As the 2019 MLB season enters its last few weeks before we begin the playoffs, it’s time to looks back at the season and ask some questions. One of them is, what went wrong?
Like any season, the 2019 MLB season gave us a host of teams that just didn’t play up to their expectations this season.
Whether it was due to injuries, players not playing up to their usual high standards or being over-hyped by the media, the teams on this list failed to live up to their expectations this season.
5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
First and foremost, the main reason the Angels are on this list due to the fact that once again, they have wasted another season of Mike Trout’s career.
As of today, August 27, 2019, Trout has 42 home runs and 99 RBI. To add to that he once again has an outstanding WAR (wins above replacement rating) with 8.0, which currently leads all of Major League Baseball and leads the American League in OBP (on-base), SLG (slugging), and OPS (on-base plus slugging).
He is widely regarded as the best player in the game today and will likely go down as the best player of his era. He also has a chance to add his third AL MVP award if he keeps up his numbers for the rest of season, and yet the Angels can’t seem to get a winning team around him.
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Things have been very tough for the Angels… ———————————————————————— ◾️HOU Scoring: Alvarez RBI Groundout, Reddick RBI Single, Maldonado 2-Run HR 9th, Bregman RBI Double, Toro RBI Single, Wild Pitch Alvarez Scores, Reddick 2-RBI Double, Altuve 2-Run HR 24th ———————————————————————— ◾️HOU Pitching: Valdez- 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 SO Rondon- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO Smith- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO Devenski- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO ———————————————————————— 🔺LAA Scoring: Simmons Solo HR 6th, Goodwin Solo HR 13th ———————————————————————— 🔺LAA Pitching: Barria- 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO Del Pozo- 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO Buttrey- 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO Cole- 1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO
Let’s start with the most glaring need, pitching. Aside from three pitchers in Felix Pena, Hansel Robles, and Noe Ramirez, the Angels pitching, especially their starters have been a disaster this season.
Rookie Griffin Canning has had an up and down season, but that is to be expected from a rookie pitcher. At this point in the season, he looks to be their one reliable starter going into next season after the unfortunate passing of Tyler Skaggs earlier in the season.
Andrew Heaney as pitched ok this season but has only started 12 games up to this point, second-year player Jaime Barria has taken a massive step back this season and Trevor Cahill, who has made 11 starts this season, seems more suited to be one of their relievers.
Offensively the Angels have a little bit more to be happy about. Kole Calhoun is having a career year in terms of home runs, Shohei Ohtani is producing offensively without being able to pitch, and second-year player David Fletcher has had a solid season to the point where he may take a massive jump next season.
They have had some bad luck on the batting end as well, players like Justin Upton, Tommy La Stella, and Andrelton Simmons have all had quite or down years but that’s more due to missing games than bad performances.
Overall the Angels will miss the playoffs for the seventh time in the eight years they’ve had Mike Trout and a team with that kind of generational talent should be built better.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
It is a legitimate argument that MLB teams have the smallest windows of championship contention in all of sports, and the Brewers might be baseball’s newest example.
2018 saw the Brewers come within one game of making it to the World Series, and many believed that if they came back with a lot of the same hitting but just an improved pitching core, that they’d have another shot this season.
To be fair they are only five games back of the division and two games back of the second wild-card spot as of now, but this years’ version of the Brewers is not at the same level that last years’ was.
As he was last season, Christian Yelich is in the NL MVP conversation, as he currently leads the Brewers in home runs, RBIs, batting avg, hits, and other key hitting categories. Behind him the Brewers have a solid but not overwhelming core of hitters.
In his first full season with the team, Mike Moustakas has played extremely well, he’s on pace to finish with about 40 home runs, if not more. Yasmani Grandal has also proven to be a good acquisition from last offseason and Eric Thames has had a nice year with the team as well.
Behind those three though the hitting core isn’t spectacular. Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw, the other two Brewers who hit 30+ home runs last season are both currently below 10 on the season and have missed many games. The rest of the lineup is filled out by with solid to average hitters, but nothing definitively game-changing.
The real Achilles heel of this team has been the pitching staff. Players like Corbin Burnes, and Jeremy Jeffress who were key relievers last season have horrible ERAs this season. Jhoulys Chacin, who led the Brewers in wins and strikeouts last season, was recently designated for assignment.
While Zach Davies and Brandon Woodruff have done well for the team, they are not on par with the Braves two best pitchers, nor with the Dodgers trio of aces.
The lone factor that is saving the Brewers saving is the two teams ahead of them, the Cardinals and Cubs, haven’t been able to separate themselves and keep the Brewers fully out of reach.
Speaking of the Cubs.
3. Chicago Cubs
It’s hard to point a finger at one particular aspect of the Chicago Cubs when it comes to asking why aren’t they better.
For most fans, having their team be second in the division would be great, and the Cubs are still favored to make the playoffs.
However, if you’re Cubs management, there is nothing to be happy about with this season.
The team was 47-43 in the first half of the season, and are now 22-18 in the second half of the year. They’ve had double-digit losses in every month this season (aside from March, where they only played three games) and have a below .500 record in one-run games.
The ultimate reason they should be viewed as a disappointment is the same as why the Angels are on this list, wasting their talent.
Three MVP caliber candidates and all-stars in Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo. A pure home run hitter in Kyle Schwarber, and other solid contributors in other players like Wilson Contreras, Albert Amora Jr., and Nicholas Castellanos.
Even the Cubs starting pitching core, while not on the level of other World Series contenders like the Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees, can be argued for being the second-best in the NL.
Yet they find themselves second in their division and once again being a wild card team, this doesn’t look like the team that won the 2016 World Series and looked to be a potential dynasty.
They now look like a team that can’t get it together despite seemingly having most of, if not all the pieces. So much so that manager Joe Maddon could get fired at the end of the season if the team doesn’t reestablish itself as a contender.
2. Boston Red Sox
It’s been impossible to mention the downfall of the defending World Series champions this season without mentioning their pitching.
Coming into the season it was expected that the bullpen would give the Red Sox issues this season, and that was true as they still have yet to fully establish their closer this season, though Brandon Workman looks to be the guy at the moment, starting pitching has been the bigger issue.
While the Red Sox offense hasn’t been elite all season and has had stretches where they failed the pitching, the overall problem throughout the whole year has been the starting core.
Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello have all been terrible seasons. All have at least a 4.36 ERA. Sale has a 6-11 record, Price has missed a few games and Porcello has the worst ERA of the three with his being at 5.49.
They had hoped Nathan Eovaldi would boost the lineup when he returned but he’s primarily played out of the bullpen since he’s returned. The team traded for Andrew Cashner to help out and initially, Cashner pitched solidly for them, but he is now currently holding a 1-4 record as a Red Sox starter with an ERA of 6.49.
The one reliable starter this season has been 26-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez, who is 15-5 with a 3.92 ERA. In fact, going through all the pitchers as a whole, Rodriguez is one of only three pitchers on the roster with over 50 innings pitched with an ERA of less than 4.00.
1) Philadelphia Phillies
Joining the club of how being the winner of the off-season doesn’t always translate to the regular season is the Philadelphia Phillies.
A favorite by many to win the NL East after they announced the signing of Bryce Harper, the Phillies find themselves 11 games back of the division lead but only one game back of the second wild-card spot.
As fate would have it, one of the team they find themselves behind happens to be Harpers’ old team, the Washington Nationals.
Like the Cubs, there’s isn’t one exact reason as to why the Phillies aren’t better. Going into the season we knew their pitching core wasn’t the strongest. The starters behind Aaron Nola are up and down, and their bullpen has also seen some inconsistencies.
To their credit though some pitchers have been respectable this season. Rookie Edgar Garcia has been respectable and Seranthony Dominguez was bouncing back from his rough first few appearances before he got sidelined with an injury.
The Phillies hitting has given inconsistency a whole other meaning. The only consistent hitter they’ve had all season has been Rhys Hoskins, who’s hit 25 home runs on the season at this point, good for second on the team.
However, Hoskins is only batting .164 since the all-star break, and he’s not the only Phillie who’s season has been like this. Jean Segura has only hit a single home run since the break, and several other players have hit average at best since the break.
They’ve also been hit with some bad luck, the main one being Odubell Herrera, who was in a major slump before being suspended.
The biggest culprit of inconsistency with this team has been Bryce Harper.
The $330 million dollar man has been night and day when it comes to the season. Before the all-star break, he was putting up mediocre numbers with just 16 home runs and a batting average just barely above .250.
While baseball is a team game and it’s hard for one player to will his team to win like in basketball one thing has been evident as of late, when Harper plays better, the team has been winning.
To be fair it will take more than him to get this team to the playoffs, the starting pitching behind Nola needs to step up now and the rest of the hitting core needs to improve their averages as well.
One thing is for certain though, if this team wants to make the playoffs, it needs to live up to the preseason expectation and start taking teams down now if they want to show that going for home run acquisitions in the offseason matters come October.