Well, here we are. After months of waiting, a new MLB season is finally here. The teams have finalized their 40-man rosters, and we are about ready to see cleats hit the diamond once again.
Like every year, we are seeing many players and managers making their debuts either for a new team or their first ever season. Starting at 12:30 p.m. today, the very first game of 2018 will commence. The Miami Marlins will host the Chicago Cubs to kick off the new season.
Besides sunny Miami and sweet home Chicago, every other team is eager to take the field. Some teams are working new faces, while others have new skippers behind the wheel. But some are getting more attention than others, and for good reason. These names are the ones that should make big splashes in the 2018 MLB season.
2018 MLB Season: Changes in scenary
This past offseason had no shortage of notable names finding new homes for 2018. As spring training thundered onward, they took time to break in to their new uniforms. Now that the exhibitions are over, these names will have to hunker down and prove why their teams went after them.
The first name to note is Boston’s J.D. Martinez. The 30-year old outfielder is coming off of a career year at the plate. He posted season bests in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. The Red Sox were looking for the next big bat to pick up where David Ortiz left off. Considering that they took the AL East crown last season without Big Papi, don’t be surprised to see Boston back in October.
Over on the West Coast, Seattle is working in their new center fielder, Dee Gordon. The former Miami Marlin was always an infielder, prior to becoming a Mariner. But his speed showcased in his base-stealing can give him a razor-sharp edge in defending those line drives and fly balls.
Speaking of former Marlins, St. Louis’ Marcell Ozuna is another name to look out for in 2018. Ozuna is also looking to capitalize off of an epic 2017 season. He finished last season with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .312 batting average, all career highs. His batting will be needed for the St. Louis Cardinals. As a team, St. Louis ranked 14th in batting average (.256), 18th in home runs and 13th in RBIs (728).
If he repeats or exceeds what he did last season, Ozuna can bring substantial boosts in offense for St. Louis, as well as another trip to the All-Star festivities in Washington D.C.
2018 MLB Season: Welcome Back
Sometimes, it does a team good to see a familiar face back in the dugout. They can provide current players who watched them as kids some advice at the plate or on the diamond. These names have had some experience with their old teams in the past. 2018 will prove the strength of these reunions.
For Yankees fans, there is much to be excited for with the arrival of their newest manager, Aaron Boone. Boone rocked the pinstripes himself in 2003 as a third baseman. He is widely known for his walk-off home run in the ALCS against Boston that would put the Yankees in the World Series against the Florida Marlins.
Boone has not hit the field since 2009, but Yankees fans and the front office are confident that he can lead a stacked Yankees team to take over the AL East and more.
Another name entering old stomping grounds is the newest Boston Red Sox skipper, Alex Cora. As a player, Cora called Fenway Park home for four seasons. He was a member of the Red Sox team that won the 2007 World Series.
Last season, Cora was the bench coach for the Houston Astros during their World Series run and victory. Cora’s knowledge of the Red Sox can be a valuable tool in leading them back to October.
Though more teams are working in new managers, Boone and Cora inherited playoff-ready teams. Will these two repeat playoff appearances for their squads? Wait and see.
Spring training is now done and over. The stage is now set for the regular season. America’s pastime will now start a new chapter in its long history, and all 30 teams will look to hit the ground running.
This afternoon, the 2018 MLB season will begin. The league, the locals and the world will get that famous two-word command once again: Play ball!
Featured image from wikipedia.org
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