The spring training is rolling along in Florida as teams in the GrapeFruit league prepare for the upcoming season. As opening day sits less than two weeks away we get a chance to take a look at which teams have performed well as well as which players stand out between the 15 teams in the Grape Fruit League.
The American League East represents the top two records in league as the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays both sit at 12-9 mid way through the spring. The two teams have stacked up pretty similar as the Yankees have scored 88 runs this spring versus just 77 runs allowed while the Blue Jays have scored 89 runs but have allowed 81 runs.
As you look at these two teams each of them have the talent to contend in 2015 with their current rosters. The main concern for the Yankees will come with their health and age as the team has experienced some key injuries last year including to pitchers Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia. Along with the starters the team also lost first baseman Mark Teixeira and outfielder Carlos Beltran for a significant portion of time.
For the Blue Jays the results this spring look encouraging for a team that was very busy this off-season bringing in Josh Donaldson, Justin Smoak and Russell Martin to provide more fire power in the lineup. That has worked as the three have combined to hit six home runs while driving in 12 runs in just 100 at bats this spring.
The one surprising team this spring has been the New York Mets who have scored the most runs in the entire league. This has helped the club post a 12-10 record while outscoring their opponents by 28 runs this spring. That being said no one really looks at the standings or statistics during the spring to gauge how a team will do during the regular season.
The key behind the Mets attack this spring has been newly acquired outfielder Michael Cuddyer along with a healthy David Wright. Cuddyer who spent the past few seasons with the Colorado Rockies is hitting .351 this spring with four doubles, five home runs and six runs knocked in. Wright on the other hand is hitting .303 with one double, three home runs and 10 runs batted in.
While the spring has been great for some teams a few teams have struggled early on including the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles. The Tigers enter this week with the worst Grapefruit record at 7-14 while the Orioles sit just two games behind at 9-13. For each of these teams their struggles have come with their pitching. The Orioles have allowed the fifth most runs in the league while the Tigers have allowed the second most.
We expect both of these teams to rebound over the next few weeks as teams start to reduce in size and the starters continue to go deeper into ball games. The Tigers enter 2015 with some concerns as Victor Martinez is coming off an injury and Miguel Cabrera is just starting his spring regimen. On the flip side the team found a way to acquire Yoenis Cespedes to anchor the outfield as well as provide the team another power bat in the middle of the lineup.
Now that we took a look at how some of the teams are performing in the Grapefruit League we will turn out attention to which players are performing the best through the first few weeks of spring training. Along with Cuddyer of the Mets, J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers have stood out for us early on. The Tigers outfielder is hitting .349 in 15 games this spring with three doubles, five home runs and nine runs batted in.
Here are some of the other top performers of the Grapefruit league this spring.
Steve Pearce, Baltimore Orioles: All we heard last year is how much of a fluke season Steve Pearce was having. Now it looks like it might have just taken the former Pittsburgh Pirate longer to develop into an everyday major league ball player. This spring Pearce is hitting .382 with one double, five home runs and nine driven in. The Orioles will look to use Pearce in multiple roles during the upcoming season including in the outfield as well as first base.
Michael Morse, Miami Marlins: Morse is having a terrific spring for his new ball club hitting .355 over his first 13 games. Along with the solid batting average Morse has also shown his ability to hit for power posting one double to go with four home runs and 14 runs batted in for the Marlins this spring. The journeyman will typically man first base for the team during the 2015 MLB season.
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox prospect is hitting the cover off the ball this spring making it difficult for the team to pull a trade for left hander Cole Hamels. Betts is hitting .471 in 11 games this spring with 16 hits including six doubles, two triples and one home run.
David Buchanon, Philadelphia Phillies: Buchanon has put together a solid spring on the mound for the Phillies. In 16 innings over five appearances, the Phillies pitcher has allowed just three earned runs while striking out 11 batters.
Matt Harvey, New York Mets: The Mets ace has looked like his old self after missing time in 2014 after having Tommy John Surgery. In four starts this spring, Harvey has allowed just two earned runs over 14.1 innings while striking out 12 batters.