If you are a fan of Major League Baseball, then this weekend cannot come soon enough. We are now at Thursday, meaning that we are only three days away from regular season MLB action. Sunday will provide fans the end of what has been a long Winter.
As we look ahead to the excitement that is the 2017 MLB season, we have been counting down the days here at INSC. Today’s topic, players that could surprise and players that could disappoint. And as I mentioned above, today’s magic number is three!
We see it every season. Some players come in with minimal expectations prior to a season. Then about a month in, everyone is asking where did this come from. Then on the flip side, we have those who are way overhyped. The bar is simply set way too high. And as a result, they fall flat on their face.
So who will fall into those respective categories this season? Let’s take a look!
Players who will surprise
Michael Wacha – So let’s get a quick recap. Wacha came into the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a highly touted prospect. He made his debut in the Big Leagues in 2013. He would go on to have three solid campaigns between 2013 and 2015. He even won 17 games in 2015.
But then 2016 happened. It was a season that was filled with injuries for the now 25-year-old. As a result, he had a disastrous season, posting a 5.09 ERA. He would eventually find his way to the pen. Then this Spring he needed to prove himself by winning his rotation spot back.
And that he did. Wacha has had a tremendous Spring. He has gone 3-0, struck out 18 and posted a 2.05 ERA. He is an extremely talented pitcher who simply hit a rough patch with injuries a season ago. As he begins his climb into the prime years of his career, look for a major bounce back from Wacha in 2017.
Patrick Corbin – Speaking of promising young pitchers who had things go off that tracks thanks to injuries. 2013 was a career year for Corbin. He went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA over the course of 208 and a third innings. But then Tommy John Surgery would cost him all of the 2014 season in addition to a good portion of the 2015 season.
Then last season was just a total nightmare. Corbin would pitch a little over 150 innings, sporting a rough 5.15 ERA. In the 36 games he pitched in, 12 of them were out of the bullpen. He just was not the same Corbin we had seen a few years prior.
But now the lefty has had a full offseason to prepare himself, and he enters the prime age of 27 season. He has had a decent Spring Training, striking out 17 while only walking three in just over 18 innings. We know the talent is there. Now that he has gotten his feet wet and has had some time to get prepared, 2017 should be his return to prominence.
Michael Conforto – There is a theme to this list. When you look for guys who could surprise, you need to find younger guys who were once highly touted prospects. When it comes to Conforto, that title is only about two years old. He made his debut two years ago in 2015.
In 2015, Conforto showed some serious promise in a small window. He hit .270 with nine homers in 174 at-bats. As a result, he entered 2016 with some seriously higgh expectations. But when you set the bar too high, young guys tend to fall on their faces.
And that’s exactly what happened here. Conforto would spend the season going between Citi Field and the minors, thanks to some sluggish results in the beginning portion of the year. When all was said and done, he would finish with a .220 average with only 12 home runs in 304 at-bats. But we know the talent is there. And now the pressure is off. Now all he needs are consistent at-bats to show what he can really do.
Players who will let you down
Corey Seager – Seager had a tremendous 2016 campaign. It was his first full campaign in the Majors, and boy did he make it count. He hit .308 with 26 homers and 105 runs scored. As a result, he would finish third in the NL MVP voting. And he is only going to be 23 this season!
But remember when I mentioned a bar being set too high? Well when you finish third in the MVP voting in your first full season, that bar is going to be sky high. As talented as Seager is, there is a thing called the sophomore slump. Add in the fact that he is already dealing with an oblique injury and I feel like things could go south real quick for the shortstop.
So while I think Seager is one of the most talented young players in MLB who is poised for a great career, 2017 simply isn’t going to be his season. All great players go through at least one rough patch. And for Kyle Seager’s younger brother, I see that being this year.
Gary Sanchez – Considering I am a New York Yankees fan, it pains me to put Sanchez on this list. After the home run barrage he went on a year ago, I feel like he simply will not be able to live up to the expectations that people will be putting on him. A season ago, he launched 20 homers in 201 at-bats. That is a home run in every 10 ABs, which means one every three games.
So not only will the bar be set super high like it will be for Seager, but there is something else that bothers me with Sanchez. When I was down in Florida for Spring Training this year, I got to see a Yankees game. I was disappointed when I didn’t see Sanchez’s name in the lineup. But then in the sixth inning, Sanchez came into pinch hit and proceeded to play the rest of the game.
Now it may be nothing, but the way Joe Girardi used him that day just didn’t sit well with me. You do not sit one of your better players in Spring Training only to bring him in later in the game. But nonetheless, he will also be a candidate to face the dreaded sophomore slump as well. A high bar plus a sophomore season usually ends in some disappointment.
Miguel Cabrera – Another name that I just hate to include on this list, as Miggy has always been a favorite of mine. But I am going with my gut. I simply feel age will start to catch up with Cabrera this year. As he enters his age 34 season, Miggy will start to show some signs of decline.
He has already dealt with some injuries in his career. As he continues to age, those injuries will only become more common. Add in a team that could very well disappoint, and things look to be pointing in the wrong direction for Cabrera. The Tigers are a team that did not do much to improve their roster this Winter. As a result, I am expecting things to be rough in Motown.
Most of the team’s stars are over the age of 30. When it comes to building a contender, you usually want a younger core. So Miggy’s supporting cast is far from a lock in terms of success. That could ultimately hurt Miggy. Last season he batted .316 with 38 homers, 108 RBIs and 92 runs scored. I simply cannot see a repeat of those numbers this season. So look for this year to be a step back for the future Hall of Famer.
So there you have it. If you have any late fantasy baseball drafts, take note of the above. The top three guys are certainly worthy of stashing on your roster. But the last three, stay away from.
Do you agree with my selections? Tell us in the comments!