The sun has risen, birds are chirping, and the snow has melted. Well, sort of. That means it is the beginning of another Major League Baseball season. With the new season comes plenty of new storylines such as the Houston Astros defending their World Series Championship, Giancarlo Stanton heading to the Yankees and will former Japanese star Shohei Ohtani become that superstar with both hitting and pitching? That is where this article comes in, giving the instant gut reactions to the newly started campaign and the interesting storylines that come with it.
Giancarlo Stanton moving to the Bronx Bombers
Over the offseason the New York Yankees acquired one of the most coveted stars on the trade market the slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton offers power that is almost unseen in today’s MLB. Plagued by injuries in previous seasons, Stanton broke out to hit 59 homers in route to winning the National League MVP in 2017. With the recent transaction of selling the Miami Marlins to a financial group led by former Yankee legend Derek Jeter, the Marlins traded Stanton to the Yankees. Along with established sluggers Gary Sanchez (33 HRs in 2017) and 2017 American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge (52 HR), the Yankees have three franchise cornerstones to try and start their next dynasty. To begin the 2018 campaign, Stanton showed off his power with two home runs on Opening Day versus the Toronto Blue Jays. Stanton seems to be just fine in his new environment and looks to be another force in New York’s lineup that is one of the most dangerous in the MLB. The only worry will be whether he can stay healthy for the entire year. Before 2017, Stanton had missed 131 games over the previous two years. However, the only number people will worry about is how many home runs he will hit and the wins the Yankees will rack up in 2018.
Shohei Ohtani is supposed to be the modern day Babe Ruth. Well, at least he was when he was in Japan. The former Japanese star had a .286 average with 165 home runs and a 2.52 career Earned Run Average over five seasons. He is the most hyped foreign rookie player since Ichiro Suzuki came to the MLB back in 2007. The Los Angeles Angels paid a 20 million posting fee and gave him a $2.3 million signing bonus with a $545,000 minimum rookie salary. He is only 23 years old and is expected to flourish on both the mound and in the batter’s box. He is a solid hitter who has some pop and a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, so there is potential for a two-way star in Ohtani. The problem is that the MLB is a way bigger animal than the Japanese league. The reason why there hasn’t been a two-way star since Babe Ruth in the 1920s is because it is so difficult to produce at a high level as a pitcher and hitter. The MLB is so much more competitive today that players must focus on one position so they don’t lose their jobs. However, Ohtani did hit a three-run homerun against the Oakland Athletics on opening weekend along with a quality start against the A’s in his pitching debut. Again, Ohtani is only 23 but at some point, there will be a decision made that he focuses on one position.
The Chicago Cubs are once again major contenders to win the World Series and take home their second Commissioner’s Cup in three years. The beginning of the 2018 MLB season has not been the most kind to the North Side Sluggers racking up 59 strikeouts in their first five games, a new NL record. Chicago is currently 2-3 and have been shutout in back-to-back games. In addition, the Cubs signed the top pitcher on the free agent market in Yu Darvish and underrated ground ball specialist Tyler Chatwood in an effort to improve a starting pitching unit that gave up a 3.86 ERA last season. Chatwood looked promising in his Cub’s debut giving up only one run in six innings against the Cincinnati Reds. It was rougher for Darvish as he coughed up five earned runs in four and one-thirds innings. However, this is a pitcher who owns a career 3.45 ERA in six seasons and an offense who led the National League in runs during the second half of last season so both seem to be poised to be just fine. Expect the Cubs to figure out their bats soon along with Darvish striking out the NL Central in the near future.