MLB 2019 preview: AL West position battles to watch

first_imgSo Seattle is where we start our position battles to watch in the AL West.Mariners — Left field, shortstopWe couldn’t just pick one position here because these two spots are just too intriguing. After acquiring both Jay Bruce and Domingo Santana this offseason, left field looks packed in Seattle. Both players present interesting skill sets as Bruce used to be an MVP candidate and Santana showed himself to be one of the best pinch-hitters in all of MLB last season.But this is the AL, there isn’t much need for pinch-hitters and Jerry Dipoto didn’t pick up Santana to sit on the bench. This could turn into a platoon situation, as they line up well for that possibility.Come to hear Jay Bruce chat with @ROOTSPORTS_NW about the upcoming season, stay to hear about the time he called the Kingdome to try and speak with Ken Griffey Jr. when he was nine years old. 😅 #MarinersST pic.twitter.com/pUbJMnczHp— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) February 27, 2019At shortstop it gets a little weird. Three years ago, having J.P. Crawford on your team was a huge asset. Now, he has been traded to the Mariners after he hasn’t shown he can hit at the MLB level and even has had struggles at Triple-A. But Tim Beckham, who will compete for the spot, hasn’t been much better in his career.Both players are former first-round picks who haven’t shown they can be much more than utility players in MLB. That alone should motivate someone to step his game up.Angels — Opening day starterThe Angels are pretty well set in the field, but their rotation is anything but decided. Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney have both shown flashes of greatness, but each player has had bouts with injuries as well.A slow motion look at Tyler Skaggs’ delivery pic.twitter.com/7MM9mB00ku— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) February 19, 2019Again, both of these guys are former first rounders who haven’t quite lived up to the billing yet. Maybe a battle for this spot could spur one or the other into a big season.Athletics — Second baseThis one could be a bit of a stretch. The Athletics traded for Jurickson Profar because they want him to be their second baseman. However, they also moved Franklin Barreto to second base because Marcus Semien was too good at short.A’s taking BP and HoFer Rickey Henderson is helpng @JURICKSONPROFAR with his swing. pic.twitter.com/YUlOsqUub5— Josh Shure 🌴 (@shure_joshua) February 20, 2019They clearly value both of these players and yet, Barreto doesn’t have a proven MLB track record and Profar has had one season where he has shown he can hit consistently. Either man could win this job but Profar clearly has the leg up.Astros — Fifth starterThis battle got a lot more interesting on Wednesday as rookie fireballer Josh James suffered an injury and is no longer in the running to compete for the spot. That leaves Framber Valdez, Cionel Perez and Brad Peacock as possible candidates for the spot.Framber Valdez was mentioned earlier this morning as a guy looking to earn the 5th spot in the starting rotation. Valdez got some work in with Pitching Coach Brent Strom during a bullpen session: #AstrosST pic.twitter.com/djVEJyidyp— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) February 21, 2019All three players have shown good things in both the bullpen and the rotation (whether that be in MLB, or the minors in the case of Perez) and will be valuable at either spot. And in all honesty, they may just be holding a spot for Forrest Whitley, the game’s No. 1 pitching prospect. Still, it will be a fun battle for about a month. Rangers — Left fieldThe Rangers are odd because they seem to be pretty set at every position on the field and yet they’ll probably still lose more than 85 games. But if Texas wants to get better it has to start moving away from the three-true-outcomes guys across the board.It did that to an extent by giving Ronald Guzman the starting job at third base last year, and maybe it’s time to do it in left field as well. Willie Calhoun has not proven he can hit in the majors yet, however, he has proven to have good knowledge of the strike zone and ability to get on base in the minors. Texas needs a man like that in the lineup and if he hits he could force Joey Gallo out of the position.And lastly (for today), here’s @11WillieCalhoun taking a swing in the cage. This concludes today’s broadcast of slow motion szn pic.twitter.com/OMJ05GZ1bH— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) February 15, 2019Not out of the lineup. Don’t get us wrong there. But maybe Gallo has to move to third base and then Asdrubal Cabrera will be relegated to a bench spot. If Texas wants to improve, it should at least entertain this possibility. Every team in the American League West is chasing the Astros.While Houston is likely to lose 3/5 of the team’s starting rotation from a year ago, it still returns All-Star caliber players at five positions and two Cy Young candidates in the starting rotation. MLB 2019 preview: 5 prospect storylines to watch in spring training This team is good so every other team will have to make the most of their rosters to compete with Houston. For some, that will be a tougher task than others.And while the Mariners are likely to be one of the teams it will be tough for, they still have quite a bit of talent despite a lot of turnover. Related Newslast_img read more