As a sports fan there is no opening of a season that is more of an event than in baseball. It’s upon us folks! At 1:00 this afternoon when the Yankees and Rays take the field in St. Petersburg, Florida it will signal newness not seen since New Year’s.
Today, and Wednesday I will preview the upcoming season. Today I start with the American League.
Let me begin with the American League East and the aforementioned Yankees and Rays. In 2016, the Boston Red Sox won this division after a last place finish the year before. Was 2015 an aberration? Did the real Sox show up last year? The big hole to fill in Fenway Park this year will be the absence of David Ortiz.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles followed the Red Sox into the post-season, taking home both American League Wild Cards. The Blue Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion and R.A Dickey, while the Orioles picked up Seth Smith.
The New York Yankees could be playing second fiddle once again in the Big Apple this year. Off-season pickups were Aldoris Chapman (who was only gone long enough to win a World Series in Chicago), Matt Holliday, and former Met Ruben Tejada. The Yankees biggest subtraction had to be the retirement of Mark Texiera. Rising star Gary Sanchez seems to be taking over as the leader in the Bronx.
Cleveland Indians win the 2016 American League championship.
The Cleveland Indians seemingly came out of nowhere last year to win the American League Central. Little did we know how far the Tribe could go. If anything this team got even stronger in the off-season. Can the team who now holds baseball’s longest championship drought (68 years) get the monkey off of their backs?.
Toronto’s loss was Cleveland’s gain. Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Indians in the off-season. He will replace Mike Napoli at first base. Also gone was “almost World Series hero” Rajai Davis (who’s home run sent Game 7 into extras).
As for the 2015 champs, the Kansas City Royals lost pitcher Edinson Volquez while picking up Brandon Moss. The Tigers, White Sox, and Twins are all long shots in making the post-season.
Out west it seems that the Mariners, Astros, and Rangers all played “can you top this?” The Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez, brought in Dillon Gee and James Loney. Yovano Gallardo headlined a bunch of new players in Seattle. A pair of former Yankees head to Houston as Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran join the Astros.
As for the two teams in California it could be a long season. The Angels continue to get older and the Athletics are still in rebuilding mode.
So, now I give you my predictions. Baseball is a long season, with many twists and turns. Everyone has a shot beginning this week!
Chicago White Sox
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I am picking the Royals and Orioles to win the Wild Cards. My pick for the American League championship…..The Cleveland Indians! Can this be the year to end another drought???? Stay tuned.
Wednesday night I tackle the National League and my pick for the 2017 World Series champion.
Pull up a chair and enjoy the openers!