Surprise Teams for 2015

The 2014 season has passed the three-quarter mark and with more than a handful of teams playing for nothing but pride, let’s take a look at some of the potential surprising teams for 2015:

New York Mets: The organization, hamstrung by some monetary issues, has nonetheless laid the foundation for a potentially dominant rotation. Even without the club’s top player, right hander Matt Harvey, who should be back from TJ next season, the rotation’s been quietly solid, posting a 3.80 FIP while throwing the eighth most innings this year.

Zack Wheeler has taken a big developmental step forward during his first full season. Jacob deGrom has been an absolutely revelation. Southpaw Jon Niese has bounced back after an injury-riddled 2013. And Bartolo Colon has been, well, quietly underrated this year. Add in top prospect Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero along with a (hopefully) fully healthy Harvey, and the Mets could have a top 10 or so rotation in 2015.

The Mets’ offense shouldn’t be completely inept either: Lucas Duda has matured into a middle-of-the-order type bat this season, hitting .255/.354/.487 with 25 homeruns en route to topping the league average production by 38%; Daniel Murphy’s posted a 119 wRC+, and Travis d’Arnaud has seemingly figured things out since his return from the minors, hitting .259/.309/.481 in his last 44 games. Center fielder Juan Lagares, one of the league’s top defensive players, has topped the 3.0-fWAR mark. And both David Wright and Curtis Granderson help round out a better than average lineup.

New York’s a creative move or two away from possible contention.

Texas Rangers: This one’s an easy one to call: the Rangers have sputtered through the year after a domino effect of injuries hit the club. At one point or another this season Jurickson Profar, Yu Darvish, Tanner Scheppers, Prince Fielder, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Mitch Moreland, and Alexi Ogando have spent a significant portion of time on the DL. Just regressing back towards the mean should push the Rangers back above the .500 mark.

GM Jon Daniels still has plenty of prospects to deal – Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Chi-Chi Gonzalez, Jake Thompson, Lewis Brinson, and Nick Williams among others.

Don’t overlook the development of Rougned Odor this season and Shin-Soo Choo is certainly not a sub-replacement level player either.

Chicago Cubs: The front office started pushing up some of the system’s top prospects – Arismendy Alcantara and  Javier Baez – and have a bevy of others boiling in the upper levels. And by no later than midseason 2015 the Cubs’ lineup should look like:

  1. Starlin Castro, SS
  2. Addison Russell, 3B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Kris Bryant, RF
  5. Javier Baez, 2B
  6. Arismendy Alcantara, CF
  7. Chris Coghlan, LF
  8. Welington Castillo, C

And once Edwin Jackson’s ERA begins to normalize – he’s sporting a 6.09 ERA and a 4.06 xFIP – the rotation has the makings of a league average staff: Arieta, Travis Wood, Dan Straily, Jacob Turner, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Kyle Hendricks.

White Sox: Chicago already has two-fifths of a very good rotation with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana and has a third lefty, top pick Carlos Rodon, quickly on the way. Just weeks after leaving N.C. State Rodon has already appeared in Class AAA.

The offense has one of the game’s top sluggers, Jose Abreu, and arguably the most overlooked center fielder in Adam Eaton, who hit .304/.370/.401 while playing solid-average defense.

The franchise is further away than any other team on the list, but has the potential finish a handful of games about .500 in 2015.

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.