MLB teams get a start at spring training
As the weather gets better (well, it’s supposed to get better), MLB spring training gets underway. This means that all your favorite baseball teams are heading down south to some actual nice weather. Arizona and Florida are now hot spots for professional baseball, as the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues begin.
Spring training will run from now to about mid-March before the season officially begins March 20. This season will be the 150thh for Major League Baseball since its founding in 1869. With this season, like all others, we’re reaching the time of year where the predictions start flooding in, and here is one more set for you.
In the AL East, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are likely going to be duking it out for the top spot once again. Last year, it came down to a one-game difference in the regular season standings, and the Red Sox eventually went on to win the World Series.
It will be fun to watch these two and their reignited rivalry, but the Tampa Bay Rays should also be a team worth monitoring after some moves in the offseason. The same goes for the Toronto Blue Jays, and it’s looking to be another sad season for the Baltimore Orioles.
In the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians will be the team to beat. They were the division’s best last year by a significant margin, and that will be hard for teams to close. The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox will probably find themselves battling for the second-place spot. They are still young and have some improving to do, but they aren’t bad overall. The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers won’t have much to show this season.
Finishing off the American League is the AL West. The Houston Astros, who took the division last year, have a fairly similar roster and will likely be able to compete for the top spot again.
However, the Oakland Athletics could challenge them with their offseason moves. The Los Angeles Angels are close behind, but the way I see it, they don’t have enough pitchers to hang with the other two.
The Seattle Mariners are still rebuilding as always and won’t have much to show, and to keep it simple, the Texas Rangers are just bad.
Heading into the National League, we’ll first look at the NL East. I expect this to be the tightest division of them all. The Atlanta Braves will still be holding strong after their successful season last year. Both the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals will also be decent contenders, even after the Nationals presumably lose star outfielder Bryce Harper. The dark horse in this division will be the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies made a lot of moves this offseason and could really move up in the ranks this season. The only team without a chance in the division is the Miami Marlins.
The NL Central will be another close race for first. The Milwaukee Brewers were playoff contenders last season and didn’t make too many changes to their roster since. The Chicago Cubs will likely continue to be good.
The St. Louis Cardinals picked up All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt back in December, and he’ll make significant changes to the team. The Cincinnati Reds will be lagging behind a bit without a decent pitching core, and the Pittsburgh Pirates won’t be much of a contender this season.
Lastly, in the NL West the Los Angeles Dodgers will still be the top dog. They’ve been to the last two World Series and have a substantial payroll. Their competition isn’t strong either.
The Colorado Rockies barely scraped into the playoffs last year and beat the Cubs in the Wild Card, so they should be a solid team again. The Arizona Diamondbacks traded away Goldschmidt and are in a bit of rebuild. They, along with the San Francisco Giants, won’t pose much of a threat to LA.
However, the team to watch in the NL West will have to be the San Diego Padres. After some big moves in the offseason, including picking up star infielder Manny Machado, the Padres could surprise everyone and compete for a playoff spot.