Although the MLB season isn't as physically taxing as the NHL or NFL, the amount of time spent in it is comparatively exhausting. There's more time on the road and away from families, friends and loved ones. There's more time to dwell on games where a lead is blown or a dumb play is made. In short, it's just as stressful as any other sport, just in different ways.
The worst of those ways is when the season is lost after two months. In other sports, playoff implications aren't often talked about until the season is at least halfway over. In baseball, once 50 games are played, teams will likely end up in approximately the same place. So, if a team is 17-33 after 50 games, that's a whole lot of time spent waiting for the season to be over.
When putting together this article, I chose players who had been at the MLB level for at least three seasons before 2016. Also, if the player lost a Wild-Card game, that means that they didn't make the playoffs. There's a mix of players in the beginning, the prime, and the end of their careers. So let's take a look at the top 15 MLB players who have yet to win a playoff game.
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15 Danny Salazar
Perhaps the second-best young arm in the Cleveland Indians organization is Danny Salazar. He's 11-3 this season with a 2.97 earned run average. He was voted to the All-Star team this year and rightfully so. Salazar is 26 years old and has all the potential in the
world. He's got number one pitcher stuff in his arsenal and, if he can keep his walks down, will continue to gain praise and All-Star votes for years to come. Salazar, Corey Kluber, and the rest of the Indians rotation have made a name for themselves this year and hopefully Salazar can end his playoff drought in his fourth season. The Indians are on top of the American League Central division and are a few games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. I'm willing to bet that as long as the pitching stays rock-solid, the Indians players will attend the postseason from their dugout and not their living rooms.
14 Chase Headley
Chase Headley may not be an all-star or a world-beater, but he's a solid player that will help out wherever possible. His time with the Padres was best known by his breakout 2012 season where he had 115 runs batted in and placed fifth in National League MVP voting. Since then Headley has cooled off considerably, but still averages a shade over .250 with occasional power. Obviously he never made the postseason with the Padres and then was traded to the New York Yankees in 2014. Though the Yankees have not looked like the dominant forces they once were, they're not terribly far from contention this year. They're six games back of the Baltimore Orioles, and with the Red Sox and Blue Jays in between, each divisional game will mean more and more. Though it's unlikely that the Bronx Bombers will go on an incredible run, it's fun to think about. Headley would surely be happy to be a part of it.
13 Brian Dozier
One of the players that hasn't been in the league for that long, Brian Dozier is a strong second baseman with a surprising amount of power. He also isn't a slouch on the basepath, averaging 16 stolen bases per season. The only knock on Dozier is that he doesn't hit for a very high average. So far in 2016, he's hitting .251, which if the season ended today, would be the highest in his career. But, he's only 29 and still has some time to improved and cut down on his strikeouts and other bad outs. Too bad he's been stuck with the Minnesota Twins for five years. After finally finishing above .500 last year, the Twins have dropped to potentially even worse than the years previous. They're going to have to struggle for 60 wins. Dozier is probably praying to be traded out of Minnesota and to a team that is at least contending for a playoff spot.
12 Adam Lind
It's amazing that Adam Lind still hasn't managed to win a playoff game. Of course, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers before the 2015 season in which the Toronto Blue Jays made the postseason. In the nine seasons before he was traded, the Blue Jays were a middling club that failed to win more than 87 games. That's really no fault of Lind, who was one of the best players on the team and hit for some power and a decent average. He's currently on the Seattle Mariners who are in third place in the AL West. So, it's likely that Lind will add some more games to his postseason-less streak unless he gets traded to a contender. He's still got a decent bat with some pop, and can help a team, whether it's as a designated hitter or a position player. The Mariners recently traded for slugging prospect Dan Vogelbach, so it's a possibility that they're looking to shop Lind around.
11 Jeff Samardzija
This is a guy who is better than his numbers indicate. His WHIP for his career is a respectable 1.27, and it's down a little bit this year. He's an innings eater, and a strikeout pitches. The biggest problem is that he's inconsistent and often unlucky. I'm a Cubs fan and I remember many a start where he lost 3-2 or 2-1 because the offense didn't do anything. Before he was traded to Oakland, he was 2-7 with a 2.83 earned run average. Now in his first season with the San Francisco Giants, Samardzija has regulated and has been a solid rotation pitcher. He's also got a great shot to finally win a playoff game. Samardzija was part of the Cubs postseason team in 2008, but they were swept by the Dodgers. Currently, the Giants are on top of the NL West, but the Dodgers are breathing down their necks. Samardzija will be relied upon heavily in the last two months of the season, and if he stays consistent, I think that he's got a great shot to get a playoff win.
10 Dellin Betances
This guy is the epitome of a shutdown reliever. His earned run average the last two years was 1.40 and 1.50 respectively. This year, it has jumped to 2.50, which is still respectable for a bullpen pitcher. I'm willing to bet that it'll be down to around two by the end of the year. He doesn't pitch to contact, and he's averaging 15.9 strikeouts per nine innings this season. As long as that number stays where it is, Betances has a great chance to lower his ERA and become even more effective. Betances is the type of player that every organization wants. It's a shame that the Yankees haven't been able to field a strong team the last few years. The only time they've even sniffed the postseason was in 2015, when they lost in the Wild-Card game to Houston. It doesn't look like the Yankees are going to change that this season, but since they're such a reputable organization, they can always attract some quality free agents to help improve next year.
9 Jason Kipnis
Jason Kipnis is a name that a lot of people are going to have to learn and hopefully will know by the end of the season. With his Cleveland Indians currently in first place in the AL Central, Kipnis could be a household name come playoff time. Now there's still 60 games left to be played, but the Indians have a decent lead on the Detroit Tigers thanks to a lot of young players. Somehow, Kipnis wasn't selected for the all-star game this year even though he's hitting .283 with 16 home runs and 52 runs batted in. He's also strong defensively, with only six or seven errors committed each year, except for one season. Although the Indians haven't been too good recently, Kipnis did play in the 2013 wild-card game that saw the Indians be eliminated by the Tampa Bay Rays. I think this year will be a different story.
8 Jose Fernandez
The Miami Marlins may only have one solid starter, but it looks like Jose Fernandez can take this team to the playoffs. He won the Rookie of the Year for the National League in 2013 and immediately got the attention of baseball fans everywhere. Sadly, his second and third seasons were cut short due to various injuries, although his numbers were still impressive. This year, Fernandez is healthy and pitching great. He's 12-5 with a 2.79 earned run average. He's averaged 13.2 strikeouts in nine innings this season and his WHIP is just a shade over one. As long as injuries don't derail him, I can see Fernandez becoming one of the best pitchers of this modern age. He deserves to be rewarded with some playoff starts and this year might be the perfect opportunity to do so. The Marlins are in second place in the NL East and within striking distance of the Nationals. Making the postseason would be a great capstone to a great comeback year for Fernandez.
7 Mark Trumbo
Currently, Mark Trumbo is having one heck of a bounce-back year. In 2015, he split time between Arizona and Seattle, only averaging .262, hitting 22 home runs and driving in 64 runs. He was then traded to the Baltimore Orioles. So far in 2016, he's improved his average to .279, while hitting 30 home runs and driving in 73. Considering he'll probably play at least 50 more games, there's a good chance Trumbo will get to 40 home runs and get over 100 runs batted in. With this likely being the best season of his career, Trumbo will also likely make the playoffs for the first time. He never sniffed the postseason previously, but with Baltimore being in first place right now, this is his best shot. Now of course, they still have to win a game, but that might be a little too far in future. Right now, Trumbo needs to continue hitting the cover off the ball and making sure that the Orioles are still in first place at the end of September.
6 Corey Kluber
Here is another Indians player that should become a household name by the end of the season. Corey Kluber actually won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014 and he's been excellent since becoming a full-time starting pitcher. His earned run average has been under 3.85 for the last four seasons, and he doesn't walk many batters either. Kluber has some excellent stuff and is a strikeout machine, making batters miss or hit harmless ground balls into the dirt. Even though his win/loss numbers aren't typical of a pitcher with that low of an ERA, Kluber is still respectable, and if the offense and bullpen can get on some hot streaks, he could get a lot more wins this year. Sadly, he hasn't been able to make the playoffs yet, but this might be the year. With the Indians being in first place, this is as good a chance as any for Kluber to make some waves. He'll likely get some MVP votes this season and they would be rightfully deserved.
5 Giancarlo Stanton
Jeez, can this guy mash a baseball. Giancarlo Stanton is the textbook power hitter. Lots of home runs, lots of strikeouts, and a middling average. There's nothing wrong with averaging .267 for his career, especially when he's hitting around 30 home runs. Did you know Stanton has never really played a full season? The most amount of games he's been in is 150, back in 2011. It's amazing that he's only 26 and has already crunched just over 200 home runs. If he stays fairly healthy, I could see him coming close to 500 for a career. Now hopefully that career means some postseason appearances. It would be a lot easier to get into the Hall of Fame with some games in October. The Marlins are currently in second place in the NL East and are a few games behind the Washington Nationals for the division lead. With a good stretch, the Marlins might be able to make this year Stanton's first foray into the playoffs.
4 Nolan Arenado
This young stud has all the potential to be one of the greatest players in history. He's 25 and already is a three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time All-Star, and a Silver Slugger winner. He's likely going to be competing against Kris Bryant for another Silver Slugger this year. So far in his career, Arenado has been very consistent. He hit .287 and .287 again the last two years, and is hitting .282 this year. If he can start to trend even higher, that would be fantastic, but if he averages .280 every year, the guy is going to be a Hall of Famer easily. The power from 2015 isn't a fluke, as he's got 26 home runs so far. Another huge improvement has been his patience at the plate. He's got more walks this year than last year already, and has cut down dramatically on his strikeouts. Though the Rockies are in the middle of the pack this season, hopefully Arenado can help attract some free agents to come play in Colorado and they can reach the postseason next year.
3 Chris Sale
One of the most dominant pitchers I've ever had the fortune to see live, Chris Sale is a strikeout machine and has the potential to be one of the best ever. He averages 221 strikeouts per season and will likely approach 3,000 for his career. This would put him behind John Smoltz at 17th overall. If he can get some more run support, He might end up with approximately 250 wins. The guy can make hitters look downright stupid. His pitches look like when you max out a guy's stats in a video game and the break on his curveball is 30 inches. Unfortunately, Sale has yet to make an appearance in the MLB playoffs. Since he began with the White Sox, they've been in a constant state of transition and have alternated strong seasons with weak ones and are flirting with the .500 mark this year. Due to the controversy with the jersey cutting, there's a small chance that Sale might find his way out of Chicago, but if I'm in the front office, there's no way I'm trading away my ace.
2 Mike Trout
Arguably the best all-around player in the game, Mike Trout actually has made it to the playoffs. But in the 2014 AL Division Series, Trout's Angels were swept by the Kansas City Royals in three games. So, Trout has yet to see a playoff win in an Angels uniform. The most striking part of this is that Trout only had one hit in 15 plate appearances, which is very unlike him. This is a guy who will likely average over .300 when he retires, with more than 400 home runs and 1,500 runs batted in. The guy is a statistics machine. He steals bases, draws walks, and while he does strike out more often than a manager might want, his on-base percentage is always hovering around .400. Sadly, it doesn't look like the Angels will get into the playoffs, as they're at the bottom of the AL West and would have to go on an inhuman tear to catch the Rangers. Maybe next year.
1 Felix Hernandez
It's amazing that one of the best pitchers of this modern era has yet to even make it to the playoffs, much less be part of a series-winning team. Felix Hernandez is a six-time All-Star, won the Cy Young award in 2010 and somehow has been stuck with some awful Mariners teams in his career. He's led the league in wins, earned run average, and has finished in the top ten of strikeouts in almost every season. So far in 2016, Seattle is flirting with the .500 mark, so there's a chance of a playoff spot if they get hot, but it's looking like this is yet another average season. Perhaps Hernandez could be a trade-deadline possibility for a team looking to make a playoff run. He's only 30 and still likely has five more strong years, but King Felix certainly deserves to get some playoff wins and a World Series title before he retires.
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