What a long strange trip it’s been for JMLs in 2010.
In with the new
Two rookies made quite an impression this season, one local, the other far-flung.
First baseman Ike Davis made his debut with the NY Mets on April 19 and became an immediate favorite, making the “I like Ike” button fashionable again some fifty years after Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although he faltered a bit in August, the 23-year-old son of former Major Leaguer pitcher, Ron Davis, was in the top five rookies in several categories including games played (141), plate appearances (601), at-bats (523), doubles (33), home runs (19), runs batted in (71), and runs scored (73). In addition, he was outstanding with the glove and deserves some major consideration for National league Rookie of the Year.
Over in the junior circuit, Minnesota Twins’ third baseman Danny Valencia is post-season bound. The 26-year-old got his call-up on June 3 and appeared in 85 games, finishing with a .318 batting average, 93 hits, 18 doubles, seven home runs, and 40 RBIs. He should also get some votes for ROY.
Out with the old
Scott Schoeneweis was released by the Boston Red Sox in May. He made 15 relief appearances, yielding 12 runs on 19 hits, and walking 10 in 13.2 innings. He also struck out 10 and managed to get a victory. In a bizarre and sad twist, he was released on the one-year anniversary of the death of his wife, Gabrielle.
Ryan Braun (Brewers) drove in 103 runs — the third straight season breaking the century mark — which was good for seventh place in the NL. He also was in the top 10 in runs scored (101, sixth place), and batting average (.304, ninth). Mid-season hand injuries kept those already-impressive numbers down. He was voted to the NL All-Star team for the third consecutive year.
Ian Kinsler (Rangers) missed almost two months due to injuries. He made his 2010 debut on April 30 and went out against in late July, making his return on Sept. 2. He finished with a .290 batting average in a career-low 103 games, with nine home runs, 45 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. Like Valencia, Kinsler gets to extend his season, as Texas won the AL Central title.
Craig Breslow (A’s) — named the smartest athlete by The Sporting News — appeared in 75 games, compiling a 4-4 record with five saves and 16 holds. He struck out 71 batters in 74.2 innings, allowing just 53 hits.
After his 2009 season in which he won 17 out of 25 decisions, the Rangers’ Scott Feldman dropped to 7-11 with an ERA of 5.48. He also spent some time on the disabled list and finished the year in the bullpen, leaving the question open as to his role in Texas’ playoff plans.
Jason Marquis’ broke his string of being on a post-season team in every year since his debut in 2000. Pitching for the Nationals, Marquis started off horribly before submitting to arm surgery after an 0-3 start, giving up 18 hits and 20 earned runs in just 8.1 innings, including an April 18 game against the Brewers in which he allowed seven runs on four hits and two walks and didn’t retire a batter. He was out until Aug. 8 and pitched much better, although he kept accumulating losses, mostly due to lack of offensive support. But perhaps the biggest disappointment — at least to Jewish fans — might have been his decision to pitch against the Phillies on erev Yom Kippur: He never made it out of the first inning, giving up six runs on six hits while retiring just one batter.
Defensive specialist Sam Fuld (Cubs) appeared in 19 games, batting .143 with one double and three RBIs.
Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) sustained a freakish season-ending thumb injury at the beginning of August. He finished with a .308 batting average, 77 runs scored, 62 RBIs, 19 homers, 26 doubles, and 58 walks. At the time of his departure, Youkilis was among the league leaders in several offensive categories.
John Grabow (Cubs) didn’t pitch after June 28 due to knee injuries. He tossed 25.2 innings over 28 games and compiled a 2-4, 7.36 record with no saves.
Gabe Kapler (Rays) didn’t appear in a game after Aug. 14. In just 59 games — mostly off the bench — the 34-year-old outfielder hit .210 with two home runs and 14 RBIs.
Thanks for the memories
Brad Ausmus (Dodgers) calls it a career after 18 years. He went out on a couple of high notes, though. Joe Torre gave Ausmus — who also made The Sporting News’ list of smartest athletes — the opportunity to manage the Oct. 1 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks (a 7-5 loss) and he started the final game of the season, going 2-4 with a double as LA beat Arizona, 3-1. Ausmus finished the year with a .222 average in 21 games.