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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: September 13, 3:50 PM ET
Biggest disappointments of 2012

ESPN.com

Although it's more fun to focus on the positive, we asked our experts to be wet blankets today and give us their picks for the biggest disappointments of 2012.

1. Who's the most disappointing position player this year?


Jayson Stark (@jaysonst), ESPN.com: Did Dan Uggla really hit in 33 straight games last year? This year, he's only gotten 35 hits since the All-Star break -- and that was two months ago. I recognize that he's leading the league in walks and that mitigates this disaster slightly. But if Uggla has been so bad that his team had to bench him (even temporarily) in the final month of a wild-card race, with three years left on his contract after this one, that tells you all you need to know about what a mess he's been. Doesn't it?

David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield), SweetSpot: The Mariners fan in me would like to nominate Justin Smoak, but it appears he was just overrated. I'll go with Justin Upton, an MVP candidate a year ago but basically a one-win player at an age he should be peaking. Arizona has disappointed and Upton is a big reason why.

Jerry Crasnick(@jcrasnick ), ESPN.com: The Weeks brothers. Rickie has perked up since the All-Star break, but he hit .199 while the Brewers were muddling along below .500 and digging themselves a hole in the first half. Jemile established himself in 2011 as Oakland's second baseman of the future, but he's not having much fun at present. He hit .220 this season, and the A's sent him to Triple-A Sacramento in August after trading for shortstop Stephen Drew.


2. Who's the most disappointing pitcher this year?

Stark: So many candidates, and I can pick only one. But I'll take Heath Bell. The demise of the Marlins is way too complicated to say that one guy blew up their season. But when Bell ran up a 10.80 ERA in April, blew four of his first seven save opportunities and flipped their whole karma upside down, it sure didn't slow the avalanche. As good as he's been the past few years, it's almost incomprehensible that this guy has a 16-to-15 walk-strikeout ratio with runners in scoring position. Or that he's allowed 55 baserunners in 33 innings in save situations. But it's all true. The best bet of the year is that Heath Bell will NOT be a Marlin in 2013.

Schoenfield: For all of the hype about clubhouse issues and Bobby Valentine, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are two huge seasons why the Red Sox fell apart. No team can be expected to overcome such huge declines from its top two starters. Oops, I guess that's two pitchers.

Crasnick: Heath Bell. The Marlins gave him $27 million to stabilize the back end of their bullpen. When early May arrived and Bell had four blown saves and an 11.42 ERA, this marriage had disaster written all over it. Four months later, Steve Cishek is closing games in Miami. If only Bell could click his heels, keep reciting the words, "There's no place like home,'' and wake up back on the mound at Petco Park.


3. Who's the most disappointing team this year?

Stark: Is this supposed to be a difficult question? How can it be any team not named the Red Sox? They had a $173 million payroll. They mutinied against their manager. They have an excellent chance to finish in last place for the first time in 20 years -- and the second time in 80 years. They're working on becoming the first Red Sox team in nearly a half-century to lose 90 games. And when they made the most monumental waiver deal in history a couple of weeks ago, it was basically their way of announcing to the world, "We're officially taking a mulligan." So hasn't this team been more disappointing than all of the other candidates combined? Of course it has!

Schoenfield: The Red Sox are the easy call here, but I'll go with the Detroit Tigers. In our preseason balloting on ESPN.com, 50 out of 50 voters picked the Tigers to win the AL Central. That, dear readers, is 100 percent. It's not too late, but they certainly didn't cruise to the division title like most expected.

Crasnick: The Miami Marlins. You know it was going to be a rough year when manager Ozzie Guillen had to make an emergency flight home to placate Latino fans in early April. Attendance is disappointing, Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante have left the premises, and the Marlins are 63-81 and 2½ games behind the Mets in the race for fourth in the NL East. Good luck with that season-ticket sale initiative, Jeff Loria.