It’s Back! MLB Opening Week Round-Up

by David VillaWafer

Today I will be your quick guide to the 2017 MLB season that is right around the corner. I want to enlighten you on 4 players that are currently kicking down the door of opportunity. Along with my top picks to make it to the postseason, and my 2 favorites to make it to the World Series. We will look at some key players to watch on the Chicago Cubs roster, and I will answer if they can repeat.

 

Kicking Down the Door

One thing that I think Baseball has going for themselves that other sports league DO NOT is their youth movement. You’ve seen it in the 2016 World Series. Combined, both team had 11 players under the age of 25. It’s refreshing and if you’re old like me it’s also sad to see a 23yr old get paid more than I have in my lifetime. So without further ado I present to you my list.

  • Gary Sanchez (NYY) Catcher (24yrs old)

The Bronx has something brewing in their hands this season, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of their Young Players makes my list. With a slash line of .299/.376/.657 add the 20Hrs in just 53 games in 2016, and you can see why Sanchez has a big eye for the Big Apple.

  • Yoan Moncada (CWS) INF (21yrs old)

After a Small size sample (8 games) in Boston last year Yoan looks to improve his .211 batting average. This is a switch hitter with power and on a team in need of some youth. I will keep my eye on this talent across town and you should too.

  • Andrew Benintendi (BOS) LF (22Yrs old)

An All-Star in the making, last year in 34 games Andrew posted a slash line of .295/.359/.476 all with 11 double, a triple, and 2Hrs. Let’s not forget his .367 batting average on balls in play.

  • Ian Happ (CHC) OF (22yrs old)

Ok this guy is tearing it up this spring training on a team that’s fully loaded, so where does he go? Last year in Single A & Double A he produced (30 doubles, 15 HRs, and a .810 OPS in 134 games) But this spring he’s hitting .417 Batting average with 4 doubles and 5 HRs in just 20 hits.

 

POSTSEASON PICKS

National League                            

  • Cubs (109-53)
  • Nationals (98-64)
  • Dodgers (92-70)
  • NY Mets (90-72)
  • Giants (90-72)

 

 

American League

  • Red Sox (100-62)
  • Indians (95-67)
  • Astros (93-69)
  • Orioles (90-72)
  • White Sox (87-75)

 

 

  WORLD SERIES

  (4) Cubs Vs, Red Sox (2)

 

THAT’S CUB

 

2016 was a Monster year for the Chicago Cubs. Not only did they destroy their division, they ran away with the best record in the league. Key pieces were lost during the offseason (Ross, Fowler, Soler, Chapman, and Kawasaki) either by trade, retirement, or free agency. The Cubs made sure to make up for the lost with new additions (Jay, Wade, and Anderson) Let’s not forget the plethora of talent they have still waiting on the wings in their farm system.  Now the question is how much better can they be?

 

Players to Watch

  1. Alberto Almora Jr. (CF) Jon Jay (CF) this should be interesting all season you have a pretty dynamic Center field platoon. Jon jay being the veteran at 32yrs of age and Alberto Almora Jr. being 22yrs of age. I would love to see the experience Jay will bring along with the progression Almora Jr. should show.  
  2. Jason Heyward (RF) Ok he has to be a key player this year right? Well that’s what I’m hoping to see from Jason this season a bounce back. With a newly retooled batting stance/swing it’s time to see the Heyward that terrorized the Cubs years before. Along with is offense it’s been said that he may also platoon the center filed position.
  3. Jake Arrieta (SP) vs Jon Lester (SP) I love to see some good ol’ fashion friendly competition, and with these two we should get it all season. With Lester taking opening day duties in 2015 then Arrieta taking it from him in 16’, and now Lester takes it back in 2017 the question is can Arreita grab it back? I think Jake may be extremely focused this season mainly because it’s a contract year, so look for the snake to bite back this year.
  4. Addison Russel (SS) Becoming a MONSTER Man where do I start with this kid? His defense is superb, never a distraction, and his hidden power is not so hidden anymore. What was once the question mark in his game has now equaled his defensive value. This year in spring training Addison is hitting a .314 average along with 6 home runs all in only 35 at bats!!! Let’s just say I call a Grand Slam with in the first month of the season!

 

CAN THEY DO IT AGAIN?

In all my heart I believe they can. They have Joe Maddon arguably the best manager in league today. They have the hunger to repeat, and the youth to make a run for a dynasty. It won’t be easy the Cubs were lucky last season in keeping their core players healthy all season. That alone will the toughest task to replicate. Here are my Keys to a repeat.

 

  • Pitching This was a high all last season with all starters exceeding their expectations. Now you subtract Jason Hammel and plug in Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery for the fifth spot. Let’s see what these arms can do!
  • Multiple Positions the cubs have at least about 6 players that can play multiple positions. This was huge in keeping the roster healthy and giving players rest. I can’t wait to see what switches Maddon makes this season.
  • Full Year of the SCHWARBS Man oh man!! This guy gets injured in the 2nd game of the season last year only to come back in the biggest stage of the year to put on a hitting clinic. In 5 games He had a .412 batting average 7 Hits, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, and a stolen base. 5 games people! In the World Series! Now this season he’s slated to hit leadoff ahead of Bryant and Rizzo! I can’t wait!

 

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