Hello, hello everyone. Of all the things this world has to offer one of the things that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart is baseball. With the new season just hours from being in full swing I wanted to take a few minutes and discuss some of the news and teams to look forward to in this upcoming season.
For any baseball fans, both new and old, we saw quite possibly one of the greatest seasons dominated by pitchers in recent memory, maybe of all time. With not only two perfect games and a number of near no-hitters there was no question why some of the great bats of our day and age were silenced by the dominance of the arms that battled against them for the highlight reels. But I wonder, is that something we can expect again from this upcoming baseball season.
Don't be surprised if does.
The arms of today are by no means done with their amazing pitching performances. Now does that mean we can expect two more perfect games this upcoming season. No. To put into perspective, the last perfect game thrown prior to last season was done by Mark Buehrle in 2009, before him Randy Johnson in 2004, then David Cone in 1999. The normal trend had been one perfect every 4-5 seasons, with back to back season with perfect games only coming in 1998-1999 season (David Wells, David Cone). In modern day baseball, perfect games are gems hoped for by all pitchers and only accomplished by the truly gifted. Never in baseball history had two perfect games occurred in the same season, let alone the same calendar year. So can we expect another perfect game this year, no the stats say it shouldn't happen. But who has the best chance of getting it?
Cliff Lee, has the best opportunity. He has two major things going for him, 1) The rotation he has around him. No one can argue that the best starting rotation for any team in the NL is the Phillies, with aces like Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels aiding in a quartet of future all of famers, some can even argue the best in the bigs. 2) The NL is known for have weak batters. Sure sometimes you get the great hitters from time to time, but none like you see in the AL. The DH is the Boba Fett, of all perfect games and no hitters. Known for being the position to hunt down and putting down, with lethal authority, a perfect game or no hitter from forming. Sure you can argue that the NL plays small ball, while the AL plays the long ball, stats don't lie pitchers want to go up against only 8 batters not 9.
However we've seen lots of moves in the recent months to build up what many would consider to be "all-in" teams. Take for example to acquisition of outfielder Carl Crawford to the Boston Red Sox, of Adam Dunn to the Chicago White Sox. Both teams are putting millions of dollars into these players into hopes of taking home a single World Series Title. But are big bats enough this year to win a World Series? Don't bet your fantasy league on it.
Bats have been crucial to padding weak rotations, but nothing compares to a consistent rotation and consistent bats. Look at the current World Series Champions the San Francisco Giants, not a single hitting stat in the top team in the league yet they were able to beat teams like the Phillies that were in the top ten in all pitching categories, and the Texas Rangers which ranked in the top ten in all hitting categories last season. Consistency wins games.
Now don't get me wrong the Giants had some of the best pitching in baseball, but you need the bats to win and you need the arms to stay competitive.
All in all, it should be a great season. Whether you're looking for the next Cy Young to have his break out season, or the next Babe Ruth to start crushing some long balls.
Some teams to watch:
Boston Red Socks: With nearly the highest overall payroll of any team in the majors, lets see how their new acquisitions fair in their first season in Bean-Town.
Philadelphia Phillies: Arguable the best starting rotation in the bigs, it'll be interesting to see how they handle the pressure of perfection.
St. Louis Cardinals: With the high profile problems with signing arguably the best batter/player in the big leagues, it'll be interesting to see if the chemistry is still there for the once uber competitive team.
The AL East/Central: some of the longest baseball traditions and power houses in the MLB. Every team from these divisions has a chance of going to the world series. A shame that we only get to pick one of them go all the way.
New York Yankees: With aging players and not a lot of new blood, it will be interesting to see if their experience can out way the youth of some of the other teams. Don't count them out though, they always manage to make the post season one way or another.
San Francisco Giants: It's always interesting to see how the World Champs fair. Not since the Yankees in 99-00, has a team won back to back world titles. Will they be the first in over a decade.
Tampa Bay Rays: With the loss of Carl Crawford and majority if it's relief pitching staff, it was be interesting to see how this once AL East powerhouse manages a fairly new/old team with new additions Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez
Chicago White Sox: With the addition of power lefty Adam Dunn, and resigning team captain Paul Konerko, the White Sox for the most part have kept their team in tack. Will the high dollar addition of Adam Dunn be what they need to best division rivals, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins?
It's never to early to make predictions for the World Series:
AL Champions: Chicago White Sox of course
NL Champions: Philadelphia Phillies
World Series Champions: Chicago White Sox