With a week of baseball behind us, the 2019 MLB season has shown promise to be an electrifying one. Several players, along with a few teams, are already taking over the headlines. But as hot as they’ve started, now comes the pressure of staying this way.
With the new season underway, here are a few more reasons why 2019 will be an epic year for baseball.
A Fateful Confrontation
Phillies and Nationals fans have marked their calendars for April 2: where Bryce Harper would return to Nationals Park, as an adversary. Surprising nobody, several Nats fans in attendance booed on his return. After all, Harper DID turn down a 10-year extension offer from Washington that was $300 million. But as the old saying goes, “He who laughs lasts, laughs hardest.” After striking out twice, Harper went yard on his third plate appearance, like he usually did as a National. In addition, Philadelphia would go on to rout Washington 8-2 in the first game of the series.
Teams Turning Up?
Both the Baltimore Orioles and Texas had a rough time last season, to say the least. But their 2019 outings are off to a hotter start than most thought it would.
The Baltimore Orioles have a steeper mountain to climb than most teams. But right now, they now sit second in the AL East (behind Tampa Bay). One of the biggest reasons for their explosive start is their left-fielder, Trey Mancini. As of right now, Mancini leads the team in home runs, RBI’s, and batting average. If #16 can stay the course, not only can he help make the rebuilding process less grueling, but he can also land on the All-Star roster this season.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers are digging their way out of a 67-95 season. Just like Baltimore, they currently sit second place in their division. One starting pitcher, Shawn Kelley, has played a huge part in this. The 34-year old right-hander stands 2-0 in his 2019 start, with an ERA of 0.00. Along with this, a brand new stadium for the Rangers to call home is currently under construction.
One of the most coveted pieces of baseball hardware, the Cy Young Award, has seen an exceptionally dominant performance in 2018. Now for the reigning winners, the quest to keep their accolades has begun.
Jacob DeGrom was the bright spot in the New York Mets’ disappointing 2018 campaign. With a majors-leading 1.70 ERA, DeGrom took home the NL Cy Young Award. Now he is well on his way to repeating in the first week of 2019. In Wednesday’s start visiting the Miami Marlins, DeGrom took no prisoners from the mound, striking out a career-high 14 batters. Plus, he helped himself to a solo home run at one of his at-bats. DeGrom and company look to take back the NL East, while DeGrom looks to defend his Cy Young Title.
Over in the American League, Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell, has become a cornerstone for the Rays’ climb to the top. Although he got rattled hard in his first start of the season, Snell went into a zone against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. The 26-year old punched out 13 batters from the mound, blanking Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon along the way. The Rays’ 4-0 victory shows that Snell can learn and grow from past outings, and this first week showed that Tampa Bay can take the AL East if they remain this hot.
Where Did They Come From?
One of the biggest surprises of the first week is the Minnesota Twins’ 4-1 start to 2019. That being said, they seemed to be the favorite to win the AL Central last season. But they couldn’t hold the lead and ended up falling flat and finishing below .500. Entering 2019, Minnesota holds the lead in the division. Their pitching unit is starting to show some teeth, with the majors’ 6th lowest ERA from a team. But to avoid painful history from repeating itself, the Twins will need more than just their pitching at top gear.
Featured image courtesy of The Seattle Times
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