With just two months left until the start of the new Major League Baseball season, the countdown has begun and the excitement is building. After finishing bottom of the American League East in 2014, Boston Red Sox will be more desperate than most to wipe the slate clean and to get back out and show what they are made of. Despite last season’s poor showing, the Red Sox are currently sixth in the betting to win the World Series in 2015.
The likes of the LA Dodgers, who finished above eventual World Series Champions the San Francisco Giants in the National League West, may currently have shorter odds than the Red Sox, but there is always an outsider that makes an unexpected run for the play offs. It will be worth following the market with betfair. This article will look at the teams currently ranked 6th-10th in the World Series contenders and highlight the men that will be crucial to their success if they are to remain in the mix at the end of the season.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox star with a vital role to play in ensuring that his team recover in 2015 will come as little surprise to any baseball fan. At 39 years old there are few players in Major League Baseball with more miles on the clock than David Ortiz but, regardless of age, the designated hitter just keeps on delivering the goods. Last season he finished with 35 home runs, 104 RBIs and an average of .263, which placed him in the American League top 10, despite the overall poor performance of the Red Sox. Over the course of his career, Ortiz has been named in the all-star team on nine occasions, won three World Series and been named in the top-five vote receivers for the MVP. The last of these occasions was in 2007. Ortiz is a legend of the game and his Boston team-mates will turn to him for inspiration. If he performs to the best of his ability in 2015, the Red Sox can expect an impressive season.
San Francisco Giants
Having been drafted straight out of high school in 2007, Madison Bumgarner has been making a name for himself over the last few years. In 2010 he became the youngest left-handed pitcher to throw eight scoreless innings in the World Series as the Giants defeated the Texas Rangers 4-1. He had started that season by playing in the minor leagues. If 2010 was the year that Bumgarner became a star in MLB, then 2014 was the year that he became a global sporting superstar. The 25-year-old was flawless in the Giants’ run to World Series glory, starting in a record-equalling six post-season games and breaking the record for the number of post-season innings pitched. In the World Series he allowed just nine hits in the 21 innings that he pitched and maintained his record for the lowest career ERA in the World Series (0.25). Bumgarner’s performance earned him the World Series MVP for 2014 and saw him named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. The pressure will be on the man from North Carolina to repeat his outstanding form in 2015. But whilst he will struggle to live up to expectations he has the ability to lead the Giants back to the World Series.
The Seattle Mariners finished third in American League West in 2014 behind the Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Angels but their pitcher, Fernando Rodney, was named in the All-Star team for the second time. At 37 years of age, Rodney has been around the MLB since originally signing for the Detroit Tigers as a free agent back in 1997. He therefore has a wealth of experience. Although something of a journeyman, having also played for the Rays and the Angels, Rodney looks to have found a home with the Mariners. He plays a big part as a relief pitcher and something of a save specialist. In 2012 he set the record for ERA for a relief pitcher (0.6) and last year he led the American League with 48 saves. If Seattle are to improve on their 2014 finish, then they will need Rodney to close out as many games as possible and to help them make the most of any leads that they can build up. The Mariners’ will be another one to watch out for with the betting specialists.
Kansas City Royals
Kendrys Morales is another journeyman with ability and the potential to light up the MLB in 2015. Morales arrived at Kansas City Royals having been traded by the Mariners after less than five months with the franchise. Prior to that he had spent just a matter of weeks with the Twins. Morales first made his name at the Angels, finishing second in the American League batting stats in 2009 behind MVP Joe Mauer. In that year he hit 34 home runs, enjoying a purple patch towards the end of the season and eventually finishing fifth in the American League MVP standings. After this promising start to his career, however, Morales has failed to live up to his potential and has been hit hard by injury. The broken leg he sustained whilst celebrating in 2010 saw him miss nearly two years of baseball and he has since been unable to rediscover his best form. Now 31 years of age, Morales has the experience to make a big difference to the Kansas City team but time is not on his side. The Cuban designated hitter knows that it is now or never. If he is ever to live up to his early promise, then he needs to do it in 2015.
The Chicago Cubs may have finished bottom of the National League Central in 2014 but first baseman Anthony Rizzo has backed them to bounce straight back and make the playoffs this season. Rizzo was named as an All-Star for the first time last season, despite the Cubs’ disappointing campaign, and was also awarded the Branch Rickey award for his work off the field. At 25 years of age, the left hander, who was originally drafted by the Red Sox, is in his prime and he will be desperate to ensure that he maintains his All-Star place in 2015. Rizzo hit 32 home runs last year and recorded a batting average of .286. In 2013 he managed to score nine fewer home runs, despite playing in 20 more games. If Rizzo continues to develop in the way that he has over the last couple of years then he is destined to be a real star in 2015. The Cubs might just make up for last year’s disappointment.