The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has captured headlines for most of the MLB offseason, but lost in the cacophony of hate and calls for apology is the effect it had on the Astros' opponents.
Plenty of players had their careers changed as a result of the Astros' absurd boost in performance from their cheating. These five guys in particular will be left pondering what could have been for the rest of their lives.
5. Kris Medlen
Medlen, a member of the 2015 World Series-winning Kansas City Royals, was attempting to break his way back into the league in 2018, but he had the terrible luck of making his season debut against the Astros. The right-hander ended up getting tagged for nine hits and seven runs in what would be his last MLB appearance to date.
4. Kenley Jansen
At the time of the 2017 World Series, Kenley Jansen was widely considered one of the best closers in baseball. Then he ran into the Houston Astros. They jumped all over him in the World Series, including a pivotal Game 5 performance in which he gave up the winning run in extra innings. Since that World Series appearance, Jansen has logged a 3.34 ERA, well above his career 2.35 mark.
3. Aroldis Chapman
Chapman has twice entered playoff matchups against the Astros as one of the top closers in baseball, and twice his reputation has been tarnished with poor performances that in hindsight likely weren't his fault. He posted a 6.75 ERA in both the 2017 and 2019 ALCS showdowns against Houston. Now his legacy with the Yankees has been tainted by a perceived inability to slam the door in the big game.
2. Yu Darvish
In Game 3 of the 2017 World Series, Yu Darvish was given the ball to pitch the Dodgers to a 2-1 series lead. Unfortunately, the Astros' cheating got the better of him, and he managed to pitch just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs and four hits. He was tagged with the loss, struggled again in a do-or-die Game 7, and has since been labeled as a choker. Instead of winning his first World Series ring, he left for the Chicago Cubs empty-handed and has since struggled to find his old, dominant form.
1. Clayton Kershaw
The 2017 World Series was Clayton Kershaw's chance to buck his infamous playoff woes, and when he was pitching at home, he did. But people don't remember him for his one earned run in 11 innings at Dodger Stadium. They remember him for his appalling six-run performance in Game 5 in Houston. His accomplishments are often registered moot by the fact that he hasn't won a World Series, and if he doesn't win a ring for the rest of his career, the 2017 World Series, tainted by the Astros' scandal, will haunt his legacy forever.