Last year, there were a lot of surprises in Major League Baseball. For example, I don’t know many people who expected the Cleveland Indians to grab a playoff spot. I don’t know many people who expected the Los Angeles Dodgers to absolutely have the bottom fall out before they ultimately got it together and took the National League West by storm.
These kinds of things happen every year, and I want to point out four of the more positive ones. Here are four teams that aren’t getting very much publicity, but they have the potential to do some damage this season and maybe even contend for playoff positions.
The Kansas City Royals were very surprising last year. The perennial basement dwellers finished above .500 and actually had a few people discussing whether or not they could actually make the playoffs.
I am willing to say that they will make the playoffs in 2014. They are bringing back a majority of their team from last year, and they made a few nice pickups in the offseason. Omar Infante is a solid second baseman who will be a major upgrade in that position, and Norichika Aoki can contribute from right field.
A few years ago, I would not have said that the Kansas City Royals had a chance of making the playoffs in the foreseeable future. I think it could definitely happen in 2014.
I don’t think the Miami Marlins will make the playoffs in 2014. However, I do think you will see a huge amount of improvement out of this team. There are a few things that will contribute to this.
First, Giancarlo Stanton will hopefully be back full time. He missed 46 games last year which is not an awful lot of time, but if he can stay healthy the entire season, that would be a major improvement. The second reason they will improve is because of their young pitching staff. Jose Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi will help lead this young rotation to a better season.
You might not see a playoff contender, but you will be a team that is much better than it was last season at 62-100.
The Baltimore Orioles didn’t make the playoffs last season, and they didn’t make a lot of noise over the winter. Their biggest acquisition was trading for Oakland’s Jemile Weeks. They are kind of flying under the radar right now.
However, think about what we have here. Last season, Baltimore went 85-77. That is certainly within striking distance of the top of the division. Beyond that, Manny Machado will continue to develop into an excellent third baseman, and Adam Jones is entering his prime as a legitimate slugger.
Baltimore is in a high-powered division, and there is no doubt the Orioles sometimes fade into the shadows. However, they were in contention last year, and I don’t see why they can’t be in serious contention again this year.
The Los Angeles Dodgers obviously bring in most of the attention in the National League West, but the Arizona Diamondbacks made a few solid moves this winter that might be able to lift them up into the picture this season.
Bringing in Mark Trumbo will make a major difference for this lineup. Last year, Paul Goldschmidt had to carry most of the run-producing burden, but now he should have some assistance with that. Also, I think it was a great move to trade for Addison Reed to anchor the bullpen. Yes, he did blow some saves last year, but in general, he is a reliable closer. He has a solid track record and should help them secure some victories.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are still going to be strong, and I don’t know if the Arizona Diamondbacks will absolutely be able to pass them by. However, I do believe we will see them in the playoffs this year.