Ranking the American League East: Who has the best first baseman?
As Buck Showalter began preparing the Orioles for the 2013 season, he made clear to them the No. 1 priority.
Showalter says he put the names of the other four teams in the American League East on the board down in Sarasota, Fla., and told his players that they can forget about everything else -- the primary objective is to find a way to finish above the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays in the standings.
As part of that, the manager told his players to look at the guys in the division at their specific position and find a way to be better than them.
So, how does the division -- likely the deepest in baseball -- stack up from position to position? This spring we're giving you an opportunity to vote for who has the edge at each spot.
Today, a look at the first baseman.
(If you missed our first poll on the catchers, click here.)
-- David Selig
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Tampa Bay Rays - James Loney( James Borchuck, MCT / February 19, 2013 )
James Loney is by far the least explosive bat of the AL East first basemen. Playing with the Dodgers and Red Sox last year, he batted .249 with just 6 homers and 41 RBIs in 434 at-bats.
The Rays signed him to one-year, $2 million contract in the offseason hoping that his glove will improve their infield defense, which was sub-par last year.
A successful season for Loney would entail him improving his average and peppering the gaps with doubles. But he's never hit more than 15 homers in a season (and that was back in 2007), so don't expect the 28-year-old to suddenly become a long ball threat.