The Top Sleeper Teams In Major League Baseball For 2013
It was a busy and chaotic offseason for many Major League Baseball teams. There were some unexpected signings, while other teams didn’t experience much movement at all. 2013, promises to be an exciting season. The balance of power may finally be shifting in several divisions, giving hope to fans of teams who have not tasted success in a long time. Here are some teams to keep an eye on in 2013:
San Diego Padres
With manager Bud Black at the helm, the Padres have a leader that is one of the most respected men in baseball. Third baseman Chase Headley could have an MVP award in his future. The team is most likely going to have one of the better bullpens in the National League. The strength of the bullpen has been a tradition ever since Kevin Towers became the GM. Their 3.24 ERA ranked them fifth in the league last season. However, defense is another issue entirely. Only the Rockies had a worse fielding percentage in the NL. If they have any hope of making a run at the wild card, the defense must improve significantly. Some of the defensive miscues can be blamed on the youth and inexperience of the team.
Rookie RHP Trevor Bauer will be in the spotlight in 2013. This will be his first full season anbd things are expected of the former first round draft pick. The Shin-Soo Choo era officially came to an end during the offseason. He was traded to the Reds along with Tony Sipp for Bauer and Drew Stubbs. This was inevitable because Choo had refused to sign a longterm contract. The Tribe was the biggest surprise of the offseason in terms of free agents. They signed two big name free agents and gave up two draft picks to do so. Nick Swisher signed a four-year, $56 million contract. The 24 homers he hit last year will be welcome in a lineup that only hit 136 homers last year, the second-lowest total in the league. The other big name was Michael Bourn, who signed a four-year $48 million contract. The deal includes a fifth year vesting option that is worth $12 million.
Boston Red Sox
It’s hard to call the Red Sox a sleeper team, considering their payroll is so high. However, that is exactly what they are. This is a result of last season’s debacle with Bobby Valentine at the helm. This is in addition to their September collapse of 2011. Most people don’t give them much of a shot to do anything in 2013. Their rotation of Doubront, Dempster, Lackey, Lester and Buchholz is better than people seem to think it, assuming they can stay healthy. Speaking of staying healthy, that will be a key for David Ortiz this year. There is no question he still has good bat speed. The issue will be keeping him on the field for 150 games.
If ever there was a team that needed a good season, it is the Pirates. They have endured 20 consecutive losing seasons, a Major League record. However, there is some light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Andrew McCutchen has already established himself as a star player. The pitching staff of Karstens, Rodriguez, McDonald, Liriano and Burnett is the best they have had since some guy named Bonds was played left field for them. Sterling Marte will be tested in his first shot at playing full-time in he majors. The NL Central is a weak division. That should only help the Pirates this season.
Shane Ghoulson is a freelance sports blogger, currently residing in Mexico City, Mexico. He loves watching some of the young talent that plays in the coastal Mexico baseball leagues.