With MLB on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, fans are stuck anxiously awaiting word when opening day will take place. Until then, here's one player we'll miss most from every team.
With MLB on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, we're stuck anxiously awaiting word when opening day will take place. Until then, here's one player we'll miss most from every team.
When the Yankees signed him as a free agent during the winter meetings, they became the hands-down favorite to win the American League. Cole, who was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA with the Astros last season, is probably baseball's second-best starter, behind the Mets' Jacob deGrom.
Tampa brought the veteran Japanese slugger stateside over the winter, and it's always interesting to see how well international stars do in MLB. For the Yokohama Bay Stars in '19, Tsutsugo crushed 29 homers and drove in 79, and the Rays feel he can be a difference-maker.
Vladdy Jr. made his long-awaited debut last April, and while he experienced growing pains as a rookie, the youngster has superstar qualities. Guerrero racked up 201 total bases in only 464 at-bats a year ago, and 2020 was supposed to be his breakout party.
Bradley Jr. is not the most gifted offensive player on the Red Sox — far from it, in fact — but the things he can do defensively in center field are otherworldly. Game after game, the veteran does something to save Boston pitchers' bacon. Watching a sensational outfielder rob a hitter of a home run is one of the most exciting things you can see on a baseball field.
The Orioles weren't exactly brimming with options here, but Davis at least provided some entertainment last spring. The big first baseman is easily the most overpaid player in the game, and his .179 batting average a year ago played a huge role in Baltimore's futility. He was 0-for-54 during a stretch last season, an MLB record for a position player. Toward the end of the streak, fans gave him exaggerated standing ovations as a show of support. It made for a pretty neat scene in an otherwise lost season at Camden Yards.
Cruz will turn 40 this summer, but he remains the most productive DH in the sport. Last season the veteran right-handed slugger crushed 41 bombs and drove in 108 runs. It's unclear how long he wants to keep playing.
Robert is one of the best prospects in the sport. Over the winter, Chicago signed him to a long-term deal before he had even reached the majors. That allows the White Sox to play him from the get-go in 2020 without worrying about service time potentially affecting his Super 2 status.
The Indians' best player is also one of the top overall talents in the sport. In '19, the switch-hitter homered 32 times, finished fifth in the AL with 40 doubles and accumulated over 300 total bases for the third straight year. He's set to hit free agency after the 2021 season, so Tribe fans are especially missing him, as they'd like to watch him as much as they can before he potentially jumps ship.
Speed is one of the most entertaining skills to see in any sport, and few baseball players run as fast as Mondesi. In '19, the young shortstop tied for the American League lead with 10 triples, and his 43 stolen bases were second only to Seattle's Mallex Smith. Mondesi also hit .263 with nine homers and 62 RBI, and with continued improvement , he could become one of the more complete offensive players on the junior circuit.
Cabrera will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as soon as he's eligible, and most followers of the sport say he's the greatest pure hitter of his generation. But what does he have left? Injuries have sapped Cabrera's power, as he has hit only 15 home runs since the end of the 2017 season. He did, however, crush a massive blast off Gerrit Cole in spring training, and fans were looking forward to seeing if the veteran could turn back the clock in '20.
Verlander is the type of dominant starting pitcher every team would like to have on top of its rotation. Last year he delivered a 2.58 ERA with a minuscule 0.80 WHIP while winning 21 games and striking out a mind-boggling 300 hitters in 223 frames. He was rewarded with his eighth All-Star Game appearance and won his second Cy Young.
The Angels superstar is a generational talent, and when he's done, he'll go down as one of the best ever. In 2019, Trout hit .291 with 44 homers and 104 RBI. He also made his eighth straight All-Star team, and won his seventh Silver Slugger and third MVP award. L.A. spent the winter trying to put enough around him to qualify for the playoffs.
Fans in the Bay Area have been hearing about Luzardo's impending arrival for some time; he made a six-outing cameo as a reliever down the stretch in '19, and this season was supposed to be his coming-out party. Across three minor league campaigns, the young lefty had a 2.53 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP in 46 outings. He struck out well over a batter/inning and surrendered only 13 homers in 195.2 frames. The A's, usually involved in the AL playoff race, believe Luzardo can become their next star.
Kluber is one of the most accomplished starting pitchers in recent memory, but the 2020 campaign was going to be especially important for him, The righty won two Cy Youngs in a four-year span. But a fractured bone in his arm limited him to only seven dreadful starts in Cleveland in 2019 before the Indians shipped him out over the winter. Texas is hoping he can reestablish himself.
Vogelbach is the Mariners' DH, and he took full advantage of his first chance to play every day a year ago. Appearing in all but 18 of Seattle's games, the big left-handed slugger hit just .208 but launched 30 homers and drove in 76 runs. His high .341 OBP made up for the low average, and he was named the M's lone All-Star representative.
In less than two full big league seasons, Acuna Jr. has already established himself as one of the best and most entertaining stars in the game. Last season he hit .280 with 41 homers and 101 RBI — mostly out of the leadoff spot — and swiped 37 bases. He clearly has the potential to join the exclusive 40-homer/40-stolen base club, and he has said he believes he can become MLB's first 50 HR/50-stolen base player.
The former Florida Gator was outstanding in 2019, crushing a rookie record 53 homers and driving in 120 runs. Alonso has the perfect personality for New York, and projects to anchor this Mets team for the next decade.
Like Acuna Jr., Soto has quickly become a star. Last season, the young left fielder had 34 homers and 110 RBI. He added 32 doubles, five triples and 12 steals to round out his first full big league season. In October, he introduced himself to the national audience by playing a key role in the Nationals' first World Series title.
Harper is not the premier player in the sport, but his name might be the most recognizable. In his first season in Philly, he wasn't to blame for the Phillies' struggles. He hit 35 homers and drove in a career-high 114 runs. Phillies fans are eager to see what he can do for an encore.
Brinson has pretty much been a colossal bust since going to Miami in the Christian Yelich trade with Milwaukee, but on a team with low expectations, he's a story line. In 655 major league at-bats, the center fielder has a putrid .183 batting average; 2020 is a now-or never season for him.
Cincy's ace just began tapping into his full potential a year ago, going from mediocre middle- of-the-rotation hurler to an All-Star. In 32 starts, Castillo went 15-8 with a 3.40 ERA. Armed with arguably the best change-up in the game, the righty struck out 226 hitters in 190.2 innings.
Yelich was the NL MVP in 2018, and he was trending toward a repeat until he suffered a fractured knee cap in early September last season. He still managed to crush 44 homers and drive in 97 runs in only 130 games.
Molina has been a rock behind the plate in St.Louis for well over a decade, but at 37, he may not be able to play much longer. The veteran remained productive in 2019, but his season was cut short by two trips to the IL list.
Baez is MLB's flashiest infielder defensively. He's also a critical component in the Cubs offensive attack, as evidenced by his .281 average and 29 home runs last season.
The Bucs aren't exactly loaded with star power, but Bell is certainly someone baseball fans will miss. The veteran switch-hitter is coming off easily the best season of his career. In 2019, he had 37 homers and 116 RBI.
The Dodgers' best player was the most dangerous hitter on the senior circuit in 2019, and especially after Yelich got hurt, he became the hands-down pick for NL MVP. In '19, Bellinger bombed 47 homers, drove in 115 runs and hit .305.
San Diego's young shortstop was the top prospect in the game entering 2019, and he emphatically lived up to the hype. In only 84 games, Tatis Jr. hit .317 with 22 home runs and 53 RBI. He added 13 doubles, six triples and 16 steals.
The veteran southpaw is perhaps the most accomplished postseason pitcher of all time. Last season his 30 homers allowed in 207.2 innings contributed to a high ERA (3.90), but the rest of his numbers were in line with his career marks. Arizona stole him away from the Giants in free agency, and it's going to be awfully weird seeing him in a new uniform.
Arenado is a superstar in every sense, and he's easily the top third baseman in the game. He has crushed 37 or more homers and driven in 110-plus runs for five seasons running. He has a .295 career batting average. At the hot corner, he's won seven straight Gold Gloves.
Once one of the most entertaining (and productive) starting pitchers in the game, Cueto has been hampered significantly lately by injuries. The righty has made only 13 starts since the end of the '17 campaign because of a variety of issues — including Tommy John surgery.
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