MLB Season Preview

Marc Goldstein, staff writer

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Since winter is officially over, it’s now time for baseball season to get underway. All 30 teams have work to do, from the powerhouses to the basement dwellers. MLB is celebrating their 150th year of existence and this could be one of the best yet. The best part about opening day, though, is that every single team has a chance to win it all. No matter what people think, any team can win it all because anything can happen in baseball. I’m going to list my personal picks for the upcoming MLB season and a little bit of reasoning for the selections made.

American League:
East:
1.New York Yankees
2.Boston Red Sox
3.Tampa Bay Rays
4.Toronto Blue Jays
5.Baltimore Orioles

This is a very loaded division, with two powerhouses in the Yankees and Red Sox but a dark horse team in the Rays. They are a small market team, with a group of players that have an underdog mentality and some groundbreaking strategies. The real battle, though, is between the Yankees and the Red Sox. The longtime rivals have very similar rosters, but in the end, it comes down to who has a better bullpen, and that turns the tide to the Yankees over the defending World Champion Red Sox. The bottom two teams in the division are both not expected to be very good this season; the Blue Jays are expected to be in the bottom ten of the league and the Orioles are widely speculated to be the worst team in the league.

Central:
1.Cleveland Indians
2.Minnesota Twins
3.Chicago White Sox
4.Detroit Tigers
5.Kansas City Royals

This is one of the weaker divisions in baseball, with the Indians getting rid of many key players from their 90-plus win team last year. They still have the best team in this division by default, but by no means do they have a tough road to winning their division. This division has three rebuilding teams and one team that is in between contending and mediocracy. The Twins are the mediocre team in the mix with a chance to beat out the Indians with a decent amount of luck and overachievement. The White Sox are an improving young team that will compete in a few years, but not yet. The Tigers and Royals both are in the midst of a rebuild and are both good picks for the worst record in the league this season.

West:
1.Houston Astros
2.Oakland Athletics
3.Anaheim Angels
4.Seattle Mariners
5.Texas Rangers

This is a division that has seen the Astros’ reign challenged by upstart teams in recent years. Last year, the low payroll Oakland A’s got 2nd place in the division and they actually led it for a period of time before the Astros’ restored order. The Astros lost a few players while gaining a few. The Angels are an interesting team because of their superstar Mike Trout, but they have little pitching depth and are expected to be a mediocre team once again. The bottom of the division sees the Mariners, who traded more than half of the players on their roster from last season and the Rangers, who are fully into their rebuilding process.

National League:
East:
1.Washington Nationals
2.Philadelphia Phillies
3.Atlanta Braves
4.New York Mets
5.Miami Marlins

This is the most competitive division in baseball. The top three in this division can really go any way. The Nationals, who lost superstar Bryce Harper to the rival Phillies, believe they boast a better, younger, more balanced team with the acquisition of All Star pitcher Patrick Corbin. The Phillies, who added Harper, also made improvements by adding depth and relief options to add to their young core of players. The Braves won the division last season, added former MVP Josh Donaldson to their young team that still has many top prospects. Even the Mets added Reliever of the Year, Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to their team, making them, at least a competitive team. This is a division also has the Marlins at the bottom of the mix. Their purge of all talent has continued under their new ownership and for a team that was last in attendance last year, it doesn’t seem like it will be a good season for them.

Central:
1.St. Louis Cardinals
2.Milwaukee Brewers
3.Chicago Cubs
4.Cincinnati Reds
5.Pittsburgh Pirates

The central is a division that could go a number of ways but, this is one that could be the most likely. The Cardinals reloaded with talent, acquiring All Star 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt and a number of key relievers. The Brewers added some key contributors to their team that got within one game of getting to the World Series last year. The Cubs have a loaded team, but a lack of additions and a few subtractions make them a good team in a division that just has two teams that are better than they are. The Reds, who haven’t made the playoffs in a while and are coming off a second 100-loss season in a row, overhauled their roster in an attempt to be the dark horse contender in the National League. The Pirates, on the other hand, are not a bad team by any means, they have one of the best bullpens, but they aren’t good enough to get a wildcard spot and their division is too good for them to win.

West:
1.Los Angeles Dodgers
2.Colorado Rockies
3.San Diego Padres
4.San Francisco Giants
5.Arizona Diamondbacks

The west is the Dodgers’ division and it seems like their reign will continue this season. Once again, they once again are poised to win not only the division, but the league, and possibly the World Series. The Rockies are a good team with a good lineup, but the Dodgers are so good that winning the division seems unlikely and the Wildcard seems unlikely as well due to the strength of the league. The Padres, headlined by the splashy signing of superstar Manny Machado, offer a good amount of star power to their young roster that also has many top prospects, but they are still two or three years away from being serious contenders. The Giants have a team that appears to have a ceiling of about 80 wins. They have many old stars, but overall, they don’t have the talent to compete in such a competitive league. The bottom of the division sees the Arizona Diamondbacks, who traded many key players over the winter, resulting in a team with no real prospects and no big additions. It is a tough situation for them, but they could become a team that acquires some prospects by trading a few of their current players.

This season, the MLB has many intriguing headlines that could make this a very interesting season. It could be very fun to watch throughout the summer.

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