October is for winners and heroes, and all that is good about MLB.
However, not everyone in baseball is a winner. In fact, many players have spent the past two-plus weeks wondering went wrong during the regular season.
With that in mind, here is our 2017 All-Awful team.
First baseman — Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers. In fairness, elbow and back injuries limited him to 71 games. However, he hit .242/.287/.355 with three home runs and drew a salary of $22,357,000.
Second baseman — Danny Espinosa, Angels/Mariners/Rays. A player must perform poorly to be released by three teams in a little more than two months. Espinosa qualified as he hit .173/.245/.278 with six home runs in 93 games while making $5.425 million.
Third baseman — Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox/Giants. He was nonproductive in both the American and National leagues. The Kung Fu Panda hit .220/.265/.367 with nine home runs in 79 games with a $17.6 million salary.
Shortstop — J.J. Hardy, Orioles. A broken wrist torpedoed his season but he still hit just .217/.255/.323 with four home runs in 73 games. That isn’t good value for a $14-million player.
Catcher — Matt Wieters, Nationals. After spending his entire career with the Orioles, he bombed in his first year in the NL by hitting .225/.288/.344 with 10 homers while making $10.5 million. And he made a pivotal throwing error in the Nats’ season-ending loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of their NL Division Series.
Left fielder — Alex Gordon, Royals. In a slump that spanned the entire season, he hit just .208/.293/.315 with nine home runs in 148 games. That was a killer for a small-market franchise that can’t afford a non-productive player at $16 million.
Center fielder — Adam Engel, White Sox. Talk about a nightmare rookie season. He hit .166/.235/.282 in 97 games. At least, it can’t get any worse.
Right fielder — Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. It looked the end of the line for six-time All-Star as he batted .203/.308/.366 with 23 home runs in 157 games while making $17 million.
Designated hitter — Vacant. Considering the DH is an awful idea, there’s no reason to have one on the All-Awful team.
Starting pitcher — Derek Holland, White Sox. He was supposed to be a veteran stabilizer for a young rotation but had a 7-14 record and 6.20 ERA in 29 games then was released Sept. 5.
Relief pitcher — Francisco Rodriguez, Tigers. K-Rod has secured his place in history as one of the game’s greatest closers but he had a terrible 2017, getting released June 23 after going 2-5 with a 7.82 ERA in 28 games. He also converted just seven out of 13 save opportunities.
The Atlanta Braves are waiting for Major League Baseball to make a ruling on the violations they committed in signing international amateur free agents before deciding on who will replace John Coppolella, who resigned as general manager Oct. 2.
The decision, according to industry sources, will hinge on the fate of president of baseball operations John Hart. If Hart is found to have either been privy to the violations — he says he wasn’t — or is punished by MLB for a lack of institutional control, then the Braves likely will fire him.
If Hart retains his job then Dan Jennings, a special assistant to the GM with the Washington Nationals, is the favorite to be hired as GM. Jennings is considered one of the top talent evaluators in the game and was the Marlins’ interim manager for the final games of the 124 games of the 2015 season.
“DJ is beyond ready and deserving for an opportunity to be a GM,” an executive of an NL team said of the 57-year-old.
Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting has made it clear on many occasions that he has no desire to sell the team and will eventually pass it on to his daughters.
However, word continues to persist in sports and entertainment circles that Thomas Tull, former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Legendary Entertainment, has interest in buying the Pirates and might make an offer of $1 billion or more to Nutting.
Though he grew up in Hamilton, N.Y., Tull has long been a fan of Pittsburgh sports teams. He has an ownership stake in the NFL’s Steelers and is avid baseball memorabilia collector.
Tull also attempted to buy the San Diego Padres in 2012 but they were eventually sold to a group that included San Diego businessman Ron Fowler and Peter and Tom Seidler, nephews of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley.
Among the major motion pictures Tull has financed are The Dark Knight trilogy and The Hangover.
Pirates’ fans might welcome a change. The team’s local television ratings dipped 27 percent this season and attendance was down nearly 20 percent at PNC Park. Pittsburgh had its second straight losing season following three consecutive postseason appearances.
New York Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge entered Game 3 of the ALCS Championship Series on Tuesday night against the Houston Astros having gone 5-for-34 (.147) with 21 strikeouts in 41 plate appearances over nine games.
While that has caused angst among Yankees’ fans, scouts who have watched Judge are not concerned. They point out that Judge hit .311/.463/.889 with 15 home runs in 27 games in September after posting a .185/.353/.326 line with three homers in 27 games in August.
“He proved he can adjust back when major-league pitchers adjusted him,” a scout from an NL team said. “He’s not a one-year wonder. He’s going to have a fine career. He might not hit 52 home runs like he did this year every year but he’s a quality hitter and a smart kid with good baseball instincts.
“I won’t let two tough weeks facing some of the best pitchers in baseball change my opinion. … He’s already answered all the questions in my mind.”
Judge then went 2-for-3 with a double, home run and a walk in Game 4 as the Yankees rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win 6-4 and even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.