Make Or Break Year: What Happened?

Before the season, MLBTR writers identified 13 players who were set for 'make or break' years. These players had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for success in free agency.

We checked in on the players at the quarter pole of the campaign and again at its midway point. Let's do it again now that the regular season's over (all links go to the MLBTR posts):

Players whose seasons met or exceeded preseason expectations:

  • Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez had a strong season, hitting 26 homers and posting a .306/.361/.510 line as the Cubs' everyday third baseman.
  • Edwin Jackson - Jackson, a free agent after the season, completed 199 2/3 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate.
  • Bobby Abreu - Though Abreu's power dropped off, he managed a .353 on-base percentage and 21 steals. His 2012 option vested in July, so he should be back in Los Angeles for a fourth season with the Angels.
  • Carlos Beltran - A highly-coveted midsummer trade target, Beltran spent time on the DL with a strained right hand and wrist in August. His season line was .300/.385/.525, so agent Scott Boras will likely receive multiyear offers for the switch-hitter.
  • Jeff Francis - Francis pitched 183 innings with a 4.82 ERA, 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He wasn't spectacular, but he made his starts, quieting questions about the condition of his left shoulder.

Players who had disappointing seasons due to injury or poor performance:

  • Scott Kazmir - Kazmir spent time on the DL, made one appearance for the Angels and posted a 17.02 ERA with more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A before getting released. The 2011 season could not have gone much worse for the former first rounder.
  • Nate McLouth - McLouth's .228/.344/.333 line is better than it was last year and features a respectable on-base percentage, but he missed the second half with oblique and abdominal injuries.
  • Jonathan Broxton - It was a lost season for Broxton, who recently had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow and is looking at an incentive-based one-year deal in free agency.
  • Grady Sizemore - Sizemore got off to a hot start, but finished the season with a .224/.285/.422 line. Knee and abdominal issues limited him to 71 games and there's no guarantee that the Indians will pick up his $9MM option for 2012.
  • Joel Zumaya - Zumaya didn't pitch in a Major League game after undergoing elbow surgery in March.
  • Ryan Doumit - A sprained left ankle limited the 30-year-old to 77 games. When healthy, he posted a .303/.353/.477 line, but it doesn't appear likely that the Pirates will pick up his $7.25MM option.
  • Casey Blake - Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances and spent considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers will decline his $6MM option for 2012.
  • Matt Capps - Capps saw his strikeout rate (4.7 K/9), ground ball rate (41.6%), average fastball velocity (92.9 mph) and innings total (65 2/3) drop this year, while his ERA rose nearly two runs to 4.25. At least he stayed healthy, unlike many on this list.


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25 Comments on "Make Or Break Year: What Happened?"


FamousGrouse
3 years 10 months ago

Edwin Jackson on the Mets might be a good fit. Left handed batters seem to hit him well so the Giants would be a bad fit.

3 years 10 months ago

… say juat

3 years 10 months ago

The Jays need to sign Broxton, big time.

Baseballfan83
3 years 10 months ago

There is plenty of closing options with fewer questions. They only need to go after Broxton if it gets late and he is very very cheap. 

iheartyourfart
3 years 10 months ago

i wonder where sizemore will end up.  there are few teams that would be willing to offer him a starting job which i’m sure he covets.  maybe the padres starting right fielder?

3 years 10 months ago

Yeah, since he’s got such a cannon arm… :p

Slopeboy
3 years 10 months ago

I know I’m going to get killed for saying it, but I would rather have Beltran in RF instead of Swisher. I’d offer 2 years $25mm, despite the fact that he’s a Boras client. While Swish is a fan favorite and is loved by Girardi and the clubhouse, Beltran is a much better all-round player and has proven to show up at play-off time. Swish has been awful the last two times in post season, and has not shown that’s going to change so far.

CAD_Monkey
3 years 10 months ago

Don’t they have other areas of their roster that they need to work on first?

Slopeboy
3 years 10 months ago

They’re pretty much set in a lot of positions, either because of  an outstanding player or a long term contract, so why don’t you suggest exactly where you mean?

CAD_Monkey
3 years 10 months ago

Starting pitching

Slopeboy
3 years 10 months ago

The need for starting pitching can apply to just about 27 out of the 30 MLB teams. Contrary to the popular belief, the Yanks are not that terribly bad off in that department. Next year’s starting 5 will most likely look like this: Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Burnett, Noesi. Burnett because of the contract is going nowhere. Noesi, was actually touted as a better prospect than Nova, he’s was kept in the bullpen as insurance for Colon or Garcia. Next year, he’ll get a real shot to make the rotation. Hughes should have a bounce back year from the arm fatigue he went through.

In the minors the Yanks have guys like Betances, Brackman, Banuelos, Warren, Phelps, prospects that are well regarded by other teams, as well as the Yankees organization.
This was one of the reasons that Cashman didn’t panic this year and went and dealt for some high priced FA pitcher and signed Garcia and Colon to tie him over till these guys show they are ready. I can see them offering some better priced minor league contract to both Colon and Garcia once again as insurance, but the Yanks are not that desperate as some would like to believe.

3 years 9 months ago

Noesi will not be in the rotation next year. Yankees will sign a Free Agent pitcher it is going to happen. Sabathia Nova Hughes
Burnett FA. I don’t think Yankees would go into the season with CC and 4
question marks. I know Nova was good this year but he isn’t a sure thing
to do it again. Burnett is Burnett and Hughes has to prove he is good for a full season. I like Betances and Banuelos but they need more time in the minors. Brackman was moved to the pen this year because he is awful. I really don’t know much about Warren and Phelps other than Warren was a AAA all-star and Phelps is playing in the AFL. But the Yankees need to sign a solid starting pitcher who has proven he can provide innings over the long season.

Slopeboy
3 years 9 months ago

You’ll please forgive me, but I’m going to pull some rank here, though I prefer not to do so. You are going on the history and the premise that the Yanks always buy want they want. The possiblity of them signing a FA pitcher is not greater than any other team. So you may be right.

I happen to work for a corporate sponser of the team, this late August I had the good fortune of receiving one of the perks of the job. I was able to attend a breakfast that included a tour of the club house, Monument park,as well as a walk through the dugout and a walk around the perimeter of the field at Yankees Stadium. The topper of it all was an address in the pressroom from a club official. We were expecting someone like a coach or minor official. Lo an behold we got none other than Cashman. For half an hour we were able to ask any question we wanted, which was great because they were questions from real fans and not fluff questions that often are asked during media interviews. His one caveat was that he could not discss actual players, as that is tampering.

The question was asked as to why he didn’t swing a trade during the deadline, and he replied that he didn’t find anything better than what they already had which was worth the price that was being asked for. He mentioned that he felt good about the Yanks’ pitching prospects and that’s when he mentioned Noesi. According to Cashman, Noesi was thought to be better than Nova by the marority of the organization. He was brought up to the big club to replace either Colon or Garcia if they faltered and kept in the pen as the spot starter and mid relief.That’s the reason I stated that on my first  post. He was the one who said Noesi will get an opportunity to start next year.

Cashman also left the door open to making a trade in order to bring in a big name next year,but if the pickin’s are slim don’t be surprised if he goes with what’s on staff.

johnsilver
3 years 10 months ago

Nah. Beltran manage somehow to stay *healthy* and beltran is the better overall player, but him staying healthy of late is about like Nick ‘the glassman” Johnson and almost impossible.

Another on that list above is once again Bobby Abreu. I still cannot see anyone offering that guy much and hope Anaheim does not go out and offer that DH who has slipped so badly, other than getting on base even 1 year guaranteed for half the 9m he just made, a DH (or terrible RF) is all you get and this guy is no Vlad who the market proved does not pay good DH’s anymore, much less 3rd tier ones like this guy.

The Yankees knew when to let this guy go and Anaheim just won’t kick him out the door now for good. They should have hung onto Napoli (once again) and just dumped this roster hog.

55saveslives
3 years 10 months ago

You dont think beltran will get a better offer than 2/25?? I can easily see the Giants going 3/45.

Slopeboy
3 years 10 months ago

From your lips to God’s ear. I really don’t see anyone offering more than two years, maybe a third year team option. He’s spent part of 3 years visiting the DL list, he’s not a kid anymore and he’s not considered a leader.

Baseballfan83
3 years 10 months ago

If he produces the leader BS doesn’t matter at all. But i do agree that no one is going 3 years. 

3 years 10 months ago

The dunce that is brian sabean begs to differ.

Whole_New_World
3 years 10 months ago

I hope not. The Giants desperately need his bat. HOWEVER, he is the least inspiring player I’ve ever seen. He just doesn’t care.

Until Beltran, I’ve never seen an outfielder just STOP RUNNING after a gapper that split him and the CF. Just decided, “Nope…not worth the effort. Cody’s got it.”

pmc765
3 years 10 months ago

The most intriguing case is Sizemore’s.

The Tribe may not pick up the $9M option, but they’re at least considering it. A healthy Sizemore is worth that…and he’s a fan favorite. But let’s say Cleveland passes.

Sizemore would attract interest elsewhere. He would cost a lot more than the major league minimum, though perhaps less than $9M. A one year contract with incentives would make sense.

In such a competition the Padres aren’t likely to be the high bidder. Moreover, Petco is a career graveyard for hitters.

So an NL team hoping to improve over time? Houston (soon to be AL maybe?) or Washington?

Baseballfan83
3 years 10 months ago

Its not that interesting because with the injuries and missed time he is a shell of his former self. I honestly don’t see why any team would be interested other than a struggling team hoping for enough of a rebound for him to be a useful trading chip. 

NoDumbAss
3 years 10 months ago

yeah Edwin Jackson would sign there why?

3 years 10 months ago

Perhaps the Twins should get EJ. A power pitcher in the rotation would be a nice change

hookdriver
3 years 9 months ago

Capps is baffling. Doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with him, and when he’s hot, he’s damn good. At other times, he can’t find the plate, or grooves pitches right in the launch zone. If someone could tighten his head up, he would be a bargain. Seems like a very decent guy, but the Twins are done with him at this price. 

NoDumbAss
3 years 10 months ago

yeah okay he will want to go to a rebuilding team so he can lose 15 games?