The Major League Baseball season starts on Thursday, March 29 and will feature games with all 30 teams to begin the year. The offseason for the MLB was busy, and with all the new moves, some teams will look and play very differently.
Although there are five teams in the American League East division, – New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay Rays – the focus will be on the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Last season, the Yankees surprised everyone by making it within one game of the World Series, and their team only improved over the offseason. They traded for National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton, who led the MLB with 59 home runs last season, and paired him up with rookie star Aaron Judge, who hit 52 home runs last year.
The Red Sox, who won the division last year, also improved by adding J.D. Martinez, one of the biggest free agents of the offseason. He hit 45 home runs and drove in 104 runs.
These two teams have a storied history with many battles in the playoffs, with this year looking no different.
Sophomore Justin Hurson said, “I think the Red Sox will have a better regular season, but the Yankees will have a better postseason because of their history.”
For the other AL East teams, the only one that has a realistic shot at the playoffs is the Blue Jays. They struggled last year, but with talent like third baseman Josh Donaldson and solid, young pitching, they have a chance to compete.
The Orioles have a decent hitting lineup, but their pitching does not seem good enough to make the playoffs.
The Rays have made many trades over the offseason, losing key pieces to their team like third basemen Evan Longoria and All-Star Corey Dickerson. They also let pitcher Alex Cobb go in free agency, most likely to cut salary, and their record will pay the price.
Next is the American League Central division with the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox. Like the AL East, only two teams really have a chance at the playoffs – the Twins and Indians.
After losing in the 2016 World Series, the Indians surprised everyone last year by giving up a 2-0 series lead to the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. The Indians are hoping to have a redemption season. They lost key players like outfielder Jay Bruce and first baseman Carlos Santana, but got back All-Star Yonder Alonso.
The Minnesota Twins made history last year by becoming the first team to lose 100 games and then go on to make the playoffs the next season. Their chances to make it again look promising, too, as their team added better players over the offseason like relief pitchers Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney.
The Tigers are starting a rebuilding process, losing and getting high draft picks to acquire young talent, as are the Royals.
The White Sox have had a successful rebuild and have some of the best young stars in baseball like outfielder Eloy Jimenez. As far as their playoff chances go, they are likely still a year or two away.
To close out the American League, there is the AL West division with the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Angels.
The Astros just won the World Series and have the talent to make it there again. Their team stayed the same with some minor additions here and there, but nothing too exciting. With the confidence flowing from last year, a World Series repeat seems very possible for the Astros.
The Athletics, or A’s, are like the White Sox where they have a lot of young talent like pitcher A.J. Puk, but odds are they are a few years away from being serious competitors.
The Angels made nice offseason moves such as signing Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, who is famous for being a good pitcher and hitter. They also have arguably the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, to go along with him.
The Rangers are looking to bounce back after a dismal season with a strong lineup, but terrible pitching. The Mariners also made the decision to add star second basemen Dee Gordon, who they are moving to center field. Although neither seem like they will make the playoffs, both have a chance.
Moving over to the National League, in the NL East division are the New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Washington Nationals.
The Washington Nationals won the division last year and are the favorites to do it again led by perennial All-Star Bryce Harper and a strong pitching rotation.
The bottom of the division is not pretty, though. The Phillies made some offseason moves, like adding first baseman Carlos Santana, but they do not seem like enough of a threat to make the playoffs. The Braves have a solid young team and some stars still in the minor leagues. They might do better than expected this season, but they probably will not make the playoffs either.
The Marlins had a busy offseason. Former owner Jeffrey Loria sold the team to a group of investors, including former MLB player Derek Jeter. Under new ownership, they traded away many of their good players like Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. Due to this, they are the favorites to be the worst team in baseball.
The Mets had a bad season last year, mainly due to a plethora of injuries, but added some nice talent in power-hitting third baseman Todd Frazier and veteran Adrian Gonzalez. With a great pitching staff, the Mets have a chance of making the playoffs, if they can stay healthy.
In the NL Central are the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs won it last year, and they only got better by adding star pitcher Yu Darvish. They look poised to make another playoff run.
The Cardinals had a huge offseason by adding All-Star left fielder Ozuna and pitcher Luke Gregerson. After a disappointing 2017 season, they are expected to fight for the playoffs again in 2018.
The Reds are currently in a rebuild, but behind older stars like first basemen Joey Votto, they might not finish in last.
The Pirates seem to be headed the same direction as the Reds. They just traded away former MVP Andrew McCutchen and star pitcher Gerrit Cole.
The Brewers surprised everyone last season by starting off red hot, winning a lot more games than people expected. They cooled down and started losing more and missed the playoffs, but they only got better. They added star outfielder Yelich and free agent Lorenzo Cain, and seem ready to contend for a wild card spot.
Finally, what is arguably the best division in baseball, there is the NL West, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers were within one game of winning the World Series last year, and have relatively the same team. They should make the playoffs and are the favorites to reach the World Series again.
The Diamondbacks and Rockies both made the playoffs, and look to do the same again. The Rockies improved by adding pitcher Bryan Shaw. Behind All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado, they are expected to be another wild card team this year. The Diamondbacks took a step back, however, by losing Martinez to the Red Sox. They could still make the playoffs, though led by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and pitcher Zach Greinke.
The Giants had a dismal season in 2017, but had a major offseason, adding former MVP Andrew McCutchen and perennial All-Star Evan Longoria. Their pitching needs to improve, but they also have a shot at making the playoffs.
The San Diego Padres made this offseason count by adding solid veterans Chase Headley and Eric Hosmer, and also have some young players to go along with them. However, in such a strong division, they do not seem to have the talent needed to make the playoffs.
A lot of teams changed talent and some of those teams could be more exciting to watch with their new players. The big moves are not done yet, either. There are still plenty of big names that aren’t with a team yet, like Jake Arrieta, Cobb, Lance Lynn, and Jose Bautista.
Freshman Christian Herrmann said, “I think this upcoming baseball season will be very exciting. So many teams made new moves and it will be interesting to see the new players fit in.”
Which two teams do you think will make the World Series in 2018 and why?
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