The Marlins and Angels both had very disappointing seasons in 2012. We look back, and debate which team’s season was more disappointing.
By: Jake Dal Porto
The Los Angeles Angels practically went from World Series locks, to a team that missed the playoffs in ugly fashion. Their projected strengths turned into their weaknesses, and their weaknesses didn’t become strengths.
They spent the money, but they fell short. It’s that simple. And when any team follows that pattern, they become a gigantic disappointment.
Their Rotation Limboed Under Expectations
For a team with an average rotation at best, a 4.02 cumulative earned run average is fantastic. When that said rotations consists of reputations of C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana, naturally, the barometer is a bit higher.
However, outside of Jered Weaver, who churned another Cy Young caliber of a season with a 20-5 record and a sparkly 2.81 ERA, the Angels were not very intimidating from a starting pitching standpoint.
Santana produced a career-worst 5.16 ERA, plagued by nagging injuries, Haren finished the season with a 4.33 ERA, and despite coming out of the gates on fire, the pricey left-hander totaled a mediocre 3.83 ERA.
Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto seemed to recognize that his staff was vastly depleted, especially the back-end, so he acquired Zack Greinke at the trade deadline in attempt to close the gap. Yet, any string that Dipoto pulled probably wasn’t going to pan out, as Greinke turned in a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts with Los Angeles. Decent? Sure. Expected? Not really.
Again, those marks aren’t half bad from the surface. But remember, those marks come from a rotation that was so highly pumped up in spring training. Pundits compared the Angels’ rotation to some of the great rotations in baseball history, most recently the Phillies of the past few years with a rotation consisting of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.
Any way you prefer to stack the stats up, it’s safe to say that they performed under expectations. Ultimately, it costed them a spot in the playoffs as well, with the second wild card spot being tight until the final couple games of the season. While nothing can be assumed, if Los Angeles received better years from either of the three in that aforementioned trio, they probably would’ve made the playoffs. “If’s” don’t add up to much, though, and now the Angels face a long off-season.
While Los Angeles’s starting pitching may have been mediocre, their bullpen was extremely bad for a lack of a better word. As a group, they compiled the worst WAR in the American League with a 0.9 mark, which is nearly two points lower than the second worst team. In addition, they posted the third worst ERA in the league (3.97). So the stats confirm the point that they were awful.
From a statistical perspective, they were indeed horrifyingly bad. The ongoing problems from the bullpen, however, seems to be a stem for some of the problems that the rotation endured. Most notably is the durability factor.
Los Angeles’s bleak bullpen logged only 449 innings, the least amount of innings in baseball. So naturally, this increases the workload for the starters, and eventually takes its toll, usually at the wrong time too. But doing that on a consistent basis was playing with fire because the starters were terrible in their own right. Basically, it’s a tug and pull situation that obviously didn’t have many positive outputs.
Until the Angels acquired Ernesto Frieri from the San Diego Padres in early May, the closer’s job was up for grabs. Jordan Walden’s stint was tiny, Scott Downs saved nine games, and then Frieri finished the season as their full-time closer, saving 23 games. If anything positive came out of their bullpen this year, it was Frieri, who is just 26 years-old, and is not eligible to become a free agent until 2017.
By: Phil Watson
It was a season that began with such hope for the Miami Marlins. Freshly minted with a new name, a new ballpark, new logo, new uniforms, a new manager and a bunch of new free-agent acquisitions, the Marlins were supposed to shed their old reputation as a bargain-basement irrelevancy in 2012.
Man, did we read that wrong.
The moves began even before the 2011 season ended. The Marlins shipped a couple of prospects, Jhan Marinez and Osvaldo Martinez, to the Chicago White Sox so they could hire World Series-winning manager Ozzie Guillen.
In free agency last winter, the Marlins made a huge splash. They signed shortstop Jose Reyes from the New York Mets. They added starting pitcher Mark Buerhle from the White Sox. They got closer Heath Bell from the San Diego Padres.
And the media? Oh, they ate it up. ESPN’s veritable army of experts weighed in during spring training with a whopping 29 of them picking the Marlins to make the postseason. Of those, 11 thought they would win the National League East and one of those brave souls, Javier Maymi of ESPN Deportes, picked Miami to win the National League pennant. It’s probably worth pointing out that absolutely none of them correctly predicted the San Francisco Giants over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, however.
Sports Illustrated was more of the same. Five of their eight preseason prediction panelists saw the Marlins in the playoffs. Two thought they’d win the East and Ben Reiter had them winning the pennant. Again, no one saw the Giants winning it all.
So how did that turn out for them? Not so much with the thinking Miami would be good in 2012.
The Marlins got off to a decent start. By June 3, Miami was 31-12 and tied for the lead in the NL East.
Then the roof caved in. The Marlins went 6-17 the rest of June. They were 10-16 in July, 12-17 in August and 8-19 in September. Miami finished 69-93, dead last in the division, 29 games behind the Washington Nationals.
The disappointments were myriad. Josh Johnson’s return from injury was a bust as he was 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA. Logan Morrison was slowed by injuries, limited to just 93 games, and when he was in the lineup, he wasn’t exactly an MVP candidate. Morrison hit .230 with 11 homers and 36 RBI but made up for it by being a defensive nightmare in left field.
Hanley Ramirez was shifted to third base when Reyes was acquired, complained about it and didn’t hit … at all. Ramirez, a former batting champion who came into 2012 as a .306 lifetime hitter, mustered just a .246 average in 93 games for the Marlins with 14 homers and 48 RBI. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 25.
Bell pitched his way out of the closer’s role by midseason then publicly ripped Guillen in September. Catcher John Buck hit .192 in 343 at-bats. Carlos Lee mustered a .243 average and just four homers in 292 ABs after coming over from the Houston Astros. They shipped out Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers in July.
It was a disaster. As it turns out, Guillen set the tone early in the season when he earned a suspension from the team for his comments praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro—not exactly a politically savvy move in South Florida.
Guillen wound up being fired. Bell was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks shortly after the season ended.