After an extended winter, the crack of the bat and pop of the glove have lastly returned. All Main League Baseball gamers have reported to spring coaching camps, and baseball followers can as soon as once more really feel the excitement of one other season simply across the nook. Much more thrilling: The 2021 MLB season is scheduled to be a full 162 video games, in contrast to 2020’s abbreviated 60-game season.
Spring coaching video games––which begin on Feb. 28––will supply the primary style of baseball motion in 4 months. And after one other busy offseason of trades and free agent acquisitions, everybody is raring to see which groups and gamers hit it out of the park (and which of them strike out). Listed below are 5 storylines that we’ll be following intently this 12 months.
Can the Dodgers Turn into the First Repeat World Collection Champs in Two Many years?
After seven consecutive seasons of playoff heartbreak, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers lastly broke via in 2020 and received the World Collection. Can they do it once more? Not because the New York Yankees received three straight between 1998 and 2000 has there been a repeat World Collection winner. But when there’s a staff to snap this two-decade dry spell, the 2021 Dodgers are it.
The Dodgers not solely retained most of their key place gamers––together with star shortstop Corey Seager and MVP outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger––however in addition they made a huge offseason upgrade by signing 2020 Nationwide League Cy Younger award winner Trevor Bauer. Including Bauer to an all-star pitching workers that already options gamers like Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, and David Value is borderline unfair. It’s an extended season and there’ll undoubtedly be twists and turns, however at the very least on paper, the Dodgers are poised to make a severe run at going back-to-back.
Will the San Diego Padres Dwell as much as the Hype?
About 120 miles south of Dodger Stadium lies the largest impediment standing in the best way of a Dodgers World Collection win––the San Diego Padres. 2020 was a breakout 12 months for the Friars: They completed the 60-game season with a .617 profitable share and received their first postseason collection since 1998. Past amassing Ws, the staff, fueled by dynamic younger shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr., rapidly established itself as one of the crucial thrilling golf equipment to observe.
This offseason, the San Diego entrance workplace doubled down on their success and put the Dodgers on discover. The staff added a trio of frontline starting pitchers together with Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove. Moreover, they locked up their 22-year-old star shortstop with a whopping 14-year, $340 million contract. Mix these offseason strikes with a really proficient roster––don’t overlook about former Dodger Manny Machado––and we’re set for a West Coast duel between two prime groups. Buckle up.
The American League’s Extensive Open Battle for Supremacy
Whereas many baseball specialists put the Dodgers and Padres on the prime of the heap within the Nationwide League, the American League is a a lot more durable name.
Even so, the AL East as soon as once more looks like the favourite to provide a World Collection contender. The New York Yankees are in a good position after including DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber to their already deep roster. Nevertheless, they’ll need to prevail over the analytics-based strategy of the Tampa Bay Rays (the reigning AL champs) and the highly effective bats of the Toronto Blue Jays, who added George Springer this offseason.
The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox within the AL Central might additionally make a run, together with the Houston Astros within the AL West. Dropping Springer was a blow to the Astros, however they nonetheless have sufficient roster firepower and expertise for a shot on the title.
A New Baseball
House run counts have skyrocketed over the previous few seasons and even prompted a number of high-profile pitchers to complain about juiced baseballs. Whereas MLB officers would by no means admit that they’d deliberately modified the baseball, the stats appeared to show in any other case. After rising dwelling run counts annually, the latest 162-game season (in 2019) noticed the ball go away the yard 6,776 times––a brand new document.
This has led to a major shift within the recreation. There was sizable growth in strikeouts, walks, and residential runs, and that has led to longer video games with much less motion. To fight this home-run-or-bust strategy to batting, MLB introduced it will be “deadening” baseballs for the 2021 season. Groups had been advised this adjustment would imply a ball hit over 375 toes would fly about one to 2 toes shorter than earlier than. Time will inform whether or not this effort will make a dent in dwelling run counts or have an effect on how the sport is performed, however it is going to be monitored intently because the season progresses.
The Return of the Followers
There’s no getting round it: The 2020 MLB season was awkward. Watching groups play in entrance of cardboard folks was very unusual. The silence after game-winning dwelling runs? Even stranger. However now that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has begun, groups and followers alike are hoping for extra life in ballparks throughout the nation in 2021.
As soon as the common season begins on April 1, fan attendance shall be topic to native pointers. For groups that do enable followers, they should sell tickets to pods of fans and maintain these teams bodily unfold out.
Because the vaccine turns into extra broadly out there, there’s hope that attendance ranges shall be allowed to extend. And if the 2021 MLB season concludes with some sense of normalcy, that shall be a giant win for the game—and for all of society.
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