Adrian Beltre is now 38 years old. He has played for four different teams and is now in his 21st season. Beltre is the 31st member of the 3,000 hit club and is an important part of the Texas Rangers organization.
It is very rare that a player continues to have great success without regressing. In 2016, Beltre had the third best RBI and home run production of his career. Despite getting older, Beltre is producing consistently and might even be improving in his most recent seasons.
Beltre is making his case as one of the greatest third basemen of all time. Here is a look at his extremely impressive, and probable Hall of Fame resume.
Adrian Beltre is an extremely impressive hitter for a guy who swings as hard as he does. His career batting average is .287 over 10,635 at-bats. Beltre has played in over half the regular season games in every season except his rookie year.
He has 1,642 career RBIs to go with 462 home runs. Beltre averages over a hit per game that he has played in, showing just how good of a hitter he is. He is not just streaky, he is also extremely consistent and has been over his entire career.
One of the best statistics is the fact that Beltre had a career WAR of 23.4 after his age-25 season. Currently, he is quickly approaching 100 WAR for his career. Beltre is not just a tremendous hitter, he is one of the best third basemen in baseball.
Beltre is a four-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner and five-time Gold Glove winner. He has hit for the cycle on three separate occasions, which is an MLB record.
Beltre has quietly put together a tremendous first-ballot Hall of Fame resume. He has done so in the last few seasons and is just adding to an already stellar career.
How did he get here
Beltre after a homerun. (Photo by Getty Images)
It is no surprise that Beltre is one of the more underrated stars. He does not get talked about often, and when he does, it is more for his swings that take him to one knee or his antics when hanging around Elvis Andrus.
The truth is that Beltre has cemented his Hall of Fame campaign with the Texas Rangers. With the Texas Rangers, he has become both a complete fielder and complete hitter.
In seven seasons with the Rangers, he has five seasons where he has hit above .300. He did that just two other times in his previous 12 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers. Before the Rangers, Beltre was a guy who would be more than just a little up and down. He was a guy who would mix a stellar season into a sea of underperforming ones filled with strikeouts.
He found his home with the Rangers and in turn, found consistency. He has proven that he can play tremendous defense, hit for power and average and has been more than consistent overall in his career.
When it is over
Beltre won’t be playing much longer. If he stays healthy, he will eclipse 3,200 hits, 480 home runs and 1,700 RBIs at the end of this season. Who knows just how long he plays, but if he continues to produce like he has been, he might be the Tom Brady of Major League Baseball and play at a high level longer than we expect.
Beltre is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is one of the best defensive third basemen to ever play the position, as well as a tremendous all-around hitter. He deserves to find his way into Cooperstown and it is not much of a debate. His WAR says that there is no way he could not get into the Hall of Fame, and at this point, there is no reason for Beltre not to.
Featured image from NBC Philadelphia.
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Last World Series Title: NEVER WON A WORLD SERIES TITLE
In 2016, Texas won 95 games and finished first in the AL West, but folded in the playoffs, getting swept in three games by the Toronto Blue Jays. With the same main core of players, the Rangers won just 78 games in 2017, and had a losing record, head-to-head, against Houston, Seattle and Oakland.
Elvis Andrus finished fourth in doubles, and sixth in hits in 2017. (Dallas Morning News)
In one-run games, Texas was 13-24. They had a losing record in both the first, and second half, and never led the division at any point of the season. The pitching staff finished last in the AL in strikeouts, 11th in runs, and 13th in walks allowed. The offense finished 26th in the MLB in runs, and 27th in hits. However, Texas finished fifth in the AL in runs, mainly because they were third in the MLB in home runs. They also finished fourth in steals, which shows this team has plenty of power and speed.
Elvis Andrus had a career year, finishing fourth in doubles, and sixth in hits. He also hit a career high 20 home runs (Previous high was 8), scored 100 runs, and drove in 88 (previous RBI high was 69). Andrus also added 25 steals and joined Jose Altuve, Mike Trout, and Tommy Pham as the only four players to hit .290/20HR/20SB.
Although he finished second in strikeouts and hit just .209, Joey Gallo had solid 2017. In his first full-season, Gallo came in fourth in at-bats per home run, clubbing 41 bombs, which was fifth in the MLB. Yes, the average is low and he strikes out too much, but the .333 OBP isn’t terrible, and he draws a lot of walks (9th in MLB at 14.1% in BB%).
2018: Around the Diamond
Texas will be sending out virtually the same lineup as they did in 2016. Robinson Chirinos, who hit 17 home runs with a .360 OBP in just 88 games, will remain behind the plate. Around the infield will be Gallo, Rougned Odor, Andrus, and Adrian Beltre.
The Rangers will need Odor to bounce-back from last year’s blunder, as he hit just .204 with a .252 OBP, and struck out 24.9 percent of the time. He walked less than 5 percent and showed no discipline at the plate, as his .224 BABIP was the worst among qualified hitters. Fortunately, Odor hit 30 home runs, which was the third-most by a second basemen.
Although he battled injuries most of the year, the 38-year-old Adrian Beltre continues to perform at an elite level. In just 94 games, the 4x All-Star hit .312, and 17 home runs with a .383 OBP. He is in the last year of his deal, so expect Beltre to continue to play his heart out and be one of the best personalities in baseball.
Nomar Mazara has a bright future ahead of him. (Sporting News)
Left to right, the Rangers will showcase Willie Calhoun, Delino DeShields, and Nomar Mazara. Calhoun was acquired from the Dodgers in the Yu Darvish trade last July. He played in 13 games last year for Texas, and hit .265 with one home run and four RBIs. The 23-year-old has shown some power in the minors, hitting 27 HR in AA in 2016, and 31 HR in AAA last season. DeShields had 29 steals, which was tied for seventh in the bigs, and posted a .347 OBP in 120 games.
Nomar Mazara hit 20 home runs for the second straight season, and posted his first 100 RBI year. Mazara is just 22 years of age, and looks like he will have a long career in this league. Shin-Soo Choo hit 22 home runs with a .357 OBP in 2017, and will play the majority of the games at DH. Choo has a career .378 OBP, and has always been a solid talent.
On the Bump
The Rangers starters finished seventh in baseball in terms of WAR. The first four spots in the rotation look to be set. Cole Hamels had a down year in 2017, posting a 3.20 ERA, which was his highest since 2009. His walks have been up ever since he joined Texas, but he is still a great option for a number-one starter.
The Rangers will need Martin Perez to take a big step forward in 2018. (Sporting News)
Hamels will be followed by Martin Perez, Doug Fister, and Matt Moore. In 2017, Perez allowed the third most hits, and 10th most runs in the MLB. He needs to lower his ERA, but he is a reliable arm, throwing 185+ innings in back-to-back seasons. The veteran Fister showed glimpses of his younger self in 2017, but he will need to start games better if he hopes to remain in the rotation for the full-season. Last year, first time through the order, Fister had a 8.16 ERA.
Matt Moore is probably the biggest wild card. He was acquired this past December in a trade, after being one of the worst pitchers in 2017. Moore had a 5.52 ERA (7.22 on the road), 1.532 WHIP, and had the third-highest OPS against among qualified starters. He lost velocity on his fastball and has really never been the same since his Tommy John surgery in 2014. Before the surgery, Moore was 29-17 with a 3.53 ERA, and an opp. SLG of 3.65. Since, he is 22-31 with an ERA of 4.85, and an opp. SLG of .438.
The fifth starter spot will be a battle between Mike Minor, Matt Bush, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, Ronald Herrera, and Yohander Mendez. Minor, who was a starter with Atlanta, posting a 2.55 ERA as a reliever in 2017 for Kansas City, probably has the best shot at earning the final spot in the rotation.
Alex Claudio will start out as the closer. In his career, over 162 innings, Claudio is 9-4 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.152 WHIP. He had 11 saves last season, which was the most among all Texas relievers.
Joining Willie Calhoun on MLB.com’s “Top 100 Prospects’ list is Leody Taveras, who checks in at No. 34 on the list. Just 19 years of age, the switch-hitting outfielder is cousins with the 2008 MLB stolen-base leader, Willy Taveras. Speed runs in the family, as Leody stole 20 bases in 134 games in A-ball. He has the ability to play all outfield positons and, last season, hit eight home runs with seven triples as a member of the Hickory Crawdads.
2018 Prediction: 77-85
Texas has plenty of power and speed in the lineup, but the lack of pitching depth in a tough division is a glaring issue. Besides for Hamels, it is hard to rely on anyone in this staff, so expect more of the same for the Rangers.
Featured image by MLB.com
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Ozhaino “Ozzie” Albies will be one of the youngest players in the MLB next season, as he will turn 21 in January. The Curacao-born Albies will join the rising crop of Dutch infielders in the MLB a list that includes Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, Andrelton Simmons and 2017 playoff hero Didi Gregorius.
Ozzie Albies was invited to spring training in 2016, but opened the season with Double-A Mississippi. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
Albies signed with the Atlanta Braves for $350,000 as an international free agent in 2013. According to Zach Dillard of Fox Sports, Albies was heavily influenced to sign with the Braves due to his personal connection with the aforementioned Simmons and Andruw Jones, who both are former Braves players and natives of Curacao.
As a 17-year-old in 2014, Albies was more than impressive, batting a combined .364 in 57 games in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues. Heading into 2015, Albies was ranked within the top-100 prospects in baseball by Keith Law of Baseball Prospectus.
With heightened expectations, Albies did not disappoint, batting .310 with 29 extra-base hits and 29 stolen bases in 98 games. Albies was named to the All-Star Futures Games, where he was the youngest player to take the field. Unfortunately, he fractured his right thumb in early August, causing him to miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
He was invited to spring training in 2016, but opened the season with Double-A Mississippi. In 138 games in Double and Triple-A, Albies batted a combined .292 with 49 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases.
He was invited to spring training once again in 2017, but was sent to triple-A as the Braves had a log jam in their middle infield with veteran Brandon Phillips at second base and first-overall pick Dansby Swanson at shortstop. In 97 games in Triple-A, Albies batted .285 with 48 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases.
Albies was called-up on August 1 and has since batted .286 with 20 extra-base hits and eight stolen bases in 57 games. This level of production would put Albies on pace to have 56 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases.
He has an extraordinary 14.8 percent strike out rate and has made at least medium contact on 85 percent of batted balls, which are nearly identical figures to fellow middle infielders Jean Segura and Elvis Andrus.
Ozzie Albies promises to be an incredible fantasy asset, as even though he lacks dominant power, he makes up for it with speed. (Photo by Getty Images)
In 2017, the 20-year-old spent the majority of his time batting second and seventh. It is assumed he will be used primarily in the top third of the lineup in 2018. Albies promises to be an incredible fantasy asset. Even though he lacks dominant power, he makes up for it with his speed.
The Braves’ offense was very underrated in 2017, as they were ranked sixth in batting average and had the fourth fewest strikeouts. For fantasy purposes, batting in the top third of any lineup is great, but the Braves promise to be even more productive in 2018 with Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp and Ender Inciarte all healthy and returning.
The 2018 outlook for Ozzie Albies is incredibly bright. His draft stock is bound to increase by the day as we head toward the 2018 MLB season. The price for Albies will likely be between the 50th and 100th pick, depending on the draft date and league format. I will be buying plenty of Albies stock in 2018, will you?
Featured image by 11Alive.com
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Shortstop are commonly known for their glove, but after the explosion of home runs in 2016, shortstops have emerged as a power position heading into 2017. 15 shortstops hit 20 or more homeruns last season, where only two did in 2015. The shortstop position has transitioned from one of the weakest to one of the deepest.
The top 25 shortstops have been grouped into four tiers, with the top and bottom player of each tier profiled below.
Honorable mentions include: Orlando Arcia (MIL), Ketel Marte (ARI), Jose Iglesias (DET), Andrelton Simmons (LAA), and Jose Reyes (NYM).
Manny Machado’s consistency warrants a first round pick. (Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports)
Manny Machado (BAL)
Carlos Correa (HOU)
Corey Seager (LAD)
Trea Turner (WSH)
Francisco Lindor (CLE)
Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
Manny Machado, primarily a third basemen, played 44 games at shortstop in 2016, after an injury sidelined Baltimore Orioles starter, J.J. Hardy. Machado, a career .285 hitter, has tallied at least 35 home runs and 100 runs in his last two seasons.
The 24-year-old has yet to reach the 100 RBI plateau, although if continues to progress, he could easily see a .300/100/40/100 season in his near future.
Machado’s consistency and potential make him the first shortstop that should be taken in 2017.
Xander Bogaerts is one of the safest picks an owner can make in 2017. The 24-year-old will be entering his fourth season in the majors, where he is a career .286 hitter.
His .320 batting average in 2015, and .330 batting average in the first half of 2016, suggest that he can sustain a well above .300 average for a full season in 2017.
The 6-foot-3 180-pounder raised his home run total from seven in 2015, to 21 in 2016. Bogaerts power is sure to improve one day, although I believe he will focus solely on sustaining contact rates next season.
Whether the power numbers show or not in 2017, Bogaerts is well worth a top 25 pick.
Trevor Story is healthy and ready to go for 2017. (Courtesy of Sporting News)
Trevor Story (COL)
Jonathan Villar (MIL)
Jean Segura (SEA)
Troy Tulowitzki (TOR)
Aledmys Diaz (STL)
Addison Russell (CHC)
Dansby Swanson (ATL)
Trevor Story had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all-time, and only played in 97 games due to a hand injury in 2016. After mashing 27 home runs with 76 RBI’s, Story managed to be one of the most productive players in the league during that stretch.
He will bat in the middle of an electric Colorado Rockies lineup, which may put up historically great numbers this season.
The only drawback on the 24-year-old is his atrocious 31.3% strike out rate, which may suggest that he sees a decline in batting average.
Regression of average or not, Story is well worth a top 35 pick, as his power upside is tremendous.
Dansby Swanson is currently being drafted as the 170th overall player, and 17th shortstop off the board, although I have him ranked as the 13th. The upside with Swanson is incredible, as he has the potential to bat .300 while batting second for the Atlanta Braves. This gives him the potential to score 100 runs in his rookie campaign.
The big power numbers have not shown yet, although he had sneaky power in college, hitting 15 home runs in 71 games. He also hit eight home runs in 84 games at the AA-level, which shows that he has the potential to hit 15 or so this season, giving him a chance to be a top 10 shortstop.
I’m reaching on Swanson’s potential in all drafts in 2017.
Can Didi Gregorius continue to improve upon his breakout 2016 campaign?(Courtesy of Getty Images)
Didi Gregorius (NYY)
Brandon Crawford (SF)
Brad Miller (TB)
Javier Baez (CHC)
Eduardo Nunez (SF)
Didi Gregorius, most notably the player that replaced Derek Jeter, quietly had a breakout seasons in 2016. Gregorius has continuously improved his batting average, going from .257 in 2014, to .276 in 2016. He has also seen a huge jump in power numbers, as he hit 20 home runs, which is 11 better than his former career high of 9.
The 27-year-old still has room for improvement, although his power numbers may fall, as the majority of his homers limp out of the Yankees short porch in right field.
Gregorius is a safe late round selection, but may have limited upside.
Eduardo Nunez spent his 2016 split between the Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants. The All-Star batted .321 with 12 home runs and 22 stolen bases in the first half of 2016. This shows how good Nunez can be when he is playing every day at his best.
The reason for Nunez’s low ranking is because of his lack of consistency and poor production with the Giants. Hitting home runs as a righty in San Francisco can be quite challenging, which makes me think his home run totals will drop severally.
Nunez has a solid average and will continue to steal some bases, which makes him a good mid to late round pick in all formats.
Jose Peraza will finally have an open spot in the Cincinnati Reds lineup. (Courtesy of MLBdailydish.com)
Jose Peraza (CIN)
Elvis Andrus (TEX)
Danny Espinosa (LAA)
Asdrubal Cabrera (NYM)
Marcus Semien (OAK)
Matt Duffy (TB)
Tim Anderson (CWS)
Jose Peraza has been compared to Jose Altuve, in not only their size, but also their skill set. Both have elite speed and get on base at a well above average clip. Peraza will finally have an everyday role with the Cincinnati Reds as they have parted ways with their franchise second basemen, Brandon Phillips, in a trade with the Atlanta Braves.
Peraza has stolen 281 bases in 611 professional games, which is about a half a steal per game. This alone gives Peraza elite stolen base value, as he has the chance to steal over 60 bases. This paired with the fact that he is a career .312 hitter gives him great potential to be a breakout star in 2017.
Tim Anderson commonly flies under the radar, as he will bat at the bottom of an inconsistent Chicago White Sox lineup. 2017 will be Anderson’s first full MLB season, which could mean a breakout is in the making for the 23-year-old.
We cannot forget that he stole 49 bases in 125 games in 2015. While he bats at the end of the order, which limits his run and RBI potential, he should be given plenty of opportunities to swipe bags.
The former first-round pick in 2013 is a career .283 hitter, which is a solid floor for a starting fantasy short stop. Anderson’s ADP of 191 makes him well worth a late pick as a middle infielder or starter in deeper leagues.
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The Texas Rangers were the best team in the AL West last year. The Rangers had a solid offense with good enough pitching to back it up. They had some vets like Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre who really helped them push their way to a division title. However, they were not the team everyone talked about. That team, was the Houston Astros. They came out of nowhere and almost won the division and were good enough to make it to the Wild Card round.
The Astros finished second last year but, were a major surprise to baseball as they had been picked by many to not contend at all. Their young players stepped up and shinned. Carlos Correa has the talent and the ability to be a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate.
The Angels finished third last year and played well throughout the season, just barely missing the playoffs. They had the offense coming from their superstar Mike Trout and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Their problem was, and still is, pitching.
The Seattle Mariners finished fourth last year in a disappointing 2015 campaign. They struggled in hitting as they finished in the bottom three for both runs scored, strikeouts, and batting average. Their pitching was also nothing to write home about as they finished the year with a 4.16 ERA.
Last were the Athletics who were expected to have a down year. They traded away many of the pieces they had brought in for the 2014 playoff run. Billy Beane decided it was time to rebuild. They brought in some interesting players through trades and Sonny Gray was spectacular.
That was last year though, lets move on to what should be an exciting 2016 for the AL West. I will start by giving which place I believe the team will finish in, then I will go through almost every position and tell you all what I see and lastly I will name my player or players to watch.
1st Place: Houston Astros
Courtesy of: www.sports-logos-screensavers.com
Last year the American League West had a surprise team, the Astros. While they did not win the division they had everyone talking. This was because they were well ahead of schedule. The Astros were a young team that many thought wouldn’t be contending this soon after they had blown everything up years before. Everything is finally coming together for a team that was the worst in the majors for almost 3 years. Their loyal fanbase will have to opportunity to watch a team that has unbelievable talent.
The outfield rotation of Rasmus, Gomez, Marisnick, Tucker and especially Springer are all solid. They can play defense well and carry some impressive bats. Springer and Gomez should have excellent seasons this year. Gomez will finally be able to play a full season with a winning team. Springer will look to continue to improve on what was a spectacular 2015 season. As long as the injury bug does not get to him he should have a monster year.
The infield, particularly the middle of it, will be amazing as well. Jose Altuve was one of the only good players on the team during their rebuilding process. His patience has paid off. With him and Carlos Correa manning the middle of the field the Astros may have the best middle infield in baseball. Correa has shown that he can be a major force. He can hit for average, power, bat with runners in scoring position, steal bases and play defense. The kid was a number one overall pick for the Astros and he has not disappointed. Look for him to have an amazing year and look for his name on the MVP ballot at the end of the year.
The starting rotation added Doug Fister to the mix which is a solid pickup. Keuchel, the reigning Cy Young Winner, McHugh, Fiers, and Feldman make up the rest of what should be a solid rotation. They have their ace and a great number 2 in McHugh. Those two should make the top of this rotation deadly. The back of their rotation is also made up of solid overall pitchers. Many of them are innings eaters who will keep you in a ballgame and give you a good chance of winning once you get to the bullpen.
The bullpen has the potential to be great. Ken Giles who was the Phillies closer was traded to Houston this offseason. He did not win the closing job, it was announced that Luke Gregerson would have that job, but, I can see Giles eventually winning it back. Pat Nesheck and Tony Sipps will also round out what will be an older but, effective bullpen.
The Astros should win this division barring any terrible injuries. Look for them to make some trade deadline deals to improve their corner infield positions and maybe add one more starter if they have the money to. They are one of my picks to make it to the World Series this year.
Player to Watch: Carlos Correa
2nd Place: Texas Rangers
Courtesy of: www.sportslogos.net
This Rangers team came out and won the division last year, yet they were not the talk of the division. Many people outside of Texas had forgotten that they were the Division Champions, not the Astros. They will be looking to improve on their performance last year as they will have Yu Darvish back this year and an interesting piece in Ian Desmond patrolling left field. Ultimately they will finish 2nd behind an up and coming Astros team because their age will start to show and I do not think they will end the season with a healthy enough team to win the division.
The outfield will have Ian Desmond who to an extent is an experiment out in left field. He has been an infielder for his entire career but, he looked serviceable during Spring Training. They brought him in for his bat and they got him cheap. They are hoping this move will pay off. The rest of their outfield is much less exciting. Delino Deshields Jr. will be playing center field and while he is solid on defense he has a lackluster bat. Shin-Soo Choo will be playing right field and is a solid, but not all that exciting, player. He had a great season last year but, has been known to be injury prone throughout his career. Lastly is Josh Hamilton who should be back sometime in May. He has always had the potential to be a star but, his past and his age are starting to catch up to him. Sadly I do not see him playing all that well this year.
The Rangers infield will be solid. Adrian Beltre will playing solid defense and swing a mean bat. People are wondering if he is a Hall of Famer, I think he is and I think he will continue to prove that this season. Elvis Andrus will continue to bat for a decent average, steal bases, and playing great defense. Rougned Odor won the starting job at Second for now. Jurickson Profar will be called up if Odor starts to struggle at all. Mitch Moreland will be manning first base and will continue to hit. The big man has finally come into his own and deserves to be their starter. Prince Fielder will also play some first but, will mostly be their big bopper at DH. He will continue to do what he always has done, hit.
The most exciting part about this team is their starting rotation. Lets get the 3, 4, and 5 pitchers out of the way to start. Martin Perez is young and has good stuff but, he will need to prove that he deserves to stay in this rotation. Colby Lewis has been the Opening Day starter in the past and he has also dealt with health issues. If he can stay healthy he will be a solid back of the rotation guy. Derek Holland is in the exact same situation as Lewis. Now we get to the fun part, Yu Darvish who will be back in May and Cole Hamels. These two are both Aces and have been top 3 in Cy Young Voting. They are one of the best 1-2 punches in the game. Their only problem is staying healthy. If either of these two are down for too long a time the entire rotation gets significantly worse. If they are healthy for the entire year they will be fun to watch.
Here is most likely the biggest weakness for the Rangers, their bullpen. Look at these names and tell me what average fan will know them? Not one. Shawn Tolleson will be their closer and he has been solid the last two years with ERA’s of 2.76 and 2.99 respectively. He is not flashy but, he should get the job done. After him is a mix of many no name players. This will be an area they will need to improve drastically if they want a chance at winning the division.
Overall this Rangers team will be solid if they improve the bullpen and if they stay healthy. That is two too many ifs for me. I doubt they will stay healthy and I don’t think they will be able to improve the bullpen enough. I do think they will have a good year and have a chance at the wild card.
Player(s) to Watch: Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels
3rd Place: Seattle Mariners
Courtesy of: www.sportslogos.net
This team has consistently under-performed. Robinson Cano, King Felix, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager are their best players. These four are great but, they have never been enough to push them over the top. There are just too many holes. They will play some good baseball but, they will not be anything spectacular this year. This team outside of a few players is boring.
The outfield will consist of Nori Aoki, Leonys Martin, Seth Smith, and Franklin Gutierrez. All of these players are good, but none are great. Aoki will hit for a good average, Martin has not hit well, Smith was once a solid player but, age has caught up to him, and Gutierrez is the definition of OK. This outfield will be boring, not much more to say than that.
The infield is similar. Kyle Seager is fun but, will most likely be forgotten as his brother Corey takes over in Los Angeles. Ketel Marte is 22 and could be a fine major league player. The only problem is that he wont be a star. He, like most of this team will be good but, not great. Robinson Cano has been solid but not the Superstar Seattle wanted. His power numbers have dropped off a cliff seemingly and age is not on his side. He will be good like every year but, unless he regains that power stroke he will not be the Superstar Seattle desperately needs. Adding Adam Lind to play first adds power and stability to the position. He is again like the rest of this team, solid, but nothing amazing. He will play well and hit 20+ homeruns this year. Nelson Cruz was a great addition to the team. He was the only really exciting hitter last year for this squad. For a time it seemed like he alone could carry this team on his back along with his 44 homeruns. Sadly that was not the case. Cruz is 35 this year and he should start slowing down, right? Chris Iannetta will be the catcher this year. He is a good defender with no bat. They are all solid but, will any of them bring the necessary boost that the Mariners need? I do not believe so.
The starting rotation is a little more interesting. Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker and Nate Karns are like the rest of this team, solid but nothing great. King Felix is well the King of Seattle. He is always in the talk for Cy Young and has been the backbone for this lackluster pitching staff. I am sure he will be in talks for the Cy Young again this year. Iwakuma won 15 games last year and proved he could be the number 2 behind the King. This was something Seattle has needed for a long time. The only problem is that he is heading into his age 35 season and will most likely not be able to put up the numbers as he has been for much longer.
The bullpen has some intriguing players but again none of them are great. Steve Cishek will be trying to get back into form as he once was in Miami. Joaquin Benoit has always been a good option in the pen and will most likely continue to be just that. Lastly the addition of Nick Vincent from the Padres is a move that will go under the radar but, should prove to be a great one for the Mariners.
The Mariners are a good team, do not get me wrong. The problem is they are boring. They do not have what it takes to push for the division or a playoff spot. Some people are picking them as a dark horse team but, until there is a spark from one of their players I do not foresee them being anything more than a .500 team.
Player to Watch: King Felix
4th Place: Oakland Athletics
Courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org
Billy Beane has been doing Billy Beane things. He has brought together a cheap but, intriguing roster. I do have them finishing 4th just to be safe but, I think this team could make a charge at the wild card if certain things can go their way.
Their outfield consists of Khris Davis, Billy Burns, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and Chris Coghlan. These 5 could be a great rotation. Davis and Reddick bring power. They could each hit 25+ homeruns this year. Burns and Crisp bring the speed and Coghlan is just solid all around. They could do great things as a group. If Davis can reach his full potential watch out, he could be a monster hitter. Billy Burns is probably the most exciting player you have never heard about. He is the typical Billy Beane player.
The infield should be interesting as well. Marcus Semien could be very good if he can bring down the strikeout numbers. The A’s received him in a trade with the White Sox last year and he has been pegged as their Shortstop of the Future. Jed Lowrie is always a solid veteran to have on your team. He is manning second because age is starting to catch up with him but, his bat should still provide solid at-bats. Yonder Alonso, Mark Cahna, and Billy Butler will all be splitting time at DH and first base. Alonso was picked up from the Padres last year and has been a solid everyday player. He can hit for contact and has gap power. If he can hit with runner is scoring position and add some more power, Alonso could finally reach the potential many thought he had. Steven Vogt was a suprise player last year. He hit 18 homeruns and drove in 71. He is a solid bat and even better behind the plate.
The rotation will be where this team will need to improve. They have a lot of injuries to deal with and not much talent to speak of. They will be the reason this team does not make the playoffs and they are why I have them fourth. Of course their is one Superstar, Sonny Gray. Everything I said before only talks about the rest of the rotation. I think Gray could win the Cy Young away this year. He has amazing stuff and is very collected for how young he is. People need to start paying attention to him. The only problem is that knowing Billy Beane he could get traded if the season completely implodes.
The bullpen will be a major strength for this team. They have the potential to be one of the best ones in the game. Sean Doolittle will be closing this year and doing his normal thing of getting outs as long as he is healthy. They brought in Ryan Madson and John Axford who were both previously All-Star type closers. If they can get back into form, watch out. These three could be what they Pirates had a few years ago with Grilli, Melancon, and Watson. Liam Hendricks and Mark Rzepczynski also have a track record of getting the job done. This bullpen could be amazing and if the starters can keep the game close and give it over to the pen the A’s could win many more games than people are predicting, including myself.
This team has potential if the moves they have made pay off. They could make the playoffs as a wild card. Sadly it is more likely that they will finish right around .500 because not every move can always pay off.
Player(s) to Watch: Sonny Gray and Billy Burns
5th Place: Los Angeles Angels
Courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org
I know many of you have been wondering where this team would be. I can tell you right now that this team is vastly overrated because of two players, Mike Trout (he is not overrated, just the team) and Albert Pujols (he is overrated). They will have a bad year for many reasons, one being money and two being the lack of any prospects. This is normally any team’s nightmare. When you have all your money sunk into just a few players and no prospects that means rough years are heading your way and I think that starts this year.
The outfield of Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun is just not good. Left Field will be platooned by Nava and Gentry and neither of them are all that great. Trout is obviously one of the best players in baseball so no matter what else I say, much of it does not apply to him. Calhoun is solid but, it seems as though he has already reached his best. I think that last year will be the best year he ever has which again is not bad but, left much to be desired.
The infield is a train wreck outside of Andrelton Simmons. Yunel Escobar is decent but, nothing great. Johnny Giavotella is serviceable at best. CJ Cron is a similar player to Calhoun except he plays first base. Albert Pujols is one of the best players ever and he hit 40 bombs last year but, he is still a huge chunk of their payroll and he can’t carry teams like he used to. Simmons is a wizard on the field and is improving at the plate. The problem is that the Angels gave up so much to get him and for what reason? They will not be good this year. These kinds of moves are made by GM’s and Front Offices who are afraid to lose their jobs. Lastly Carlos Perez and Giovanni Soto are behind the plate and are decent at best. Perez is young and has some potential but, I would not count on him for much.
The rotation is not terrible but, there are many questions left unanswered. CJ Wilson is having shoulder problems which means it is just swollen and he isn’t out for very long or, it means surgery and he is out for quite awhile. Garret Richards has the potential to be solid but, I just do not know if he has what it takes to be the Ace for a team. 2014 was a great year for him but, 2015 was average. Alex Heaney was a top prospect for the Marlins and has been traded around a bit. If, and I really do mean if, he can pull it all together he could be a nice young player. I just have not seen enough of him to be convinced that he will be able to. Santiago and Shoemaker are not bad but, they are not playoff caliber players and Jared Weaver is in the twilight of his career.
The bullpen has even more questions than the rotation. How much longer can Street be this good? He and Joe Smith are the only good players in a very average bullpen. Will anyone step up? Does their depleted farm system have a diamond in the rough? They do not have the money to go out and get anyone and their farm system is atrocious.
The Angels are heading into what could be a long string of bad years. They will need to try and dump contracts near the trade deadline to try and revamp this team. They have no money and a bad farm system. All of this spells impending doom for a once great franchise. They may be in the hunt near the beginning of the year but, eventually I think it will all fall apart. The worst part about this is that they cannot blame it on injuries. As of now Wilson is their only injury problem. This could be the year the Angels start to fall apart.