The All-Star Break is upon us, and until game action starts up again on Friday, we're going to do a brief season in review of the 2012 MLB season thusfar. Our staff has voted on a variety of awards, and we're going to roll them out over the next four days.
Next up in today's "unofficial" awards: the most disappointing player of the MLB season. A lot of players started off slow, and eventually snapped out of their funks. There are also other players who are just real young, and have hit a speed bump that they're trying like hell to jump over.
Most Disappointing Player
Tim Lincecum (four votes)
Rickie Weeks (two votes)
Dan Haren (one vote)
Adrian Gonzalez (one vote)
You can say what you want about Tim Lincecum this year, but one thing is for sure: he's struggling. His strikeout rate is consistent with his career norm, but his walk rate is much higher, checking in at 4.66 walks per nine innings. Lincecum's homer rate is also up, allowing a hair over one per nine innings thanks to a 12.4% HR/FB rate, which is slightly up compared to the league average, but way up in comparison to his career rate. Despite an ERA over six, Lincecum's FIP and xFIP are both below 4.00. However, Lincecum's velocity is way down, and he's allowing more line drives this year than ever before while allowing fewer groundballs than he ever has. There are some positives for Lincecum though, as hitters are making the least contact they've ever made with his pitches before, and his whiff rate is 12%, the highest of his career. It's been a very interesting season, but there's no denying that he's not the same guy as he was when he won back to back Cy Young awards just a couple of years ago.
Rickie Weeks of the Brewers has had an interesting career. In his eight seasons in the majors, he's qualified for the batting title just four times…but has been really good when healthy, averaging four wins in each of those healthy seasons. This year, he's been healthy, playing in 81 of Milwaukee's 85 games. But…he's been terrible. Weeks is hitting .199, and has a .657 OPS for a Brewers team that has been devastated by injuries. Weeks's defense has also been worse than ever for Milwaukee this year. When it rains, it pours I guess.
Until this season with the Angels, Dan Haren had never been hurt in his career. His first full season was in 2005 with the A's, and he's thrown seven straight 200 inning seasons. Haren also has had an ERA above 4.00 just once in his career. Of course, that has all gone out the window this season. Haren is currently on the DL with a lower back injury, and has struggled when not on the DL, pitching to a 4.86 ERA and allowing 16 homers in 103 2/3 innings. He also has a (still good) 3.58 strikeout to walk ratio, the first time that ratio has been below 4.00 since 2007 with Oakland. Haren has a club option for $15.5 million for the 2013 season, and his struggles will likely see him take a paycut.
Adrian Gonzalez has just had a rough year for the Red Sox in a tumultous season in Boston. Unlike Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia, Gonzalez hasn't been hurt at all. But, he has struggled. His batting average has fallen 55 points from last year to .283, and his 6.2% walk rate is his lowest ever in a full season. Gonzalez also has a career-worst .133 ISO this year, which is stunning considering that his prime years came in the pitchers' haven that is Petco Park. Gonzalez has six straight years of at least 20 homers, but has just six this year. As a result of his struggles at the plate, Gonzalez is hacking more at the plate than he ever has. He's been making more contact, and it's been good contact, with a career-best line drive rate on the board for Boston's first baseman. Out of everyone else on this list, I think Gonzalez is the most likely to turn things around and have a big second half.