April is a month of many different occasions – midterms, Earth Day and Tax Day are some important ones to remember – but for baseball fans, it is finally the beginning of the new season.
Since October fans have been itching to see their favorite teams back on the field. They were given some relief with spring training, but the true excitement and passion for the sport come from the regular season. As heated arguments break out between friends-turned-rivals, many will anticipate whether their team will make it to the postseason and win the coveted World Series.
So put away the football and basketball attire and pull out the baseball jerseys and brush the dust off the caps, because it’s time to play ball.
The American League East Division will again be a close race between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees. With the Yankees’ strong bullpen – now a bigger threat with the addition of Aroldis Chapman – and the Blue Jays’ hard-hitting offense, the two teams will compete for the division leader spot.
However, the Yankees have suffered from injuries and will have to get by without first baseman Greg Bird.
The Blue Jays have a relatively healthy rotation, but after losing some major players, any future injuries could ruin their plans for the season. The team’s former ace, David Price, was picked up by the Boston Red Sox, and this now leaves a hole in their rotation. However, this will not stop the Blue Jays’ powerhouse lineup and they will earn the division title.
The Yankees will finish in a close second and advance to the playoffs with a wild card berth.
The Baltimore Orioles will finish third, followed by the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.
In the Central Division, baseball fans are eager to see what the reigning champion Kansas City Royals will have in store. They lost some key playoff players to free agency, including pitcher Johnny Cueto to the San Francisco Giants and second baseman Ben Zobrist to the Chicago Cubs. However, with most of last season’s core returning, the Royals are in a good position to once again win the division.
On the other hand, the Detroit Tigers acquired key players in the offseason, including outfielders Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin, and pitchers Francisco Rodriguez and Jordan Zimmermann, to add depth to the rotation. Although this will help the Tigers, it will not be enough to get them beyond second place.
The Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and White Sox will follow.
The West Division will feature a battle between the two Texas teams. The Houston Astros sent 10 of their pitchers to the minor league, so we can expect to see some fresh faces in their pitching rotation. But with pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who won the Cy Young Award last year, the Astros still have a formidable rotation. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers will also dominate the division with solid hitters like first basemen Prince Fielder and Mitchell Moreland and third baseman Adrian Beltre. They may be missing some key players to injuries like pitcher Yu Darvish and outfielder Josh Hamilton, but both are expected to return in about two months. It will be close, but the Astros will hold off the Rangers for the top spot.
The Rangers, however, will secure the wild card berth and face the Yankees in the American League wild card game.
They will be followed by the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.
This season will be filled with close fights for the three division leader spots as all teams will be competing to take home the Commission’s Trophy in October.
However, as a Giants fan, let’s just say the even year odds are in our favor.