15. Washington Nationals – The Nationals are a better team than they showed for much of the season, but don’t buy into the way they played in September, which featured a lot of games against their terrible division.
I’d argue Randy Williams went through stretches like that because he wasn’t very good, but Jim is certainly right that Ohman is actually the fourth-most effective reliever against lefties in the team’s bullpen. His lone job likely will be solely to retire left-handers, and those situations likely will be earlier in games (like, the sixth inning).
Snodgress is a 23-year old with a high upside. A 5th Round pick in 2011 out of Stanford, he too is off to a 4-1 start for the Barons and is ranked by Baseball America as the top lefty in the sale jerseys organization, second best pitching prospect behind Erik Johnson, a second rounder in the same draft. He is also 23 and is off to a 2-1 start with a 1.44 ERA in five games.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks looked like a playoff team until the second half of the season. They need to improve that starting rotation to be a true contender.
Assuming Beckham avoids that whole April-June thing that happened last year, he’s an ideal No. 2 hitter. He has plus on-base skills and good power-exactly why he should hit second. Hopefully, he won’t have the bat taken out of his hands too often to bunt-after all, isn’t one of Pierre’s greatest assets his base-stealing ability? If Beckham is allowed to swing away, the Sox lineup will have a lot more success.
American League Cy Young Award – Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox. I may have been one year too early in predicting John Lester would win this award last year. Then again, if Lester hadn’t gotten off to such a bad start last year (1-2, 4.71 ERA in April), his stats would’ve looked even better than his impressive final stat line of 19-9, 3.20 ERA. If Lester can get off to a fast start for a change (4.58 career ERA in April), anywhere between 20-23 wins is a possibility considering the revamped Red Sox lineup, the speedy outfield, and the improved (at least on paper) bullpen.
So, two things to watch for with Owens this spring: if he’s able to hit the ball with authority and if he’s able to be patient and get on base a lot. If he can’t do those two things, he still may win the starting centerfield job, but he won’t be any kind of a long-term solution.
Most run production will come from the 1-5 spots in the lineup. Sure, Juan Pierre could have better on-base skills, but for the team’s roster, he’s the ideal leadoff hitter. If Pierre can replicate his .341 OBP from 2010, he’ll at least be acceptable.