There is seldom a reason to remember a last-place team.
By definition, clubs that finish in the bottom of the standings do not have many good players. And they rarely have superstars who put together sublime seasons like the one Alex Rodriguez is having this season (and last season, too, for that matter).
But sometimes there is gold among the dross. Here are some examples of brilliant seasons that were wasted on horrendous ballclubs:
Rodriguez's career statistics Comment: It couldn't have been easy for A-Rod to see his former club, the Mariners, run away and hide with the AL West crown as soon as he left. But the $252 million man answered all critics. He not only became just the fourth shortstop to lead a league in home runs, but he also set single-season record for homers at that position. A-Rod was only the second player in 34 years (after Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997) to lead the AL in home runs, runs and total bases.
Sosa's career statistics Comment: You think there might be some Cubs on this list? For the second consecutive season, Sosa and Mark McGwire each surpassed 60 home runs. But the Cubs could not repeat their playoff appearance of 1998 despite Sosa's league-best 397 total bases.
Clemens' career statistics Comment: Red Sox GM Dan Duquette assumed Clemens was washed up after four consecutive subpar seasons from 1993-96. He couldn't have been more wrong. Clemens won the pitching triple crown in both his seasons with the Blue Jays, winning his fourth and fifth Cy Young awards.
Gwynn's career statistics Comment: This was the career year for a guy who had an amazing career. Alas, it was cut short by a strike that eventually solved nothing. We will never know if Gwynn could have duplicated Ted Williams' feat of hitting .400.
Andre Dawson, 1987
Team: Chicago Cubs
Record: 76-85, 18.5 GB, NL East
Dawson's career statistics Comment: If A-Rod is the MVP this season, it may only be because Dawson set the precedent. The Hawk is the only player to win the award as a member of a last-place team. And only three others -- the Cubs' Ernie Banks (1958-59), Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. (1991) and San Francisco's Barry Bonds (1993) -- have done it on non-winning clubs.
Nolan Ryan, 1974
Team: California Angels
Record: 68-94, 22.0 GB, AL West
Ryan's career statistics Comment: Ryan became the fifth pitcher in AL history to win 20 games for a last-place team. It would be the second -- and last -- 20-win season of his career. Ryan threw his third career no-hitter and had a league-high 367 strikeouts as well. From 1972-77, Ryan went 112-94 for Angels teams that never reached the .500 mark.
Carlton's career statistics Comment: Forget last-place teams -- this might be the best season for a pitcher ever. If it wasn't for Lefty, this would have been one of the worst teams of all time. Carlton won the pitching triple crown (wins-strikeouts-ERA) and compiled a ridiculous 30 complete games. He was the unanimous winner of the Cy Young Award and finished fifth in MVP voting.
Ernie Banks, 1957
Team: Chicago Cubs
Record: 62-92, 33.0 GB, National League
Bank's career statistics Comment: Legend has it that only four pitchers dared to knock down Banks during this season. Each time, he dusted himself off and hit the next pitch for a home run. This was Banks' fourth year in the big leagues, and the Cubs finished in the second division for the 11th consecutive time.
Kiner's career statistics Comment: Nobody hit more home runs in the first seven years of his career than Kiner. But no amount of Kiner's homers could have helped this club, whose pitching staff ranked dead last in ERA (4.68). Kiner tied Johnny Mize for the NL home run lead, and led outright in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), slugging percentage and total bases.
Jimmy Foxx, 1935
Team: Philadelphia Athletics
Record: 58-91, 34.0 GB, American League
Foxx's career statistics Comment: Foxx tied for the AL lead in home runs and led in OPS, but this was not even close to his most impressive season. In 1932, Double-X came close to matching Babe Ruth's single-season HR record with 58, and cracked the 40-HR barrier four other times. The cash-strapped A's, who were just beginning a 40-year postseason drought, sold Foxx and 17-game winner Johnny Marcum to the Red Sox for $150,000.
Chuck Klein, 1930
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 52-102, 40.0 GB, National League
Klein's career statistics Comment: For the third time in four seasons, the Phillies lost 100 games. But that wasn't Klein's fault. The left-handed slugger took full advantage of his home park, the Baker Bowl, which was an Minute Maid Park-like 280 feet down the right-field line. Klein led the league in home runs, doubles, total bases and extra-base hits.