Chicago Cubs: The Lovable Losers On A Rise

Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles finished strong and really aren’t that far from being back in postseason play, but they need to make several tweaks in the offseason.

So, in other words, maybe we’ll see Matt Thornton used in high-leverage situations in the seventh or eighth inning, allowing Sergio Santos, sale jerseys or Jesse Crain to close out lower-leverage situations in the ninth. Whether that actually happens or not remains to be seen-Williams isn’t the manager, after all-but if the Sox do employ this leverage-based strategy, it’ll go a long way toward maximizing bullpen success.

The Tigers averaged 37.7 total chances per game, while the Cardinals averaged 39.1 and the Yankees averaged 36.5. The teams with the least number of total chances include the Diamondbacks, Rays, Giants, Marlins, Brewers, and Yankees.

Most run production will come from the 1-5 spots in the lineup. Sure, Juan Pierre could have better on-base skills, but for the team’s roster, he’s the ideal leadoff hitter. If Pierre can replicate his .341 OBP from 2010, he’ll at least be acceptable.

I knew and liked Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro. He was phenom. To put his talent in context, at age 19, his numbers when matched to others such as Alex Rodriguez, were far superior. Playing in the same outfield, he easily outhit future Hall-of-Famer Carl Yaztremski.

And for the most bullpen stability, a team needs an anchor in the closer role — and Oakland has that in Andrew Bailey. In his second major-league season, Bailey posted a 1.47 ERA with 25 saves. But he only pitched in 47 games, missing time with injuries — and that threw the whole bullpen out of whack at times.

15. Washington Nationals – The Nationals are a better team than they showed for much of the season, but don’t buy into the way they played in September, which featured a lot of games against their terrible division.