The Major League Baseball season starts March 29, and very soon we’ll kick off six months of peanuts and cracker jacks. From trade moves, to scheduling and coaching changes, all of the teams are about ready to throw the first pitch of the season. Spring training has been fun to watch thus far, but all the excitement truly stems from Opening Day. This upcoming is also season is the earliest starting season in MLB history.
Naturally, preseason rankings are already out and have been for a while. Unsurprisingly, the defending champion, Houston Astros, are on top, according USA Today’s rankings. With the vast majority of their squad back for this season, they only improved by adding starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to their rotation. The top ten in this particular ranking are the typical teams one would think would be there based on the last few seasons, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees.
The Yankees made one of the biggest preseason roster moves. They traded for former Miami Marlins right outfielder and last year’s National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees gave up 2B Starlin Castro, RHP Jorge Guzman and INF Jose Devers to get Stanton. This is a monster move and created one of the most explosive offenses that will be watched this season. With Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez all wielding the bat for New York, a trio who hit a combined 144 home runs last season, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees can break the homerun record in one season, which was 241 runs in total that was put up by the 1997 Mariners.
Another big offseason pickup that went down this preseason was the Chicago Cubs addition of former Dodgers’ starting pitcher Yu Darvish. The Cubs signed Darvish to a six year, $126 million deal. Darvish disappointed the Dodgers in the postseason last year, but the Cubs are hoping they can revive him and mold him into a threat on the mound. With the addition of Darvish, the Cubs now have a legitimate starting five, which includes Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood. With the offensive firepower they have and a improved relief pitching staff, on paper it looks like Chicago has a legitimate shot at making the World Series for the second time in three years.
One of the most interesting teams to watch this preseason has been the Los Angeles Angels. With the addition of Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani and the ever-intimidating presence of Mike Trout, seeing if they make it to the postseason will be fun to watch. If Shohei manages to produce both on the mound and at the plate, it could revolutionize the Angels and make them a legitimate landing spot for free agents in the upcoming years.
When it comes to legendary milestones that could be achieved, this is the perfect season for that to occur. Legendary player Albert Pujols is very close to 3,000 hits in his 17th season. Albert has 2,968 hits and will likely achieve 3,000 this upcoming season. If he got to 3,000 hits, along with his 614 homers, Pujols would join Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez as the only baseball players with 600 home runs and 3,000 hits.
An important headline that has been gaining traction has been the apparent risk of suspension of the Minnesota Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano. He was accused of assault “in December by a photographer who has covered the Twins. She posted on Twitter that Sano, an All-Star third baseman, forcibly attempted to kiss her following an autograph session at a mall in 2015,” as written by The Associated Press. However, as of recently, the MLB has been unable to find evidence supporting this claim, and Sano has not be suspended by the league.
This offseason has been fun, but now it is time for the regular season. Seeing the chances that players have to break records is mind-boggling. But nothing is as wonderful as watching the first games of the season. Tune in March 29 for a endearing, baseball-filled day and night. It will be the first of many over the next few months.