Monday, February 21, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: Baltimore Orioles & Arizona Diamondbacks

I did my full preview of the MLB season Here:, but there is much more to it than just the playoffs and awards...

Over the next 2-3 weeks I will be going through team by team and choosing the player most important to his team's success in 2011. This won't necessarily be the best player on the team, rather the one whose season is most important. This could be for the team's success or their development as a player.

Baltimore Orioles: Nick Markakis:
The last two seasons Markakis was looked at as someone who was primed to breakout and become one of the top hitters in the game. He had 20+ home runs and 85+ RBI's in both the '07 and '08 seasons. That wasn't what experts were pointing to though when projecting Markakis. He had 43 and 48 doubles, and hit .303 between those two seasons. The power was expected to develop...

It never did for him, his power numbers dropped in the next two years, all the way down to 12 home runs in 2010. The doubles were still there, even the average was still high, but he sort of showed he may be nothing more than a mediocre player. A guy who will hit for a decent average, some power, but nothing else, something like a 2 hitter without much speed.

Markakis is important for the 2011 Orioles because they are a team who will not compete, but if they want to any time soon, they need to know what they have. If Markakis is ever going to develop his power then this has to be the year. If he doesn't have the upside, then the Orioles will need to look for someone else to bolster their young improving lineup.

Others considered: Matt Weiters: The young catcher has all the hype, but hasn't played to the level quite yet... Adam Jones: Like Weiters he was expected to make a huge splash, but has been a disappointment...Brian Matusz: coming off a solid first full year the lefty needs to build on his decent numbers if he wants to become a upper level SP...Mark Reynolds/Vladimir Guerrero: These are the two new guys in town and both have major power upside, but can they put it together like they have done in the past?

Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton:
Upton was expected to be the next big thing, but because his last name is Upton, he fell well short of those expectations. Everyone knew he would strike out a lot, but he was supposed to be a 30+ home run guy who also stole 30+ bases. Sounds an awful lot like what people said about B.J. Upton.

Justin hit .273 last season which is respectable, but he also only had 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases. While those are good numbers for most 23 year olds, Justin is not just any other 23 year old outfielder.

He needs to figure things out quickly this season before following in B.J.'s footsteps. The two are very similar and at some point Justin must break the trend of Upton's being overrated. This has to be the season for him to do so or he may never turn into what some people expected.

I think Upton has the power to be a 40 home run guy, but he has no confidence in himself right now. The Diamondbacks are unlikely to make noise in the NL West this year, so the development of Upton is the key to their season.

Others considered: Chris Young: Similar to Upton, he was someone who is full of potential, but he has lived up to it, the question is whether he can repeat his 2010 season where he almost went 30-30 AND set a career high in Avg...No other players seem important on this team...they are BAD.

Next two Teams: Boston Red Sox & Atlanta Braves


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