Each new year brings new goals. But the best players in Major League Baseball certainly aren’t eyeing a career change or planning a dedication to a gym membership like the average American. So, what do the biggest names in the national pastime strive to achieve in 2016? Here are our best guesses.
Bryce Harper: Ignore the critics
The 2015 National League MVP has had detractors in the media and even in his own clubhouse. Any still questioning his heart and hustle are oblivious to the fact that he merely carried the Washington Nationals during a time when a majority of the roster was depleted with injuries and underwhelming performances. The best news for Harper in ’16? There won’t be any maniac closers around to torment him.
Mike Trout: Expect the critics
What Harper is to the NL, Trout is to the AL. Only the 24-year-old Angel outfielder takes it a step further. With 139 home runs and 397 RBI in a little over four big league seasons, there are comparisons about to some of the game’s all-time greats. Numerous accolades, but zero in the playoff victories column. Even though the Halos pitching has let them down, it’s up to Trout to lead L.A. deep into October.
Clayton Kershaw: Accept more responsibility
With Zack Greinke now off to greener pastures, it’s looking like the Dodgers rotation will rely on the stellar lefty (despite two recent additions). He’s thrived on it before. He’ll have to do so again. The three-time Cy Young Award winner was the third best starter in the NL in 2015 – the second best in Los Angeles. The final statistics, though, indicate Kershaw maintained a level of excellence that has made him the best pitcher of his era. With a little help from his offense, there’s no doubt he’ll remain at the top.
Zack Greinke: Anticipate more responsibility
With big contracts come big expectations. Greinke’s recent deal from Arizona, following a career year, is about as enormous as it gets: six years, $206.5 million. He, as well as former Brave Shelby Miller, will be asked to revive a rotation that posted a 4.37 earned run average in 2015 (23rd in MLB). It’s asking a lot to duplicate 19-3, 200 Ks and a league-best 1.66 ERA. If the bats of Goldschmit and Pollock remain hot, the wins will come – and the positive vibes will reign.
David Price: No complaints about the Green Monster
Greinke wasn’t the only star pitcher who saw an tremendous pay raise. Price cashes in with Boston at $217 million over seven years. He joins a Red Sox team poised to go from worst-to-first in the AL East. He also places himself in an unenviable position. The famed 37-foot high left field wall just 315 feet away from home plate is enticing for right handed hitters, and, thus, makes Fenway Park historically unkind to left-handed starting pitchers.
Matt Harvey: Openness and honesty always wins out
“The Dark Knight” experienced both the fervent love and hate that is common with New York sports fans. An 180-inning limit, implied by his agent in September, never really materialized – as he exceeded it by getting four postseason starts. But Harvey let this hot debate simmer for months instead of being upfront and honest with team management, giving us reason to question his loyalty to the club. A determined eight-inning effort in Game 5 of the World Series, though, went a long way toward pleasing the Mets faithful.
Yoenis Cespedes: Don’t get too comfortable
The man just cannot hold a job. In his four MLB seasons (since coming over from Cuba), Cespedes had stops in Oakland, Boston, Detroit and New York – and will likely have a new home when the 2016 campaign begins. As it stands, the White Sox and Orioles are the leading candidates to acquire his services. Let’s hope, for his sake, that his home address can remain permanent…at least until 2017 rolls around.