May 21, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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The team and atmosphere that an athlete plays for can have an impact on their success. Sometimes after a long tenure with a team, it begins to hold a player back. Here are four guys that could use a change of scenery in MLB.
With baseball being a game of failure, so much goes into the impact of a successful MLB player. When a player is on a good team, their chances of success are very high. But if the player is on a team that struggles to win, the opposite occurs.
When a successful and talented player struggles, it might be because of the team that player is on. Or maybe the atmosphere he is playing in. Sometimes even the fans can affect a player’s performance.
Occasionally, when a player changes teams their success level rises. A change of “scenery” can play a big part in a player’s psyche.
Of course, a new team doesn’t always equal success. For example, Jason Heyward‘s transition from the Cardinals to the Cubs. After a stellar season with St. Louis, Heyward couldn’t find his groove in Chicago in 2016.
But other players such as Jake Arrieta strive with a new team. When Arrieta played for the Orioles he looked like a pitcher that couldn’t last in the big leagues. Once traded to Chicago, Arrieta became a Cy Young caliber starter.
A change of scenery worked out well for Arrieta. Here are four other players that could succeed more with a change of scenery.
What do a down season, trade rumors and a position change all have in common? They are all involving Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Last season was statistically one of the worst of his MLB career. Cutch struggled at the plate. He had career lows in batting average (.256), on-base percentage (.336), slugging (.430) and on-base plus slugging (.766). He also struck out a career-high 143 times. Thus his oWAR dropped to a career-low 2.2, according to Baseball Reference.
He didn’t perform well in center either, last season. According to Baseball Reference, McCutchen’s dWAR was a putrid -2.6.
During the offseason and Winter Meetings, trade rumors traveled all around about the 30-year-old outfielder. But now into February, it looks almost for sure that McCutchen will start the 2017 campaign on the Pirates.
Bouncing back from a down year is hard enough for a player but to also deal with trade rumors and a position change is an immense amount of stress.
McCutchen’s provided a lot for the Pirates in his 8-year career. He was part of the 2013 squad that ended the 20-year playoff drought and he won the NL MVP that same season. But his chance at success might be best with another team. Especially with the playoff chances looking bleak for the Pirates this season.
Aug 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches against the Chicago Cubs in the fifth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY
In recent times, it’s rare to see a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics sustain success for more than a couple seasons.
Oakland’s ace Sonny Gray had his worst season in 2016. After an All-Star season in 2015, Gray was anything but that in 2016. He posted an abysmal 5.69 ERA, last season. He finished with a record of 5-11.
Perhaps Gray’s muscle strain in his right arm played a big factor in his struggles. Or could it be because he has to carry the pitching staff, year in and year out?
With the A’s ownership unwilling to pay for big-name players, it’s tough for them to win. “Moneyball” isn’t enough to keep a consistent team on the field.
Luckily for Gray, the A’s are the best at trading away good players. Gray could easily be on a new team next season. That could work well for him. A better offense and defense behind him would make pitching much simpler.
May 27, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) walks back to the dugout following the last out of the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
One of the most meaningful pitchers to their respective ballclub, Felix Hernandez is the heart and soul of the Seattle Mariners. King’s Court at Safeco Field is one of the greatest venues in baseball.
With that said, it’s an abomination that fans have yet to see Hernandez step on a mound in a MLB postseason game. In his 12 seasons, the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs.
Last season, Hernandez posted the third worst ERA of his career (3.82). He only struck out 122 batters in 2016 and his bWAR was the second lowest of his career (1.6). He also dealt with a calf-muscle strain toward the middle of the season.
Hernandez, 30, isn’t getting any younger and Seattle doesn’t look poised to beat out Texas or Houston for the AL West crown. It’d be an absolute shame if he goes down as one of the greatest pitchers to never reach the playoffs.
Sep 12, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) hits a solo home run against the New York Yankees during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
If only he could control himself. Yasiel Puig possesses some of the best talents in today’s game. With a laser for an arm and a powerful bat, Puig has the potential to become a top player in MLB. The only thing holding him back is his maturity.
Throughout his career, Puig has pulled antics like not hustling and making foolish mistakes on the basepaths. He also causes occasional trouble off the field. Last season the Dodgers sent him back to the minors.
While in the minors, Puig posted snap chats with teammates that upset many in the Dodger’s front office. And it’s stunts like that, that are unnecessary as a baseball player.
After a stellar rookie campaign in 2013 and a great first half in 2014, Puig looked ready to help carry the Dodgers to a championship. But after disappointing 2015 and 2016 seasons, it’s time for Puig to show what he’s really got in 2017.