MLB Spring Preview: The Storylines to Watch This Season

Immediately after a long wintertime, the crack of the bat and pop of the glove

Immediately after a long wintertime, the crack of the bat and pop of the glove have last but not least returned. All Major League Baseball players have documented to spring education camps, and baseball followers can as soon as again really feel the buzz of a further period just around the corner. Even additional thrilling: The 2021 MLB time is scheduled to be a comprehensive 162 video games, not like 2020’s abbreviated 60-video game year.

 

 

Spring teaching games––which start out on Feb. 28––will give the to start with flavor of baseball action in four months. And right after another active offseason of trades and cost-free agent acquisitions, all people is keen to see which groups and gamers hit it out of the park (and which kinds strike out). Here are 5 storylines that we’ll be next closely this year.

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Los Angeles Dodgers mlb season
The Dodgers are seeking to operate it again in 2021. JOHN G MABANGLO / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

Can the Dodgers Develop into the Initially Repeat Environment Series Champs in Two Decades?

Following 7 consecutive seasons of playoff heartbreak, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers finally broke by in 2020 and received the Earth Collection. Can they do it all over again? Not considering the fact that the New York Yankees gained a few straight in between 1998 and 2000 has there been a repeat Entire world Collection winner. But if there’s a group to snap this two-ten years dry spell, the 2021 Dodgers are it.

The Dodgers not only retained most of their important placement players––including star shortstop Corey Seager and MVP outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger––but they also made a enormous offseason enhance by signing 2020 Nationwide League Cy Younger award winner Trevor Bauer. Incorporating Bauer to an all-star pitching team that by now features gamers like Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, and David Rate is borderline unfair. It’s a prolonged season and there will certainly be twists and turns, but at minimum on paper, the Dodgers are poised to make a really serious run at heading back-to-back again.

Fernando Tatís Jr.
Fernando Tatís Jr. Sue Ogrocki / AP / Shutterstock

Will the San Diego Padres Dwell up to the Hoopla?

About 120 miles south of Dodger Stadium lies the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a Dodgers Planet Collection win––the San Diego Padres. 2020 was a breakout calendar year for the Friars: They completed the 60-match year with a .617 profitable share and gained their initially postseason collection given that 1998. Past accumulating Ws, the group, fueled by dynamic younger shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr., rapidly proven itself as one of the most interesting clubs to enjoy.

This offseason, the San Diego entrance business office doubled down on their accomplishment and place the Dodgers on recognize. The crew added a trio of frontline starting off pitchers like Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove. Additionally, they locked up their 22-12 months-outdated star shortstop with a whopping 14-calendar year, $340 million agreement. Mix these offseason moves with a incredibly gifted roster––don’t neglect about previous Dodger Manny Machado––and we are set for a West Coastline duel amongst two top groups. Buckle up.

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Can any workforce in the American League prime the Yankees? Gregory Bull / AP / Shutterstock

The American League’s Wide Open up Battle for Supremacy

Whilst a lot of baseball authorities put the Dodgers and Padres at the prime of the heap in the National League, the American League is a significantly more durable get in touch with.

Even so, the AL East once again appears to be like the favorite to make a Entire world Collection contender. The New York Yankees are in a excellent posture after adding DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber to their by now deep roster. Having said that, they’ll have to prevail about the analytics-based mostly solution of the Tampa Bay Rays (the reigning AL champs) and the powerful bats of the Toronto Blue Jays, who included George Springer this offseason.

The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in the AL Central could also make a run, together with the Houston Astros in the AL West. Getting rid of Springer was a blow to the Astros, but they however have more than enough roster firepower and working experience for a shot at the title.

mlb season baseballs
MLB announced it is “deadening” baseballs for 2021. Charlie Riedel / AP / Shutterstock

A New Baseball

Property operate counts have skyrocketed about the previous handful of seasons and even prompted several substantial-profile pitchers to complain about juiced baseballs. Though MLB officers would never ever admit that they experienced intentionally transformed the baseball, the stats appeared to establish normally. Soon after escalating residence operate counts each individual yr, the most modern 162-recreation period (in 2019) observed the ball go away the lawn 6,776 times––a new file.

This has led to a considerable change in the sport. There has been sizable expansion in strikeouts, walks, and property runs, and that has led to longer game titles with less motion. To fight this home-run-or-bust solution to batting, MLB declared it would be “deadening” baseballs for the 2021 year. Groups were advised this adjustment would indicate a ball hit about 375 toes would fly about a single to two ft shorter than prior to. Time will explain to regardless of whether this exertion will make a dent in property operate counts or have an affect on how the game is performed, but it will be monitored carefully as the year progresses.

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Hopefully serious lovers can change the cardboard cutouts in 2021. ETIENNE LAURENT / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

The Return of the Enthusiasts

There’s no getting about it: The 2020 MLB year was uncomfortable. Seeing teams participate in in entrance of cardboard folks was extremely weird. The silence immediately after match-successful house operates? Even stranger. But now that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has started, groups and followers alike are hoping for much more daily life in ballparks throughout the place in 2021.

When the regular year starts on April 1, fan attendance will be subject matter to community guidelines. For teams that do allow for supporters, they will have to market tickets to pods of supporters and retain people groups physically unfold out.

As the vaccine gets to be more broadly obtainable, there is hope that attendance amounts will be allowed to increase. And if the 2021 MLB period concludes with some perception of normalcy, that will be a major gain for the sport—and for all of culture.

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MLB Spring Preview: The Storylines to Watch This Season

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