MLB: 15 players to watch in the American League

Say hello to your go-to guide on who to watch from every team this MLB season.

We’ve got a player from each team to keep an eye on this season in two posts covering the AL and the NL.

Meet the faces of the American League…

AL Central 

Chicago White SoxNicky Delmonico

 

Chicago White Sox fans got a preview of what is to come when Nicky Delmonico came up last August and I’m not just talking about his looks, ladies.

Hey, boo! 😏

He reached base in his first 13 games and hit six home runs in his first 19 games. Fun fact: he’s the fastest White Sox player to ever do that.

Also not too bad of a resume to have nine home runs and 23 RBI’s in 43 MLB games.

Keep your eye on him, I think he’s only scratched the surface on what’s to come.

Side note: Does a face get any sexier than that?!

Cleveland Indians: Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer is in the process of turning himself into a human pitching monster for the Cleveland Indians! NO JOKE!

Bauer’s goals this off season were simple — steal Corey Kluber‘s breaking ball, and take Stephen Strasburg‘s change up.

Simple, right? Ya, if you’re a f***ing lunatic!

But hey, we all need a little crazy sometimes, right? And this is 100% the case for Bauer.

At 27 years old and still a student of the game, Bauer is using the technology at hand to unlock pitching in a way that was never available.

With a camera setup made by edgertronic, Bauer is able to super, hyper slow-mo break down pitch by pitch and study everything that goes into it.

Before, pitching was always a “feel” and hard to explain, but with edgertronic, it’s going to change how pitchers pitch.

It’s what Bauer’s doing — he’s talking over the pitching world!

Last season, the man was fantastic, having one of the filthy’s curveballs, winning 17 games, 196 SO, and an ERA of 4.19.

That might not say much, but since beginning in 2012 Bauer’s ERA continues to decrease year by year.

If Bauer’s can figure out these pitches and put them in his arson on top of what he has already, watch out.

Hitter’s you’ve been warned!

Detroit Tigers: Nick Castellanos

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The Detroit Tigers are in the process of rebuilding and the team is hoping Nick Castellanos can be the veteran clubhouse leader they need.

Castellanos declined Detroit’s possible extension deal in December 2017 to test out his luck in free agency, which turned out to be a good thing.

Despite an up and down 2017 season with a .272 AVG, 26 HRs, 101 RBI and .320 OPS, Castellanos was dealing with some personal issues off the field.

He recently revealed to the Detroit Free Press that his father, Dr. Jorge Castellanos was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017.

Thankfully, Jorge Castellanos had successful surgery and is recovering.

I think it’s going to be one hell of a year for Nick.

I mean hey, look at the numbers; Jorge Castellano’s surgery was August 21st and from the next day onto the end of the season, Nick Castellanos hit .365, 10 HRs in 31 games.

He might just be playing with a little bit more of a purpose this season.

Kansas City Royals: Mike Moustakas

Mike “Moose” Moustakas is BACK, even though he never really left. 🤔

The Kansas City Royals star smacked a career-high 38 HRs last season, now holding the home run record for the Royals after breaking the single-season HR record by Steve Balboni, 36 in 1985.

Moose also had more season highs, including 75 runs scored, 85 RBI, 289 total bases and a .521 slugging percentage.

So naturally, the man wanted to test the free agency waters and see if he could get what he’s worth. And with a resume of being a 2x All-Star, K.C.’s home run record holder and a World Series Champ, he thought something would bite.

However, the outcome wasn’t what he expected. Lucky for K.C.

In November, Moustakas rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer, but recently resigned for a one-year $6.5 million contract with a mutual opinion for 2019. There’s a possible $2.2 million this year base on plate appearance beginning at 225.

With a solid resume all across the board Moose is going to be great for K.C.

Minnesota Twins: Brian Dozier

With Brian Dozier‘s contract ending, him planning on entering into free agency and the Minnesota Twins showing no interest (so far) in a contract extension is the exact reason Dozier is a player to look out for.

He’s one of the best offensive second basemen in the league.

In 2016, he hit 46 HRs, an American League record for a second basemen. In 2017, he hit .271, 93 RBIs and 34 HRs. And Dozier helped lead the Twins to the postseason for the first time in seven years.

On top of that he’s a 2x American League Second Base Gold Glove, All-Star and in 2013, was the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year.

He’s established himself in the Twin Cities and in the MLB. However, even though Dozier will explore free agency, I’m guessing nothing good will come biting.

Why? Well, Dozier’s joining some heavy hitters in free agency including Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Miller.

Dozier’s in a really tough place because of the company he’ll be in.

This season for Dozier is playing for your life, because he really needs to.

 

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado

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A bottom of the first blast. #Birdland

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Manny Machado is probably going to be the talk of the MLB this year for a number of reasons.

  1. He is one of the most valuable players entering free agency after this season.
  2. He’s making the transition from third base to shortstop.

But Machado wouldn’t call this a transition at all, to him it’s his natural position.

When Machado was at third, his resume included 3x All-Star, 2x Gold Glove winner (one of those being the 2013 AL Platinum Glove) and two times in five seasons finished in the top 5 in AL MVP voting.

If he did all of this at third base, imagine what he’ll do at short in his “natural position” for the Baltimore Orioles. I can’t wait to see it!

With all the free agency talk surrounding him you think it would get to Machado, but it seems to have the opposite effect.

He’s relaxed and comfortable in a way that you don’t alway see in the big leagues. Especially not from a guy who’s the face of an organization.

Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale

According to Vegas odds, this man is going to be your AL Cy Young winner and Vegas is rarely wrong.

So I’m going with Vegas!

Last season was Chris Sale‘s first year with the Boston Red Sox and normally guys that go to a new team tend to have a, well, we’ll call it a “transition” year.

Yet, that was NOT the case!

The 6’6 skinny man was .680 W-L% with a 2.90 ERA. Sale was solid for the Red Sox all season long, until the playoffs.

Game 1 of the ALDS vs. the now 2017 World Series champs, Houston Astros was one of the worst outing Sale has seen; allowing nine hits including three home runs in five innings!

Needless to say, Sale shit the bed 💩, but I don’t blame the guy.

Before Boston, Sale was with the White Sox for seven years and never saw a game to that caliber in a White Sox uniform.

He now has the postseason experience under his belt. This time around Sale will know exactly what not to do come the playoffs.

 New York Yankees: Aaron Judge

The man is not human, he’s a BEAST!

If you don’t know the name Aaron Judge, you must be living under a rock.

In his rookie season for the New York Yankees in the Bronx, he hit 52 HRs (holds the record for most HRs by a rookie), 114 RBIs, batted .284 and .422 OPS.

Not only did Judge help lead the Yankees to the postseason, he was named Rookie of the Year, finished second in the MVP race and won the Home Run Derby with — get this — 47 home runs! Yes, you read that correctly.

Judge makes hitting home runs look like a kid’s easy Sunday morning paper routine. He makes them look effortless.

I can’t imagine what else Judge has in store for us and with some great company by this side — Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.

Watch out for the guys in the pinstripes.

Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Kiermaier

Not only is Kevin Kiermaier, in my opinion, the most beautiful man in all of baseball, 😊 he’s also one of the most talented defenders (two Gold Gloves in 2015, 2016).

The only reason he didn’t win his third Gold Glove in 2017, was because he didn’t qualify because he missed too many games due to a hairline fracture mid-year.

Yet despite missing a good part of the season Kiermaier batted .276, 15 HRs, 39 RBIs and .338 OPS.

There may not be much to look forward to for Tampa Bay Rays baseball, but Kiermaier is more than enough to tune in.

Side note: Kiermaier deserves the award for People magazine’s Most Beautiful Person.

Toronto Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson 

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Bringer of smiles. 😁

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The 2015 American League MVP didn’t necessarily have the success and season he hoped for in 2017.

Josh Donaldson was out early in the season due to a calf tear. Injuries were big the for Toronto Blue Jays last season and the end result was a record of 76-86.

Despite that, Donaldson still managed to hit .270, 33 HRs, 78 RBIs and 65 runs in 113 games posting an OPS of .944.

Donaldson’s goal this season is to turn to October baseball.

One of the best third baseman in the game hopes to lead the Blue Jays to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. And with Donaldson’s contract ending this season and him entering free agency in a supreme class, the Jays star needs to bring his A-game.

But don’t be surprised if he decides to stay in Toronto.

The Blue Jays and Donaldson had discussed a contract extension, but “don’t see eye to eye” and negotiations could “ramp back up” in the later future.

Staying healthy is also going to be half the battle for Donaldson as well, with the calf tear last season and some right shoulder issues he’s faced as well. If Donaldson can stay healthy and bring his A-game all season long, he just might be in the running for AL MVP again!

 

AL West

Houston Astros: Carlos Correa

Ladies, you might remember Carlos Correa as the baseball player that proposed to his girlfriend Daniella Rodriguez, after winning the 2017 World Series.

But you should know him as one of baseball’s BEST shortstops.

Correa has only been in the league for three years and already has a pretty impressive resume: 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, an All-Star and helped lead the Houston Astros to their first World Series.

He was a huge help in the postseason chipping in five HRs and driving in 14 runs.

Correa had one of his personal best years in 2017 batting .315, hitting 24 HRs and 84 RBIs despite a thumb injury that kept him out from mid-July to September.

Still, the Astros star thinks he has “some holes in [his] game that people might not notice.”

Holes?! What holes?!

He’s not giving out the details for fear of opponents getting inside information.

But it’s that mindset alone that’s going to make Correa the guy that’s going to stand out more than he already does.

Also, did I mention he’s only 23 years old? There is so much more to come from him.

Side note: Those arms.

Los Angeles Angels: Shohei Ohtani

The Los Angeles Angels hit the jackpot when Shohei Ohtani picked LA to be his place to further his baseball career.

Ohtani is being called “the next Babe Ruth.” Yeah, he’s that good.

What makes this guy unique and special is that he’s doing something baseball hasn’t seen in almost 100 years — he’s a two-way player.

With a fastball of 98 mph and a bat to back to it up, the Angels are 100% for this experiment.

But the real question is: will he be on the Opening Day Roster?

Truthfully he shouldn’t.

Ohtani’s Spring was pretty ugly. He batted .107 going 3-for-28, 2 starts in the big leagues, was 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA (YIKES) allowing eight earned runs on nine hits with three HRs in 2 2/3 innings.

It’s bad, but I don’t predict it’s going to be like this forever.

You have to take into account that Ohtani is still adjusting to America and the MLB. Plus, he doesn’t speak English and he’s trying to do something that hasn’t been done in almost 100 years! He’s got a lot on his plate.

The Opening Day Roster hasn’t been released yet, but it would be wise to have Ohtani start in Triple-A.

He needs to get a little more consistent and accurate with his pitches and become comfortable at the plate.

We may not see Ohtani on Opening Day, but he’ll be brought up in no time. It might take some time to transition, but I think we’re all going to witness something truly remarkable.

Oakland Athletics: Khris Davis

In Khris Davis‘s second season with the Oakland Athletics, he’s hoping to repeat some of his previous success.

Davis hit 85 home runs the past two seasons. He’s second in the majors behind Stanton’s 86.

You’ve heard of him before, right?

If not, you might as well google him — the man has a six-pack of a Greek god.

It’s some nice company to be by.

Last year Davis batted .247, 43 HRs, 110 RBIs and .336 OPS. Davis recently signed a $10.5 million one-year contract. He and Oakland are hoping to keep the momentum going from September into the 2018 season.

Seattle Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki

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This feels right.

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He’s coming home!

Ichiro Suzuki is heading back to where it all begin, the Seattle Mariners. Entering into his 27th season, Ichiro has nothing to lose and nothing to prove — which is why I think the 44 year-old just might surprise us.

When you can just play to just play without the worry or added pressure, it makes the game more relaxed and effortless.

The man’s a 10x Gold Glove winner, 10x All-Star, 2x batting champion and is 1 of 31 members of the baseball’s 3,000-hit club. Irchiro is set for Cooperstown.

Ichiro’s got some gas left in his tank with no evidence of wanting to slow down.

Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo

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Caption this 😝

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This stud will be entering his fourth season with the Texas Rangers. Joey Gallo is hoping to improve on his batting average,

“This year I’m really working on being a better hitter, not just being a slugger,” Gallo told SportsDay. “I’m always going to hit home runs and strike out. But I want to be a better overall player. I just always hear how my [batting] average sucks, so if that could stop, it would be nice.”

It’s like Gallo has finally seen the light.

Based on his spring training stats it already looks better, hitting .269, 5 HRs, 11 RBIs, .321 OBP and .918 OPS.

Spring training stats are hard to judge a person’s performance off since the pitchers the hitters face aren’t always major leaguers.

Still, I’m going to cut Gallo some slack.

His motto has always been homer or strikeout, its no in-between. If he can get a better batting average while continuing to hit balls out of the park, it may be a pretty interesting year.

That’ll do it from the American League. Be sure to check out our list of 15 players to watch in the NL, too.

— Jenna

 

 



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