The end of the regular baseball season means it’s time to take a look at the accomplishments of the 14 Jewish Major Leaguers of 2012.
Adam Greenberg had just one at bat, but that still made him the “feel-good” story of the year. Greenberg, who was hit in the head on the first pitch he saw in his 2005 Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs, had been out of the Majors ever since. He never gave up, however, playing for several minor and independent league franchises. The Florida Marlins signed Greenberg to a one-day contract and he finally got another chance as a pinch-hitter in their Oct. 2 game against the Mets. Although he struck out on three pitches, he went down swinging and served as an inspiration to countless fans.
Ryan Braun had another MVP-like season. His 41 home runs — a career high — led the National League. The All-Star outfielder was also tops in runs scored, slugging percentage, and OPS (on base plus slugging percentage). Braun came in second in runs batted in and third in batting average and stole 30 bases to gain reentry into the elite 30 homer-30 steals club. Unfortunately, his Milwaukee Brewers foundered late in the campaign, finishing third in the NL Central Division. Despite his accomplishments, Braun retained the taint of performance-enhancing drug use. Although he was cleared of the charges, thereby avoiding a 50-game suspension, suspicions lingered and it seems unlikely he will pick up a second MVP trophy.
First-baseman Ike Davis never got untracked following his bout with Valley Fever in the spring. Nevertheless, he set career highs in home runs (32) and RBIs (90) for a NY Mets team that finished fourth in the NL East with a record of 74-88.
Kevin Youkilis continued to battle injuries and a poor relationship with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. The popular “Youk” — who split his time between first and third base — was traded halfway through the year to the Chicago White Sox, where he thrilled new fans with clutch hitting for awhile, keeping the team in contention for a post-season spot until the last week. Youkilis finished with a combined 19 homers, 60 RBIs, and career-worst .235 batting average in 122 games.
Ian Kinsler and the Texas Rangers also faltered over their last few games, just missing their third straight AL West title. Kinsler finished with 19 home runs, 72 RBIs, and 105 runs scored, third-best in the league. Teammate Scott Feldman was bad for a stretch, good for a stretch, and then bad again, finishing with a record of 6-11 and a 5.09 earned-run average.
Craig Breslow began 2012 with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2-0 in 43.1 innings over 40 games). He was traded to the Red Sox on July 31 and pitched in 20 games for his new team (1-0, 20 innings in 23 games). Coincidentally, he had the same ERA — 2.70 — for each ball club.
Jason Marquis also pitched for two teams in 2012. He was 2-4 in seven starts for the Minnesota Twins, then 6-7 for the San Diego Padres in 15 starts. His season ended on Aug. 21 when his arm was broken by a batted ball during a game.
Sam Fuld (Tampa Bay Rays) missed more than half the year due to an injury sustained during spring training. He made his 2012 debut on July 24, batting .255 with no home runs and four RBIs in 44 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.
Danny Valencia split time between the Twins, the Red Sox, and the minors. The third baseman batted a combined .188 in 44 games with three homers and 21 RBIs.
Michael Schwimer was back-and-forth with the Philadelphia Phillies. The six-foot, eight-inch righty reliever appeared in 35 games (34.1 innings, 36 strikeouts) and won two of his three decisions to go with a 4.46 ERA.
Catcher/designated hitter Ryan Lavarnway appeared in 46 games with the Red Sox, batting .157 with two homers and 12 RBIs. Teammate Ryan Kalish batted .229 over 36 games with five RBIs.
Infielder Josh Satin — who, like Greenberg, was a member of the Israeli national team that participated in the World Baseball Classic qualifier last month — appeared in one game for the Mets, striking out — again like Greenberg — in his only at bat as a pinch-hitter.
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