By Cody Straub-
April is here and spring is in the air which means one thing: Major League Baseball is back. The new season kicked off in Miami on Wednesday night (games played in another country do not count as the kick-off to the season) as the defending champs St. Louis Cardinals beat the new look Miami Marlins. That game began the marathon that is the MLB season.
What to expect this baseball season in both the National and American League?
In the American League the defending pennant winners the Texas Rangers look strong and could be the team to beat with their always dangerous lineup, and the addition of Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz to their rotation. The L.A. Angels of Anaheim won’t make it easy for the Rangers to repeat in the West with their off-season acquisitions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
In the Central Division the Detroit Tigers are the team to beat. They added another powerful bat in Prince Fielder to pair up with Miguel Cabrera in the middle of their lineup to help support returning American League MVP Justin Verlander on the mound. The American League East looks to be much more muddled than the other two divisions. Realistically there are three teams that could end up on top in that division when the season is over: the Red Sox, Yankees or Rays. All have their issues, but all of them have enough strengths that could propel them to the top of their division.
In the National League the defending World Series champs will try to repeat without the game’s best hitter, Albert Pujols who went to the Angels, and without their long time manager Tony La Russa, who decided to call it quits while he was at the top. The Cardinals have to play in the well balanced Central Division where no team is far and above better but no team, excluding the Astros, is far from contending. In the East the hometown Phillies have plenty of issues all surrounded around the fact that they can’t hit. The rotation with three aces though will keep them around all summer and in contention for the division to the end. They will have to fight off the up and coming Washington Nationals, the new look Miami Marlins, and the perennial playoff team Atlanta Braves if they want to repeat as National League East Champions. The National League West looks to wilder than ever as the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks burst on the scene last year and will surely be competing for the division title again this year. The San Francisco Giants can always be counted on to have a competitive team with the rotation that the boast, and the return of young star Buster Posey. The Diamondbacks though were able to make a few off-season additions to go along with their strong young nucleus centered around Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton that will keep them on top in the West.
The Major League Baseball marathon has begun, and is sure to be an exciting summer filled with lots of baseball. The only thing that we can expect for sure is that something unexpected will happen, whether that be a team falling from the top, or a surprise team rocketing to the top. Get ready for a season full of twist and turns just like any other baseball season.