MLB’s top stars post big numbers, not wins

MLB’s top stars post big numbers, not wins

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

Hunter Greene – extraordinary ferocious flamethrower – already has something in common with several of the other members of major league baseballthe “most talked about” upper echelon.

His team is not particularly good.

In one of MLB’s most bizarre trends over the past two seasons, countless pros among the sport’s elite have performed at an extremely high level…but mostly to no avail.

When the playoffs came around last year, the action was frenetic, entertaining and competitive, but it also lacked a staggering number of names that had lit up the regular season.

The Los Angeles Angels loved seeing American League MVP Shohei Ohtani’s incredible two-way campaign, but it didn’t let them feel the playoffs. In the National League, Bryce Harper’s exploits couldn’t offer the Philadelphia Phillies any significant action in October either.

Now we have Greene doing illogical things in baseball’s first flurry of the new year, like throwing 39 pitches at 100 mph or more in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while being on a team that was 2- 10 before Wednesday and looking ready to continue on this miserable path.

“Baseball is very unique in that you can’t just have one dominant player and automatically you have a great team,” FOX Sports MLB analyst Ben Verlander told me. “In basketball, there are only five guys on the court and if one of them is a legend, you are going to be good. In football, if your best player is a quarterback, you will be good. But if you es the Angels, Ohtani can’t throw every day and he and Mike Trout can only hit once every nine times.”

Ohtani has done it all in 2021, delivering at an extraordinary level. That made it a must-watch, but it could only help the Angels to eight games under .500 and fourth place in the AL West.

For the Washington Nationals, Juan Soto was magnificent, his power and intelligence at the plate bringing 29 home runs and a .313 ERA, while recording a league-leading 145 walks for a .465 on-base percentage (best in baseball for the second consecutive year).

And yet, only two NL teams were worse than the 65-97 Nationals, who managed to finish 23.5 games out of first place in the NL East, baseball’s worst division.

The Toronto Blue Jays had several elite players last season, but that didn’t help them as much as they should have. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. seemed to play a different, easier version of baseball than everyone else at times. Marcus Semien was brilliant and shortstop Bo Bichette wasn’t far behind, while Robbie Ray lit him up with his left-handed pitching magic. Even then, Toronto finished fourth in the AL East, remaining to watch TV come playoff time.

In Philadelphia, Zack Wheeler was as good on the mound as Harper was at home plate. In San Diego, Fernando Tatis Jr. continued his explosive rise on a Padres team that promised much and delivered little.

Cedric Mullins and Bryan Reynolds were flowers shrouded in mud, shining on the dismal Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates respectively.

“The requirement for success is different in baseball, and that makes it interesting,” Verlander added. “You could go watch the Nationals come to town to go see Soto bat, even if the team isn’t very good. That’s the beautiful thing about baseball, you need a full team to win. If you have a well-spread roster, then yes, those stars can give you an extra edge, but they can’t make up for a weak roster.

Harper and Ohtani received MVP honors last season, marking the first time since 1987 — and only the ninth in history — that both MVPs have played on teams that didn’t make the playoffs. In fact, none of the MVP finalists even made it, which could show a willingness on the part of the voting panel to overlook a team’s disastrous exit when analyzing a player’s individual effort. .

FOX Bet lists Guerrero at +350 to win the AL MVP this year, with Soto the +300 favorite in NL. The Dodgers are considered the most likely to win the World Series, at +500.

Sometimes players can’t do much to influence the fortunes of their teams. Sometimes they willingly choose such a situation. Kris Bryant opted for Colorado when he hit free agency and starts his first campaign in Denver, where the Rockies aren’t expected to face much of a challenge in western Newfoundland and only made the playoffs playoffs only five times in three decades.

“I’m all for good history and I’m all for rewriting history,” Bryant told The Athletic.

Colorado is off to a good start, so who knows, they might just hit that target. If he doesn’t and ends up being another star player on a struggling team? Well, he’s not the only one.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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