Auckland is one of the Major League Baseball teams, who are not afraid to make their own way. (Getty Images)
In this part of the preview we’ll talk about teams that are different from the rest of the Major League Baseball teams. These teams go their own way, which sometimes leads to the other side of the latest trends of the league, and sometimes it’s these franchises that set new trends. The main reason for this is more modest budgets than their main rivals, and therefore not be like everyone else – their only chance to succeed.
If for some reason you missed our previous previews, you can read the links: To Find a Way, Trust The Process. Part I, Trust The Process. Part II.
Last season: 69-93
The forecast of analytical systems for the season: 79-83
Manager: Bob Melvin
Key performers: Sonny Gray, Sean Manaya, Marcus Simien, Chris Davis, Jarrell Cotton.
The Best Prospects: Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto, Fransellis Montas, AJ Park.
Oakland Athletics under the strict guidance of Billy Bina still go their own way, paying no attention to anyone. Last year, Athletics failed to reach even 70 wins, which forced management to make a mini-sale. As a result, pitcher Jarrell Cotton came to the team, which already this season should become one of the most important pitchers of the starting rotation of Oakland.
It is on Cotton that Billy Bina’s great hopes are borne, and these hopes are confirmed by reports of scouts who believe that he has a chance to become a strong starter in Major League Baseball, and, as you know, strong starters are the backbone of any successful team. For five starts in September last year Cotton worked 29 1/3 of the inning with an ERA of 2.15 points. This guy is certainly not that good, but pitchers with plague changjapas are often very underrated until it suddenly continues to work in Major League Baseball
Jennal Cotton will be one of Oakland’s most interesting players this season. (Getty Images)
It is the starting rotation should be the main shock force of Auckland. In it are people who do not stand out among the other pitchers of the league, do not set statistical records and do not even approach them. But they do one thing – give the team quality innings, and that’s all that matters.
If Cotton is the hottest pitcher in scouting reports, then Shona Manayu is a little bit forgotten, and it’s this player who has recently been on the list of elite prospectuses and is gradually beginning to realize its potential. In order for Athletic to at least dream of reaching the playoffs, Sonny Gray must return his form before last season, when he was one of the best pitchers in AL. But the injury even before the start of the season – not the best start for Gray and Oakland.
The former clowner San Francisco Giants Santiago Casilla has been added to the bullpen, which will supplement the list of ex-clusers in the composition of Athletics, which includes as many as four players. In fact, all these pitchers are “shot down pilots”, which the other teams refused. Billy Bean continues to use his tactics to select such characters, let it already and does not work as effectively as before.
Thanks to the movie “Maniboll”, the fact that Billy Beane picks up players in the attack is mostly widespread, looking at their percentage of hits on the base. But the truth is that in the current composition of Auckland there are absolutely no players with a high on-base percentage. Moreover, most of them, moreover, are not strong defenders, which completely contradicts the current tendencies in the selection of players for the team.
A striking example is the centerfinder Raja Davis, who last season was one of the heroes of Cleveland Indians in the playoffs. The hit on the base of this player is barely over 30%, which is a weak figure by the standards of Major League Baseball, but nevertheless Bob Melvin in recent interviews pointed out that Davis will not only play at the start, but also beat off first in the lineup of Athletic.
Raja Davis is not exactly a typical player for Athletic. (Getty Images)
Finding Marcus Simien at the shortstop position, where his level of protection does not quite meet the standards of this position, the signing of Chris Davis, Trevor Pluff, and Matt Joyce suggest that Athletics more than other teams begin to appreciate the power of the bat, ignoring the traditional values of this The franchise in the form of a percentage hit on the base and protection. Billy Bina’s strategy, to be honest, is not entirely clear: whether he is trying to go the other side from the whole of Major League Baseball and again to be smarter than everyone else, or he is simply holding the most secretive tank in history. Here, as it were, do not outwit yourself …
In general, Auckland is a team without stars, but due to the depth of the composition it can very smoothly pass the season and even take advantage of the problems of its competitors. But at the moment they simply have too few really strong players to really qualify for the playoffs in the growing division of AL West. This season should give more answers to the team management strategy, because at the moment it is completely incomprehensible, and it’s good if Billy Bin himself knows in which direction he wants to lead Oakland.
Forecast: 72-90. Fifth place in the AL West.
Tampa Bay Reise
Last season: 68-94
The forecast of analytical systems for the season: 83-79
Manager: Kevin Cash
Key performers: Kevin Kiermayer, Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Brad Miller.
The best prospectuses: Jose De Leon, Blake Snell, Brent Honiwell, Willie Adams, Jake Bowers
Like Oakland, Tampa Bay is a team with a very small budget, as well as a franchise that was at the forefront of the movement of advanced baseball analytics. But unlike their sabermetrick brothers, Reise remains true to his strategy and this can bring results this year.
Tampa’s strategy is extremely clear, understandable and cyclical: received a pitcher, brought up a pitcher, sold a pitcher. They do not forget to use these players for the benefit of the franchise, usually during the contract period of the newcomer and subsequent cheap stages of arbitration. It is by the force of the starting rotation that the strength of Tampa is usually measured.
Here it is worth to tell a few words about the new trends of Major League Baseball, which are set by Rais at the moment. It’s about the so-called “rising” fastballs. These are fastballs, which the pitcher tries to throw over the strike zone, but they have a non-decreasing trajectory, as is usually the case, but on the contrary even slightly rise up due to the high frequency of the ball’s rotation around its axis.
This helps the pitchers to do strike cards, directing the ball over the beat, or to produce weak fly-outs and pop-ups, which is almost the same as statistics for statistics. If you combine this with another Tampa chip – changjapam, which are responsible for weak contact and groundballs, then it is not difficult to understand why this organization is so successful in working with pitchers.
After the recovery of Alex Cobb and getting in the trade with the Dodgers Jose De Leon, Tampa’s rotation this season should be very deep and talented. Even too deep, because the place in it from the beginning of the season probably will not even find the above De Leon, as well as Jacob Faria. It is the choice of De Leon as compensation in exchange with the Dodgers is extremely logical, because this pitcher has a high RPM per minute for his fastball, and also one of the best changjapov among all prospectuses.
Jose De Leon was created to become a player of Tampa Bay. (Getty Images)
In this regard, from Rais it is expected to exchange Cobb, and possibly Jake Odorizzi, if they get an offer that suits them. Prior to the series of injuries, Alex Cobb was on the list of the best young starters, but for a couple of years outside the game he lost most of his value, and Tampa clearly wants him to show his previous level and health before exchanging Cobb, who after this season The contract also ends.
This team could even claim to hit the playoffs, but injuries began to mow Tampa even before the start of the championship. The start of the season will be missed by Matt Duffy, Colby Rasmus and Wilson Ramos, with the particularly painful loss of Duffy, who was to become one of the main producers of wounds in the Raze slug lineup, and also cover the shortstop position until the appearance of Willie Adams. Wilson Ramos will be replaced by the recently signed Derek Norris, who has a good framing metric, but the failed last season on the bat casts doubt on his overall usefulness.
Tampa’s main problem will be the absence of a person with a good contact skill, because if Power Raise can still be found in the bats of Evan Longoria, Stephen Souza, Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller, then there are simply no stable players with a high percentage of beating in this team.
Tampa this season will go just as far as the pitchers drag it. To do this, the management of Reise created all the conditions in the form of deep rotation, a solid bullpen, as well as strong protection and framing of Derek Norris.
Injuries to the main betters raise doubts about Tampa’s ability to cling to a post-season ticket, but Reese has a bright future in the form of an abundance of young talent in various positions where the prospectus Jake Bowers and Willie Adams should close the two most problematic positions not only on Field, but also add a line of hitting the acutely needed contact skill by the next season.
Forecast: 78-84. The fourth place in the division of AL East.
Last season: 89-73
Forecast of analytical systems for the season: 81-81
Manager: Buck Schowalther
Key performers: Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Kevin Gozman, Zach Britton
Best Prospects: Chance Sisko, Corey Sadlock, Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle
The Orioles last year created a real baseball miracle, having managed to reach the playoffs. The rotation of the team was horrifying, and defense in the outfielder was missing, but in this team was Buck Schowalther, who is a real magician of the coaching department. Do not be misled by Buck’s jamb with not using the clowner Zach Britton in the last season’s wild card game, because one mistake, even if serious, can not cross out all the positive influence of this manager on the franchise of Orioles. It is in Schowalther that the main feature of the present Baltimore is.
The success of Baltimore is largely due to their manager. (Getty Images)
This coach is one of the best tactics in Major League Baseball, who skillfully uses a wide variety of matches for the good of the team and his players, putting them in a position where they can show their best game. He subtly feels the moment when he needs to remove his starter and release the revere, without losing all chances to win until this moment.
It was in the starters that the main trouble of last year’s Orioles was covered. Of the teams that went into the playoffs, only the Texas Rangers had less overall utility last year than Baltimore’s rotation players. The management team did some work in the offseason, adding depth to it in the form of Logan Verret and Vidal Nunyo. But the main hopes of the Orioles are Kevin Gozman and Dylan Bundy, from which the outcome of the season for Baltimore will largely depend.
At this point, it’s worthwhile to dwell a little to understand why the Major League Baseball team has been forced to rely on the permanently unreliable Ubaldo Khimenez for the fourth consecutive season as one of the key members of the rotation. Over the past ten years, the Orioles have been selected six times in the first round of the pitcher. Of these, in the rotation of the team at the moment there are only two – the aforementioned Gozman and Bundy, who also do not justify all the advances they have given for one reason or another.
Baltimore is extremely weak in the development of pitchers, and even weaker in the preservation of their health. An example is Dylan Bundy, who was simply brilliant during his first season as a professional, going through all the levels of the lower leagues and making his debut on the main team at the age of 19, having played two games for the Orioles without missed wounds.
The next three years he did not get out of the infirmary, and only last season he was able to return to Major League Baseball as a revere, and then go back to the starting rotation, again not from the good life of Baltimore. The same can be said for another choice in the first round of the Orioles – Hunter Harvey, who has already suffered three operations on the throwing hand.
Another feature of Baltimore, apart from their manager and fantastic ability to break their own young players, is an extreme love of power in all its manifestations. Before the off-season, team leader Adam Jones asked management to strengthen the defense in the outfielder, which would ideally allow him to leave the position of centerfielder in one of the corners of the field, and also it should help the pitchers of the team.
Management responded by adding to the team a powerful bat, but weak in defending Set Smith, returning Mark Trumbo and transferring Pedro Alvarez to the outfield. As a result, at the moment there are not a single player in the Orioles who would be judged favorably in the outfielder. And even despite the beautiful and impressive ketchi on the Baseball Classic, Adam Jones has been degrading in this regard for the second consecutive season.
Adam Jones will once again have to hover above the grass of the outfield, mopping up the flaws of his teammates. (Getty Images)
If you finish on the negative, then Baltimore still has Manny Machado, who will continue to play at the level of the MVP contender, as well as this team is able to lead in Major League Base on home runs and general attack indicators. Bullpen Orioles has four extremely strong performers led by Zach Britton, which will help them level out the inadequate quality of the starting rotation.
All this allows the team under the leadership of Buck Schowalther to dream of another exit to the playoffs, but it is unlikely that Baltimore this season should expect the luck that they had a year ago. Orioles is a team from which you can definitely expect a season in the region of 50% of victories, and maybe more, if you believe that Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gozman will take a step forward in their development.
But the gradual regression of Adam Jones, not so phenomenal season from Mark Trumbo, as well as not the most balanced line-up, may well throw this team to the last place of the habitually strong division. And the trauma of any of the major pitchers can finally erase Baltimore’s hopes for a successful season.
Forecast: 77-85. Fifth place in the division of AL East.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last season: 86-76
The forecast of analytical systems for the season: 84-78
Manager: Mike Matheny
Key performers: Yadie Molina, Carlos Martinez, Alemis Diaz, Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler.
The best prospectuses: Alex Reyes, Sandy Alcantara, Carson Kelly, Dalvin Perez, Luke Weaver.
The St. Louis Cardinals continue to stamp victorious seasons in their favorite manner. From nowhere in the last season, shot Aledmis Diaz and Jeremy Hazelbaker, which helped the team win 86 wins in an extremely strong division. It remains only to guess which of the set of not the most promising players of the AAA Cardinals team will shoot this year. Maybe it will be a player with a name that would be envied by any Dutch football player – Paul DeYong?
But this year a new star of St. Louis may appear more among the pitchers. Do you remember last season and what preceded the ascent of Aledmis Diaz? It was a trauma to Johnny Peralta. This time before the season broke Alex Reyes, who is considered an extremely talented young pitcher, who is currently the top 5 prospect in baseball in many authoritative publications.
Last season, Alemis Diaz became another graduate of the St. Louis Factory of Unusual Talents. (Getty Images)
Reyes Injury is a big blow for the Cardinals, who expected him to replace the aging Adam Wainwright as one of the rotational eights after a while, as well as for any baseball fan (the fans of the Cubs and Pirates do not count), who probably wanted to admire Playing a young fire thrower throughout the season.
Instead of Reyes, for sure his chance will get another avenue – Luke Weaver, which can just be a new star of the rotation of St. Louis.
If we talk about the rest of the rotation, the aging of Adam Weinwright should more than offset the return of Lance Linn, as well as the further progress of Carlos Martinez, who this year can come close to the status of the top 10 pitcher in baseball. Last season, he experienced problems with left-handed betters, but the new changjap he demonstrated on the Classic was just phenomenal and this could be the starting point to Martinez’s superstar status.
Otherwise, the Cardinals remain a very smooth team, which does not have any explicit superstars, but enough players with a stellar or about that status. Theft of Dexter Fowler from his main rivals in the division from Chicago Cubs will allow them not only to finally close the centerfield with a quality player and add the leader-off of the hitter, so necessary to the team, but also to avenge the Cubs for signing Jason Hayward. Trifle, but nice …
In his truly boringly victorious style, St. Louis will once again have a positive record of victories and defeats in the 2017 season, but the main question is whether the current composition will not only be enough to topple the Chicago Cubs from the throne, but even to combat Young and hungry pirates from Pittsburgh. We’re talking about the Cardinals, so there’s always a chance, but in this season the answer is likely to be negative.
Forecast: 84-78. Third place in the NL Center.
Last season: 78-83
Forecast of analytical systems for the season: 82-80
Manager: Clint Hurdle
Key performers: Sterling Marthe, Gregory Polanco, Jerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen, Jameson Taylon.
The best prospectuses: Tyler Glasnou, Austin Meadows, Mitch Keller, Kevin Newman, Will Craig.
Another team whose success strategies are somewhat different from the rest of the teams are Pittsburgh Pirates. Like the Orioles, the Pirates are strong in their coaching staff, where Clint Hurdle and pitcher trainer Ray Sirejd sometimes do wonders, turning decommissioned players into strong pitchers. Over the past seasons, such transformations have occurred with Francisco Liriano, AJ Jayp Happ and Ivan Nova.
Ivan Nova is the product of another magical manipulation of Ray Siraj. (Getty Images)
Of these, only Nova remained in the team, which will complement the young and extremely talented rotation led by Jerry Cole and Jameson Taylon. The failures of Pittsburgh last season were largely due to the lack of depth of pitching, where injuries coincided with the unwillingness of the young to pick up the fallen banner. But the young relievers Pirates for a year grew up and got stronger, which is bad news for their rivals in the division.
Successfully debuted Taylon, who previously missed two full seasons after Tommy John surgery. Last season, he played 18 games in the start and 104 inning, for which his ERA score was a delightful 3.38 points, and the sabermetric statistics confirmed a similar level of the game of Jameson. Do not underestimate another young pitcher – Chad Kühl, who has everything to become the new Mike Lick. Such pitchers never arouse the admiration of scouts and fans, but they give the team quality innings and stability on the pitcher’s hill.
Another special project of Ray Siraja should be Drew Hutchison, who, it would seem, has been playing for the whole eternity in Major League Baseball, but he is only 26 years old. Great hopes are associated with Tyler Glasnou, who has a fantastic arsenal, but for the time being he can not always keep it under control. The slightest decrease in the number of woks from Glasnou will automatically make him one of the best young starters for Major League Baseball, because his fastball-combination is one of the most lethal in baseball.
Finally, the right changes have taken place in the outfielder, where Starling Martha and Andrew McCutchen will switch places. Marta had been the best defender in the team for several years, but McCutchen’s authority did not allow him to make the castling necessary in terms of effectiveness. Unsuccessful last season, Katcha and the team as a whole helped to sober up the management as well as Andrew himself, which ultimately led to positive changes. McCutchen himself intends to prove that the past unsuccessful season was only an accident, and also Pirates have mega talented Austin Meadows, whose presence makes the exchange of Katcha only a matter of time.
Andrew McCutchen still should benefit Pittsburgh before his departure from the team. (Getty Images)
But in a barrel of honey can not be without a spoonful of tar, and this time the tar was Korean. Infilater Pirates Jang Ho Kang can break away like no other, and after the drone likes to ride with a breeze through the streets of Korean megacities in not the most adequate state. This behavior of Kang led to problems with the law in his homeland and denial of a visa to the US, which jeopardizes his participation in the season. Fortunately, Pittsburgh has a lot of substitutions for this player, albeit not quite the same.
Strong pitching, strong defense in the outfielder, a balanced composition and versatility of many players makes Pittsburgh a serious contender even for the Chicago Cubs. The only weakness Pirates can be considered as a bullpen, where it is possible to strengthen before the deadline in case of a successful Pittsburgh performance in the first half of the season. But the current composition of the team causes optimism and objective expectations in the form of getting into the playoffs from a place to a wildcard.
Forecast: 87-75. Second place in the NL Center and getting into the playoffs.