Three teams that will surprise you in 2020

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks continually surprise the baseball community.  Trading their star Paul Goldschmidt last season seemed to be a sign of a rebuild.  Arizona however put together a competitive season as a new star began to develop, Ketel Marte.  Marte made his first All-Star game leading the Diamondbacks in most offensive categories, doing this while playing multiple positions.  Finding a player to build around on the field meant that Arizona was ready to begin a push into legit relevance in the national league. 

Adding Starling Marte to the lineup brings a  former all-star still in the prime of his career.  Starling saw a career best .200 ISO to go along with the lowest K% of his career.  Marte can bat anywhere in the lineup while playing an above average center field. The pickup of Starling allows Ketel to move to a single position at second base. The Diamondbacks also added veteran Kole Calhoun with career highs in HR, RBI, ISO, Slug %, and BB %. Both should have a big impact on the lineup adding depth to an already promising roster. 

Oh..they also added Madison Bumgarner.  He is still pretty good. The Dodgers are the clear favorite in the NL West but the Diamondbacks have the pieces to be in the mix for the wild card.  The Padres are the team getting the headlines but it is Arizona that brings the biggest threat in the division to the mighty Dodgers.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers had glaring weaknesses in the rotation last year.  Behind mainstays Lance Lynn and Mike Minor was a cast of unknowns and underachievers. Koby Allard, Ariel Jurado and Adrian Sampson highlighted a cast of starters that were never going to be competitive in the top heavy AL West.  Texas made the moves necessary in the offseason to fix their biggest problem. Adding Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles and Corey Kluber gives Texas a formidable and experienced starting rotation that is built for the regular season.  

Replacements 2019 Rangers

Kyle Gibson: 3.80 xFIP, 4.25 SIERA Koby Allard: 5.08 xFIP, 5.37 SIERA

Jordan Lyles: 4.61 xFIP, 4.53 SIERA Ariel Jurado: 5.00 xFIP, 5.10 SIERA

Corey Kluber: (2018) 3.08 xFIP, 3.28 SIERA Adrian Sampson: 5.33 xFIP, 4.84 SIERA

Nomar Mazara was moved to the Chicago White Sox opening up an everyday position for former super prospect Willie Calhoun.  The Rangers also added some veteran bats that should fit in perfectly along with the developed star Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo, and Danny Santana.  Todd Frazier will fill in a hole at third base and Robinson Chirinos will give them an offensive weapon alongside the defense of Jeff Mathis.  

The Texas Rangers will have stiff competition in the AL West.  Oakland has not regressed and Houston is still Houston. The Astros though have enough distractions to take them down a notch while the A’s have some issues with their starting rotation.  Texas has the chance to take the next step this season and most will just look past them. 

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies underperformed in 2019 finishing 4th in the division after signing the premier free agent of the offseason Bryce Harper. Harper was not the biggest problem in 2019, the Phillies had to deal with injuries of Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson.  In 2020 Robertson will not be joining the team but with the delay of the start of the season it is reasonable to see McCutchen come back sooner than originally thought.  

The Phillies made moves to improve the infield moving on from longtime roster mainstays Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco.  With those two walking out the door in comes Didi Gregorious to upgrade the defense up the middle. The pick up of Didi moves Jean Segura over to third base opening up 2nd base for Scott Kingery who finally began to show the skills that made him a top prospect.  Philadelphia has a great core to their lineup with Harper, Hoskins, and Realmuto. The offense has to focus on getting on base in 2020 to set up for the vaunted middle of the order. The addition of Gregorious provides more power but it’s Jean Segura and Adam Haseley that will compete for the top of the order.  They have to improve their OBP. Haseley in triple A had an OBP of .360 which would be a twenty point improvement from his time in the majors last year. If Philly is able to get Andrew McCuthen back to start the season this team’s offense will be a force in the NL East that saw the Braves lose Josh Donaldson and the Nationals lose Anthony Rendon.  

Philadelphia added Zack Wheeler to go alongside ace Aaron Nola. Wheeler is an underrated starter in 2019 is exactly what the Phillies needed as they have seen a regression from Jake Arrieta.  Wheeler will allow Arrieta to slot into the third starter and move Zac Eflin into the fourth spot. The Phillies are being overlooked in most preseason outlooks. Many are focusing on the improved New York Mets and the obvious world champs Washington Nationals. Harper and company could surprise many around the league.

MLB Picks 4/20/19

I have been throwing out a lot of picks lately and haven’t held myself accountable so today I begin to truly cover my plays and see what my end of the season record may be. Let’s get this started on a winning track.

Chicago White Sox (Santana) at Detroit Tigers (Norris)

The Detroit Tigers as a team haven’t hit much all year. They have however been better at home with a .244 BA at home when compared to a .183 BA away from Comerica Park. Ervin Santana has not been stellar in his first two starts of the season giving up 10 earned runs over 8 innings and getting shelled by right handed hitters.

The Tigers have a healthy Nick Castellanos back in their lineup which will propel them to a victory at home.

Pick: Detroit Tigers -135

Boston Red Sox (Porcello) at Tamp Bay Rays (Morton)

Rick Porcello has been a ticking time bomb to start the season, a matchup the leagues best team has the potential for time to run out. Lefties in particular have hit Porcello to a tune of .460 batting average in more than enough of a sample size.

The Tamp Bay Rays will have an array of lefties in their lineup including Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and the red hot Austin Meadows. Even if Boston was playing better this is not a matchup that benefits the the world champs.

Pick: Tamp Bay Rays -1.5 (+140)

Philadelphia Phillies (Nola) at Colorado Rockies (Senzatela)

No one expected the Rockies to have struggles on the offensive side of the ball but that has been the case early in 2019. The Rockies are bottom five in most offensive categories. With a slash line of .215/.274/.360 at the plate as a team a matchup with Aaron Nola seems like trouble for Colorado. However, their offense has come alive during their recent winning streak, scoring at least four runs in each of their last five games.

The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela to the mound coming off of a great first start against San Diego going 6.2 innings while only giving up one run. Ryan McMahon has stepped up for the Rockies filling in for the injured Daniel Murphy. The Rockies as a home dog versus a usually sluggish start to the season for Nola should give great value in this situation.

Pick: Rockies +105