By Zachary Fletcher
Thursday, March 29 marked the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) season. Going forward, there will be baseball almost every day for the next seven months. Fifteen games were played across both the American League (AL) and National League (NL) on Opening Day, according to MLB.com.
The defending World Series champions, the Houston Astros, opened the season against the Texas Rangers while the 2017 National League champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers, went up against the San Francisco Giants. The Seattle Mariners also started the season at home against the Cleveland Indians.
The Puget Sound baseball team sees a lot of potential in the upcoming MLB season due to new talent, as well as trades that happened during the offseason.
“The offseason is nothing crazy in the MLB. It’s a time for teams to figure out who will be playing come April,” junior Tyler Huling (Issaquah, Washington) said. Huling also noted how active teams are off the field with media and other promotional activities during the spring.
“The craziest offseason moment was the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, the former 2017 MLB home run king and MVP. He joins forces with the new Yankee slugger, Aaron Judge, who led the American League in home runs and finished runner-up in AL MVP voting. The two combined for 111 home runs,” junior Jack Gries (Sublimity, Oregon) said.
Stanton’s signing with the likes of Judge and Gary Sanchez in New York puts him in competition with the already-talented American League leaders like the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians.
“Last year Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger were unheard of by most fans at this time and both of them received a Rookie of the Year award for their respective leagues,” Huling said when asked about the upcoming season. “Also, I am looking forward to watching the Yankees hit this year. They have the two biggest sluggers in baseball right now hitting back-to-back in their order.”
The Los Angeles Angels made the other major move in the offseason, signing Japanese pitching and hitting phenom Shohei Ohtani. Mike Trout and the Angels now have a prominent spot in the American League West race, if not the entirety of the league.
“This year should be more competitive than previous years due to the influx of young talent and the large number of top-tiered players that signed with different teams,” Gries said.
The Puget Sound campus has strong connections with and feelings about the upcoming Mariners season.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is watching the Mariners and getting to Safeco Field to see them play,” Huling said.
However, both Huling and Gries acknowledge the disappointing recent history of the Mariners.
“They have the longest current playoff drought in the MLB right now so following them can be painful at times. Their [general manager] is solid though and it could be a different team from last year, but I don’t dare get my hopes up,” Huling said.
“The Seattle Mariners are looking to break their playoff drought, but unfortunately, I do not believe that they will have a good year. They lack consistency in their bullpen and struggle in the bottom third of their order,” Gries added.
Offseason trades, more Spring Training games, and the nearing of Opening Day are all signs the upcoming MLB season is one to follow. The World Series is some months off, but that didn’t stop predictions from already coming in.
“Washington Nationals are my pick for the 2019 World Series Champions,” Gries said.
“Astros will most likely win the AL West again. Both them and the Dodgers are World Series contenders, but don’t count out the Yankees or Indians or Twins in the AL, or the Rockies or Cubs or Brewers in the NL,” Huling added.
The next chapter of Major League Baseball gets under way at the end of March, and the continual games, big trades and new young talent promise to keep up the excitement and energy around the 2018 season.