Good Monday afternoon, everyone! How are we all today? Today, I’d like to shift our focus away from the Yankees, and get a little more broad in our view of baseball. For this post–I’ll do one for each division–I’m going to focus on the NL West and list one player on each team upon whom we should keep our eyes.
Let’s start with the defending division champs, the Dodgers. Last year, Clayton Kershaw made a jump into the mainstream baseball conscious and this year, he should jump into stardom. Last season, he led the NL in H/9 (6.3), was second in HR/9 (0.368), and was fifth in ERA (2.79) and K/9 (9.7). Clayton can bring the heat, he averaged 94 MPH on his fastball in 2009, but he did up his innings quite a bit (107.2 to 171.0) so he may be at risk for injury. However, if he stays healthy, Clayton is going to be a household name by season’s end.
Moving to the Rockey Mountains, I think we should keep our eyes on Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo’s short three year career has been up and down; he was fantastic (for a rookie) in 2007, hurt and relatively unproductive in 2008, then was dynamite again in 2009. Let’s see if Tulo can string together another good year and really hit his stride going forward.
Before moving back to the two California teams, let’s swing down to Arizona and take a peak at the Diamondbacks. On the pitching side, let’s keep our eyes on our old friend Ian Kennedy. He’s definitely got a shot to crack their rotation and could be quite successful in the not-so-strong-hitting-N.L.-West. On the offensive side, we all need to watch the Justin Upton. Justin raised his OPS+ twenty points in 2009 and is poised to become a star. Overall, he hit .300/.366/.532 with 26 homers. In 2010, Justin could easily hit 30 homers and he’ll be well on his way to super-duper stardom.
Let’s go back (back) to Cali (Cali) and stay classy in San Diego. Jake Peavy is gone, and Adrian Gonzalez is the obvious choice (seriously, watch him; dude’s awesome), so I’ll pick someone else. Offensively, there’s really slim pickings in San Diego so we’ll have to look to the pitching. I like Mat Latos to take a step forward in 2010. He’s got fantastic minor league numbers (K/9 over 10, BB/9 under 3, K/BB over 4) so he’s definitely got the stuff to build on his “meh” numbers from 2009 (80 ERA+, 6.9 K/9, 1.70 K/BB). Look out for Matt in 2010.
Wrapping up the division, let’s go up to the Bay Area. We all know Tim Lincecum. We all know Matt Cain. We all know the Panda. The guy I think will take the biggest step in 2010 is no-hitter thrower Jonathan Sanchez. In his second season as a full time starter, Sanchez improved his ERA, ERA+, WHIP, H/9, and K/9 and with a second full season under his belt, I think we’re gonna see real big things out of Jonathan in 2010.