Thearon W. Henderson
With opening day a week away, it’s time to start thinking about Major League Baseball again. Spring training is wrapping up and teams are making their final roster cuts.
With Chico having no professional sports team, many students and locals are fans of teams from northern or southern California, such as the Oakland Athletics, the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.
1. Oakland Athletics
Strengths: The Oakland Athletics have one of the youngest lineups in the major leagues and, typically, that means fewer injuries. Matt Olson and Khris Davis also provide the A’s with some solid power. Davis hit 43 home runs last year while Olson hit 24 in only 189 at-bats, so look for Olson to really break out this year.
Weaknesses: The A’s rotation and the bullpen are full of question marks. The returning pitchers are not what you would call star caliber either. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea both had ERAs north of 4.00 last season, and Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn could be promising, but they are both relatively inexperienced still.
2. San Francisco Giants
Strengths: The San Francisco Giants made a couple upgrades to their lineup this offseason, adding outfielders Andrew McCutchen, Austin Jackson and acquired a third baseman, Evan Longoria. With Buster Posey, Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford still in the mix, their lineup looks like it will produce a lot more runs this year.
Weaknesses: The Giants’ bullpen was their biggest weakness last year and it doesn’t look like it has improved much this season either. If Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson don’t turn it around this year, the team could be in serious trouble. The next biggest loss for the Giants is ace Madison Bumgarner who will be lost for the first two months. Bumgarner will be out with a broken wrist following a line drive back up the middle in Spring Training just a week ago.
3. Los Angeles Angels
Strengths: The Los Angeles Angels have a potentially powerful lineup with hitters like Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, Albert Pujols and, of course, Mike Trout. Each of these hitters crushed over 20 home runs last season, so they can only hope that will continue. Trout, the best five-tool player in baseball, also needs to be on the field and healthy to ensure a successful season for the Angels.
Weaknesses: The Angels’ starting rotation is very much unproven and their bullpen is not too strong either. Garret Richards has been solid number one, but there seems to be a steep drop off after that. Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs are not exactly prime options and Matt Shoemaker had an ERA of 4.52 last season.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
Strengths: The Los Angeles Dodgers have the luxury of being one of the few teams with a very talented young roster. Shortstop Corey Seager, center fielder Chris Taylor and first baseman Cody Bellinger are three young superstars in the making. They are leading the way for the offense behind ace Clayton Kershaw.
Weaknesses: After Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ rotation is kind of shaky. Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu currently make up the rest of the rotation and they are all very injury prone pitchers. While all with the potential to be sharp at times, all have just as much potential to land on the disabled list.
Austin Schreiber can be reached at [email protected] or @aschreiber94 on Twitter.