Tag Archives: Clay Buchholz

Biggest Surprise for each MLB team

By: Jon

 

Arizona Diamondbacks – Chris Owings

The 22 year old rookie shortstop for the Diamondbacks has been one of the few bright spots for the struggling Diamondbacks, who own the fourth worst record in the league. Owings has played in 58 games this season and has been a solid hitter. Owings has hit .276 with 20 extra base hits and 22 runs. On defense, Owings is one of the best shortstops in the major league baseball with a defensive WAR of 1.1. Due to his great defense and efficient hitting, Owings has the highest WAR on the Diamondbacks.

Atlanta Braves – Julio Tehran

Although the Braves were expecting a solid season from their 23 year old starting pitcher, they did not expect him to be one of the best pitchers in the league. Tehran ranks first in MLB in ERA, 1.89, and second in WHIP, 0.93. Unlike his first year in the bigs last season, Tehran has pitched deep into games. Tehran has thrown his only 2 complete games and shutouts this season while placing sixth in innings pitched. Although Tehran has pitched great, he has only six wins, which could hinder his chances at the Cy Young Award, if he can continue his excellence.

Baltimore Orioles – Nelson Cruz

After missing the final 50 games of the season because of his involvement in the PED, Cruz had to settle for a one year $8M deal with the Baltimore Orioles. However, the deal will probably be the best deal of the offseason. This season, Cruz is having a remarkable year, hitting 21 home runs, 55 RBI, 42 Runs, and .307 average. Cruz is leading the entire major leagues in home runs and RBI and ranks second in slugging percentage and OPS. Although he will not maintain his torrent pace of 57 home runs and 149 RBI, he has been an absolute steal for the Orioles and will likely post the best stats of his career.

Boston Red Sox – Clay Buchholz

After winning the World Series last season, the Red Sox are in danger of totally missing the playoffs. Although Buchholz has been frequently injured, he has been a great pitcher when he was on the mound. However, this season, he has not been the ace of the staff, but rather the worst starting pitcher on the team. Before Buchholz went down with a knee injury, he was 2-4 with an ERA over 7.00 and a WHIP near 2.00. During his 10 starts, Buchholz only pitched 7 innings once while pitching less than 5 innings 5 times. Also, Buchholz has allowed at least 10 hits three times and at least 5 runs 4 times.

Clay Buchholz Courtesy of The Boston Globe
Clay Buchholz
Courtesy of The Boston Globe

 

Chicago Cubs – Jason Hammel

The Cubs signed Hammel this offseason in hope that he would pitch well enough to trade at the trade deadline. Hammel has exceeded expectations this season, posting an ERA of 2.53 and a WHIP of 0.88. Hammel’s WHIP is second lowest in the entire Major League. Hammel’s performances have stabilized the Cubs’ rotation and have allowed the Cubs to play good baseball the last two weeks. Hammel has given the Cubs length, seven innings in 7 games. Although Hammel’s pitching has been important, his veteran leadership has permeated through the young Cubs’ locker room.

Chicago White Sox – Jose Abreu

The Cuban rookie has been one of the best players in the league, which has set up a great competition for the AL Rookie of the Year with Masahiro Tanaka. Although Abreu was on the DL for 15 days, he ranks second in the MLB in home runs, 17, seventh in RBI, 47, and third in slugging, .592. During his first month, Abreu set the record for the most home runs by a rookie before May. Although people questioned the White Sox’s decision this offseason, he makes his contract look like a bargain because of his power. Last season, the White Sox ranked 29th in runs scored, but they are currently ranked fifth.

Jose Abreu Courtesy of CBS Sports
Jose Abreu
Courtesy of CBS Sports

 

Cincinnati Reds – Johnny Cueto

Similar to Tehran, the Reds expected Cueto to have a solid season, but he has been one of the three best pitchers in the league. During the first third of the season, Cueto ranks second in ERA, 1.97, first in WHIP, 0.79, sixth in strikeouts, 97, second in innings, 96.0, and fifth in WAR, 3.0. Although Cueto has been great, the Reds have given him no run support, which has resulted in 5 losses compared to only 5 wins. During a 6 game stretch, Cueto pitched 51 of 54 innings, including 3 complete games, while allowing only 5 runs and accumulating 3 wins.

Cleveland Indians – Justin Masterson

Although the Indians made the postseason last year, they are barely above 500 this season. One reason that they have been unable to repeat their success is Justin Masterson’s inconsistency. Last season, Masterson pitched to an ERA of 3.45 and the Indians were expecting another solid season from their ace before they gave him a long term deal. However, his ERA has ballooned to 4.61, while winning only 4 games. Also, his WHIP is .3 points higher than last season. Lately, Masterson has been even worse, only one quality start in the last 6 contests. Over the past 3 seasons, Masterson has averaged 205 innings, but he is on pace to pitch only 190 innings.

Colorado Rockies – Charlie Blackmon

In his first full season in the big league, Blackmon has been a key cog for the Rockies and has a chance to make the NL All-Star team. Before this season, Blackmon played more than 80 games only once because he was behind stuck behind Dexter Fowler in center. Blackmon has done everything for the Rockies on offense because he has speed, power, and contact. Blackmon ranks second on the team in home runs, 11, RBI, 40, runs, 38, hits, 68, triples, 1, oWAR, 1.5, and total bases, 112. Blackmon is a solid base runner as well, the most steals on the team.

Detroit Tigers – Joe Nathan

The Tigers have been receiving quality production from their high priced stars except for Joe Nathan. Last season, the Tigers lost in the ALCS because their bullpen was unable to capitalize on the great performances from their starting rotation. The Tigers hoped that the addition of Joe Nathan would stabilize their bullpen and allow them to take the next step forward to a championship. However, Nathan has been horrible as the closer with an ERA of 7.04 and a WHIP of 1.57. Nathan has blown 4 of his 17 save opportunities, even though he blew only 3 saves last season.

Joe Nathan Courtesy of Detroit News
Joe Nathan
Courtesy of Detroit News

 

Florida Marlins – Giancarlo Stanton

After a horrible season, many questioned his ability to hit without protection and in the Marlins’ new cavernous stadium. Stanton is on pace to put together his best season of his career. On offense, Stanton has hit 17 home runs, first in the NL, 53 RBI, second in the Major League, .301 average, highest of his career, .589 slugging, fifth in the majors, .982 OPS, fifth in the majors, and 4.3 WAR, third in the majors. On defense, Stanton has posted the best statistical season of his career in terms of Defensive WAR. After a combined DWAR of -1.0 over the past three seasons, Stanton has a DWAR of 1.2.

Houston Astros – Dallas Keuchel

For the first time in the last three seasons, the Astros are on pace to lose less than 100 games. The 26 year old starting pitcher has been the ace of the Astros’ staff. During his first twelve starts, Dallas has been incredibly consistent and has put together 10 quality starts. Dallas has accumulated seven wins, 2.50 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 7 strikeouts. Over the past five games, Dallas has been fantastic and pitched 2 complete game shutouts and one six inning shutout. Dallas should continue pitching at a high level and lead the young Dallas rotation.

Kansas City Royals – Mike Moustakas

The former top prospect for the Royals has not met expectations and is bordering on bust. Along with Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer, Mike was set to be a powerful and formidable bat in the middle of the Royals’ order. However, Mike is currently batting .151 with only four home runs, 20 RBI, 10 runs, and .303 slugging percentage. Mike was so bad that the Royals needed to demote him the minor leagues and recently brought him back up to the majors. Overall Moustakas has cost the Royals 0.4 wins this season although he adds 0.3 wins on defense.

Mike Moustakas Courtesy of USA Today
Mike Moustakas
Courtesy of USA Today

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – David Freese

The former World Series MVP for the St. Louis Cardinals was acquired by the Angels this offseason. However, Freese has not met expectations. Through the first 42 games, Freese has hit only 2 home runs, 15 RBI, 17 runs, .231 average, .299 slugging percentage, and only 6 extra base hits. In terms of WAR, Freese has not added any wins above a replacement player offensive and deducted 0.1 wins on defense. Although the Angels have been playing better this season, Freese is not the reason for the Angels’ turnaround.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Dee Gordon

Last season, the Dodgers expected big things from Dee Gordon because of his great speed and ability to hit at the top of the order. The Dodgers had such little faith in Gordon that they signed a Cuban shortstop to a 4 year $28M deal. However, this season, Gordon showed the potential that excited the Dodgers. Dee is leading the league with 36 steals while batting .284 and posting an OWAR of 1.6. Also, Gordon accumulated 17 extra base hits including 6 triples while recording 33 runs. Although Gordon has great range due to his speed, he has committed 5 errors and has not added any wins in terms of DWAR.

Milwaukee Brewers – Jonathan Lucroy

The 27 year old fourth year catcher has been one of the main catalysts of the Brewers. The Brewers have been a revelation this season because of their offense led by Gomez, Lucroy, and Braun. Although Lucroy does not hit many home runs, he is a very good line drive and contact hitter. Lucroy is second in the majors in batting average with a .335 average. Although Lucroy only has 4 home runs, he has recorded 23 doubles, 28 extra base hits overall, 27 RBI, 28 runs, and a .398 on base percentage. Along with his offensive skill, his DWAR, 1.0, is the highest on the team.

Minnesota Twins – Brian Dozier

Although Dozier is a second basemen, he has impressive power and leads the team in home runs, 13. Along with Brian’s home runs, Dozier has 31 RBI, 11 doubles, .246 average, 13 steals, and .451 slugging percentage. Also, Dozier is leading the whole MLB with 53 runs. In terms of WAR, Dozier leads the team with 2.5. After a few horrible seasons, the Twins have been one of the surprises in the league and has a chance to reach .500 this season. One of the main reasons for the Twins turn around is the emergence of Brian Dozier and an improved pitching rotation.

New York Mets – Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson was the Mets biggest offseason addition because the Mets hoped that his power could give protection for David Wright. However, Granderson has not provided the power or formidable bat that the Mets were expecting when they gave him a long term deal. Although the Mets were expecting Granderson to strike out over 25% of the time and possess a .221 average, they hoped that Granderson would hit more than 8 home runs, drive in more than 30 RBI, and 28 runs. Without the Yankees’ right field porch, Granderson has been unable to reproduce his gaudy power numbers.

Curtis Granderson Courtesy of New York Times
Curtis Granderson
Courtesy of New York Times

 

New York Yankees – Dellin Betances

Although the Yankees had high hopes for Betances when he was in the minors a few seasons ago, he could not locate his pitches and many believed that he would not make a significant impact on the major league team. Although Betances is not a closer, he is incredibly important to the bullpen because he can pitch multiple innings. However, his best attribute is his ability to strike out batters and his nasty fastball-slurve combination. Over 36 innings of work, Betances has struck out 61 batters, 15.25 K/9, which ranks fourth in the majors. Along with his great strikeout numbers, he has an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 0.75

Oakland Athletics – Brandon Moss

After an impressive last year, Moss backed up his quality numbers with great numbers. This season, Moss has shown his ability to hit for average, .279, which leads the team, and power, 16 home runs, which is second on the team. Moss’s biggest asset could be his ability to drive in runs, 53 RBI, second in MLB, and 31 runs. Along with Josh Donaldson, Moss has provided pop to the middle of the A’s rotation, which has allowed them to have the best record in the AL. Although he does not carry a great glove, his bat makes him one of the best players on the best team.

Philadelphia Phillies – Domonic Brown

The Phillies’ young left fielder had a fantastic season last year and showed his power. However, this season, the inability of Brown to add his home run potential to the middle of the lineup has led the Phillies to the worst record in the NL East. Through 59 games, Brown has 4 home runs and 13 extra base hits. Along with his lack of power, Brown is batting .218/.268/.322, which gives him an OWAR of -0.8. On defense, Brown does not make the team better and supports an DWAR of -0.5.

Domonic Brown Courtesy of Phillies Nation
Domonic Brown
Courtesy of Phillies Nation

 

Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Watson

The 29 year old third year reliever from the Pirates as been surprisingly great for the Pirates this season. The lefty Watson pitches with a 94 mph fastball, but has started using his changeup, which has allowed him to thrive. Before this season, Watson averaged less than one strikeout per inning and an ERA above 2.75. However, he has been great during his 29 innings. During his 29 innings, he has an ERA of 0.93, WHIP of 1.03, 15 holds, 5-0 record, 35 strikeouts, and a K/9 of 10.86. Although the Pirates have not been the same team this season, Watson has enabled them to almost reach 500 and he has a WAR of 1.5.

San Diego Padres – Jedd Gyorko

The Padres recently signed Jedd Gyorko to a long term deal and hoped that he would be part of their core for the future. However, through the first third of the season, Gyorko has been awful and the Padres will not been the darkhouse team to make the playoffs. On offense, Gyorko provides nothing because he is hitting .162 with 5 home runs, 24 RBI, 13 runs, .213 on base percentage, and .270 slugging percentage. His offensive WAR is -0.9. On defense, Jedd has a DWAR of -0.3 and has committed 6 errors.

 San Francisco Giants – Tim Hudson

The former ace of the Braves and A’s is putting together the best season of his career at age 38. During his first 12 starts, Hudson has been one of the best pitchers in the league, even though many teams passed over him during the offseason. Hudson ranks second in MLB in ERA, 1.97 and fifth in WHIP, 0.96, while posting a 6-2 record for the first place Giants. After the Giants experienced a horrible season last year, Hudson has provided veteran leadership and a consistent proven winner to the rotation. Along with the Giants’ improved offense, Hudson has added another reliable pitcher to the Giants’ talented rotation.

Tim Hudson Courtesy of Mercury News
Tim Hudson
Courtesy of Mercury News

 

Seattle Mariners – Fernando Rodney

Last season, Rodney was expected to be a star closer for the Tampa Bay Rays, but blew 8 saves and recorded an ERA of 3.38. His horrendous season left him jobless, but the Mariners took a chance on him this offseason. Unlike previous seasons, the bullpen is not blowing the great starts by their fabulous starting rotation. Rodney has been able to stabilize the Mariners bullpen and they have a chance at making the playoffs. Rodney ranks third in MLB with 18 saves while only blowing 2 saves. Also, Rodney has recorded an 2.19 ERA while striking out more than 9 batters per nine innings.

St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Holliday

Although the Cardinals have a deep lineup, they have not performed at a high level and the Cardinals are barely over 500. One of the main culprits is Matt Holliday. Although Holliday has been one of the most consistent hitters over the past decade, Holliday has been unable to produce at the plate. During the first 62 games, Holliday has hit only 2 home runs, 29 RBI, 31 runs, .368 slugging percentage while compiling only a .264 average. On defense, Holliday does not add any help and he has the lowest DWAR on the squad, -0.4.

Tampa Bay Rays – David Price

This season, the Rays’ rotation has been one of the worst in the league because of the multitude of injuries. Along with the unfortunate injuries, David Price has not pitched like an ace of the staff. After winning the Cy Young two years ago, Price has an ERA of 3.97, WHIP of 1.15, and only 8 quality starts in the last 14 games. Price has lost more games than he has won, which is inexcusable for the ace of the staff. Price has been beaten by the long ball, 13 home runs, which must change if the Rays are going to turn around their season.

David Price Courtesy of Zimbio
David Price
Courtesy of Zimbio

 

Texas Rangers – Alex Rios

The veteran outfielder has been a major surprise for the Texas Rangers, who are struggling to stay alive in the competitive AL West. Rios was acquired last season, but the Rangers are reaping the benefits this season. Rios is leading the AL in average, .335. Along with his high average, he has been a very good line drive hitter, which has resulted in numerous extra base hits, including 8 triples and 14 doubles. Along with his solid average, he has recorded 32 RBI, 29 runs, and 1.1 OWAR.

Toronto Blue Jays – Mark Buehrle

The veteran Blue Jay has been a revelation for the surprising first place Blue Jays. Although the Blue Jays are known for their great offense, the pitching has been the reason why they are playing great baseball. During his first 13 starts, Mark has accumulated 11 quality starts and 10 wins while losing only 2 games. Although Buehrle has a high WHIP, 1.20, he has limited these base runners from scoring and has an ERA of 2.04. Buehrle has been incredibly consistent this season and has allowed more than 3 runs only once. Along with his consistency, he is an innings eater for the Blue Jays, who have a below average bullpen.

Washington Nationals – Rafael Soriano

The Washington Nationals’ closer has revitalized this season and is pitching very well. Last season, Soriano recorded 43 saves, but blew 6 saves, WAR of 0.9, ERA of 3.11, and a WHIP of 1.23. However, this season, all of his stats have improved and he has become one of the best closers in the league. Soriano has recorded 12 saves while compiling an ERA of 1.13, WHIP of 0.96, WAR of 1.2, and has blown only 2 saves all season. Soriano has been through pressure filled situations and should be able to handle the stress down the stretch.

2014 AL East Preview

By: Jon

The AL East is definitively the best division in baseball since they have the current champions, the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. The East has a legitimate threat of possessing three of the five playoff teams in the AL. Besides the Blue Jays, who still have a possibility of finishing over .500, the other four teams have a great chance of winning the division.

 

1) New York Yankees

The Yankees want to win one more before the Captain retires
The Yankees want to win one more before the Captain retires

The Yankees regained the title as the most expensive team in baseball after they spent nearly $500 million on free agents this offseason. The Yankees will be starting a completely new club from last season as only one player, Brett Gardner, will be starting Opening Day this and last season. The Yankees have a lot of talent, but they have many questions that may lead to their demise. Although the Yankees outfield should be the catalyst of team with Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, and Jacoby Ellsbury, the infield has many questions because the players, Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, and Mark Teixeira, are all coming off  injury and have questions about their age. If the Yankees stay healthy, they should be one of the best teams in baseball and will contend for a championship.

On offense, the Yankees have speed, power, and high batting averages. The middle of the order, McCann, Tex, Soriano, and Beltran, should record a good deal of RBIs since they will have many opportunities to drive in runs. Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, and Brett Garnder have shown that they have the ability to get on base, steal bases, and score runs at a very high level. In terms of defense, the team should be one of the best in the league, especially in the outfield. Jacoby and Brett are two of the fastest outfielders in the league and should be able to easily cover every ball in the outfield. Although he is old, Beltran is an above average outfielder with a great arm and instincts. On the infield, the return of Tex will be great since he is a premier fielder and prevents errors with his ability to scoop throws. Although Jeter or Roberts do not have great range, they are steady players and will not make many errors in the field.

On the pitching staff, the Yanks have some questions as well. If Tanaka, Nova, and Pineda can continue their success from Spring Training, the team will have a great pitching staff with each player has a lot of talent. Although CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have experienced poor spring trainings and did not have a good finish to last season, the Yankees need them to return to their old form. The Yankees have a few quality options, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, and David Phelps, if injuries hamper their starting five. Unlike past seasons, the Yanks are not expected to have a good bullpen. The Yanks must answer a few questions if they are going win games with their bullpen like they have in the past. The Yankees need to replace the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, an eighth inning pitcher to replace David Robertson, and a lefty specialist to replace Boone Logan. If the Yankees’ starters fail to get injured, they can use their extra starting pitchers or prospects to man the positions. Although the Yankees have many questions, they have a lot of talent and expectations that their fans hope they can meet this season.

Predicted Yankees Record: 95-67

2) Boston Red Sox

The Sox are hoping to repeat this season
The Sox are hoping to repeat this season

The Red Sox are the defending champion and many believe that they have a great chance of winning the division and repeating as champions. The Red Sox are currently ranked second on this list because they lost a few good players to free agency that must be replaced. The biggest loss the Red Sox endured was Jacoby Ellsbury, who went to the hated New York Yankees for $153 million. Although Jacoby was occassionally injured, he was a great table setter for the Red Sox and was a lock for at least 90 runs a season. The Red Sox are hoping that Jackie Bradley Jr will be able to succeed at the major league level, although he was unable to hit in the majors at the start of last season. Bradley, although an above average defender, will not be able to replace Ellsbury’s defense because he does not have the speed. At shortstop, the Red Sox will have to replace the production from Stephen Drew. Drew was a solid option for the Red Sox because he was a good defensive player and could hit well for a shortstop. The Red Sox hope that top prospect Xander Bogearts will be able to turn his potential into production and replace the void left by Drew. Xander got his first taste of major league experience last season in the playoffs and regular season.

Besides those losses, the Red Sox kept the same team as last year. On offense, the Red Sox have a lot of good sluggers, Ortiz, Pedroia, and Napoli, and other quality hitters, which gives them a balanced offensive attack. The Red Sox have at least five or six players that can hit over .300 this season. Last season, they had three players hit over .300 and five that hit over .294. Like last season, they should rank as one of the best run scoring teams in the league.

In terms of pitching, the Red Sox have a deep rotation even though they do not possess a dominant ace. The combination of Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz should give the Red Sox an above average staff as long as they do not have to deal with injuries. If the Red Sox do face injuries, they may have serious issues because they do not have many long men/spot starters on their roster. The Red Sox have a very good farm system with good pitching prospects, but it is unknown if they want to hurry these prospects to the bigs. In the bullpen, the Red Sox have one of the best in the league. If Uehara can give the Red Sox similar numbers to last season, they will be in great shape because they have solid lefties and power arms out of the bullpen. The Red Sox should be a 90 win team and compete with the Yankees and other AL East teams for the division and the Pennant.

Predicted Red Sox Record: 94-68

3) Tampa Bay Rays

The pitching could lead the Rays to the playoff
The pitching could lead the Rays to the playoffs

The Rays have been steady winners over the last five seasons. Before their nice run, the Rays were one of the worst teams in baseball and never made the playoffs. Previously, they would always receive high picks in the draft, which enabled them to build a core and achieve success. Although the Rays have lost stars over the past few seasons, they have a deep farm system to replace their stars with stud prospects.

Although the Rays normally win with their pitching and defense, the Rays offense has improved drastically and should be a strength this season. The middle of the order will be led by Evan Longoria, Wil Myers, James Loney, and Matt Joyce. These power hitters should easily be able to drive in a lot of runs since Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, and possibly star shortstop prospect, Lee, are all good table setters and have the ability to reach base. The Rays should continue playing great defense because Longoria, Myers, Escobar, Loney, and Desmond are excellent defenders and do not commit many errors.

Although the offense is improving, the pitching is the best part of the team. The staff is led by former AL Cy Young Award winner David Price. Along with Price, the Rays have Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Archer, and possibly Jake Odorizzi. Besides Hellickson, each starter had an ERA below 3.50. The Rays’ pitching staff should continue stopping opposing offenses and lead the Rays to the playoff as long as Price stays in the rotation. Since Price has achieved a lot of success, the Rays are looking to trade him since it is unlikely they will be able to re-sign him next offseason. Although the Rays would receive a King’s Ransom for Price, the players will not be able to immediately help the Rays, if they trade him at the trade deadline. Like many prior seasons, the Rays’ bullpen is different from last season and has many questions. The Rays have signed a few relievers that are coming off bad seasons and were able to sign them at a bargain. The Rays will rely heavily on Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, Joel Peralta, and lefty flamethrower Jake McGee. Each reliever has experienced success in the past and the Rays hope they can catch lightning in a bottle once again.

The Rays were able to win 92 games last season despite them starting slowly because of poor pitching. However, this season, the pitching should not let the Rays down at the start of the season and should enable them to win over 90 games again this season. The AL East should have a great fight at the top since each of the three aforementioned teams has the ability to win 95 games. The Rays do not have as much depth or offensive talent as the Red Sox and Yanks, so it is unlikely they will beat them during the regular season.

Predicted Rays Record: 92-70

4) Baltimore Orioles

The O's need Crush Davis to have another great season in order to succeed
The O’s need Crush Davis to have another great season in order to succeed

Unlike previous seasons, the Orioles spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their team. Last season, the Orioles won 85 games, but still finished 6.5 games out of the wild card race. The Orioles possessed one of the best and most explosive lineups in the league a season ago. The Orioles are led by the middle of their order, which includes stars Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and JJ Hardy. Although the lineup was already deep, they signed power hitting outfielder, Nelson Cruz, to a one year deal. Also, the Orioles will be returning Manny Machado from a serious knee injury, which will bolster the squad. In terms of defense, the Orioles have a solid defense because Jones, Hardy, Wieters, and Machado are great fielders and man the most important defensive positions.

Although the Orioles’ offense and defense is very good, the pitching could pose problems for the Orioles as they attempt to make the playoffs. The Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez this offseason and are hoping that he returns to his Rockies’ second half form. The Orioles do not have an ace, but have multiple quality pitchers. The Orioles’ staff, Jimenez, Tillman, Norris, Gausman, and Chen, is deep and should be able to win games against the back of opposing teams’ staff. If the Orioles do experience injuries, they have multiple options that will allow them to continue winning. In the bullpen, the Orioles have multiple weapons that can throw hard and strike out opposing hitters late in games. Although the O’s dumped former closer Jim Johnson, they will be replacing him with Tommy Hunter. Hunter throws extremely hard and has been able to pitch well over the past few seasons as an eighth inning pitcher. Along with hard throwing from the right side, Brian Matusz is a lefty specialist that pitches in the mid to high nineties and has improved over the past few seasons.

Although the Orioles improved their team this offseason, the other teams in this division have improved as well, so it is unlikely they will noticeably improve their win total from last season.

Predicted Orioles Record: 85-77

5) Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays hope they can avoid the East cellar
The Jays hope they can avoid the East cellar

The Blue Jays entered last season as one of the best teams on paper and many thought they would be one of the best teams in the league. However, the Jays did not meet expectations as they suffered many injuries and their players did not play to previous standards.

Like the other American League East teams, the Blue Jays have a threatening lineup. On the infield, the Blue Jays have Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, and Maicer Izturius. In the outfield, the Blue Jays will be led by Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, and Colby Rasmus. The Blue Jays have one of the best 3-4 hitting duos in the league because Bautista is one of the best power hitters and Encaracion has turned into one of the better hitters after a sluggish start to his career. At the top of the order, the Blue Jays will have Reyes and Cabrera at the one-two positions as they both have great speed and the ability to reach base at a very high percentage. If the duo can stay healthy, they will score a lot of runs and help the Blue Jays score runs because Bautista and Encarnacion should both be able to record at least 100 RBIs. Although the Jays have the potential for a great offense, their defense does not have the same ability.

In terms of pitching, the Blue Jays have many questions in their rotation, which negatively separates them from the rest of the teams. Although the Blue Jays gave up two very good prospects to the Mets, they did not receive great production from RA Dickey last season. Although Dickey should be able to achieve more success this season because he is now healthy, it is unknown if he can return to his Cy Young form. After Dickey, the Jays have Brandon Marrow, Mark Buehrle, JA Happ, and Esmil Rogers in the rotation. Mark Buehrle and Esmil Rogers are steady pitchers and should provide the Blue Jays with consistent quality outings. Although Marrow and Happ have great talent and have shown they can produce at the major league level, they are consistently injured and cannot pitch at their full potential. If the duo can remain healthy, the Blue Jays can compete in the East and win about 85 to 90 games.

Although the Jays may have the worst starting rotation in the division, it is likely they have the best bullpen. The back of the Jays bullpen is very solid with Sergio Santos as the closer and Steve Delbar and Brett Cecil as the set up men. Last year, Cecil and Delbar had great seasons and made the All-Star team. If the Jays can maintain a lead into the 7th inning, they will have a great chance of winning games and competing for the last Wild Card spot. Unless the Jays have a few surprises in the rotation, it is unlikely they will win more than 80 games in the difficult AL East.

Predicted Blue Jays Record: 78-84

 

Pics and stats from ESPN.com

Rating Every AL All-Star by Position

By: Jon

Last night, MLB selected the All-Stars for the 2013 All-Star game in New York. As usual, there are many questionable moves that have create quite a uproar. In this article, I will go through every position and analyze MLB’s decision.

AL

Catcher

Starter:

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer

Good or Bad: Good

This was the easiest choice for the selection committee. The AL has some of the weakest catchers in the league. Mauer is having a solid season for the Twinkies, .312/8HR/30RBI. This will be Mauer sixth All-Star nomination and I expect many more in the future.

Reserves:

Juan Castro

Juan Castro
Juan Castro

Good or Bad: Good

As the best player on the Astros, he must be on the All-Star roster. Castro has the second highest WAR, among AL catchers. Although Castro does not have the RBI numbers, 30, he cannot be blamed because for the lack of men on base. Castro has hit 12 HR and batted .270.

Salvador Perez

Salvador Perez
Salvador Perez

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson

Since every team must be represented at the All-Star game, some players, who would be undeserving, make the team. However, since I want Greg Holland to go, Perez will not be lucky enough to be nominated. This is Perez’s first of many All-Star games. Perez is the third best catcher in the AL. Besides for being a great catcher, he bats over .300 and has hit 4HR and 36 RBI. Donaldson is one of the more underrated players in the league. He is having a great season, 6th in the AL in WAR. Donaldson is deserving of an All-Star invitation because of his .319/15HR/57RBI/50R.

First Base

Starter:

Chris Davis

Chris Davis
Chris Davis

Good or Bad: Good

Although I do not believe that Chris Davis should have received the most All-Star votes, Davis has been the second best baseball player this year. Most players would love to have seasons like Davis’s first half. Although I do not expect Davis to continue his torrid pace of .324/64HR/160RBI/115Runs, he will put up great stats. This selection is legit.

Reserves:

Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion

Good or Bad: Good

For the second straight year, Edwin is having a great season for the Toronto Blue Jays. Edwin is a RBI machine, knocking in 68 players and hitting in 23 HR. This will be Edwin’s first All-Star appearance. This definitely is a good selection.

Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder

Good or Bad: Good

Unlike the NL, the AL is pretty weak at the first base position. Even though Prince Fielder is not having a great season, he deserves to play in his fifth All-Star game. Prince is the fourth hitter for the best lineup in the majors. He is third RBI and fifth in HR, among AL first baseman.

Second Base

Starter:

Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano

Good or Bad: Good

This was the most difficult decision for the All-Star committee. Although Cano does not have the highest WAR, he is the only good hitter on the Yankees. Opposing pitchers do not have to pitch to Cano because the Yankee lineup is not deep or dangerous. Cano is leading AL second baseman in RBI, HR, and Slugging and the difference is not very close. Cano plays great defense as well.

Reserve:

Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia

Good or Bad: Good

This year, Pedroia has returned to his MVP form. Although Dustin does not have much power, 5 HR, he is leading second baseman in AVG, OPS, and WAR. He is the leader of the first place Boston Red Sox. Pedroia is one of the best leaders in baseball as well as one of the best defensive players.

Jason Kipnis

Jason Kipnis
Jason Kipnis

Good or Bad: Good

One month ago, Jason would not be even close to be on this list. Kipnis is top three in many offensive categories among second baseman. In June, Kipnis had a great month, .419/4HR/25RBI/9SB. This great mont, along with the success he experienced last year, made him a good All-Star selection.

Shortstop

Starter:

JJ Hardy

JJ Hardy
JJ Hardy

Good or Bad: Good selection, Bad starter

Hardy is a great defensive player with exceptional power for a shortstop. Hardy has the most HR, 15, and RBI, 46, among AL shortstops. He is a great defensive player, won the Gold Glove award last season. He is one of the defensive and offensive leaders for the Baltimore Orioles.

Reserve:

Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta
Jhonny Peralta

Good or Bad: Should have been starter

Jhonny Peralta is one of the most underrated shortstops in all of baseball. Peralta, although not a great defensive player, is an exceptional offensive player for one of the best offenses in baseball. Peralta is beating Hardy in AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. Thus he should be the starter for the All-Star game.

Third Base

Starter:

Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera

Good or Bad: Good

Currently the best hitter in MLB and one of the best hitters in MLB history, Cabrera may win the Triple Crown for the second straight year in a row, the first to accomplish this feat. Although not a great defensive player, Cabrera makes up for all his miscues by his great hitting.

Reserve:

Manny Machado

Manny Machado
Manny Machado

Good or Bad: Good

After watching Machado play two series against the Yankees, I am determined that he will be the best player in baseball at one time during his career. Machado has every tool and attribute a Hall of Famer must have. Although he is not playing his natural position, Machado is one of the best defensive third baseman in baseball. Although he does not have great power, 6HR, he is a double machine. He is on pace to set the MLB record for doubles in his first full season.

Outfield

Starters:

Mike Trout

Mike Trout
Mike Trout

Good or Bad: Good

Trout is the best all around player in baseball and he is only 21. Trout is leading AL outfielders in AVG, hits, Runs, OBP, and WAR. Although Trout started the season slowly, batting .261 in April, he has exploded since April and returned to his great stats and play. Currently there is no better outfielder in baseball so this was an easy choice

Adam Jones

Adam Jones
Adam Jones

Good or Bad: Good

The All-Star outfielder is having another good season for the Baltimore Orioles. Jones is one of the best power hitting outfielders in the American League. Jones is ranked top five in the AL in H, R, RBI, HR, and SLG. Along with his great power, Jones is fast which enables him to steal bases, 9, and play a great centerfield for Baltimore. This was a solid selection by the committee.

Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista

Good or Bad: Good

Although Bautista is not having his best season of his career, he is one of the best power hitters in the league. Although he does not have a great batting average, .261, he is top three in runs, home runs, slugging, on base percentage, and WAR. After Bautista, the AL outfielder position is weak so the Bautista decision is validated.

Reserve:

Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz

Good or Bad: Good

Although Nelson is not a great defensive player nor a great average hitter, .275, he is a great power hitter, who can drive in a lot of runs. Besides for having the third best OPS, he has the most home runs and RBI in the AL as well as the second highest slugging. Cruz was deserving of an All-Star reserve spot.

Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter
Torii Hunter

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava
Daniel Nava

Although Torii Hunter is an all-time defensive player and a solid offensive player, he did not deserve to go to New York for the All-Star game. Although Hunter started the season hot, .370 AVG, his average significantly dipped to .309. Nava is an underrated player, who put up great stats for the Red Sox during the first half of the season. Nava has more HR, RBI, Runs, and a higher OPS, SLG, OPB, and WAR than Torii Hunter. As the stats depict, Nava has been a better player, during the first half of the season, than Torii Hunter.

Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon
Alex Gordon

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury

Although Gordon is a good baseball player, I believe that Jacoby Ellsbury is a better player and a better fit for the All-Star team. Gordon is a really good player, Gold Glove winner and accumulating .293/9HR/46RBI. Although Ellsbury does not have great power, he is a very good player because of his speed. Ellsbury is leading the league in steals, 36, while batting .301 and scored 55 runs. Ellsbury has a better WAR than Gordon, 3.1 vs 2.5. Although Ellsbury is not a slam dunk pick, I believe Gordon should have been replaced by Ellsbury.

Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist
Ben Zobrist

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria
Evan Longoria

This was the worst All-Star selection by far. Although Zobrist is a nice player, he is not deserving of an All-Star appearance. Zobrist has the 49th highest WAR in the American League, behind Brian Dozier, Aaron Hicks, and Eric Sogard. Zobrist’s stats are not impressive, .262/5HR/45RBI/45R. Longoria should have been on this All-Star team. Longoria is tied for the 9th highest WAR in the AL. Longoria plays great defense as well as a great offense player. Evan hit .289/17HR/49RBI/53R. Longoria should easily have been on this team.

Pitchers

Starting Pitchers:

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz
Clay Buchholz

Good or Bad: Good

Although Clay has only pitched 84.1 innings and 12 games, he has been extremely effective. Although he has not pitched enough innings for his ERA to count, Clay has a 1.71 ERA and has not lost, 9-0. He will probably not be able to pitch in the game because of his back injury. However if he can pitch, he will definitely be deserving of this honor.

Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon
Bartolo Colon

Good or Bad: Good

Bartolo Colon has been extremely effective for the Oakland A’s this season. Colon has a 2.78 ERA, 11 wins, 3.1 WAR, and 1.10 WHIP. Although Colon is not a strikeout pitcher, Colon has used his great stuff and movement to get out batters. A’s should be thankful for Colon’s first half production because he will not be able to replicate his performance.

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish

Good or Bad: Good

Darvish is one of the most dominant pitchers in the league based upon his strikeout totals. Darvish is leading the AL in strikeouts by 18 batters. Darvish is having a great season for the Texas Rangers, 3.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 3.2 WAR. Darvish has some of the best stuff in the league, which enables him to dominate hitters and be worthy of an All-Star appearance.

Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez
Felix Hernandez

Good or Bad: Good

Although Hernandez has been one of the best pitchers in the AL, he may not be having the best first half on his own team. Hernandez is tied for third in WAR, 3.8, eighth highest WHIP, 1.11, and the second lowest ERA, 2.69. Hernandez is fourth in strikeouts because of his dynamic fastball, curveball, and slider combination

Hisashi Iwakuma

Hisashi Iwakuma
Hisashi Iwakuma

Good or Bad: Good

Similar to Colon, Hisashi is not a strikeout pitcher, but he can be extremely effective. Iwakuma is leading the league in ERA and WHIP, while having the third best WAR. Hisashi is an experienced pitcher who causes hitters to make mistakes and swing at balls.

Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson
Justin Masterson

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda
Hiroki Kuroda

Although Masterson is a quality pitcher, he should not be on this All-Star squad. Neither Masterson’s ERA nor WHIP is impressive enough to be on the All-Star team. Masterson’s ERA is 3.78 while is WHIP is 1.22. Although Masterson has the third most strikeouts in the league, he has seven losses and is 19th among pitchers in WAR. Although Kuroda does not have the strikeout totals, Kuroda knows how to get out major league hitters. Kuroda is top eight in ERA, WHIP, GS, and WAR. He is much more deserving of the All-Star bid than Masterson.

Chris Sale

Chris Sale
Chris Sale

Good or Bad: Good

Sale should be the starting pitcher for the AL in the All-Star game. Although Sale only has 5 wins,  he is top five in strikeout, WAR, WHIP, and ERA. Sale has been one of the most dominant pitchers because of his arm angle, fastball, and curveball. He has been the best pitcher in the AL this season and should be rewarded by starting the All-Star game.

Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer

Good or Bad: Good

Although Max does not have a great ERA, 3.02, he is off to a historic start because of his 13 wins and zero losses. Scherzer is a strikeout pitcher and his stats back up that notation. Max is second in both WHIP and strikeouts, which shows how dominant a pitcher he can be. Max is definitely worthy of this All-Star selection.

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Derek Holland

Derek Holland
Derek Holland

Although Verlander has been the best pitcher over the last few years, he is not deserving of being on this roster. Verlander’s ERA, WHIP, and WAR are not impressive, ranked 15th, 29th, and 14th respectively. Verlander is not even top 5 in strikeouts, which is his specialty. Holland should be playing in the All-Star game. Holland has a better WHIP, ERA, and WAR than Verlander. Holland should be pitching in this All-Star game.

Relief Pitches:

Brett Cecil

Brett Cecil
Brett Cecil

Good or Bad: Good

The AL will need a lefty specialist to strikeout some of the dangerous lefty hitters. Cecil is having a dominant season, 0.87 WHIP, 1.81 ERA, 52 K, and 44.2 innings. Cecil has five holds and has been one of the best middle relievers in the AL. He will be a very important part of AL roster.

Jesse Crain

Jesse Crain
Jesse Crain

Good or Bad: Bad

Replacement: Greg Holland

Greg Holland
Greg Holland

Although Crain is having a great season, the relievers on the All-Star team should be closers. Between Crain and Cecil, I believe that Cecil should be selected for the team. There are closers that have similar numbers to Crain, but they pitch in more pressure situations. Pus Crain is presently on the DL. Greg Holland is having a great season for the Royals. Since he can be the Royals All-Star representative, a spot would open for a more deserving candidate than Salvador Perez. Holland is a deserving pitcher because of his 0.94 WHIP and 1.91 ERA. Holland is 20 for 22 and has a hold. However, the best stat is his strikeout numbers. Holland has struck out 56 batters in 33 innings, 15.3 strikeouts per 9 innings, which is ridiculous.

Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan
Joe Nathan

Good or Bad: Good

Nathan is tied for second in the AL in saves with Mariano Rivera. Nathan is having the best season of any reliever in MLB. Nathan has a WHIP of 0.78 and an ERA of 1.40. Nathan has blown only one save in 30 opportunities. Nathan should be the eighth inning man because of the great first half he had.

Glen Perkins

Glen Perkins
Glen Perkins

Good or Bad: Good

Perkins is one of the few bright spots on the Minnesota Twins. Perkins is having a really good season, 20 saves, 0.77 WHIP, and 1.93 ERA. Even though the Twins rarely have a lead, they almost always win if they have a lead going into the ninth. Perkins is a deserving candidate to pitch at the Mid Summer Classic.

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Riviera
Mariano Rivera

Good or Bad: Good

The greatest reliever of all time and possibly the greatest pitcher ever should enjoy his last All-Star appearance. He is having a great season, 29 saves, 1.89 ERA, and 1.29 WHIP. He is the most reliable and consistent reliever of all time, especially during the most pressure filled situations. Leyland should be calling on him if the AL has a one run lead in the ninth.

 

Stats and pics from espn.com