15 MLB Players Who Must Dominate During 2014 Spring Training
15 MLB Players Who Must Dominate During 2014 Spring Training
Part of the appeal of Spring Training is that the games are not nearly as serious as the regular season. At times we can see the fun spirit of the game of MLB emerge during the spring when it is masked so often during the 162-game grind. Not every single player in Spring Training has the luxury of just taking it easy however. There are a select few that will need to dominate the opposition for one reason or another.
If a player is returning from injury they really need to put on a show to make sure the world knows they are back and healthy for the next season. The same could be said of a player who has slumped a great deal in the season before or seasons before for that matter. Those are just two reasons but there are plenty. Suffice it to say that MLB camp is more than just an exhibition for some players.
It goes without saying that minor league prospects of all ages need to hit the spring with a chip on their shoulder to show the world what they are made of but this isn’t talking about that specifically. This would be a list of guys who otherwise could take it easy but for one reason or another need to go out and bust it this spring. Perhaps you have a favorite player on this list.
If you do, please understand that they aren’t on here because they are bad players. They are here because they have something to prove because they are or have been great players. Feel free to discuss your opinion in the comments section below. Without further delay, here are 15 MLB players who need to dominate Spring Training.
15 – Emilio Bonifacio
When he arrived with the Kansas City Royals Bonifacio turned another page in his season. He was suddenly the kind of player that everyone thought he was and really had a huge impact on the game. The Royals went and signed Omar Infante to play second, making Bonifacio quickly sink to the bottom of the depth chart. Now, after being picked up in early spring by the Chicago Cubs, Bonifacio needs to bust this spring wide open to show the Cubs and everyone else what he’s made of.
14 – George Springer
Okay so I said this isn’t about prospects and it isn’t. Springer is not just a prospect though he is one of the select few players that are the hope of a franchise. He holds hopes and dreams of Houston Astros faithful within his bat. If he can go out and dominate the spring and earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, it will seem like an omen of hope.
13 – Mike Napoli
The Boston Red Sox had a bit of a mass exodus on some small scale this offseason with the departure of two key players. They went out of their way to bring back their slugging first baseman before he could get comfy on the free agent market though and that is supposed to help make it okay that the others are gone. Napoli is a fine ballplayer but he hasn’t always seemed as dominant as he did late last season. Going out and blowing up the spring will go a long way towards easing Red Sox fan nerves.
12 – Bryce Harper
Maybe it isn’t fair that Harper is the main component for the Washington Nationals at his tender age but it’s true just the same. Last season he was hurt when he was playing and out with injury the rest of the time. Now claiming to be healthy, he needs to go out and show the promise that made him 2012 Rookie of the Year. If he does the Nats offense will instantly look healthier.
11 – Rafael Furcal
Furcal was only injured for one season and is not in his late 30’s yet so I don’t know why some talk like he is over the hill. Just a short time ago he was still able to drive the ball and be an offensive catalyst in the top part of the batting order. Now playing second with the Miami Marlins, Furcal plainly has something to prove when he goes out this spring. Here’s hoping he does just that.
10 – Derek Jeter
Jeter doesn’t really need to dominate in the sense of hitting three home runs every day this spring but he does need to show he is in complete dominance of his game. Regardless of the fact that this is his last season in MLB, the New York Yankees need him to be healthy all year long to have a chance. Proving he is healthy enough to be great this spring will go a long way.
9 – Josh Hamilton
The entire Los Angeles Angels team has something to prove this spring but that can be focused down onto a couple of players. Hamilton is one of them to be sure. Everything about his swing and presence at the plate seemed to be off last season as he pressed apparently to show he could earn his big contract. Whatever the reason, he should really go out and prove this spring that he has found his power stroke and use it to crush opposing pitching.
8 – Dan Uggla
Unfortunately for Uggla and the Atlanta Braves, he falls into the category of a player who has struggled for more than one season. He has just never quite been what the Braves thought he would be when they signed him. Going into the last couple of years of his deal before free agency hits, Uggs needs to show he can still bring it as bad as the Braves need him to bring it.
7 – Tim Hudson
Dominance of himself rather than dominance over opposing hitters is what Hudson needs this spring. With such a terrible injury to end his 2013 season, he just has to prove he can do the normal things in a somewhat dominant fashion with that foot and ankle. If he does that then the 2014 San Francisco Giants begin to look quite a bit healthier.
6 – Bud Norris
Norris is on record as saying he plans to spend this spring and season proving to the Baltimore Orioles what kind of pitcher he really is. That lays down the challenge right there. He needs now to go out and back it up the way the old Astros fans of his know he can do.
5 – B.J. Upton
It can only be assumed that Upton’s abysmal 2013 season was a result of ‘earn the contract’ syndrome. All the same, the Atlanta Braves need him to get over that and prove he is the player he has always been. Oh he won’t hit .300 but he needs to show the level of overall dominance of his game that made him a highly paid center fielder for this team.
4 – Brett Lawrie
A lot of things are on the line for the Toronto Blue Jays this spring and this season. They cannot be the team they think they can be without a great year by Lawrie though. To start that he needs to prove himself early in the spring so that the team and everyone else knows he is all in this season.
3 – Jeff Francoeur
Francoeur was once thought to be a future great outfielder in MLB but years of mediocrity have demolished that hope. At this point he has to go out and dominate for Cleveland Indians spring camp if he even hopes to earn a job this year. Just being a great arm in the outfield isn’t going to cut it anymore for this guy. He has to prove he can regain some of that former glory and he has to do it now.
2 – Chase Headley
A ton of the hopes of the San Diego Padres hinge on whether or not Headley can be the player that he was in 2012 or not. Some already say that the Padres should have traded him when they had the chance and the price was high. Headley has some work to do even this spring to silence that talk. A dominant camp would get everyone’s attention and set the stage for a season that would prove his worth to his team.
1 – Albert Pujols
When we talk about Pujols we are talking about a guy who was thought to be the next legendary home run hitter. He was to be a ‘future Hall of Famer’ playing every year until he is 40 and maybe threatening a record or two. Years of off-play for the slugger including injuries to his legs and a chronic foot injury have turned Los Angeles Angels fans’ fist pumps of excitement into a worried smirk as they wonder what he’ll be able to do. He claims to be well and ready to go. Spring Training is his stage to prove it; plain and simple.