Poll: What’s Been The Most Unlikely Storyline In ’12?

A quick look at the 2012 Major League Baseball season reveals a year full of compelling happenings and surprising events that have captivated the attention of the baseball world. From the success of rookie outfielder Mike Trout, who spent the majority of the season playing at age 20, to teams like the Orioles and Athletics mounting viable charges for playoff spots as September quickly gives way to October, this regular season has turned countless heads with mere weeks remaining. Simply put, surprise after surprise has made for good theater. 

Consider the seven choices presented below to help determine which storyline has been the most unlikely during the 2012 Major League Baseball season thus far. Have a different player, team or memory in mind? Head to the comment section to leave a thoughtful response citing your case. 

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83 Responses to Poll: What’s Been The Most Unlikely Storyline In ’12? Leave a Reply

  1. YaGottaBelieve11 3 years ago

    Most unlikely has to belong to the A’s.. But best is Dickey hands down. If you aren’t in love with that story it’s because you don’t know it.

  2. basemonkey 3 years ago

    Os! These Os have some magic in them. The absurdly strange team stats dont seem to stop them from winning. They’re winning back the fans in Baltimore. Whatever happens here on out, I think this current up-and-coming team has changed the baseball dynamic in Baltimore.

    • Wade 3 years ago

      Can you do the A’s a favor and sweep the Rays so there’s one less team we have to worry about? We’ll try not to get swept by the Angels [again].

      • Funny, I was about to ask whoever team you’re playing to do the same to you guys. O’s, A’s, and Rays, and, let’s face it, the Yankees are all trying to win the Wild Card spot!

      • Rabbitov 3 years ago


      • basemonkey 3 years ago

        I’ll arrange this for you if you can get the As to sweep the Yankees in the final week. Deal?

        • Wade 3 years ago

          That’s a fair trade. Deal! Is this how umpires do it behind the scenes?

  3. foobar 3 years ago

    This question is kind of like “Which team won the most games”? Why ask polls that can be answered with actual numbers?

    Anyway the actual answer is the 3 perfect games & 3 no-hitters, especially when you consider that it’s now 6 perfect games in 2 years (counting Galaragga).

    Second is the Orioles. They’re actually a terrible team that has just gotten absurdly lucky.

    • $21621694 3 years ago

      You might get “lucky” in a series, a week, even a month of baseball. You don’t get luck and are sitting in 1st place in september. They are obviously doing something right

    • They’re winning because they are talented. They had 3 players in the All Star Game, one key player out for the whole season, another out for several weeks, their star pitcher was out for like 2 months (don’t have exact figures), their bullpen is spectacular, their power is phenomenal. That’s not luck. THAT IS TALENT!!

  4. How is Mike Trout an option here? An uber-prospect doing well doesn’t seem to be on par with some of the other items on this list.

    • agreed. he was expected to be great.

      • NickinIthaca 3 years ago

        MVP great in his rookie year?

      • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

        This great?

        • abes_seed 3 years ago

          He had the Mickey Mantle comparisons long before this season started. It’s just that ESPN and the East Coast created this Bryce Harper is god image and people didn’t think much of Trout.

          • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

            Pat Burrell got comparisons like that when he was coming up too. He ended up being an average player.

        • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

          still more believable then an entire team (nats, A’s, Orioloes) excelling

          • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

            True. I don’t think Trout’s the most surprising/unlikely storyline this year as compared to the A’s/O’s however, I don’t think anybody can say his performance is as expected because to be a 20 year old Rookie and playing the way he is is an unreasonable expectation for anybody.

            I voted for the O’s. As you know the AL East is pretty darn challenging and not only have the Orioles hung in there, they’ve proven in their head to head matchups with the Yankees, Rays, etc, that they belong at the top of the division.

    • melonis_rex 3 years ago

      He was expected to do well.

      He was NOT expected to be an MVP candidate, arguably the best player in the AL, and a top 5 position player in baseball all in his rookie season.

      • $21621694 3 years ago

        When people get all excited about prospects they expect them to be the next albert pujols or miguel cabrera. Which very rarely happens! Mike trout has defied the baseball gods and definitely should be in this list

    • You don’t understand prospects. If Mike Trout had batted .270/.330/.400 that would be considered a very good rookie season, even given his prospect pedigree.

      It doesn’t matter how good of a prospect you are. Coming into the league at age 20 and posting a .329/.389/.568 batting line WITH ELITE DEFENSE just Does. Not. Happen.

      Until now.

      • basemonkey 3 years ago

        He is definitely having one of the best rookie seasons ever, but it’s not clearly the best. There’s been rookies who had won the ROY and MVP before, you know. That said, among those guys (i.e. Pujols, Ichiro, Teddy Williams, FRobinson, Fred Lynn, Piazza, etc..) not one of them brings his special combination of speed and power. Most of those guys brought GG-caliber defense (except Piazza). Only one brought a true speed game, Ichiro. Then again, Ichiro isn’t quite the normal rookie. Then again, a lot of them brought their own unique blend of categories. For one, no one hits like Ted Williams. Secondly, Frank did it in a era of great pitching against Hall of Famers like Koufax. Thirdly, Piazza’s rookie year came at an extremely rare offensive position (as in, there just wasn’t any offensive catchers, period. He was the first).

        I’m not raining on his parade. I personally think he deserves the MVP. He’s obviously a special talent who might be Hall of Fame caliber. I’m just providing context. Statistically his own teammate had a better year as a rookie. He had a very similar type of sensation buzz when Pujols arrived, which was probably more out of nowhere. Pujols wasn’t the elite highly antcipated prospect that Trout was.

  5. Giorgi Almonte 3 years ago

    My top 3: O’s , Trout and Dickey!

  6. Oakland-Sacramento-San Jose -Fremont A’s still draw flies.

  7. Fleer Carll 3 years ago

    Surprised that the A-Gon, Beckett, Crawford trade wasn’t referenced.

    • You Know Who 3 years ago

      Second this^

    • furioustoaster 3 years ago

      For future reference, It should be referred to as “LA completely bailing out Boston”.

  8. MetsMagic 3 years ago

    Surprise contenders happen all the time, like the A’s and O’s. R.A. Dickey’s been a good pitcher for a couple of years ago, and the Nationals were expected to be good. The success of Trout isn’t likely, but a player of his natural ability is similarly unlikely.

    It would have to be the no-hitters and perfect games and no hitters. They’re impressive feats that require a ton of luck, and it’s unthinkable that the stars would align all at the same time.

  9. kvnp12 3 years ago

    I’m utterly surprised that “the Red Sox implosion” isn’t an option.

    I guess that’s what makes up the “Other.”

    • withpower 3 years ago

      Well the end of 2011 was so bad I think there was an undercurrent of thought that there was a pretty good chance it would carry over.

      Looking at the way the team was constructed, some of the problems they had, it’s probably more surprising in hindsight that they were so good for so much of 2011.

      • furioustoaster 3 years ago

        A majority of the people not blinded by ESPN headlines thought they would be bad in 2011 too.

  10. One of the pundits on MLB Network radio went on a 30 minute rant during the offseason about how bad the A’s were going to be. What an embarrassment they are to MLB for trading away all of their players. He said they would be one of the worst teams in history. I won’t embarrass Casey Stern by mentioning him by name.

    • hartvig 3 years ago

      I have a lot of respect for Billy Beane but I have to admit that looking at their roster in the off-season- in particular their offense- I thought pretty much the same thing. I am amazed that the O’s are still in the thick of it in the East but I still voted for Oakland because I was certain they were going to be truly awful.

    • LazerTown 3 years ago

      I really didn’t think they would be one of the worse teams. Not playoff contenders, but definetely better than the Astros.

  11. HHHDMS 3 years ago

    I think these were all good options – however the Orioles didnt surprise me because since Buck Showalter has been around they have been improving and expected them to do well this year. I almost went with Trout because he sort of just came upon the scene and maybe Albert Pujols an afterthought. I didnt expect the As or the Nats to do well but I went with DIckey for some reason, he is having a great season

    • Nick Sossamon 3 years ago

      The Orioles contending for the division amongst the Yankees, Rays and Sox didn’t surprise you? Can I have access to your crystal ball please

      • HHHDMS 3 years ago

        No you cant have my crystal ball and try using common sense – the Orioles have played better over the last few years and knew under Showalter that they would content. It actually doesnt take a crystal ball, Showalter is a great manager, look how he did when he managed the Yankees at a time that they werent contending either

        • not_brooks 3 years ago

          Look at the Orioles starting rotation. If you had said during Spring Training that the O’s would be a .500+ team (let alone a potential division winner) with that group, you would have been the only one.

  12. j1066 3 years ago

    The Pirates are 2 games back. How are they not on this list?

    • Crucisnh 3 years ago

      I was thinking the same thing. They’re still above .500 and they’re still in the hunt for a wild card spot. Seems to me that the Pirates were deserving of mention in this poll, even though I’m not a Bucs fan.

  13. burnboll 3 years ago

    Trout being the MVP that he is, nobody saw that coming. Ok, he was gonna be good, perhaps ROY, but lead the league in several categories, and literally impact a whole lineup upon his arrival? You don’t have to be a genius to see how his arrival has inspired old vets like Wells and Hunter to rededicate themselves and go out there and have lots of fun.

    That being said, there are plenty of other stories too, O’s being the other big one obviously. Buck Showalter’s done an amazing job with that team.

    Another quite unlikely storyline, perhaps not the most unlikely, but still impressive, is how Derek Jeter’s been rebounding and is putting up MVP type of numbers again. What a legend that guy is.

    • Tko11 3 years ago

      I hope Cabrera wins the MVP, hes been amazing pretty much the entire year and may possibly win the Triple Crown.

  14. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 3 years ago

    For me, it’s the Orioles. They went from worst to near first in a single season and I still can’t name more than 5 players on their team. Buck Showalter has to be the AL manager of the year. He certainly got the most out of the least.

    I considered the A’s, but I could kind of see a possible good season coming for them because I knew they’d get great performances from 3 or 4 of their homegrown pitchers. They always do. Whoever is in charge of scouting, developing, and coaching their drafted pitchers ought to be given an award or something.

    I think the great play of the Reds should be in their somewhere along with the Pirates, along with the utter collapse of the Phillies and Red Sox.

  15. withpower 3 years ago

    Mike Trout was not surprising. Stop sleeping on Jersey.

  16. Rabbitov 3 years ago

    Lets all be realistic. All of those choices were in the realm of possibility pre-season, except for one. NO ONE though the Orioles could be contending for a playoff spot in September, and this message is straight out of Baltimore.

    • letsgogiants 3 years ago

      Umm….Oakland? They were expected to be at the bottom of the AL West, rather than leading the Wild Card this late in the season against the likes of the Angels and Tigers, who spent heavily to win now. The Orioles weren’t expected to compete against the mighty forces of the East. Trout wasn’t expected to do this well (probably the best rookie season in the history of the game). Throwing that many perfect games in a season is a huge rarity (given how there was just 18 thrown in the history of the game coming into this season). The Nationals, who were just at a .500 record last year, have turned a huge 180 versus a couple of years ago. They were expected to compete this year, but I don’t think many predicted they would have a better record than the Yankees, Tigers, Angels, or Rangers. And Dickey, who was almost a scrub trying to get back to playing at the major league level only a few years ago, has turned in a Cy Young type season. He has been good for the Mets the last couple years, but at age 37, I don’t think anybody predicted this much success in what appears to be the best year for a knuckle-baller in the history of the game. To say these were all predictable at the beginning of the season would have been just wishful thinking.

      • Rabbitov 3 years ago

        This is not the first time Oakland has surprised people. Oakland always gets exceptional pitching out of thin air.

        The Nats going into this season had a scary rotation, and I know a lot of people that predicted them to win the division.

        I am not going to address every one of your comments, especially given I never said “these were all predictable at the beginning of the season,” but I stand strongly by my statement.

        • letsgogiants 3 years ago

          Oakland has surprised people before, but that was back in the early 2000’s when they had Mulder, Hudson, and Zito in their pitching staff. Even just a marginal offense would easily make them a winning team. Coming into this year, they had Brandon McCarthy, who was the #5 starter coming into last year, as the ace. Colon as the #2 (a washed up veteran who started nicely in 2011 with the Yankees before fading later into the season). And then after that a bunch of young, unproven arms. Milone was major league ready, but many were saying he was a #4-5 starter going into the season. Nobody would have thought he would have been this crucial for the A’s winning this year. The same could be said for Parker (except he had the ceiling to be a front-line starter). Coming into the year, the A’s didn’t have much rotation depth given the injuries to Anderson and Braden at the beginning of the year. With how bad their offense has been the last couple of years, I don’t think anyone would have thought they would be in contention this late in the season. The Orioles are a very impressive story, but going into the year they had a solid offense with a ton of power and once they could develop solid pitchers in the majors, then they were going to be good, even against the likes of the Yankees and Blue Jays (who are thin on pitching), the Rays (great pitching, but not enough offense), and the Red Sox (who are fading to the bottom of the division).

          The Nats had a very good rotation, but winning your division and having the best record in all of baseball are two different stories. They didn’t have that great of an offense going into the year. LaRoche was coming off an injury-riddled and lousy year. Both Desmond and Espinosa were question marks on whether they could make enough contact as well take any walks. And Morse started off the season on the DL. I thought this would be the year the Nats would start winning more, but to say they would be the best team in baseball when there were a bunch of AL teams who spent heavily to win as well teams like the Cardinals and Reds, I don’t think many would have predicted them to be the best team in all of baseball.

          • Rabbitov 3 years ago

            I read everything you wrote, and I still don’t understand how you think the Athletics and Nats being good are more surprising to you than the Orioles being good. The Orioles who play in the toughest division, in arguably, professional sports.

            For the record, I picked the Nats to win the division pre-season.

          • letsgogiants 3 years ago

            Going into the season, the Rangers and Angels projected to be better than all of the AL East teams other than maybe the Yankees. Many were saying before the season that the Rangers and Angels were the best teams in all of baseball as they both had solid pitchers and good hitters. The Orioles are a good pick, but to say the A’s aren’t with them is just being biased. If you were to say that the A’s would be leading the wild card and even breathing on the Ranger’s neck this late in season, than I would be amazed by your skills on reading the future. The A’s had nobody on their offense going into the year that were going to make this much of an impact. Did anyone really think that Reddick would hit 30+ hrs by the end of the year? Or if Cespedes would already break out to be the middle of the order offensive burst that has quickly made adjustments within the year? Or if Carter and Moss would combine to hit 30 hrs in what hasn’t been a full season of them platooning? I doubt it. Again, I think the Orioles deserve the huge praise they are getting and it would be a thrill to watch them overtake the Yankees this late in the season in what has been a huge Cinderella story for them. But the fact that many are now saying that they predicted the A’s to win this many games when many were bashing the moves they made in the off-season to rebuild is just completely parallel.

            And you still missed my point about the Nats. I’ll give you a complete summary: Being first in your league does not always equal being the best team in all of baseball. If you said that the Nats were going to be better than the likes of the Yankees, Rangers, Angels, Tigers, Reds, or Cardinals, than again, you must have a knack at predicting the future.

          • Rabbitov 3 years ago

            I’m not really going to argue past this.

            The Orioles have not reached 70 wins in 6 years and have not had a winning season, since 1997 and they play in the toughest division in baseball. Them competing in September is a bigger surprise than:

            The Oakland A’s a year removed from a .500 season where they finished second in the division. They are also a team that has surprised everyone in the past.

            The Nationals were not expected to be doing THIS well, but they had hype coming into this season to be good.

            This is a matter of degree. The Nats and A’s are surprises, but the Orioles winning was absolutely beyond the scope of anyone’s imagination period. This is why they have the majority vote for biggest surprise.

  17. Blue387 3 years ago

    I expected the Blue Jays to do well this season but then everyone got hurt.

  18. So 90% of you expected 3 perfect games this year?

    • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      I’d say your interpretation of the data is faulty. 90% of us find other events more unlikely.

      • More unlikely than something that has never happened before? Seriously.

        • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

          Since the “end” of the steroid era pitching seems to have become more dominant. Add to that a few other interesting facts:
          -in 2010 there were 2 perfect games and 4 no hitters in the season (Granted one no hitter was in the postseason… but still).
          -In the last 6 years there have been a total of 22 no hitters and perfect games. In the previous 6 there had been 8.

          So yes, I find other events more surprising.

  19. start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

    Orioles then Athletics then the number of no hitters.

    While I’ll be accused of Schadenfreude the Orioles are a surprise because they’ve hit on a perfect storm. With the Red Sox and Blue Jays much weaker than they usually are the Orioles have taken advantage despite having an overall average team. They have a negative run differential add to that pitching as a team they are league average in ERA, below league average in quality starts, WHIP, and opponent batting average. As a team their offense is below league average in OBP and AVG and barely above league average in SLG.

    My point being, they are a surprise because looking at their numbers as a team they should be playing .500 ball and yet they have a very good chance to make the playoffs. At that point, anything can happen.

  20. geauxbraves2000 3 years ago

    In over 100 years of baseball there has only been 23 perfect games. The odds of having 3 of those in the same season is incredible and far above the odds of Baltimore contending in September. I’m not making light of Baltimore contending for that is a great accomplishment in the AL East but that just cannot compare to 3 perfect games in the same season.

    • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

      We did have two (almost three) in 2010. If you’d have told me the Red Sox would have a firesale in August and the Orioles would be in 1st place for however long in September, I’d have laughed.

    • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      Call me jaded or whatever but as I pointed out previously there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of no-hitters over the last couple of years. I’m just not as surprised as other events.

  21. Gotta go with RA Dickey. The success of Mike Trout is not surprising, three perfect games and three no-hitters is not surprising after last year, and the Nationals are not surprising (I would say the Phillies are more surprising). The Orioles are surprising but they played well under Showalter last year. The A’s are very very surprising but I would still say Dickey is more surprising since Beane has proven in the past that he knows what he is doing and can assemble a good team out of spare parts.

    Dickey’s success came out of nowhere and is unprecedented for a knuckleballer.

  22. rainyperez 3 years ago

    The BJ Upton and Justin Upton hitting their 100th HR on the same day 30 mins apart is a good one also!

    But I voted A’s because they were expected to lose 90+ games this season!?

    They basically were fielding a few wash ups, an MLB unproven Cespedes, and supposed not ready players they received in trades. What do they do? Walk-offs, a crazy July, and are now 3.5 games back from Texas.

  23. R.D. 3 years ago

    I believed the A’s rotation depth would keep them around .500 coming into the season, personally. The Nats seemed like the biggest threat to the Braves in the offseason as well. The O’s offense was supposed to be good but the level it’s on and the quality of their pitching wins out for sure.

    Not to say I don’t love the R.A. Dickey story, but he looked pretty solid at the end of last year too.

  24. 7119 voters clearly don’t understand how insane it is for a rookie, of Trout’s age, to put up an MVP-caliber season.

    Factoring in the fact that he just turned 21, it’s never happened before IIRC.

    • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

      It’s not exactly as unprecedented as you imply. At age 23 Fred Lynn dominated the league winning ROY and AL MVP. At age 21 Albert Pujols was a dominate force and while he was 4th in MVP voting was the only one who hasn’t been seriously accused of using PEDs.

      If we’re just talking about MVP caliber seasons… well I’m sure if I went through the l could find a few more names.

      • None of those guys are as young as Trout. Nobody has ever posted a 10+ WAR rookie season to my knowledge, let alone a season where they were 20 years old opening day.

  25. Steve Corbett 3 years ago

    O’s success, merely based on fifteen years of borderline horrible play. Kudos to Showalter & Duquette. If you look at this team statistically, they’re a .500 club.

  26. baseball52 3 years ago

    Mike Trout is as good as advertised? Oh, how shocking! (rolls eyes)

    • furioustoaster 3 years ago

      Sorry, but no one ever projected this guy to be this good. Not even his mom.

      • baseball52 3 years ago

        He was ranked ahead of he who is holy, aka Bryce Harper…

        • furioustoaster 3 years ago

          Yes, but not above the 40 or 50 major league hitters that are getting embarrassed by this kid right now.

  27. I voted the Nats having the best record in baseball. I did not see this coming at all. You could have seen Mike Trout’s success (albeit not this good) coming, although no one could have seen him as the likely runner-up to Miguel Cabrera for the MVP (Cabrera deserves it this year).

    However, right behind that for me was a tossup between the O’s and the A’s; I thought that both teams would be in last place this year. Oddly, the Daily News did a profile yesterday praising Andy MacPhail and comparing him to his father Lee (who had laid the foundation for the Frank Robinson trade before he left to become the top aide to then-Commissioner William Eckert; each left the year before the Orioles broke out of prolonged doldrums, but each had laid the foundation for success. As for the A’s—face it, did you expect them to be this good without Gio Gonzalez?

  28. There have never been 3 perfect games in one season before!!! Rookies have won MVPs, the O’s and A’s have been in the playoffs, the Expos had the best record in baseball the year of the strike, and previously mediocre pitchers have had incredible seasons. Because of that, the fact that only one of these things has never happened makes it an easy winner for least likely storyline entering a season.

  29. Dennis Brownlie 3 years ago

    East coast Bias! Mike Trout who?

  30. $21621694 3 years ago

    Luck plays a big factor, but they haven’t made it this far just on luck. They are doing something “else” right, they hired a couple of baseball analysts in the offseason. Moneyballing 2.0

  31. Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

    The Yankees have had their share of luck in the past too.

    I don’t think there’s been any team that’s won recently without a little bit of luck. (Or even a lot in some cases).

  32. Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

    Baltimore has a -19 team run differential, and are 16 games above .500.

    Yeah, I’d say that luck has had more say than anything, but it’s hard not to cheer for them nonetheless.

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