10 biggest disappointments of 2019 MLB season thus far

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 MLB season has seen a great deal of good performances. But for everything positive, there must be a negative. And this season has plenty of those.

The Washington Nationals entered the year with hopes to at least reach the postseason. But nothing they’ve done so far has resembled a playoff team. The New York Mets figured to be anchored by a strong starting rotation. But that’s been far from the case. Aaron Nola, Matt Carpenter, and Jose Ramirez were among MLB’s brightest stars in 2018. To put it mildly, they’ve all struggled in 2019. Of course, two stars in Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain unemployed.

From what we’ve seen in the 2019 MLB season, these players and teams have been the biggest disappointments.

All stats and records are accurate through play on Monday, May 20

Angels still doing nothing for Mike Trout

Trout is hitting .288/.456/.562 with 10 home runs, six steals, and is playing stellar defense. But the Los Angeles Angels are 22-25, 9.5 behind the Houston Astros in the AL West and are 3.5 out of the second Wild Card spot. There’s a lot of time to make up that ground. But the Halos have at best a middle-of-the-pack pitching staff. So, it doesn’t feel terribly likely. It’s been a common theme in his career. So, this isn’t terribly surprising. But the best player in baseball likely being deprived of the chance to shine on the big stage will always be disappointing.

Jacob deGrom and other Met aces falling well short of expectations

deGrom and fellow Mets starters, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler have a combined 4.46 ERA and 1.264 WHIP. That’s troubling, but not the big issue. The three have combined for 28 starts. Of those, exactly half were quality starts. In the 14 non-quality starts, deGrom, Sydnergaard and Wheeler have a combined 8.19 ERA and 1.805 WHIP. That’s put New York well behind the eight-ball in half of the games started by the team’s three-best starting pitchers. Not surprisingly, the Mets are 4-10 in those games. The Mets have plenty of issues. But they need their best arms to step up their games in a big way.

New look Padres have no offensive punch

With Manny Machado on board, it seemed reliable that if nothing else, the San Diego Padres would score some runs this season. That has not happened. Machado could be better, but .263/.343/.451 with nine homers isn’t bad. Overall, San Diego is averaging only 3.75 runs a game. Only the Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins are worse. That’s not good company to keep. The NL Wild Card race figures to be deep. If the Padres want to remain in that through the summer, the offense has to improve. It’s that simple.

Jose Ramirez going from stud to dud

Ramirez finished third in AL MVP voting in each of the last two seasons. Ramirez does have 12 steals in 2019, but he’s hitting .197/.293/.306 and has only four home runs. This is a man who hit .294/.380/.567 and averaged 34 home runs as well as 26 steals in his career. The good news is that at 25-21, the Cleveland Indians have treaded water. But if they are going to catch the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central and avoid a crowded Wild Card field, Ramirez will need to be that MVP contender again.

Aaron Nola not following up on breakout campaign

Nola’s was one of MLB’s breakout stars and best pitchers in 2018, posting a 2.37 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. But 2019 has gone another way. In 10 outings, Nola has a 4.47 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. And this isn’t a matter of one or two bad outings throwing the total numbers off. He has only four quality starts. The other six times he’s taken the ball, Nola has posted a 7.16 ERA and 1.916 WHIP.  Of course, even the best pitchers can have a bad outing on occasion. But 60% of someone’s starts is more than an occasion.  

Matt Carpenter can’t rediscover 2018 form

Carpenter had a stellar year in 2018, hitting .257/.374/.523 with 36 home runs en route to finishing ninth in NL MVP voting. But 2019 has been a different animal. He’s hit .205/.318/.351 with five homers. Those numbers wouldn’t be so bad for someone batting down in the lineup. But Carpenter has been used almost exclusively as the lead-off man. Competing with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central figured to be tough enough for the St. Louis Cardinals with Carpenter playing well. If he stays on this pace, it’ll become essentially impossible.

Eloy Jimenez struggling on the South Side

It’s been a rough rookie campaign for Jimenez. The Chicago White Sox rookie is hitting only .229/.281/.361 with three homers. The three homers can be defended somewhat, as Jimenez did spend some time on the IL. But those slash stats are a different story. We can’t call 83 at-bats a huge sample size. Even then, it’s a big enough sample size that we can’t ignore numbers like those. The White Sox took a lot of criticism in the offseason for engaging in blatant service time manipulation with Jimenez. The criticism was valid. But fair is fair. He hasn’t played well.

New and old Reds struggling in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Reds made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by acquiring Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was set to join a potent lineup. One of the key cogs of that lineup was Joey Votto, Cincinnati’s longtime superstar who hit .284/.417/.419 in 2018. Though, 2019 has been an immense struggle for both. Puig is hitting .206/.253/.358 and while he has seven homers, he has only four other extra-base hits (all doubles). Votto, meanwhile, has four homers, seven doubles, and two triples. But he’s hitting only .208/.323/.340. The only positive here is that both men have left themselves plenty of room to improve.

Nationals are one of the National League’s worst teams

If you’re a Nationals fan, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played. Whether you take that as a sign of hope or despair is up to you. The Nats haven’t simply been mediocre. They’ve been awful. Washington’s 19-28 mark is ahead of only the Marlins in the NL. In fact, the Nationals are closer to being caught by the Marlins as they are to catching the NL’s current No. 2 Wild Card team. For a team that entered the year with World Series hopes, that’s a big problem.

Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain unsigned

Keuchel posted a 3.74 ERA and 1.314 WHIP in 2018. Kimbrel saved 42 games (for the World Series champs, no less) with a 2.74 ERA and 0.995 WHIP a season ago. They may not be what they once were. But Keuchel could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter on nearly any contender. Kimbrel could close or be a dominant setup man for any team in the league. But both are unsigned.

Teams are just opting to be stingy both with both money and draft picks. The latter is especially disappointing. The pick would not be a team’s first. Additionally, plenty of high end draft picks never make the majors. Even the best that do tend to go debut at least a year after being drafted. In most cases, it’s closer to two or more. Keuchel and Kimbrel being unsigned is frustrating for the players, of course. For fans, that kind of attitude from teams is problematic beyond just the two players.