This is my second to last post in this series, as I’ll have a special one for the Yankees themselves up tomorrow before the game. You can find the other ones at the following links:
Starting with the Sawx, I’m gonna peg Clay Buchholz as my player to watch. He seemed to be putting it together at the end of last year, and should finally get an entire year in the Major League rotation. Will this be the year that he finally steps into the big shoes the Sox expect him to fill? He’s got the talent, now he just needs to come through.
Moving south, we should keep an eye on B.J. Upton. After a subpar 2009 (at the plate), we’ll have to see if Upton’s bat makes a return. While he had a fantastic 11.8 UZR/150, B.J. only hit for a .310 wOBA. His BABIP was down to .310 from .341, so we could expect a rebound. For the first time in a full season, Upton’s walk rate was not in double digits (9.1). His 27.1% strikeout rate was also very shabby, especially considering B.J.’s below average .132 IsoP. Considering his excellent defense, if Upton can just catch back up to his ’08 wOBA (.354), he’ll be back in the conversation for best all-around CF in the game.
Shooting back up north, the Blue Jays don’t have a whole lot to look forward to. Brett Wallace should be up at some point, though, and it’ll be fun to watch Kyle Drabek in the minors. At the Major League level, let’s watch out for Vernon Wells to see if he can start living up to that insane contract. Call it a hunch, but I think he’ll rebound from this awful season (.314 wOBA) and hit back at his ’08 level (.357). I know he’s definitely not as good as his 5.8 WAR season in ’06, but I don’t think he’s as bad as he was in ’07 and ’09.
Wrapping it up with the O’s will be my 2010 AL Rookie of the Year pick Brain Matusz. He shot up through the minors in ’09 and had a very respectable cup of coffee (44.2 IP in 8 GS, 7.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 2.71 K/BB, 4.08 FIP). Given a full year in the Majors, this high-upside lefty could emerge as Baltimore’s best pitcher by year’s end.