*This column was originally published on The Sports Fan Journal.
The sport that never sleeps is finally inching towards actual games, which means before we know it, the same faces will be sporting new baseball uniforms in new places. Spring training is underway in both Arizona and Florida, two of a handful of states that haven’t frozen over, with a wide amount of shakeup between the American and National League from last year. Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Jon Lester will be now be making fools of batters in the already pitching-heavy National League. Over in the American League, Adam LaRoche, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval will look to launch balls in their new hitter-dominating league.
Between the two leagues, there is no clear-cut winner of who changed the most in a positive way. Only time will tell as a sleeper team such as the rectified San Diego Padres could be this year’s Kansas City Royals. Even without an early winner of the two leagues, there were certainly plenty of change between the two with a bevy of key offseason additions.
Key Addition Notes
- Only offseason trades and free agent signings count
- Stats are for the 2014 season or last season played
- A player re-signing with his team does not count
- A player coming back from injury does not count
- A player’s contract does not matter
- A player’s long-term projection does not matter
Key Additions (5): Jed Lowrie, Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis, Luis Valbuena, Luke Gregerson
- Lowrie: .249/.321/.355 6 HR, 93 OPS+, 0.8 bWAR
- Rasmus: .225/.287/.448 18 HR, 104 OPS+, 0.9 bWAR
- Gattis: .263/.317/.493 22 HR, 125 OPS+, 2.2 bWAR
- Valbuena: .249/.341/.435 16 HR, 114 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR
- Gregerson: 5-5, 2.12 ERA, 72 G, 72.1 IP, 1.009 WHIP
The Astros have entered that awkward stage of still being young and a couple years away from truly contending while adding veteran players to halfway compete in the highly competitive AL West. They added power with Gattis (who should destroy the short porch in left-field) and Rasmus. Lowrie is back in Houston where he spent one season with the team in 2012 and saw an increase in power, hitting 16 home runs, compared to only his six long balls last season.
The two mystery acquisitions are Gregerson and Valbuena. In his only season with the Oakland A’s, Gregerson continued his dominance out of the bullpen, giving up only 17 earned runs in 72 innings, but that was not in the role that he is projected to carry with the Astros. With no bonafide closer, Gregerson is the favorite to take over the spot as the everyday closer, but only has 19 saves in his career with just three last season. Valbuena is a different. After a good, but not great season with the Chicago Cubs, Valbuena was pushed out the door with Kris Bryant racing through the minor leagues. The job is his to lose right now after Matt Dominguez had one of the worst seasons in baseball last year, but Dominguez is a former first-round pick with power potential at only 24 years old.
Houston’s offseason additions keep them in that awkward stage and show that they are moving towards a mindset of contending sooner rather than later.
Los Angeles Angels
Key Additions (3): Matt Joyce, Josh Rutledge, Andrew Heaney
- Joyce: .254/.349/.383 9 HR, 111 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR
- Rutledge: .269/.323/.405 4 HR, 92 OPS+, -0.7 bWAR
- Heaney: 0-3, 5.83 ERA, 7 G, 29.1 IP, 1.330 WHIP
There was no experienced name that will pop on paper for the Angels, yet they still had a solid offseason. I love them getting Andrew Heaney, who should be a serious Rookie of the Year candidate. Don’t be alarmed by his shaky numbers in a short sample size last year. The lanky lefty has top-end stuff with something to prove in 2015. As for Joyce and Rutledge, they are two nice compliments that can play a big role.
Rutledge is slated as the starting second baseman right now, but will be competing with Grant Green and Johnny Giavotella and Joyce should rotate at DH with CJ Cron and now get significant playing time in left-field with Josh Hamilton hurt once again. No, a name like Albert Pujols wasn’t signed this offseason, yet that can play heavily in the Angels’ favor this season.
Key Additions (6): Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien, Ben Zobrist, Ike Davis, Billy Butler, Tyler Clippard
- Lawrie: (70 G) .247/.301/.421 12 HR, 101 OPS+, 1.7 bWAR
- Semien: (64 G) .234/.300/.372 6 HR, 90 OPS+, 0.5 bWAR
- Zobrist: .272/.354/.395 10 HR, 116 OPS+, 5.0 bWAR
- Davis: .235/.343/.378 10 HR, 104 OPS+, -0.4 bWAR
- Butler: .271/.323/.379 9 HR, 95 OPS+, -0.3 bWAR
- Clippard: 7-4, 2.18 ERA, 75 G, 70.1 IP, 0.995 WHIP
What do you know, the A’s look like a whole new team for hundredth year in a row. New year, same story. And yes, they will more than likely still compete even after losing six players from last season’s All-Star Game. The rebuild (or reloading) all starts with Lawrie and Zobrist. Speaking of another oft-injured player, the A’s are hoping that Lawrie can stay away from the DL and put together a full season. Only 25, Lawrie’s 162-game average computes to 20 home runs a season and he’s plenty capable of reaching that number if he can get remotely close to 162 games in this season. Zobrist is the even bigger prize of the offseason. Born to play for a Billy Beane ran team, Zobrist is master of a jack-of-all-trades player that gets on base and plays great baseball. Since becoming an everyday player in 2009, Zobrist has averaged a 6.2 bWAR per season.
Semien brings a young product at shortstop who should be solid defensively with room to improve with his bat while Davis and Butler are two former power hitters looking to regain their ability to hit the ball over the wall, but those days are most likely long gone. Clippard is another exciting piece to this reloading of a playoff team. Since becoming a regular in 2009, he’s posted a 1.030 WHIP, virtually keeping hitters from reaching base and has the ability to close if needed with 32 saves in 2012.
Key Additions (4): Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano, JA Happ
- Cruz: .271/.333/.525 40 HR, 140 OPS+, 4.7 bWAR
- Smith: .266/.367/.440 12 HR, 135 OPS+, 3.9 bWAR
- Ruggiano: (81 G) .281/.337/.429 6 HR, 111 OPS+, -0.4 bWAR
- Happ: 11-11, 4.22 ERA, 30 G, 158 IP, 133 SO, 1.335 WHIP
You have to love the Mariners. After Nelson Cruz turned them down last offseason and then went nuts for 40 home runs with the Baltimore Orioles on a one-year, $8 million contract, they sign him for four years and $57 million, but now I’m breaking my own article rules so that’s beside the point. The real point is, Cruz gives the Mariners huge power from the right side to pair with Robinson Cano and puts them one step closer to making a playoff run.
In Smith and Ruggiano, the Mariners basically got two players that they will convert into one. Last season, Smith hit all 12 of his home runs against right-handed pitchers while hitting .270/.359/.455 and Ruggiano hit .305/.333/.512 against left-handed pitchers, creating one very good hitter when the two are turned into one. With Happ, the Mariners get an experienced lefty to fight for the No. 4 or 5 spot in the rotation that could always help in the bullpen if bumped out of the rotation.
Key Additions (2): Yovani Gallardo, Ross Detwiler
- Gallardo: 8-11, 3.51 ERA, 32 G, 192.1 IP, 146 SO, 1.295 WHIP
- Detwiler: 2-3, 4.00 ERA, 47 G, 63 IP, 39 SO, 1.413 WHIP
The Rangers 2014 season was a disaster of injuries. They should be better with a healthy Prince Fielder and Yu Darvish, and the additions of Gallardo and Detwiler are nice complimentary pieces. Gallardo is not the ace he once was, but he’s still a solid mid-rotation guy that should log at or near 200 innings pitched. After not starting a single game in 2014, Detwiler is slated as the current No. 5 starter. I don’t see it happening. Though he did post a 3.40 ERA when he started 27 games in 2012, Detwiler will most likely bounce between the bullpen and the rotation when need be. These pieces are nice, yet far from bringing the Rangers back to serious contention.
Chicago White Sox
Key Additions (5): Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Emilio Bonifacio, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson
- Cabrera: .301/.351/.458 16 HR, 126 OPS+, 3.1 bWAR
- LaRoche: .259/.362/.455 26 HR, 124 OPS+, 2.2 bWAR
- Bonifacio: .259/.305/.345 26 SB, 81 OPS+, -0.4 bWAR
- Samardzija: 7-13, 2.99 ERA, 33 G, 219.2 IP, 202 SO, 1.065 WHIP
- Robertson: 4-5, 3.08 ERA, 63 G, 64.1 IP, 39 SV, 1.057 WHIP
All hail the offseason of the White Sox! Chicago baseball is back, and the White Sox are looking to win the race of the Windy City. The White Sox hit every facet of speed and power, hitting for average, starting pitching, and dominance in the bullpen.
Each corner was pinpointed and hit the nail on the head. Pairing LaRoche with Jose Abreu for a left-right power-hitting combo at first base and DH creates one of the best back-to-back power options in baseball. Cabrera brings a little bit of everything to the plate with the ability to reach base and average power as long as he stays healthy, and I may be Bonifacio’s biggest fan in baseball. In 2014, Bonifacio played every position besides catcher and first base as baseball’s ultimate utility man and still produced 26 stolen bases. He may not play every day, but he will be an important player this season in Chicago.
The White Sox now have another power combination besides LaRoche and Abreu, and this one is seen on the mound. A 1-2 punch of Chris Sale and now Jeff Samardzija gives the White Sox one of the best lefty-righty combinations on the mound to go with the combo at the plate. Add 39 saves from David Robertson in his first season as a closer and now the White Sox have one of the most well-rounded teams from top to bottom in all of baseball.
Key Additions (2): Brandon Moss, Gavin Floyd
- Moss: .234/.334/.438 25 HR, 119 OPS+, 2.6 bWAR
- Floyd: 2-2, 2.65 ERA, 9 G, 54.1 IP, 45 SO, 1.252 WHIP
The Indians’ biggest wish for 2015 should be seeing the Brandon Moss of the first half and not his hopefully long lost brother of the second half. In the fist half, Moss hit .268/.349/.530 with 21 home runs. The second half was a different story as he only hit .173/.310/.274 and only knocked four balls out of the park. On the pitching side of things, Floyd is a little piece that the Indians hope showed his true side in limited innings last season. He hasn’t produced a full season since 2012, though. Two question marks came to Cleveland with high hopes for 2015.
Key Additions (4): Yoenis Cespedes, Anthony Gose, Alfredo Simon, Shane Greene
- Cespedes: .260/.301/.450 22 HR, 110 OPS+, 1.3 bWAR
- Gose: (94 G) .226/.311/.293 15 SB, 72 OPS+, 0.5 bWAR
- Simon: 15-10, 3.44 ERA, 32 G, 196.1 IP, 127 SO, 1.207 WHIP
- Greene: 5-4, 3.78 ERA, 15 G, 78.2 IP, 81 SO, 1.398 WHIP
After the Royals came out of nowhere to be the top dog of the division in 2014, the Tigers are looking to regain the title even after losing their staff ace. When healthy, which looks like a big if right now, a 3-4-5 of Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes will be lethal. Still, Cespedes barely getting on base 30 percent of the time is a sign pointing in a bad direction. A combination of Gose and Rajai Davis in center-fielder is speed, speed, and some more speed.
After losing Max Scherzer and Drew Smyly, Detroit is replacing the two with Simon and Greene, which may not look as good, but Simon is coming off his best season in his career and Green could easily be a young star or formidable option in the making.
Kansas City Royals
Key Additions (4): Alex Rios, Kendrys Morales, Edinson Volquez, Kris Medlen
- Rios: .280/.311/.398 4 HR, 99 OPS+, 0.6 bWAR
- Morales: (98 G) .218/.274/.338 8 HR, 75 OPS+, -0.3 bWAR
- Volquez: 13-7, 3.04 ERA, 32 G, 192.2 IP, 140 SO, 1.230 WHIP
- Medlen: (2013) 15-12, 3.11 ERA, 32 G, 197 IP, 157 SO, 1.223 WHIP
Two big question marks come to the defending American League champions in Medlen and Morales. After missing all of 2014 for undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, Medlen is looking to be the dominant force he was from 2012-13 with a four-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. Morales only played a little more than half a season last year, never getting his swing back to full force. A full season should see Morales produce at least 20 home runs, which is far from the player Alex Rios is now. Rios has only hit 10 home runs the last two seasons, but still stole 17 bases. Then, there’s Volquez who went from a 5.71 ERA in 2013 down to a 3.04 ERA last season. Ned Yost is praying for last year’s version as Volquez continues his comeback.
Key Additions (2): Torii Hunter, Ervin Santana
- Hunter: .286/.319/.446 17 HR, 111 OPS+, 0.4 bWAR
- Santana: 14-10, 3.95 ERA, 31 G, 196 IP, 179 SO, 1.306 WHIP
Minnesota is another team in flux right now. Looking to get young with veterans like Joe Mauer and adding Torii Hunter for a Kevin Garnett reunion in Minnesota of his own, just makes matters more confusing. However, Hunter can still produce. His OBP is much too low and there are no more Gold Glove awards in his future, but Hunter can still swing the bat and will certainly be a fan favorite.
Santana was solid, but far from great last season. A seasoned veteran on the mound, yet his numbers may be on a downward trend.
Key Additions (1): Travis Snider
- Snider: .264/.338/.438 13 HR, 118 OPS+, 2.1 bWAR
I don’t get the Orioles. And, I don’t get them again this season. For that reason they’ll probably win six World Series in a row and Travis Snider will hit 85 home runs. Really, I have nothing, but the fact that Snider has never hit his potential and very well could be a steal in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
Boston Red Sox
Key Additions (5): Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson
- Ramirez: .283/.369/.448 13 HR, 132 OPS+, 3.5 bWAR
- Sandoval: .279/.324/.415 16 HR, 111 OPS+, 3.0 bWAR
- Porcello: 15-13, 3.43 ERA, 32 G, 204.2 IP, 129 SO, 1.231 WHIP
- Miley: 8-12, 4.34 ERA, 33 G, 201.1 IP, 183 SO, 1.401 WHIP
- Masterson: 7-9, 5.88 ERA, 28 G, 128.2 IP, 116 SO, 1.632 WHIP
Worst, best, worst, (possibly) best. That could easily be the trend of the new-look Red Sox in 2015. Hanley Ramirez is simply one of the best with the bat in baseball and should demolish balls off and over the Green Monster. It’s how he plays ball off the Green Monster that will be the real question. In his first season switching to left field, Ramirez certainly doesn’t have an easy task ahead. Sandoval should also thrive in Fenway’s dimensions and the Round Mound of Pound (my favorite nickname of Sandoval’s) is a huge upgrade at third base from last year.
It’s the three new starting pitchers that are the biggest x-factors in Boston. Porcello should be a viable No. 2 or 3 option, but Miley and Masterson have a lot to prove in 2015.
New York Yankees
Key Additions (4): Didi Gregorius, Garrett Jones, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Miller
- Gregorius: .226/.290/.363 6 HR, 81 OPS+, 1.1 bWAR
- Jones: .246/.309/.411 15 HR, 98 OPS+, -1.1 bWAR
- Eovaldi: 6-14, 4.37 ERA, 33 G, 199.2 IP, 142 SO, 1.332 WHIP
- Miller: 5-5, 2.02 ERA, 73 G, 62.1 IP, 103 SO, 0.802 WHIP
The names may not be huge, yet the Yankees did some good things this offseason. Stepping into a lose-lose situation, Didi Gregorius will play much better defense than ol’ No. 2, but the offense still has a ways to go. Playing every day with more at-bats should play into Gregorius’ favor at the plate, though. With A-Rod winning a Gold Glove in 2015 (this is where you laugh) Garrett Jones should get plenty of at-bats as a DH. But really, even if A-Rod gets his share at the plate, Jones will still see time against right-handed pitching and take advantage of the short porch in right-field.
Eovaldi will hit upper 90s on his fastball consistently, but also give up a league leading amount of hits. His power-pitcher potential is there and if the Yankees can get it out of him, Eovaldi could be a huge pickup. Then, there’s Miller, who’s the biggest offseason prize in pinstripes. Simply put, he was nearly un-hittable last season. No matter how the Yankees use him and Dellin Betances this season, the eighth and ninth inning should be fun for the Yankees.
Tampa Bay Rays
Key Additions (2): Asdrubal Cabrera, John Jaso
- Cabrera: .241/.307/.387 14 HR, 96 OPS+, -0.3 bWAR
- Jaso: .264/.337/.430 9 HR, 117 OPS+, 1.6 bWAR
It was a pretty shrug-your-shoulders type of offseason for the Rays. They lost a lot and didn’t gain much. Cabrera and Jaso are both average players with not too much to offer. On the positive note, the Rays seem to make things work, but maybe that was more of Joe Maddon’s madness than anything else.
Toronto Blue Jays
Key Additions (4): Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak
- Donaldson: .255/.342/.456 29 HR, 126 OPS+, 7.4 bWAR
- Martin: .290/.402/.430 11 HR, 136 OPS+, 5.5 bWAR
- Saunders: (78 G) .273/.341/.450 8 HR, 128 OPS+, 2.4 bWAR
- Smoak: (80 G) .202/.275/.339 7 HR, 77 OPS+, -0.6 bWAR
Oh Canada, you may have finally reached glory once again. For now, Toronto has won on paper, but the future will tell if these key additions can really put the Blue Jays back in the playoffs. Donaldson is one of the best players in baseball with only Mike Trout having a higher bWAR (7.9) as a position player in 2014. Martin is coming home after perhaps his best season of his career with his leadership with a few young Toronto arms such as Marcus Stroman, Daniel Norris, and Aaron Sanchez being just important as his offense. Saunders and Smoak are two more players that never quite hit their potential and whole new country might be just what the doctor ordered.
On paper, the Blue Jays may have the best 1-6 lineup in baseball, but only time will tell if Canada will reign supreme in 2015.
Key Additions (4): Yasmany Tomas, Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster
- Tomas: (2013 Cuban National Series, 65 G) .290/.346/.450 6 HR
- Hellickson: 1-5, 4.52 ERA, 13 G, 63.2 IP, 54 SO, 1.445 WHIP
- De La Rosa: 4-8, 4.43 ERA, 19 G, 101.2 IP, 74 SO, 1.485 WHIP
- Webster: 5-3, 5.03 ERA, 11 G, 59 IP, 36 SO, 1.458 WHIP
It all starts with the power of Cuban star Yasmany Tomas and how he will translate to the MLB and to third base as well. Tomas is supposed to have the most power of all the Cuban stars, but again, you never know. Hellickson, De La Rosa, and Webster all bring young talented arms despite their ERAs being in the high fours to low fives. These moves have potential, which could be huge in a successful way or as busts.
Key Additions (1): Kyle Kendrick
- Kendrick: 10-13, 4.61 ERA, 32 G, 199 IP, 121 SO, 1.362 WHIP
Woohoo! The Rockies added Kyle Kendrick, which had to get Rockies’ fans in a playoff mindset. Ah hell, the spirit in Colorado is pretty damn high anyways (pun intended).
Los Angeles Dodgers
Key Additions (6): Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Brandon Beachy
- Rollins: .243/.323/.394 17 HR, 101 OPS+, 3.9 bWAR
- Kendrick: .293/.347/.397 7 HR, 115 OPS+, 5.4 bWAR
- Grandal: .225/.327/.401 15 HR, 112 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR
- McCarthy: 10-15, 4.05 ERA, 32 G, 200 IP, 175 SO, 1.275 WHIP
- Anderson: 1-3 2.91 ERA, 8 G, 43.1 IP, 29 SO, 1.315 WHIP
- Beachy: (2013) 2-1, 4.50 ERA, 5 G, 30 IP, 23 SO, 1.033 WHIP
Fans of the San Francisco Giants should remember this name: Farhan Zaidi. No, he’s not mentioned above, but Zaidi may have been the best offseason addition as the Dodgers’ new GM. He added veteran presence that can still swing the bat in Rollins and Kendrick, along with an offensive and defensive upgrade plus youth with Grandal behind the plate.
On the mound, the Dodgers are hoping that they can get the McCarthy of the Yankees from last year (7-5, 2.89 ERA) as opposed to the McCarthy of Arizona (3-10, 5.01 ERA) in 2015. Then, there’s the injury mysteries of Brett Anderson and Brandon Beachy. Still, the two add depth, yet the questions will suffice for the whole year until the two stay away from the DL.
San Diego Padres
Key Additions (7): Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, James Shields, Brandon Morrow
- Upton: .270/.342/.491 29 HR, 132 OPS+, 3.3 bWAR
- Myers: .222/.294/.320 6 HR 77 OPS+, -0.9 bWAR
- Kemp: .287/.346/.506 25 HR, 140 OPS+, 1.1 bWAR
- Norris: .270/.361/.403 10 HR, 118 OPS+, 3.0 bWAR
- Middlebrooks: (63 G) .191/.256/.265 2 HR, 48 OPS+, -1.4 bWAR
- Shields: 14-8, 3.21 ERA, 34 G, 227 IP, 180 SO, 1.181 WHIP
- Morrow: 1-3, 5.67 ERA, 13 G, 33.1 IP, 30 SO, 1.650 WHIP
Count that; seven key additions. Yes, there’s a whole new team in San Diego with a whole new outlook. After one of the worst offenses in baseball history last season, the Padres went all offense and no defense for the 2015 season. With the power of Myers, Upton, Kemp, and Norris, with optimistic hopes of Middlebrooks, the Padres may finally see balls go over the fence at Petco Park.
The biggest piece may be Shields to solidify the starting rotation that now runs six deep, though they are all right-handed. Of course, we need any injury x-factor in Morrow who will fight for the No. 5 spot in the rotation as a strikeout king, but also the king of the DL.
San Francisco Giants
Key Additions (2): Nori Aoki, Casey McGehee
- Aoki: .285/.349/.360 17 SB, 98 OPS+, 1.0 bWAR
- McGehee: .287/.355/.357 4 HR, 99 OPS+, 1.1 bWAR
These were classic Brian Sabean moves. Older players who don’t seem to be game changers, yet Sabean will somehow make it work. We talk so much about the genius of the GM on the other side of the Bay Area, yet Sabean is the one who has came away with World Series rings. These moves are far from sexy. These moves could also produce like many other Sabean moves that lack sexiness and give the Giants a chance to further their dynasty.
Key Additions (3): Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, Jon Lester
- Fowler: .276/.375/.399 8 HR, 119 OPS+, 1.7 bWAR
- Montero: .243/.329/.370 13 HR, 95 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR
- Lester: 16-11, 2.46 ERA, 32 G, 219.2 IP, 220 SO, 1.102 WHIP
Ok, back to my love of the baseball resurrection in Chicago. To go along with the Cubs’ massive amount of young talent, they added three veterans including one superstar in Jon Lester. The timing was perfect for both the Cubs and Lester. Reuniting with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, Lester will be the staff ace for the Cubs after posting a career-best ERA and WHIP. Lester will be throwing to Montero every fifth day who may not be an All-Star anymore, but is a veteran presence with above-average power behind the dish.
Fowler again brings a veteran presence to a young team, and though his defense is far from admirable, he’s still a threat on the bases with 11 stolen bases last season.
Key Additions (1): Marlon Byrd
- Byrd: .264/.312/.445 25 HR, 110 OPS+, 2.6 bWAR
The Reds can be in for another long season, or health and development can make huge strides from last year. Either way, their offseason wasn’t much to jump around about. However, Marlon Byrd, their only key addition, still has pop in his bat despite his age getting closer to the wrong side of 40.
Milwaukee Brewers (1): Adam Lind
- Lind: (96 G) .321/.381/.479 6 HR, 141 OPS+, 1.9 bWAR
When he played last season, big numbers were seen next to Lind’s name in the score box. He’s another name that is beyond his prime, but still an option to knock the ball out of the park. Though he would be better suited as a DH, Lind should add pop to Milwaukee’s lineup when healthy.
Key Additions (2): Jeong-ho Kang, A.J. Burnett
- Kang: (Korean Baseball Organization) .356/.459/.739 40 HR
- Burnett: 8-18, 4.59 ERA, 34 G, 213.2 IP, 190 SO, 1.409 WHIP
A reunion and an unknown from Korea made for an underrated and fun offseason in Pittsburgh. The Pirates are hoping that Burnett can be the same he was for them in 2013 where he sported a 3.30 ERA compared to who he was last year.
As for the great unknown from Korea, well… we really don’t know. The competition is nowhere near MLB level in Korea and Kang’s numbers were monstrous. Both of those reasons are why he’s such an unknown and so exciting at the same time, making Kang one of the players I can’t wait to see in 2015.
St. Louis Cardinals
Key Additions (2): Jason Heyward, Jordan Walden
- Heyward: .271/.351/.384 11 HR, 108 OPS+, 6.3 bWAR
- Walden: 0-2, 2.88 ERA, 58 G, 50 IP, 62 SO, 1.200 WHIP
Dear Braves, you will miss Jason Heyward. Really, you will. His defensive ability plus all that potential in the world still at only 25 years old, can make for a huge first year as a Cardinal. No, the Cardinals certainly didn’t want to be looking for a new right-fielder (R.I.P. Oscar Taveras). Yes, they got a hell of a new one.
The Cardinals also brought over a former Brave who can be an eighth inning mainstay in St. Louis with that insane windup where he literally jumps towards the batter. Already with a solid core, the Cardinals continued to be a true contender for 2015.
Key Additions (5): Nick Markakis, Jonny Gomes, Shelby Miller, Eric Stults, Jason Grilli
- Markakis: .276/.342/.386 14 HR, 107 OPS+, 2.1 bWAR
- Gomes: .234/.327/.330 6 HR, 87 OPS+, -0.5 bWAR
- Miller: 10-9, 3.74 ERA, 32 G, 183 IP, 127 SO, 1.273 WHIP
- Stults: 8-17, 4.30 ERA, 32 G, 176 IP, 111 SO, 1.375 WHIP
- Grilli: 1-5, 4.00 ERA, 62 G, 12 SV, 54 IP, 57 SO, 1.333 WHIP
Markakis is another star with the glove in right-field for the Braves. No, he’s not as good as Jason Heyward. Yes, he’s still a good option, just not an upgrade. Atlanta’s other new addition to the outfield is Jonny Gomes, who had a down year last season, yet continued to smack the ball against left-handed pitching (.276/.373/.371) in 2014.
For the new starting rotation, Miller is clearly the bigger piece compared to Stults and can be one of the best No. 3 options in baseball. Grilli has one job; get the ball to Craig Kimbrel. He does that, and there’s a good chance the Braves win.
Key Additions (6): Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Ichiro Suzuki, Mat Latos, Dan Haren
- Morse: .279/.336/.475 16 HR, 130 OPS+, 1.0 bWAR
- Gordon: .389/.326/.378 64 SB, 101 OPS+, 2.4 bWAR
- Prado: .282/.321/.412 12 HR, 104 OPS+, 2.1 bWAR
- Suzuki: .284/.324/.340 15 SB, 89 OPS+, 1.0 bWAR
- Latos: 5-5, 3.24 ERA, 16 G, 102.1 IP, 74 SO, 1.153 WHIP
- Haren: 13-11, 4.02 ERA, 32 G, 186 IP, 145 SO, 1.177 ERA
I already chronicled my love for the revamped Miami Marlins, and that was even before they added Prado and Ichiro.
So, on to those two. Prado can play all over the field, though he will be manning the hot corner in Miami, and is still able to spray the ball from the left side and to the right of the field. And, has there ever been a bigger name as a fourth outfielder as the man simply known as Ichiro? No. He can still run and he can still hit and will be able to until his days are done. Ichiro is far from the hit king of the past, but he will be a viable option off the bench and is still a baseball star.
New York Mets
Key Additions (1): MIchael Cuddyer
- Cuddyer: .332/.376/.579 10 HR, 149 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR
Unfortunately, the one key addition for the Mets wasn’t Troy Tulowitzki. Luckily, it was one of the best right-handed bats in baseball. Now, how that translates to Citi Field compared to Coors Field is the big question here. The Mets are as close to contention as they have been in a long time with their young pitching and Cuddyer should be a much-needed bat to make that next step in the Big Apple.
Key Additions (2): Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley
- Harang: 12-12, 3.57 ERA, 33 G, 204.1 IP, 161 SO, 1.400 WHIP
- Billingsley: (2012) 10-9, 3.55 ERA, 25 G, 149.2 IP, 128 SO, 1.2
Oh, the Phillies. When Aaron Harang and a pitcher who hasn’t pitched a whole season since 2012 are your key additions, you’re not exactly looking good for the time being. Harang was a pleasant surprise last season, but don’t expect much more. For Billingsley, don’t expect anything. Actually, for the Phillies, don’t expect anything.
Key Additions (2): Yunel Escobar, Max Scherzer
- Escobar: .258/.324/.340 7 HR, 92 OPS+, -0.2 bWAR
- Scherzer: 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 33 G, 220.1 IP, 252 SO, 1.175 WHIP
If you just read the Phillies description, please revert to the exact opposite for the Nationals. On paper, the Nationals are the clear favorites to win the World Series. Even before adding Max Scherzer to perhaps the best rotation in baseball, the Nationals were already one of the best teams in baseball. Now, they may very well be. In the last three seasons, he has averaged 241 strikeouts while striking out more batters each year. As he enters the National League with the pitcher hitting, that number may continue to rise.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Nationals were already one of the best in the game and Escobar just gives them added depth at second base with Danny Espinosa. As of now, the Nationals are World Series favorites and one giant offseason move was a huge reason for their early praise.