Spring Training has winded down, and the few roster spots left open have been determined. Now is the time when players are starting to lock in and mentally prepare for the MLB season. It is no longer a time to “work on stuff”, instead the results are more realistic as to what you can expect for the regular season. Today we will take a look at 3 players trending up, and 3 players trending down based on the MLB pre-season.
3 Trending Up for Week 1
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds recently awarded Hamilton the starting centerfielder job. After his work this spring, it’s clear that he has earned it. Last year at this time, he was struggling to get on base and Cincy made the right decision sending him down for some extra work to get comfortable.
Currently, he is batting leadoff and hitting near the .300 mark. Hamilton is establishing his speed by bunting and pushing the ball to get on base. The ability to collect infield hits will help him to avoid prolonged slumps and keep him in the lineup.
If he stays healthy and keeps the ball on the ground, Hamilton should easily swipe 60-70 bases.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Will Washington take the reins off of this horse and let him run? Maybe with a change in the coaching staff Strasburg will be pushed into a carrying a heavier load. The spring numbers speak loudly with a 4-0/1.83 with one start remaining. In his previous 3 Grapefruit league seasons he had posted a 2-7 mark. After the Nats disappointed in 2013, and Strasburg’s performance was a little uneven, a new voice and fresh start could inspire bigger and better things.
Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburg gave the young outfielder a huge vote of confidence by extending him though his arbitration years. They see what most others do in the potential five tool phenom. As soon as the power kicks in, and the K’s come down, Marte will join the elite at his position. Marte has been hitting at the top of the lineup with an average near .350 and he will probably be asked to run as much as last year (40 stolen bases). That means a lot of runs scored with Andrew McCutchen and the boys behind him.
3 Trending Down for Week 1
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
I am probably upsetting the baseball gods by mentioning an immortal in a negative light, but Jeter is looking his age. There are already complaints about the infield defense which hasn’t been directly pointed to Jeter; however you can infer that he is part of the limited range issue. His hitting this spring has been worrisome to say the least (.143/0 hr). In 49 ABs, Jeter has only chipped in 2 RBI as well.
So basically you have a 40 year old vet, playing the most demanding position on the infield, with a cranky ankle… not good. Even with all the grit and determination The Captain can muster, it’s probably a stretch to think this is going to work out.
Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays
Sounds repetitive, but middle infield guys that rely on quickness need their legs. Reyes has battled injuries with his legs and more specifically his ankle. Presently, he is posting his worst spring in terms of average (.255) and SLG (.314). He hasn’t been very patient either, collecting only 3 walks in over 50 AB. Reyes needs to be on base to run and score, and it clearly has not happened thus far - with the opener right around the corner.
Naftali Feliz, Texas Rangers
The only good news for Feliz is that he is not alone. The current state of the Rangers staff is a dumpster fire as the Cactus League comes to a close. Injuries have riddled the staff and there have been complaints about who is in and who is out. In nine relatively ineffective appearances, the Rangers brass was convinced that Feliz was not quite ready to close out games. As he gets work in at the AAA level, he has allowed Soria time to establish himself as Texas’s closer.