Here we are again. We’re almost halfway through our preseason power rankings. This time around, as it turns out, we’ve got 80 percent of the AL West to discuss. If there’s one thing all five of the following have in common, it’s that I don’t quite know where to place them.
20. Oakland Athletics
A healthy Josh Reddick giving us a glimpse of his 2012 self? That’s what we saw last season, just that this version of Reddick get on base more. If that continues, great. Even if he just stays healthy again, that should prove fruitful for the Athletics.
Elsewhere in the outfield, Billy Burns had an excellent rookie season and Oakland acquired Khris Davis to man left field. His positioning is fine but he boasts a noodle arm. Offensively he should hit plenty of dingers, get on base at a less-than-ideal rate, and strike out a lot. Still, he’s alright.
The Athletics would do well to see longtime Royal Billy Butler have a bounce-back season after a disappointing 2014, but their pitching needs to be better than it looks on paper for most of this to matter. Sonny Gray is an indisputable ace; Jesse Hahn was solid in just under 100 innings last year; but after that?
19. Seattle Mariners
They will ride FA�lix HernA?ndez until they no longer can. They will ride Nelson Cruz until they no longer can. And they desperately need Robinson CanA? to have a bounce-back season after a rough year both on and off the field. Strictly from a financial point of view, that contract will continue to get uglier with each passing year.
What can we expect from Hisashi Iwakuma, whose deal with the Dodgers fell through over medical issues? Wade Miley is average at best, and he wasn’t very good at all last season. Not to mention, Taijuan Walker has a ways to go until he’s the pitcher many believe he is capable of being. Like the majority of these rotations, there are many question marks.
Overall, there’s a solid lineup in Seattle. But coupled with their starting pitching, I don’t think it’s special enough to crack the playoff picture.
18. Minnesota Twins
Twins fans, Joe Mauer is not catching anymore. Most of you understand this. For those that don’t, use this as a trusty guide.
Elsewhere, the Twins are well-stocked on young, potentially very good talent already in the majors in Byron Buxton (22), Miguel Sano (22), and Oswaldo Arcia (24). Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe should provide the power while Korean Byung Ho Park finds his footing. He hit 30 home runs or more in his final four seasons with the Korean Baseball Organization, hitting 50 or more in his final two years. There’s always the question of how that will translate to the majors, though.
Then of course, the starting rotation. Phil Hughes had a rough season after a wonderful 2014; Kyle Gibson showed flashesa��but fans can be optimistic if his elevated strikeout rate near the end of last season spills into 2016. Ervin Santana cheated, got caught, and got suspended, so he’ll be out to prove himself, but will that matter?
Minnesota’s rotation was middle of the league in ERA last season, in the bottom half in earned runs allowed, third-last in batting average against, and dead last in strikeouts. That’s a lot to fix.
17. Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout is phenomenal; Kole Calhoun was very productive in terms of power last season; Daniel Nava is a big question mark. From 2010 through 2014 with the Red Sox, Nava was an on-base machine, reaching at a clip of .346 or higher each year. But he slashed just .194/.315/.245 last season.
Meanwhile, Yunel Escobar continued his consistency at the plate; the Angels traded for a defensive wizard in shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but will his bat ever come around? Lastly on the offensive side, Albert Pujols hit 40 home runs in 2015. If he hits 30 or more again in 2016, I’d imagine they’d take that.
Rotation-wise, C.J. Wilson has injury issues; Jered Weaver has injury issues; Tyler Skaggs should be returning shortly after the regular season starts from injury issues. Currently, that leaves the Angels with Garrett Richards, second-year pro Andrew Heaney, and handful of mediocrity. It’s difficult to be too optimistic about this team right now, but if everyone gets healthy, there’s promise.
16. Texas Rangers
Remember when the Rangers won the AL West? Crazy, right? Well if Yu Darvish can actually stay healthy, there’s hardly a better one-two punch than Cole Hamels and himself. It gets a little dicey after that. Colby Lewis is durable but overwhelmingly ineffective. Can Derek Holland last more than a few innings before being shut down? And, MartA�n PA�rez has struggled since coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Offensively, Prince Fielder hit like the man we became accustomed to seeing after an injury-plagued 2014. Mitch Moreland provided plenty of pop; Shin-Soo Choo also bounced back from a rough 2014; and somehow, some way, 36-year-old AdriA?n BeltrA� continues to find ways to producea��though his power has drastically regressed the past two seasons.
I’m done expecting much out of Elvis Andrus and I hope Rougned Odor can make good on his promise, but there are two promising bats in Joey Gallo and outfielder Nomar Mazara waiting in the minor leagues.
Speaking of the outfield, Ian Desmond in left? Sure, why not? I wonder if he’s kicking himself for not taking Washington’s qualifying offer. Now instead of making $15.8 million for one season, he’ll be making $8 million. Plus, I can’t see the Nationals completely collapsing again like they did last season.