By James Trietley
Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis
After coming off a season filled with injury and suspension, Davis is due for a comeback season. With a .196 AVG, 173 strikeouts & a .300 OBP, Davis struggled at the plate. He did happen to hit 26 HRs and drove in 72 RBIs. If the Orioles want to be a winner in the postseason this year, they will need the "Crush" out of Chris Davis. I can assure he won't be a 50+ HR guy again, but he can possibly be a 120 RBI guy if he stays focused at the plate without PEDs.
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
After going from first to almost worst in 2014, the Red Sox had a tough season. Pedroia was one who struggled at the plate in a big way. He has fallen off the charts since his 20+ HR season back in 2011, only hitting 7 HRs this past year. He went down from 2013 in almost every offensive category and some question if he will perform like he did back in his earlier days. Now, going into his age 31 year, Pedroia will look to rebound for the team and bring the glory back to Boston for yet another season.
Chicago White Sox: Jeff Samardzija
After being traded to the A's back in July, Samardzija had larger ERA, less strikeouts & more HRs surrendered. The 2014 All-Star struggled with a change of scenery after playing 6 1/2 years with Chicago. This past winter, Oakland struck yet again by trading Samardzija back to Chicago. This time, he landed in the American League, playing for the White Sox. Just 30 minutes away from Wrigley Field, Jeff will hopefully go back to his ways a wheeling and dealing and hopefully bolster this Chicago rotation behind Chris Sale.
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Santana
With success coming from Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, OF Michael Brantley & breakout performer Lonnie Chisenhall, Carlos Santana was very silent. He put together a .231 AVG, 124 strikeouts & had a .365 OBP. On the upside, he did swing a pretty big stick hitting 27 HRs & 85 RBIs. If he could put together a lot of hits, be consistent stay healthy, he could turn into an elite player.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander
If there is one guy who needs a mulligan on last season, it is Justin Verlander. In 32 games started, he went 15-12. That isn't terrible, but his ERA hit a whopping 4.54. He gave up 104 earned runs, which happened to be the most in a single season in his 9-year career. I like the guy and if he wants to bring the best to the ball club, he will need to post better numbers this season. Now with the departure of Scherzer & Porcello, it could open up a possible number 2 slot for him behind David Price. Besides the alleged girlfriend of Kate Upton, he really doesn't have anything happy. If he doesn't turn it around, it will be a sad rest of his 10 year/$219.5 Million contract.
Houston Astros: Jason Castro
Last year proved to be an improvement for Houston as they finished 4th in the AL West above the injury-plagued Texas Rangers. Jose Altuve had a great season and so did Chris Carter, but what about their C Jason Castro? Castro in his 4th season as a big leaguer put up disappointing numbers, posting a .222 AVG, with 14 HRs and 56 RBIs. On the upside, he did have his most active year, playing in 126 games & 512 plate appearances. Sad to say it, but Houston won't see the World Series anytime soon, but they are improving and hopefully with a solid catcher such as Castro in this next year, they can become contenders in the near future.
Kansas City Royals: Alex Rios
After ending a huge postseason drought in 2014, the Kansas City Royals made it to the World Series. They didn't win it, but they sure gained a lot of attention. They did lose Nori Aoki & Billy Butler in the offseason, but they gained a veteran in right field. The 33-year old OF Alex Rios signed a 1 yr/$11M contract with KC after spending almost 2 years with Texas. Due to a lingering thumb injury, Rios hit .280, hit 4 HRs & drove in 54 RBIs for Texas in just 521 plate appearances. With the departure of Raul Ibanez, Rios fills a veteran role in a young ball club and hopefully will lead this team to another postseason in 2015.
Los Angeles Angels: Josh Hamilton
After signing a 5 yr/$125M contract in 2013, Hamilton was primed to lead the Angels to victory every game. after posting an .263 AVG in 2013 with LA, he looked to rebound in 2014. Well, that didn't go as planned. injured his thumb in the earlier going, which sidelined him for 6-8 weeks. He came back and played in just 89 games while posting a .263 AVG, 10 HRs & 44 RBIs. The Angels made it as far as the Division Series in the playoffs and Hamilton had nothing to contribute. Hamilton had 13 at-bats and didn't get on base once. Now he will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after he is getting shoulder surgery. The brightest days for Josh Hamilton might be long gone, but he could possibly find his groove back and help the Angels towards victory.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer
There isn't anything good to say about the Twins. The only bright side of their season was hosting the 2014 All-Star game at Target Field and people actually cheering in that stadium. Former All-Star himself Joe Mauer did not take place in this past years festivities due to a strained oblique injury that sidelined him throughout most of July. He happened to hit .277, with 4 HRs & 55 RBIs last year in only 120 games played. Now, Joe Mauer can't carry this team, but the team did find bright spots in 2B Brian Dozier, RHP Phil Hughes & the recent signing of RHP Ervin Santana. If this team can develop chemistry, then they will be headed towards possible contention.
New York Yankees: CC Sabathia
With the departure of one of the best SS in the game, Derek Jeter, somebody has to rise to be the new face of the Yankees. One of the players who has been M.I.A. lately is CC Sabathia. Sabathia only started 8 games last year to a reoccurring knee injury that kept him out for the remainder of the season. They found an ace in the Japanese import, Masahiro Tanaka, so this leaves CC in the number 2 slot in front of Michael Pineda. He'll be 35-years old in July and hopefully be as good as his Brewer days. If not, he'll be left alone in the 2016 free agency pool looking for someone to sign him to at least a minor league contract. In the 8 games he played, he posted a 5.28 ERA with 48 strikeouts.
Oakland Athletics: Brett Lawrie
After being traded back in late November, Brett Lawrie is in need of a comeback season to resurge the swingin' A's. Lawrie was traded for counterpart Josh Donaldson, who is now on his way to Toronto. Lawrie spent 4 years in Toronto putting up great defensive numbers, but average offensive numbers. Last year, he put up a .247 AVG with 12 HRs & 38 RBIs while dealing with reoccurring injuries throughout his body. Hopefully, with a change of scenery, the 25-year old 3B still has some power numbers left in him to get the A's back in the postseason in 2015.
Seattle Mariners: James Paxton
With a team that includes players such as King Felix, Robinson Cano & now the power hitting outfielder Nelson Cruz, what else do you need? Well, a LHP in the name of James Paxton doesn't hurt. The 26-year old 4th round draft pick in 2010 is a huge weapon for Seattle. He was expected to be in the Mariners rotation as the No. 3 guy, but after an early departure in April due to a lateral strain, Paxton's 2014 season was in doubt. 4 months later, Paxton was activated from the Disabled List and ready to return to action. Over 13 games pitched, he posted a 6-4 record with 59 strikeouts & a 3.04 ERA. Hopefully, Paxton can return a healthy starter in 2015 & earn himself a spot in the Mariners' rotation.
Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore
Ah, some may think the big comeback would be the lacking offensive 3B Evan Longoria. Yet, Longoria turned in quite a year for Tampa, so it'd be hard to give him a comeback hardware this year. The man who needs a comeback season is LHP Matt Moore. Moore came off of an 0-2 record with a 2.70 ERA & 6 strikeouts. This wasn't because he was sent down or moved to the bullpen. Moore suffered what many pitchers dealt with this year, Tommy John Surgery. Moore isn't expected until late June, but the rotation should hold up until then. With pitchers such as Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi & Drew Smyly, the Rays should hold up until Moore returns.
Texas Rangers: Prince Fielder
With all of the offseason moves going into the 2014 season, the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder trade took the hardware for the most shocking. Nobody suspected the Rangers were in need of a 1B when they had Mitch Moreland there already & surely nobody suspected that the Rangers were looking to get rid of longtime Ranger Ian Kinsler. The Rangers had high hopes for Fielder heading into 2014, but Fielder departed early and for the remainder of the season when he suffered a neck injury. When he did play, which was only 42 games, he hit .247 with 3 HRs & 16 RBIs. With numerous months of rehabilitation, Fielder looks 100% & ready to get back to action. After a disappointing 2014 for Texas, maybe Fielder being healthy is the spark the Rangers need to get back in contention in the AL West.
Toronto Blue Jays: Maicer Izturis
It would be hard to say that last years Blue Jays were terrible. When you take a look at the starters averages, they weren't terrible. Do the young guys need experience? Definitely. For this one, I have to pick veteran infielder Maicer Izturis. Izturis missed most of last season due to an early knee injury that kept him out for the entire season. In the start, he did play 11 games posting a .286 AVG with a .324 OBP & 1 RBI. With many rookies such as Ryan Goins & Steve Tolleson & veteran Ramon Santiago fighting for a spot at 2B, it'll be a battle going into the 2015 season to see who gets a majority of the playing time.