by Jason Martinez
In the second of a six-part division-by-division series (click HERE for the AL West), I'll be picking my 'Biggest Disappointment' for each team in the majors. Here are my picks for the NL West ...
Chris Young, CF
Young is currently battling a quad injury and also missed time with a shoulder injury early in the season. At the time of his first injury, he may have been the hottest hitter in the majors with a .410 BA, 5 HR, 4 2B, 13 RBI, and 6 BB in his first 11 games. Since returning in mid-May, Young has been unable to regain that early-season form and all he can do now is watch as rookie outfielder Adam 'Spanky' Eaton is proving capable of being the prototypical leadoff hitter the Dbacks sorely need.
The 29 year-old appears headed for an off-season when the Dbacks could be aggressively shopping him, and/or possibly Justin Upton. A team would have to be convinced that Young can return to the form that made him an All-Star in 2010 if they're going to give up a lot for the center fielder, who has one year and a guaranteed $10M remaining on his contract (plus an $11M team option for 2014). This could be challenging, considering his unimpressive numbers in 2012 (.227 BA, .307 OBP). They'll try to sell interested teams on his 20+ HR, 20+ SB ability and above-average defense in center field. It may take Upton, however, to land the starting shortstop they will covet.
Jeremy Guthrie, SP
In 90.2 innings with the Rockies, the 33 year-old Guthrie was 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA, 31 BB, and 45 K. His turnaround in Kansas City includes a 3.00 ERA with 14 BB and 50 K in 78 innings. You can probably chalk this one up to just another pitcher who couldn't adapt to the thin air of Colorado. Unfortunately, he was supposed to be the ace of the Rockies staff and a veteran mentor for the young pitchers who the team was going to break into the majors this season. What they saw was a veteran pitcher with a history of success get lit up continuously, which can't be great for their mental state.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Shane Victorino, LF
The Dodgers, led by new ownership, went out and traded for a bunch of big name, expensive players who had been disappointments in 2012. Expecting all of them to turn things around with a change of scenery was unrealistic. A few of the players acquired, however, have actually been better. Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, and Brandon League would fit into that category. On the other hand, Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Blanton, Randy Choate, and especially Victorino, have been worse.
The 31 year-old switch-hitter, who was hitting .261 with 9 HR, 40 RBI, 17 2B, 5 3B, 35 BB, and 24 SB in 101 games with the Phillies, has failed to make a positive impact since coming over to Los Angeles for reliever Josh Lindblom and pitching prospect Ethan Martin. Victorino, who will be a free agent after the season, has a slash line of .225/.298/.303 in 44 games with the Dodgers. He has just six hits in his last 44 at-bats and has missed the last couple of games with a sore wrist.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
|Hundley posted a .464 OPS in 58 games|
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.
Nick Hundley, C
Maybe Hundley's struggles ended up being a good thing because it sped up the arrival of top prospect Yasmani Grandal, who was one of the sparks to the Padres' second half resurgence. Since Grandal was called up for good to be the team's regular catcher on June 30th, the Padres are 44-29. They were 28-50 before that with Hundley behind the dish. When he was sent to the minors on the same day Grandal was promoted, Hundley was hitting .166 with 14 BB and 50 K. Still, the Padres expected much more from the former 2nd Round draft choice when they signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract extension this past offseason.
The 29 year-old has battled a knee injury for most of the season and has since undergone surgery to repair the meniscus. Considering his history as an above-average offensive catcher (.824 OPS in 82 games in 2011), it's likely the injury had much to do with his subpar numbers. As long as he's with the Padres, however, he'll be relegated to a backup role behind Grandal. This is not a bad thing for the Padres, although Hundley will likely be open to a trade this winter. If a team believes that his 2012 was a result of his knee injury, this is a strong possibility.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Tim Lincecum, SP
Who would've thought that the Giants, without an effective Lincecum for over half the season, could still be on the verge of clinching the NL West with 11 games left in the season? Still 25 games over .500, the Giants' pitching staff has been led by the solid work of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong. Even Barry Zito has chipped in with 13 wins and a 4.18 ERA in 30 starts. And while Lincecum isn't all the way back - he's not dominating and he's still walking too many hitters - he's been much better in the 2nd half of the season (7-4, 3.06 ERA). But we can't forget about that awful 1st half.
After a loss on July 8th, his last start of the 1st half, Lincecum's record stood at 3-10 with an ERA of 6.42. He had 50 BB and 104 K in 18 starts. He allowed 5 ER or more in eight of those starts and walked at least four hitters in seven starts. 'The Freak' had just four quality starts (6 IP or more, 3 ER or less) during that span. The 28 year-old will make $22 million in 2013, the last year before he hits free agency. His early season struggles ensure that their won't be any talk of a long-term contract extension.
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