2012 MLB Season in Review

Peter Koehler

It’s hard to know how history will look back on the 2012 MLB season. In many cases, seasons are only defined by the postseason, but there’s no denying that this year’s finish was largely anticlimactic. Sure, the San Francisco Giants sported a nice story of rallying from 2-0 and 3-1 in consecutive series, but perhaps just as in 2004, the height of the drama in these playoffs was really the conclusion of a thrilling Championship series and not a World Series sweep. Still, it’s unlikely you and your friends will be talking about the 2012 playoffs 10 years down the road. Let’s not undersell the season as a whole. This season did have a lot more flavor than the postseason might suggest. First, it was pretty darn cool to see the rise of Baltimore, Oakland and Washington – young, upstart teams that should hopefully be around to stay. The MLB, perhaps more so than any other league, has less year-to-year turnover in terms of contenders, in large part due to its lack of a salary cap that al- low the big market teams to spend and spend, but it was nice to see some new faces on the scene. One could make a pretty convincing argument that both the Orioles and the Athletics vastly outperformed their abilities and will regress to about an 85-win level next year which is entirely possible. The Orioles have a sustainable bullpen which helped them eek out a multitude of one-run games, but it’s unlikely good fortune will be on their side next year unless they can sure up their starting rotation.The questions for the A’s are on the other side of the ball as they have what seems an infinite stock of talented young arms in their farm system. To expect guys like Brandon Moss and Jonny Gomes to continue hitting at the torrid pace that they did in the second half, however, is an unlikely outcome. Still, both teams can contend next year if they address those holes in the offseason.When we look back on a team that perhaps started an empire in 2012, it will probably be the Washington Nationals. Despite a disappointing division series where they blew a 6-0 and then 7-5 lead to the Cardinals, they’re a young team that only will grow stronger from the series loss. Nationals fans will probably be bitter about the what-if of Strasburg not pitching in the playoffs until this time next year, but they’ve got all the tools in place to make another run at it next year and beyond. While those upstart teams saw their stock rise, history will also remember the titanic failures of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. If the Red Sox thought it couldn’t get much worse after the collapse of the Terry Francona era and the days of beer and chicken, they surely underestimated how poor of a fit Bobby Valentine was for Beantown. This disastrous season that saw all sorts of in-fighting and the team’s worst record in decades won’t be forgot- ten by Boston fans even if the Sox submit a nice season next year. Red Sox fans could take solace in seeing the Yankees fall apart at the seams during the ALCS, submitting a historically aw- ful hitting performance. Whether history will gloss over this collapse has a lot to do with next year for the Yankees, because they have an aging team with a lot of questions to address in free agency, but should still be a relevant contender. Only time will tell if these were hiccups in the course of the Red Sox and Yankees’ histories or whether both teams are entering a slide for a long time to come. Lastly, 2012 will also be remembered for two of its biggest, brightest shining stars. Though stat-heads like myself will tell you Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown season was actually not his best, it’s still a remarkable and awe-inspiring feat in what will surely be a Hall of Fame career. Though Cabrera’s year will probably be more remembered by history, it’s unlikely people will stop talking about Mike Trout’s absurd rookie season any time soon, because when he punches his ticket to Cooperstown, people will remember this is where it all began.

Contact Peter Koehler at [email protected]