Each year, baseball has its share of winners and losers. Some teams improve modestly, while others excel to heights once thought unimaginable. Some, however, simply disappoint. From injuries to blown leads, listed below are ten teams that were major disappointments in the 2014 season. Teams you'll find on this list include the Red Sox, whose follow-up to a World Series year was nothing like they expected. You'll also read about the Brewers, and how two bad stretches of baseball completely blew their season. Let's get started with #10.
10 Tampa Bay Rays
Just a year ago, the Rays managed to beat the Cleveland Indians in a Wild Card Game. While they would eventually fall to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS (3-1), the city of Tampa was thrilled their team made it to the playoffs. Just making it to the post-season is a huge accomplishment. That's why, when the 2014 season started, fans were expecting the Rays to continue this newfound tradition of winning. This did not turn out to be the case. After a playoff year, the Tampa Bay Rays finished the 2014 season at 77-85. A far cry from their 91-71 record the previous season, the AL team from Florida almost finished dead last in their division. Their only saving grace in this instance was the atrocious play of the Boston Red Sox (another team that disappointed this season).
9 Seattle Mariners
This is probably the one team that actually exceeded expectations in the 2014 season. Unlike the Tampa Bay Rays, the Mariners struggled in the 2013 season. Actually, they've been suffering for a long time. 2009 was the last time the Mariners posted a winning record until the 2014 season rolled around. Finally, after four years of awful play, Seattle posted a winning record. However, just as the Mariners were chugging along the road to the playoffs, a blockade known as the Oakland Athletics happened. The Athletics managed to edge out the Mariners by merely one game to take the Wild Card spot. Seattle fans have to be disappointed in a season that looked so promising. On the positive side, Mariners fans should be happy with their team's winning ways and look to improve their staff for next season.
8 Philadelphia Phillies
After a below-average season in 2013, the Phillies were looking to return to greatness. Why shouldn't they be looking to win? They shelled out wads of cash for Ryan Howard and were hoping to sit atop the NL East. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, reality set in fairly quickly into the 2014 season, and the team didn't do a whole lot of winning. Ryan Howard, the star of Subway commercials and recipient of a massive contract, underperformed (again). Batting just .223, Ryan cannot seem to muster up what he once had in his prime. Not only did the Phillies not win the division, they ended up finishing dead last. This is the first time it's happened since 2000. If I were a Philly fan, I'd get ready for some blockbuster moves in the offseason.
7 Minnesota Twins
This entry may come as a surprise on this list, but it makes sense once you take into account how far the Twins have fallen. With the re-signing of All-Star catcher Joe Mauer and a 94-68 record, the future was looking bright for Minnesota in 2010. But throw in some injuries to their newly signed phenom, an overall average season at best from the rest of the team, and you've got a recipe for disaster. Since the 2010 season, the Twins have finished in either 4th or 5th place (dead last). Their wins have not exceeded 70 in each of the last four seasons and their best season has been 2014 (70-92). Indeed, how the mighty have fallen.
6 New York Yankees
After a playoff run in 2012, the Bronx Bombers were looking for a way back into the Playoffs. Once the 2013 season bore no playoff fruit, the Yanks signed some major stars for the 2014 campaign. This who's-who of baseball stars included re-signing manager and former player Joe Girardi, catcher Brian Mccann, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran (all of whom are all-stars). Each of these players came with a high price tag, and was expected to perform above and beyond. This did not turn out to be the case. Even with the high-profile signings, the Yankees finished a distant second to the red-hot Baltimore Orioles. To add to the disappointment, the 2014 letdown will always be remembered as Derek Jeter's last season in the big leagues.
5 Texas Rangers
The story of the 2014 Texas Rangers is a heartbreaking one for Rangers fans. Coming off of a season of 91 wins, and a brief playoff appearance, the Rangers were looking to build upon this success. With major talents including Prince Fielder, Yu Darvish, and Derek Holland, expectations included a return trip to the playoffs. No such luck befell the Rangers. In fact, a lot of bad luck befell them. Fielder, Holland, and Darvish all suffered from injuries. A record was even set for the most active players on a 25-man roster in one season. Their pitchers? Forty different pitchers were used during the season. No consistency can come from that. Ron Washington also resigned at the end of the season. In a campaign full of woe and things that should have been, the Rangers are looking to put this injury-laden season out of their minds.
4 Cincinnati Reds
Sharing the likeness of losing their Wild Card game with the Rangers, the Cincinnati Reds dropped from 90 wins in 2013 to 76 wins in 2014. This may have been due, partly, to the awful play of the Reds' outfield. In terms of OPS (on-base plus slugging), the Reds had their worst season ever. One of the main contributors to this statistic is Jay Bruce, who performed well below expectations for the season. Bruce batted a mere .217 in the 2014 season. Skip Schumaker also negatively contributed to the outfield's poor performance. In recent years, the Reds have made the playoffs and have been contenders in their respective divisions. The 2014 season was a letdown. Fans should be eager to see what 2015 has to offer.
3 Boston Red Sox
For over a decade, the Boston Red Sox always seem to pose a threat in the AL East. Since 2002, the Red Sox have only had a losing record once (2012). With fans used to winning, the 2014 season came as both a shock and a disappointment. They finished dead last in the AL East at 71-91. Not only did they finish last, but they are also the second team in MLB history to finish dead last in their division one year after winning the World Series. David Ortiz, one of the leaders of the team, didn't have a good year in terms of batting average. In fact, it's the worst batting average of his career (.263). It didn't help matters that the Baltimore Orioles are extremely talented, and have played some of their best baseball ever. What will the future hold for the Red Sox in 2015?
2 Atlanta Braves
Picture this: It's the All-Star break. You are tied for the lead in the N.L. East. You know it's going to be a hard fought second half of the season, but you're willing to fight for it. You commence the second half...and fall apart. That's exactly what happened to the Atlanta Braves. Specifically, their September was horrible. The Braves only managed to win one series in the last month of the season, and were able to win back-to-back games only once since early August. Even though the team finished tied in second place (which some might see as reputable), it's the fact that the Braves let place in 1st dwindle away to nothing as the Nationals took off. Having a September in which you only win one series is disappointing, especially when an opponent in your division seem to win every game. The Braves will look forward to next year.
1 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers were in first place (or tied for it) for roughly five months in the 2014 season. They started the season 20-7, and many bought into them as a playoff contender (and rightfully so at that point). Then came a horrendous lapse in their play. Between August 20th and September 9th, the Brewers went 3-16. Earlier in the season, they went on a similar stretch in which they lost 11 of 12. Streaks of this magnitude have the ability to kill season, and that's just what they did for the Brewers. Ryan Braun's thumb injury didn't help matters either. In a season Brewers fans thought they would want to remember for a long time, it just goes to show you how fickle the game of baseball is. She is a cruel mistress indeed.