age of 22 so they could lock in what was supposed to be the cornerstone they would rebuild around.

Smart logic at the time, but so far in 2013 it has seemed like they may have fed the Baby Bear too soon. He’s struggled with his effort all year, which has also not so ironically impacted his results as well. He’s hitting a bleak .243 on the year and was even benched in mid-June for both lacking hustle on the bases and focus in the field. It’s too early to write him off, but some signs of life would be nice to see.

Hamilton has not delivered on the promise that he brought to the Angels line and the hopes for a turnaround season via the former MVP and division rival.

Hamilton has not delivered on the promise that he brought to the Angels line and the hopes for a turnaround season via the former MVP and division rival.

Outfield

Ryan Braun, Brewers— For the first time in his career, he has looked mortal, and the Brewers have suffered because of it. Braun hits the break coming off a first half where he took his first trip to the disabled list, then was brought back up on a second round of PED controversy with the Biogenesis investigation and ended the half on the bereavement list just a few games after returning from injury. Along the way, he’s still managed to hit .304 with nine home runs, but for a team that is without much of its offensive core already; it was the worst possible time for Braun’s fall to begin.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers— He was once baseball’s iron man, but in the last two years Kemp hasn’t been able to hold himself together. 2013 has been pinnacle of his ongoing struggle to rise back up, as even when he has been healthy, he’s been a shell of his true self. He hits the break with a .254 average, only 4 home runs and over a month of time missed already between two stints on the disabled list. Probably his greatest highlight of the season was his vendetta trip to track down Carlos Quentin after he broke Zack Greinke’s collarbone.

Even when he has been active, he’s been limited and the Dodgers struggled to get mobile until Yaisel Puig arrived and provided the spark that had previously been Kemp’s to light up. It remains to be seen if LA can reach its summit while its greatest asset is still down.

Josh Hamilton, Angels— Two years, two big offseason adds in Anaheim, and two questionable (at best) returns. Hamilton has been stuck in a summer-long slump since landing with the Halos, and is carrying a .224 average into the break. By the month on the season, he has hit .204 in April, then .237 in May, back down to .231 in June and thus far .233 in July. Perhaps for the Rangers less (as in player, contract and roster boulder) is more with Hamilton plugging up a spot in LA instead of Arlington.

Pitchers

Matt Cain, Giants— It is hard to say why the Giants’ ace is down in the dumps, but one thing is for certain, he’s been the biggest enigma in one of the least impressive championship defenses in many years. His ERA is just north of 5.00 across his first 19 starts. April was particularly brutal, seeing him post an 0-2 record, with a 6.49 ERA and the Giants lose his first five starts.

R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays— The biggest name addition to the Jays run for the pennant this season has failed to find the form that made him the story of last summer. At the halfway point, he has already taken 10 losses, which is four more than his total all year with the Mets and has an ERA at 4.69. He has had seven starts where he has surrendered at least six earned runs, and has been responsible for the decision in all but two of his 20 starts thus far.

For more on these potential turnaround stories, or the fallout that will continue to be, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

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Comments
  1. Otis says:

    I like the list & the idea:

    Mine would be,

    Catcher – Alex Avila, this dude was an All-Star last year & he just stinks to the high heavens!
    First Base – Ike Davis, once again just boo-boo
    Second Base – Aaron Hill, continuing his All-Star season/Booboo season alternating career
    Third Base – Brett Lawire, what can be said about him that hasnt been said about Afghanistan (Honorable Mention to Mike Moustakas, for personal reasons)
    Shortstop – I really couldnt think of one here. A lot of the disappointments have been fighting injuries
    Outfield – BJ Upton, Jason Heyward & Giancarlo Stanton. BJ has been just awful this season after that nice contract from ATL
    Pitcher – RA Dickey & Matt Cain for the reasons you stated above

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