Ranking the AL East infielders:
1. Russell Martin, Blue Jays
2. Gary Sanchez, Yankees
3. Welington Castillo, Orioles
4. Sandy Leon, Red Sox
5. Wilson Ramos (injured)/Derek Norris, Rays
I’m tempted to give the top spot to Sanchez, who laid waste to major league pitchers last year with 20 homers in 53 games after his August promotion. Until we see what he can do for a full, big league season, though, Sanchez slots behind Martin, who has a much longer track record of success both at the plate and behind it.
The Orioles’ new backstop, Castillo, has big shoes to fill after the departure of the popular Matt Wieters. Offensively, Castillo should be similarly productive to Wieters, but he faces questions about his defense and how quickly he’ll mesh with the Orioles’ pitching staff.
Leon had an out-of-nowhere breakout for the Red Sox in 2016, batting .310 with an .845 OPS, and now he’ll need to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Meanwhile, the Rays are patiently waiting for Ramos’ midseason return from October knee surgery. In his absence, they’re relying on the newly signed Norris, whose .583 OPS was the worst in baseball last year among hitters with 450 plate appearances or more.