"Then will the lame leap like a deer." (Isaiah 35:6)
Troy Tulowitski played 47 games last year. Evan Longoria played 74. (Side note: ARGH--the numbers are inverted! Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln! Aliens!) It's safe to say that if those two players combine for 121 games again this year, AAA will be in deep trouble, because the IF is absolutely built around them. Danny Espinosa's power-speed blend only works if there are high-OBP guys around to support him; Miguel Montero either slugs or walks but not both; and Nick Swisher now plays for the third-best team in Ohio (behind the Reds and the Toledo Mud Hens).
The upside is that if Longo and Tulo do stay healthy, they are virtual locks to be among the best at their respective positions. If they're hurt, there's almost no way to replace their expected production. So AAA will have to hope that there is some serious lame deer-leaping in Denver and Tampa ths season.
"Run, you fools." (Gandalf 1:25)
I feel like I'm getting a little far afield here.
Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that this OF can really run. Justin Upton and Austin Jackson have averaged about 20 steals each over the past few years, and backups Cameron Maybin and Angel Pagan have been closer to 30-40 in some years. Current OF3 Alex Gordon is the plodder of the bunch, and even he has been in double-digits the last two years.
But while the speed looks solid, the other categories are more up in the air. As we've discussed before, a lot depends on whether Justin Upton makes the leap, or follows his brother BJ down the path of frustrating mere usefulness. Pagan is getting old, although he looked good in the WBC. And part of Jackson's breakout last year was based on a 50-point gain in BA, which raises some red flags about regression. Still, on balance this is a solid group with the potential to be better if Upton or Jackson take another step forward.
AAA has six starting pitchers. By my reckoning, the worst of them this year will be Kris Medlen. He has a career ERA of 2.35. So, yeah, pretty good.
Just for the record, here is the rest of the staff: Cliff Lee (multiple recent CYAs), R.A. Dickey (reigning N.L. CYA), David Price (reigning A.L. CYA), Max Scherzer (10 Ks per 9 IP last year), Matt Moore (nothing yet, but wait for it). Yes, pitching is inherently variable and yes, pitchers get hurt all the time and yes. But its hard to see how this doesn't end up as one of the very best rotations in the league at the end of the year.