Tag Archives: AL East

MLB Weekly-ish: Surprising teams, injuries mark the start of the season

Looking Back

We’re a couple weeks into the 2018 MLB season with most teams having played about 15 games thus far and there are a number of teams that are surprising people by their performances — both good and bad — and some star players are dealing with injuries in this season’s first edition of MLB Weekly.

Taking a look at the standings entering Sunday, the Mets — who are coming off a 70-92 season — are coming out of the gate strong with the best record in the National League and leading the NL East at 11-2. The Nationals, who were the favorites to win the division, sit in fourth place with a 7-8 mark. The Mets’ struggles last season were caused by injuries, with the starting rotation hit particularly hard, so they were expected to have a better season this year assuming health. Through two weeks, their pitchers haven’t dealt with injuries, but C Travis d’Arnaud will undergo Tommy John surgery, which will end his season, and backup C Kevin Plawecki is also on the DL with a broken hand that is expected to keep him out of action for a few weeks. Apart from SP Zack Wheeler, who has a 1.29 ERA in his only start, none of the Mets’ starters have a sub-3.00 ERA but only SP Matt Harvey, who has the worst injury history of the group, has posted an ERA above 4.00 with a 3.60 ERA in his first two starts, but that should get better if he can stay healthy for the first time since 2015.

There’s also an unexpected team at the top of the standings in the NL Central, with the 10-4 Pirates 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Cardinals and the improved Brewers. The Cubs — who have won the division each of the last two seasons — are in fourth place at 7-7. After trading their best pitcher (SP Gerrit Cole) and hitter (OF Andrew McCutchen), the Pirates were thought to be in rebuilding mode and not expected to be competitive in the division in 2018. They are getting production, though, from two of the hitters they added this winter: OF Corey Dickerson, who they acquired in a trade with the Rays, is hitting .347 with 10 RBI and a couple of steals while 3B Colin Moran, who came over from the Astros in the Cole trade, is hitting .316 with 8 RBI in his first 11 games with the team. A couple of young pitchers have had terrific starts to their seasons, with SP Jameson Taillon posting a 0.890ERA with 18 strikeouts in his first three starts and SP Trevor Williams with a 1.56 ERA and 10 strikeouts in three starts.

In the American League, the Angels and Red Sox were both expected to be in the playoff picture this season but not many people expected them to get off to the kinds of starts they they have. The 12-2 Red Sox have been getting it done on the mound, with the second-lowest ERA in the American League. They’ve also been getting offensive production out of SS Xander Bogaerts — who is currently on the DL — and OFs Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez, who are all hitting .353 or better. For the Angels, the much-hyped Shohei Ohtani has shown his subpar spring training performance was a fluke and has gotten off to a hot start both at the plate and on the mound. He’s hitting .367 with 3 home runs and 11 games in eight games as a DH and has posted a 2.08 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 13 innings in his first two starts of the season. OF Mike Trout, a perennial MVP candidate, is having the type of season people have come to expect from him with 6 home runs in his first 16 games.

It’s not good news for every team, though. The Cubs are one of the bigger disappointments early in the season at .500. That is due in large part to their pitching. Of their five starters, only SP Kyle Hendricks has a sub-4.00 ERA, and it’s not overly impressive at 3.71. SP Yu Darvish, who the Cubs signed to a big contract this winter despite his struggles in the postseason, has a 6.00 ERA in three starts. The Yankees, who were a game away from making the World Series in 2017, are also 7-7 as they sit in third place in the AL East, but the biggest disappointment early in 2018 is the Dodgers. Coming off their first World Series appearance since 1988, the Dodgers are just 4-9 and 6.5 games out of first in the NL West. Part of that is because 3B Justin Turner started the season on the DL and has yet to play in a game, but they’re not getting much out of SS Corey Seager, who hit .293 last season but is at .196 entering Sunday. The starting pitching is a mixed bag, with Clayton Kershaw sitting at a 1.89 ERA but SP Alex Wood posting a 5.09 ERA and SP Rich Hill at a 6.00 ERA. Closer Kenley Jansen is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA and a couple of saves in his first six appearances of the season.

The first couple weeks of the season haven’t been kind to teams in terms of injuries, with the list of players currently on the DL including: Angels SP Matt Shoemaker; Rangers OF Delino Deshields, SS Elvis Andrus and 2B Rougned Odor; Phillies SP Jerad Eickhoff; Blue Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki and 3B Josh Donaldson; Giants SPs Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and RP Mark Melancon; Indians SP Danny Salazar; Royals C Salvador Perez; Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia; Marlins C J.T. Realmuto; Yankees 1B Greg Bird, SP CC Sabathia and 3B Brandon Drury; White Sox SP Carlos Rodon; Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy and OF Adam Eaton; Pirates SP Joe Musgrove; Mariners DH Nelson Cruz; Diamondbacks 3B Jake Lamb; Padres OFs Wil Myers and Manuel Margot; Brewers SP Jimmy Nelson, RP Corey Knebel and OF Christian Yelich; and Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo.

The Week Ahead

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The Angels and Red Sox are the best teams in the American League right now, and they begin a three-game series in Anaheim on Tuesday after the Red Sox host the Orioles Monday in their traditional 11am start on Patriots’ Day. The Astros begin a weeklong road trip on Monday with the first of four at the division-rival Mariners in Seattle. The classic Cubs-Cardinals rivalry gets going for three games at Wrigley starting Monday, and longtime Yankee SS Derek Jeter brings the team he now co-owns, the Marlins, to Yankee Stadium for a two-game interleague series Monday and Tuesday. Over in Queens, the Mets look to keep their hot start going with a three-game series against the Nationals starting Monday. Later in the week, the Cubs visit the Rockies starting Friday in a series between two teams that made the playoffs last season but haven’t begun 2018 the way they would have liked. And the Dodgers look to get things going when they host the Nationals over the weekend.

In some pitching performances to look out for this week, Astros SP Dallas Keuchel looks to lock down his first win of the season Monday when he faces SP James Paxton and the Mariners. Sabathia is scheduled to come off the DL to get the start Tuesday in the Yankees’ second game against the Marlins. Wednesday sees Cole take the mound for his fourth start for the Astros as he looks to continue his streak of double-digit strikeout performances against Mariners SP Mike Leake. And there are aces scheduled to be dueling in Southern California Saturday night with Ohtani scheduled to start for the Angels and a pitching matchup of Stephen Strasburg and Kershaw on the docket for the Nationals-Dodgers game Saturday.

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Over/under and playoff picks

Now that we’ve previewed the 2018 season for all 30 MLB teams, let’s take a look at how the season is going to play out. In this post, I’ll be analyzing Vegas over/under totals for each team and make my playoff picks.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: 74.5
The Braves have some young prospects with potential — including OF Ronald Acuna, who is starting the season in the minors. If they can play well this season, the Braves should be able to get to 75 wins, which is only three more than last season. I’ll go Over.

Miami Marlins: 64.5
The Marlins had a fire sale this winter, getting rid of all of their stars save for C J.T. Realmuto, and I think he’ll be dealt at the trade deadline. They should be the worst team in the majors this season. Under.

New York Mets: 81
Last year, I said the health of the starting pitchers is key to how successful the Mets will be this season. The same applies for this year. They have to be healthier than they were last season, so I think the Mets can barely go Over the 81.

Philadelphia Phillies: 75.5
The Phillies won 66 games last season and I think they’ll be better this year after adding guys like 1B Carlos Santana and SP Jake Arrieta to a roster with young guys like 2B Scott Kingery and SS J.P. Crawford, but I don’t think they’ll see 10 games worth of improvement. It’ll be close, but I’ll go Under.

Washington Nationals: 92.5
The Nationals are the best team in the division with SPs Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on the mound and OF Bryce Harper providing power in the middle of the lineup. They won 97 games last season so I think they could be around 95 this season. Over.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: 73
It won’t be an easy road for the Orioles, who have to face the Yankees and Red Sox nearly 40 times this season. I expect them to win around 70 games, so I’ll go Under.

Boston Red Sox: 91.5
Adding J.D. Martinez this weekend will provide the Red Sox with much-needed power, which should help them stay above 90 wins this season after winning 93 in 2017. I’ll go Over.

New York Yankees: 94.5
Adding OF Giancarlo Stanton to a team that already includes OF Aaron Judge gives the Yankees a duo that could hit 100 home runs between them. Stanton’s health is a concern, though, as last season was us the second time in his career he’s played at least 150 games. I don’t think he’ll get there this year, so I’m going to go slightly Under.

Tampa Bay Rays: 77.5
The Rays won 80 games last year and I think they’ll do worse than that this season. I think who they trade — or don’t — at the deadline could be key to how well they do this season, but I think SP Chris Archer will be dealt. If he is, I think they end up Under 77.5 wins.

Toronto Blue Jays: 81
The Blue Jays aren’t the worst team in the division, but I also don’t think they’re a .500 team. They won 76 games in 2017 and I don’t think they’re five games better this season, so this is a relatively easy Under for me.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: 94.5
NInety-five wins is a lot for a Cubs team that lost Arrieta and replaced him with SP Yu Darvish, who I think is past his prime and will ultimately be a disappointment with his new team. Overall, I think the starting rotation is worse than last year, so I don’t think the Cubs get to 95 wins. They could get to 90, but that would still be Under.

Cincinnati Reds: 73.5
I think the Reds will be hard-pressed to get to 70 wins after winning 68 a year ago. Other than 1B Joey Votto, they don’t have many stars on the team. It’s going to be Under for them.

Milwaukee Brewers: 84.5
The Brewers were one of the most-improved teams this offseason, trading for or signing OFs Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. They won 86 games last season and I don’t think they’ll win fewer than that this year, so this is Over.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 73
The Pirates traded SP Gerrit Cole and OF Andrew McCutchen this winter and got mainly prospects back in return, which doesn’t bode well for their results this season. I’m not sure they get to 70 wins this season, let alone 73 so I’m going Under.

St. Louis Cardinals: 85.5
Like the Brewers, the Cardinals improved their team this offseason, adding OF Marcell Ozuna, who should hit more than 30 home runs again this season to provide more pop for an offense that already includes SS Paul DeJong, who had 25 home runs last year. I’m going Over for the Cardinals.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: 68
The White Sox don’t have much upside this season. I don’t think they’ll lose 100 games, but I think their loss total will be in the 90s, so their win total could be close to 68 but I’m going to go with what I think is the safer pick and go Under.

Cleveland Indians: 94.5
The Indians won 102 games last season, but I don’t think they break 100 again in 2018., They won more than 20 straight games last year, which I think helped inflate their win total. But they’re in a division with four teams that aren’t very good, so I think they can get up to 95 victories. Over.

Detroit Tigers: 68.5
The Tigers won 64 games last year, when they had SP Justin Verlander for most of the season. Without him on the roster in 2018, I don’t see how they beat that total. They could lose 100 games this year, so it’s Under.

Kansas City Royals: 71.5
The Royals lost 1B Eric Hosmer and OF Lorenzo Cain in free agency this winter, which will hurt them at the plate and cause them to fall from their 80-win total a year ago, but 71 wins may be dropping them a little too far. I think they’ll finish with about 75 or so wins, so I’m going Over 71.5.

Minnesota Twins: 82.5
I think the Twins won more games last year than they should have given their talent. They’ll be starting this season with SP Ervin Santana on the DL and SS Jorge Polanco serving an 80-game PED suspension, so they won’t match last year’s 85 wins. But I think they can get 83 or 84 so it doesn’t give me much margin for error, but I’m taking the Over.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: 85.5
The Diamondbacks have a good offense led by 1B Paul Goldschmidt and their pitching can be good if SP Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray continue to pitch well, like they did in 2017. I think the Diamondbacks go Over 85.5.

Colorado Rockies: 82
The Rockies won 87 games last season, but I think they’ll be worse than that this year. They’ll still be better than .500 and I think they could win 84 or 85 games, so I’ll go Over.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 96.5
The Dodgers will be without injured 3B Justin Turner to start the season, which will hurt them early on. They did trade for OF Matt Kemp, who could make up for some of Turner’s lost production. Other teams in the division got better this winter, so the Dodgers probably won’t lead the majors in wins like they did last season, with 104. They should stay above 90, though, and it’ll be close but I’m going Over 96.5. They could hit the 97-win mark.

San Diego Padres: 69.5
For the second straight winter, the Padres spent money to sign a free-agent bat, this time with Hosmer. He’ll help the offense put runs on the board, along with OF Wil Myers, who moves off of first base to make room for Hosmer defensively. The Padres had 71 wins last season, and I think they’ll have at least that many this year so I’m going Over 69.5.

San Francisco Giants: 81.5
The Giants improved their offense this season, trading for McCutchen and 3B Evan Longoria. Their starting rotation took a hit in spring training, though, with SPs Jeff Samardzija and Madison Bumgarner both suffering injuries that will keep them sidelined for a significant length of time. Those injuries will tamper expectations, but I still think they can surpass .500 this year, so I’ll go Over.

AL West

Houston Astros: 96.5
The Astros won 101 games last season and this year have Verlander or the entire season, in addition to Cole, who they acquired from the Pirates. With the offense they have — headlined by 2B Jose Altuve, SS Carlos Correa, 3B Alex Bregman and OF George Springer — and their pitching, the Astros should surpass 100 wins again this season. I’m going Over.

Los Angeles Angels: 84.5
The Angels made one of the biggest signings of the offseason with SP/DH Shohei Ohtani, but he has struggled this spring so he may not do as well as the Angels had hoped he would. I still think they can get to 85 wins behind the bat of OF Mike Trout,so I’ll go Over.

Oakland Athletics: 74.5
The A’s won 75 games last year and I think they may be a little better this season after acquiring OF Stephen PIscotty. I think they can barely get Over 74.5 wins.

Seattle Mariners: 81.5
I think the Mariners are around a .500 team. They won 78 games last year and I think they’ll end up within a couple games of that total this season, so I’m going to go Under 81.5, but it could be close.

Texas Rangers: 77.5
The Rangers are clearly the worst team in the division and I don’t think they’ll come close to the 78 wins they earned last season. I think this is an easy Under pick.

World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven

Playoff Picks

National League

NL East Champs: Washington Nationals
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
NL West Champs: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Cards: Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals

American League

AL East Champs: Boston Red Sox
AL Central Champs: Cleveland Indians
AL West Champs: Houston Astros
AL Wild Cards: New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels

World Series: Astros over Brewers in 6 games

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Toronto Blue Jays

Our AL East team previews, part of previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season, conclude with a look at the Toronto Blue Jays, who came in fourth place in the division last season.

At 76-86, the Blue Jays finished under .500 for the first time since 2013 last season. They made some significant moves this offseason to improve the team. Among them, they traded for SS Aledmys Diaz and 2B Yangervis Solarte and OF Randal Grichuk. In free agency, they signed SP Jaime Garcia, RP Seung-hwan Oh and OF Curtis Granderson. That gives them a strong veteran core when they’re added to returning players like 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Troy Tulowitzki, C Russell Martin and SPs Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Stroman, however, is currently sidelined with shoulder inflammation and may not be ready for the start of the regular season. Gone is OF Jose Bautista, who hit free agency after playing for the Blue Jays since 2008.

In 2017, the Blue Jays’ .240 average was worst in the American League and next-to-last in Major League Baseball. They were in the top 10 with 222 home runs, and their .724 OPS was sixth-worst in the majors. Leading the pack was 1B Justin Smoak, who had a career year with a .270 average, 38 home runs and an .883 OPS. Donaldson also hit .270 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 113 games. DH Kendrys Morales hit .250 with 28 homers, and OF Kevin Pillar added 16 home runs with a .256 average. As for the newcomers, Diaz hit .259 with with 7 home runs and Grichuk .238 and 22 homers with the Cardinals, while Solarte hit .255 with 18 home runs with the Padres.

The team’s 4.42 ERA was slightly worse than the league average last season, while the staff’s 1,372 strikeouts were in the top half of the league. The relievers’ 45 saves were tied for the sixth most in the majors. Stroman made 33 starts last season, posting a 3.09 ERA with 164 strikeouts in 201 innings. SP J.A. Happ posted a 3.53 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 145.1 innings over 25 starts. SP Marco Estrada made 33 starts but had a disappointing 4.98 ERA and a decent 176 strikeouts in 186 innings. Sanchez only made eight starts last year and posted a 4.25 ERA. Garcia posted a 4.41 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 27 starts with the Braves, Twins and Yankees. RP Roberto Osuna recorded 39 saves, with a 3.38 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 64 innings over 66 appearances. The Cardinals used Oh in a closing rule for some of last season, allowing him to record 20 saves in 62 appearances. He put up a 4.10 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 59.1 innings.

The offense will be better this season with the additions the team made, with Diaz, Solarte and Grichuk replacing light-hitting guys like Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins. If Donaldson can stay healthy and play 150 games or so, that would provide an additional boost as well. Bautista’s departure will hurt the offense but bringing in the other guys should make up for it. If Stroman’s shoulder injury isn’t too serious and he’s ready for action soon after the season starts, he should have another good season. If Sanchez can get back to his 2016 performance after missing most of last season, he would make a solid top of the rotation with Stroman.

Overall, the Blue Jays have a better team this season than last year. The biggest concern should be Stroman’s health. Even though they should be better this season, the Blue Jays won’t finish better than third in the East because the Red Sox and Yankees are significantly better than the other teams in the division and it would take big injuries for them to not finish in the top two spot in the division. The Blue Jays, however, are probably the best of the other three teams in the East, but they probably won’t win enough games to qualify for one of the Wild Card spots in the AL.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.bluejays.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Tampa Bay Rays

Our previews of the AL East teams, part of our look at all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season, continue with the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished in third place in the division last season.

In the wake of four straight losing seasons, the Rays went into rebuilding mode this winter, trading away 3B Evan Longoria, SP Jake Odorizzi, and OFs Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr.. They got mostly prospects in return for those veterans, with SS Christian Arroyo and 1B C.J. Cron among the major league-ready players they acquired. SP Chris Archer was rumored to be on the trade block, but he didn’t go anywhere this offseason. They suffered a damaging injury early in spring training when SP Brent Honeywell, one of the Rays’ top prospects, tore the UCL in his right arm, which will require him to undergo Tommy John surgery and cause him to miss the entire 2018 season — and possibly part of 2019, depending on how his recovery goes. Honeywell was likely anticipated to be a big piece of the team’s rebuilding effort, so the injury could delay the expected timeline. SP Alex Cobb also won’t be in the rotation this season, having left in free agency.

The Rays’ .246 average was the sixth lowest in Major League Baseball last season, but they hit the sixth-most home runs with 228, with a .739 OPS that ranked in the bottom half of the league. Their four biggest home-run hitters — Souza, Dickerson, Longoria and Logan Morrison — are all gone, leaving OF Kevin Kiermaier as the team’s most prolific power hitter, coming off of a 15-homer season in which he hit .276 in 98 games. DH Brad Miller hit .201 with 9 home runs last season and OF Mallex Smith was a .270 hitter with 16 steals in 81 games played. In 77 games with the Rays after being traded by the Marlins, SS Adeiny Hechavarria hit .257 with 7 home runs. Among the newcomers, OF Denard Span hit .272 with 12 home runs in 129 games with the Giants and Cron hit .248 with 16 homers in 100 games with the Angels.

On the mound, the Rays finished in the top 10 in the majors with a 3.97 ERA and were in the top half of the league with 1,352 strikeouts. Their 53 saves were the most in the American League and second in the majors. Archer posted a 4.07 ERA in 34 starts in 2017, with 249 strikeouts in 201 innings. In 24 starts, SP Blake Snell posted a 4.04 ERA with 119 strikeouts in 129.1 innings. Rookie SP Jake Faria pitched well in his 16 games — 14 starts — and put up a 3.43 ERA with 84 punch-outs in 86.2 innings in his limited body of work. RP Alex Colome recorded 47 of the team’s saves, which was the most in the majors. The rest of his numbers weren’t great, though, with a 3.24 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 66.2 innings in 65 games.

The Rays will see a dramatic drop in their offensive production this season with the players they lost to trades and free agency. Their home-run total, in particular, is likely to plummet and they’ll probably end up in the bottom 10 this season instead of the top 10. Other than Hechavarria, Kiermaier and C Wilson Ramos, they don’t have many proven hitters on the roster. If the Rays’ young starters can do well this season as they get acclimated to the majors the pitching could be all right with Archer leading the way. P Nathan Eovaldi, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, is competing for a spot in the rotation along with P Matt Andriese. Both have had some success in their careers.

Overall, the Rays aren’t a good team — by design, as they look to the future and start their rebuilding process. The Red Sox and Yankees are clearly the best teams in the division, so the other three teams are fighting to stay afloat and not finish in last place, but I think that could be where the Rays end up after Game 162.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.tampabayrays.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: New York Yankees

Our previews of the AL East teams, part of looking at all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season, continue with the New York Yankees, who finished in second place in the division last season.

The Yankees surprised many people by winning 91 games and earning one of the Wild Cards in the American League. The emergence of rookie OF Aaron Judge helped the Yankees to a better-than-expected season as he hit 52 home runs en route to earning AL Rookie of the Year honors and finishing second to the Astros’ Jose Altuve in MVP voting. And he’s getting some help in the power department in 2018 with the acquisition of reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who the Yankees traded for in December, sending the Marlins 2B Starlin Castro and minor league SS Jose Devers and P Jorge Guzman in return. The Yankees also acquired 3B Brandon Drury in a three-way trade involving the Diamondbacks and Rays in which the Yankees gave up a couple of prospects. Drury replaces 3B Chase Headley, who the Yankees traded to the Padres this winter. The team also re-signed veteran SP CC Sabathia to remain a mainstay in the starting rotation.

The Yankees hit .262 last season, which was seventh highest in Major League Baseball, and they led the majors with 241 home runs, while their .785 OPS was third. Judge hit .284 with 52 home runs — second in the majors behind only Stanton — and 114 RBI, which were second in the AL. His 1.049 OPS was second to Mike Trout. Judge also led the AL with 127 walks, but on the other side of the coin he also struck out more than anyone else with 208 Ks. Overall, he had a WAR of 8.1, which was second in the majors. Elsewhere on the roster, C Gary Sanchez proved he’s one of the top offensive players at the position with a .278 average and 33 home runs in 122 games. SS Didi Gregorius had a career year, hitting .287 with 25 homers in 136 games. Stanton played a career-best 159 games with the Marlins last year — just the second time he’s played in 150 games or more — and hit .281 with a MLB-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI. His 1.007 OPS ranked fifth in the majors, and his 7.6 WAR was tied for fourth-highest in MLB. With the Diamondbacks, Drury hit .267 with 13 home runs in 135 games.

The Yankees also had good pitching, with their 3.72 ERA ranking as the fifth-lowest in the majors last season. They were fourth in the majors with 1,560 strikeouts, but their 36 saves were in the bottom half of the league. SP Luis Severino was the best pitcher in the rotation with a 2.98 ERA ahd 230 strikeouts in 193.1 innings over 31 starts. SP Masahiro Tanaka had an inconsistent season, finishing with a 4.74 ERA and 194 strikeouts over 178.1 innings in 30 starts. Sabathia posted a 3.69 ERA with 120 strikeouts in 27 starts, and SP Jordan Montgomery put up a 3.88 ERA with 144 strikeouts in 29 starts. SP Sonny Gray, who the Yankees traded for at the deadline, started 11 games for the team in the regular season, posting a 3.72 ERA and striking out 59 in 65.1 innings. RP Aroldis Chapman recorded 22 saves in 52 appearances, with a 3.22 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. RP Dellin Betances saved 10 games and posted a 2.87 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 59.2 innings.

Last year, Stanton and Judge combined for 111 home runs. Reaching that number again in 2018 could be a lot to ask for because of Stanton’s durability questions. Stanton will be playing mainly DH this year, with some starts possible in the outfield, which could help him stay healthier and on the field more this season than he has been able to in the past. OFs Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks are slated to get the bulk of the outfield starts with Judge, and veteran OF Jacoby Ellsbury should be the main backup. 2B Ronald Torreyes is expected to begin the season as the starting second baseman, but top prospect Gleyber Torres should come up at some point during the season to take over the position, moving Torreyes into more of a utility role. 1B Greg Bird, who was limited to 48 games in his rookie season due to injury, gets a chance to show what he can do at the position now that he is recovered. While the Yankees traded for Drury expecting him to be their starting third baseman, prospect Miguel Andujar is hoping to get that job — if not on Opening Day, then at some point during the season. Andujar has gotten off to a good start during Spring Training, strengthening his case to make the Opening Day roster.

Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Yankees, but they managed to win 91 games, which was just two games behind the Red Sox for the division title. Adding Stanton to the lineup, which should give the Yankees the biggest power output of any two teammates, makes the Yankees even better and should help them surpass the Red Sox and win the AL East for the first time since 2012. Even with the Red Sox signing J.D. Martinez, the Yankees are likely the better overall team between the two and, thus, the best team in the division. The Yankees came within one game of making the World Series last year, and it looks like they have a team that should allow for another deep playoff run in 2018.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.yankees.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Boston Red Sox

Our previews of the AL East teams, part of our look at all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season, continue with the Boston Red Sox, who won the division last season.

It took until February, but the Red Sox finally signed the free agent they had been after all winter — signing DH J.D. Martinez to a five-year deal at the start of spring training. He was the big acquisition for the team coming off of two straight AL East titles, who also re-signed a couple of their free agents with 1B Mitch Moreland and 3B Eduardo Nunez, who they acquired from the Giants at last year’s trade deadline. The core of the team remains intact heading into the season, though veteran 2B Dustin Pedroia won’t be ready for Opening Day and could miss the first few weeks of the season as he continues to recover from October knee surgery. American League Cy Young runner-up Chris Sale looks to repeat the strong performance he had last year in his first season with the team as he enters the last guaranteed year of his contract.

Considering they won 93 games last season, the Red Sox had a disappointing offense. They ranked in top half of Major League Baseball with a .258 average, but their 168 home runs were the fewest in the American League and fourth-fewest in the majors. Their .736 OPS ranked in the bottom 10 in the majors. OF Mookie Betts led the team with 24 home runs and 102 RBI while hitting .264 with a .803 OPS. He also stole 26 bases. DH Hanley Ramirez hit .242 with 23 home runs, and Moreland added 22 homers with a .246 average. Rookie OF Andrew Benintendi had a 20-20 season with 20 home runs and 20 steals, while fellow rookie 3B Rafael Devers hit .284 with 10 home runs in 58 games. OF Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .245 with 17 homers. In 119 games with the Tigers and Diamondbacks last season, Martinez hit .303 with a career-high 45 home runs and a 1.066 OPS, both of which ranked third in the majors.

Pitching was what helped the Red Sox win the division last season, with the staff’s 3.70 ERA ranking fourth in the majors. They were third with 1,580 strikeouts, and their 39 saves matched the league average. Sale had a MLB-best and career high 308 strikeouts on the season with a 2.90 ERA over 214.1 innings in 32 starts. That performance helped him reach a 17-8 record. SP Rick Porcello, who won the 2016 Cy Young Award in the AL, regressed last season, posting a 4.65 ERA with 181 strikeouts in 203.1 innings over 33 starts. SP Drew Pomeranz had a 3.32 ERA and a 17-6 record in 32 starts, striking out 174 batters in 173.2 innings. SP David Price was limited to just 16 games — 11 starts — in 2017, but pitched pretty well with a 3.38 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. Veteran closer Craig Kimbrel recorded 35 saves in 67 appearances, with a 5-0 record. He had an impressive 126 strikeouts in 69 innings and posted a 1.43 ERA.

Pitching isn’t much of a question for the Red Sox, especially if they can get close to a full year out of Price and Porcello can bounce back and have a decent year. The offense was an issue last year — especially the lack of power — but they went a long way to correcting that by signing Martinez. Based on last year’s numbers, he could hit 50 homers if he plays a full season in 2018. He will be the full-time DH, with some spot starts in the outfield, which will likely push Ramirez into a platoon split with Moreland at first base. With Pedroia out for what could be an extended period at the start of the season, that;ll give guys like Nunez and utilityman Brock Holt a chance to get at-bats early on and, if they do well, perhaps grab some more playing time later in the year. C Christian Vazquez provides some bonus offense as a decent hitter at a position that usually lacks offense.

The Red Sox won 93 games and the division last season and improved the team heading into 2018 by signing Martinez to fill a hole in the middle of the order. That bodes well for them, but the Yankees, who finished two games back in the East last season, added an even bigger piece to their team with the acquisition of OF Giancarlo Stanton, which brings them that much closer to catching the Red Sox — if not surpassing them. Barring injuries, those two teams should be battling all season long for first place in the division, with the other three teams in the division essentially also-rans this season and not expected to compete for the title. I’m not sure the Red Sox will be able to hold off the Yankees again this year, but they should surpass 90 wins again and at least get a Wild Card.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.redsox.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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4th Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Baltimore Orioles

We’re moving on to the AL East in our previews of all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2018 season. We begin the division’s previews with the Baltimore Orioles, who finished in last place in the division last season.

After being competitive for a Wild Card in the first half of last season, the Orioles fell out of the race and ended up in last place in the AL East after a 33-41 second half. The Orioles didn’t make many moves this offseason, signing OF Colby Rasmus and SP Andrew Cashner, as well as trading for C Andrew Susac and re-signing SP Chris Tillman. They’ll be without closer Zach Britton for the start of the season after he ruptured his Achilles in a workout in December; he is reportedly ahead of schedule on his recovery and should be ready to join the team before the All-Star break, possibly as soon as May. SS Manny Machado was the subject of trade rumors this winter, and the free agent-to-be could be dealt during the season if the Orioles get off to a slow start.

The Orioles were in the top 10 in Major League Baseball last season with a .260 average and their 232 home runs were the fifth most in the majors, but their .747 OPS was in the bottom half of the league. Machado led the team with 33 home runs but hit a career-low .259, 35 points below his career-best .294 in 2016; his OPS was. .782. 2B Jonathan Schoop hit 32 home runs, with a team-best .293 average and .841 OPS — all career highs. 1B Chris Davis hit .215 with 26 home runs in 128 games, and OF Adam Jones hit .285 with 26 homers. A year after hitting a career-high 47 home runs, DH Mark Trumbo hit just 23 balls out of the park last year to go along with a .234 average.

The Orioles’ pitchers posted a 4.97 ERA, which was the fourth worst in the majors last season, and they were in the bottom 10 with 1,233 strikeouts and 35 saves. SP Dylan Bundy had a surprising season, leading the rotation with a 4.24 ERA. He had 152 strikeouts in 169.2 innings. Bundy was 13-9 in 28 starts. SP Kevin Gausman led the team with 179 strikeouts in 186.2 innings but had a disappointing 4.68 ERA in 34 starts. Probably the team’s most disappointing pitcher was SP Chris Tillman, who had a 7.84 ERA in 24 games, including 19 starts. He threw just 93 innings, striking out 63 batters. With the Rangers last season, Cashner posted a 3.40 ERA — his best since 2014 — with only 86 strikeouts in 166.2 innings over 28 starts. RP Brad Brach led the team with 18 saves last season. He ended the season with a 3.18 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 68 innings in 67 appearances. Britton, who had a couple DL stints during the season, recorded 15 saves while putting up a 2.89 ERA and striking out 29 batters in 37.1 innings.

The Orioles’ pitching was bad last season, and that will need to be greatly improved this year if they don’t want to have another sub-.500 season like in 2017. But without signing any notable pitchers this season, that may be a lot to ask for. Cashner is a serviceable pitcher but he’s not a game-changer. Bundy and Gausman, in particular, at the top of the rotation have to do better this season for the team to be competitive. With Britton out until at least May, Brach will likely share closing duties with RP Darren O’Day early in the season. At the plate, the team returns the core of its offense. Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard join veteran Jones in the outfield — with Rasmus in the mix as well — and C Caleb Joseph expected to get the majority of the reps behind the plate following the offseason departure of C Welington Castillo.

The Orioles are in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees, who are expected to be two of the better teams in the American League, which makes things hard for them in their pursuit of a Wild Card. With the team they have, making the playoffs won’t be an easy task. I think they’ll finish the season under .500 again this season — and they may not have Machado at the end of the campaign. With his free agency looming next winter, the Orioles would be smart to trade him during the season to get something in return since they likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.orioles.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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