Why Three AL Teams That Finished Last In 2015 Can Contend in 2016

Mandatory Credit: m.mlb.com

Mandatory Credit: m.mlb.com

In the NBA, once the Phoenix Suns began winning with the seven seconds or less system, teams began to emulate that. Don’t kid yourself, the Warriors ran a similar system on their way to a championship.

The Kansas City Royals have made the World Series over the last two seasons for two reasons. One was contact hitting. The other was the bullpen.

The A’s had the third worst bullpen ERA. The Tigers had the fourth worst. The Red Sox had the fifth worst. It’s only December 10th, but all of their fortunes can turn around.

Yes, the Red Sox have all sorts of talent, and they added David Price to the rotation. That’s a pretty big get. Their second biggest get? Getting Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres to be their closer. If Koji Uehara can return to form and health he can drop down to the seventh.

The Red Sox most important acquistion though may be the deal for Carson Smith from the Seattle Mariners. Smith was fifth among relievers in WAR last season and had a K/9 rate higher than guys like Trevor Rosenthal and Jeurys Familia.

In Oakland, if Sean Doolittle can remain healthy, the additions of free agent Ryan Madson and the trades for Liam Hendriks and Mark Rzepczynski should help stabilize a team that under-performed by nine wins last season.

The one thing that befuddled the Tigers for years is piecing together a bullpen. Maybe Al Avila, in his first off-season as GM, is on to something. They traded for Francisco Rodriguez to close games, signed Mark Lowe to a two-year deal, and acquired Justin Wilson from the Yankees Wednesday night.

Bullpen construction is a volatile thing. If you don’t get it right, you could really set your team back. If you nail it, you may hold up the trophy at the end of the year.

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