At long last, I’ll be done with this series of posts. And, fittingly, we end it with the Yankees’ division: The American League East. Without question, this is the best division in baseball. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are three of the top teams in either league. The Blue Jays would appear much better if they weren’t in this hellacious division, and I’m sure rebuilding would’ve been easier for the Orioles. Anyway, let’s get to it.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson. Rated the #18 prospect before 2010, Hellickson has put together a great minor league career and had a successful cup of coffee with the big club in 2010. He’ll be a big part of Tampa’s rotation this year and we could have a budding pitching star on our hands. Good luck in your Major League career, dude. I hope you kick ass against everyone else (especially Boston) and suck against the Yankees.
New York Yankees: Brett Gardner. Here’s the long of it and here’s the short of it: I’m cautiously optimistic that Gardner can be close to as productive as he was last year. I’m not saying he’s gonna OBP .380+ again, but I’d be surprised if he falls flat on his face. Triple slash guess? .279/.365/.385.
Boston Red Sox: Clay Buchholz. Clay finally put it together last year, pitching to a 2.33 ERA (!!) thanks to a low homer rate and a solid groundball rate. His strikeout and walk rates weren’t anything stellar, though, and his 3.61 FIP (while still very good) doesn’t look as nice as his ERA. I’m not thinking he’ll blow up and return to 2008 form, but a 2.33 ERA doesn’t seem all that likely from Mr. Buchholz.
Toronto Blue Jays: Brandon Morrow. See, MLB? This is what happens when you LET GUYS START. Morrow was finally allowed to start for a full season and he performed well. His 4.49 ERA is nothing great, but the dude struck out the world (10.95 K/9) and didn’t give up many homers (0.69 per nine), while keeping walks reasonably low (4.06 per nine). That led to a shiny 3.16 FIP (3.63 xFIP). Can Morrow repeat this in his second year in the rotation? I think so. Will I be right? Who knows?
Baltimore Orioles: Matt Weiters. BB%? Went up. K%? Went down. IsoP? Went up (albeit one point). wOBA? Dropped .027 points. Um…? Oh hey, big drop in BABIP (.356 in ’09, .287 in ’10…line drives went down about 3%). He hasn’t lived up to the hype yet so we’ll have to watch closely to see if he does this year. Can he break out of the average shell and become the star his minor league numbers suggested he would be? I hope so. Because if he does, we could see two of the finest young catchers in baseball take each other on 19 times each year. Prediction: Weiters passes his 2009 wOBA of .330 and is one of Baltimore’s two best hitters in 2011.
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