Yes, Opening Day is here and it is one of the greatest feelings in the world you can have while still wearing pants.
I’m ecstatic for the regular season. Baseball is my favourite sport and I plan on covering it like a mad man this summer.
I feel that every writer is a little bias — regardless of what they say — and I’m not going to hide from that. So let me state the obvious and announce that I am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan.
Everyone remembers the Jays’ outstanding regular season run and the playoffs (THERE WAS MORE THAN JUST A BAT FLIP). So the root of my excitement stems from the anticipation of another dynamite season.
But, I’m just a baseball junkie in general and can’t wait for everything to fire up.
This summer, I plan on watching enough baseball that in theory, should derail my relationship, but I hope to God it doesn’t.
I plan on following teams for 10-game stretches. I will watch every inning, highlights and interviews. I will follow several beat writers on Twitter, listen to podcasts and read reports, combine it all together with my paternal instincts and crank something out.
I’m not sure if I will be able to cover all 30 teams, but I am going to give it the ol’ college try.
And yes, there will be more Jays columns compared to Philadelphia Phillies columns. You were warned. I said I was biased.
If anyone asks me for my MLB.TV password I will block you like LeBron James chasing down a fast break.
Feel free to reach me anytime on Twitter for questions or requests (@tlowey9), I will be honoured and excited because it is living proof that I have readers.
With that being said, I will wet your pallets with my brief predictions for the season.
WINNER – Houston Astros
The Astros arrived on the scene ahead of schedule last season and they are a safe bet to regress a little.
But, Carlos Correa is the next Mike Trout-like wunderkind to arrive in the Show. At 21 and entering his second year in the league, many writers have stated that it is realistic for him to be a 30/30 player this season. His Gold Glove defence anchors a young, athletic core looking to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.
WINNER – Kansas City Royals
I am just going to keep picking the Royals to win until they stop going to the World Series.
They are still pesky with their ability to string base hits together, their pitchers throw strikes letting their amazing defence take care of the rest and they still have an unhittable bullpen.
WINNER – Toronto Blue Jays
Even with David Price lying to the media and leaving to join a divisional rival, the Jays will still trot out four of the best hitters in the league in their respected positions.
Marcus Stroman is my darkhorse Cy Young candidate and ready to assume the role of an ace. Aaron Sanchez is a linchpin in the rotation. He has the ability to turn into a bonafide No. 2 starter, but struggled with fastball command while in the rotation last summer.
WINNER – San Francisco Giants
Manager Bruce Bochy can add to his Hall of Fame career with 67 more wins and pass Jim Leyland for 15th all time. Bochy has seen it all, compared to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts. The Giants are healthy and management beefed up their rotation by signing Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.
Also, history shows they don’t mind winning titles in even years.
WINNER – Chicago Cubs
This was the hardest division to predict.
I could have pulled a Michael Wilbon and pushed, but I’m a grown-ass man.
The Cubs finished third last year with 97 wins behind the St. Louis Cardinals (100) and the Pittsburg Pirates (98).
They have to be the correct pick, right?
The have one of the best general managers (Theo Epstein), one of the best managers (Joe Madden), last year’s rookie of the year (Kris Bryant), last year’s Cy Young winner (Jake Arrieta) and they stole 13-game winner (John Lackey) and super-sabermetrics outfielder (Jason Heyward) from the Cardinals.
I’ll ask again, they have to be the correct pick, right?
WINNER – New York Mets
Noah Syndergaard has all the makings of turning into the next great fireball-killing machine. He has great hair, young, durable and throws one of the hardest fastballs for any starter in the MLB. A little in-house competition from all-star teammates Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom making an ace sandwich should push Syndergaard even more.
Breakout years are expected from starting pitcher Steven Matz and Michael Conforto who hit two bombs in one World Series game last fall.
If Asdurbal Cabrera and Neil Walker can develop some chemistry up the middle and Travis d’Arnaud continues to grow, the Mets shouldn’t have to lean on their rotation too heavily.
AL WINNERS – Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox
The Rangers have the advantage of beating up on two tanking teams and they kept last year’s playoff roster fairly in tact.
The Red Sox will be in a dogfight all summer in the most competitive division in the AL. They have plenty of young talent and landed one of the best pitchers in the MLB who can’t win a playoff game in the offseason.
NL WINNERS – St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburg Pirates
The NL Central will basically reshuffle the deck and send three 95+ win teams to the postseason.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were a sleeper pick to make a playoff push after plucking Zack Greinke from the Dodgers, but A.J. Pollock’s broken elbow suffered in the final spring training game severely dampens their win total and momentum.
The Dodgers should get off to a slow start after being a lightning rod for injuries during spring training and it should be interesting to see how Roberts does in Don Mattingly’s wake.
Enjoy the baseball this summer kids.