Lyle Spencer has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2005, covering the Padres and Angels. He has covered Major League Baseball as a reporter and columnist since 1971.
|The rise to prominence of the Royals and Blue Jays can be traced in part to a rare ability to produce offense in pressure situations. Yes, we're talking clutch hitting, and it's worth noting as we weigh in with bold 2016 forecasts.
More» Perez singles to score another in the 8th|
|With the new position players drawing the raves, two men who haven't thrown or hit a baseball with meaning in years also figure to make this Angels outfit better than the one that narrowly missed the postseason with 85 wins in 2015. The impacts of Bud Black and Ron Roenicke, with their minds and instincts, should not be underestimated.
|The Dodgers will be without Andre Ethier until likely June, meaning they'll need Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford to come up big early in the season.
More» Crawford laces RBI triple|
|Marlins ace Jose Fernandez knows what so many fans and insiders don't seem to get: his batterymate Jeff Mathis is the most underrated Major League player of the past decade.
More» Mathis recovers on wild pitch to nab runner|
|He was the smallest of the Angels, but in the hearts and minds of their fans, nobody was bigger than Chone Figgins -- not even the great Vladimir Guerrero or Figgy's good buddy, Garret Anderson.
More»Figgins signs one-day contract to retire as an Angel|
|The best outfields normally are anchored by a swift, athletic center fielder, but corner artists can be transforming as well. Let's examine elite Major League units.
More»Marte collects 16 assists for the Pirates in 2015|
|Anchored by Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford, the Giants have the one of the highest-regarded infields in baseball.
More»Reynolds talks to top infield duo, Crawford and Panik|
|The Miami Marlins are the most intriguing team in baseball entering the 2016 season. They could contend or extend to seven their streak of losing seasons -- but it's going to be a rollicking ride for sure.
More» Mattingly on Stanton playing right field|
|There is a lot to like about the D-backs' chances in the NL West. Perhaps the most overlooked of Arizona's assets is its extraordinary baserunning. The D-backs can run circles around the Dodgers, Giants and most everyone else in the Majors.
More» D-backs steal seven, Pollock swipes three|
|Respectful of the game and his good fortune, Nolan Arenado is now a terrific role model in the manner of those who helped shape him.
More» Nolan Arenado on his great day for Rockies|
|Singles have been marginalized somewhat in the modern game with its focus on home runs, walks, on-base percentage and OPS. But singles are better than walks, in spite of what parents with the best of intentions tell their overeager kids, and Ichiro Suzuki, the greatest singles hitter the game has ever known, is the best example to show their true value.
More» Ichiro ties Simmons on all-time hit list|
|Randal Grichuk has been linked to Mike Trout since being taken one pick ahead of him by the Angels in the 2009 Draft.
More» Grichuk is young with plenty of power|
|When we think of clutch performance, we usually focus on hitters. But certain pitchers also show consistent ability to lift their games in make-or-break situations with men in scoring position.
More»Greinke to make his D-backs debut on Opening Day|
|If Ian Desmond would like insight into the potentially transforming impact of a move from the infield to the outfield, all he needs to do is stroll over from the Rangers' clubhouse at Surprise Stadium in Arizona to the left-field clubhouse housing the reigning World Series champion Royals.
More»Desmond excited to play left field for Rangers|
|If not for the Herculean 2014 postseason performance of the Giants' Madison Bumgarner, the Royals, beyond reasonable doubt, would be plotting a rare World Series three-peat this spring in their Surprise, Ariz., camp. What the 2015 champions have done in defying all evaluations, expectations and projections is even more impressive when you dig into how they've done it.
More»Escobar, Zimmer, Yost on Royals' spring progress|
|Guaranteeing that nobody would exit the Beverly Hilton ballroom early to beat the notorious traffic, the Los Angeles Sports Council wisely saved the brightest star for last in Thursday night's 11th annual LA Sports Awards presentation.
|Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout have all the right answers for all the right-handers. The purest hitters are equal-opportunity hitters, and they lead an elite group of bangers from the right side.
More»Miguel Cabrera vs. Hank Aaron at age-32 seasons|
|Mutt Mantle was a forward thinker, years ahead of his time. In his drive to keep his son Mickey out of the blasted mines, the Oklahoman taught him to switch-hit as soon as the kid was old enough to pick up a bat.
More» Duda looking to get back to 30-homer output|
|If you were to draw up a list of the Major Leagues' most underrated players, new Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez would have to merit serious consideration.
More» K-Rod moves to AL, is still a strong closer|
|In recovery from a near-fatal heart attack in September, Hall of Famer Rod Carew opens up to host Bob Costas in an episode of MLB Network Presents, premiering tonight at 9 ET. "Rod Carew: The Fight of His Life" was filmed from Carew's home in Southern California and Minnesota's Target Field. Carew has been heartened by the level of support he has been given from the public and those inside the game. Among his most famous fans is Don Mattingly, the former Dodgers manager now handling the Marlins' reins.
More»MLB Tonight previews Rod Carew, The Fight of his Life|