Spring training is here, players around the league have already started to limber up their muscles and train for the upcoming season. Spring Training is the time of year to start paying attention to the media and developing predictions for the season ahead of us. For the next month and a half, each team will train in Florida and Arizona. This spring training is very exciting as there are several players in new destinations. In addition, each team will work every single day towards bolstering their lineup and putting a healthy roster on the field for Opening Day. Now, is the time to start training to reach the ultimate goal of having a reasonable shot at making the playoffs and having a run to make the World Series. Every squad is technically a contender in February. Injuries and trades will change the calculus. But this is about realistically assessing everyone’s chances right now, division by division, with an eye on October.
The New York Yankees are a juggernaut after signing ace, Gerrit Cole to front the starting rotation. They have a stout bullpen, a potent lineup and all of the ingredients to claim the 28th championship in franchise history. Their only real competition within the AL East is the Tampa Bay Rays, who added some interesting bats in Jose Martinez (via a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals), Hunter Renfroe (via the San Diego Padres) and Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and led the AL with a 3.65 ERA in 2019. The Boston Red Sox shipped franchise outfielder, Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with lefty, David Price and don’t seem intent on contending in 2020.
The Chicago White Sox made some notable offseason additions (catcher Yasmani Grandal, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez) to bolster a promising young core. Are they ready to make the jump after a 72-89 finish in 2019? Maybe. But they’re counting on a number of unproven players, including hard-throwing righty Michael Kopech, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and has made a scant four big-league starts.
The Houston Astros will be the bad boys of MLB, possibly for the duration of the season, after the sign-stealing scandal that rocked the franchise and the sport. But despite losing ace, Gerrit Cole to free agency, they retain a strong core that won the pennant in 2019 and will compete for one in 2020, like it or not. Their biggest competition in the West will be the Los Angeles Angels. The Los Angeles Angels might need to do more than adding Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran to bolster a pitching staff that ranked 25th in baseball with a 5.12 ERA. But they inked third baseman, Anthony Rendon, who will join reigning AL MVP, Mike Trout to form a dynamic offensive duo.
The NL East may be the most competitive division in baseball. The Atlanta Braves lost third baseman, Josh Donaldson but added outfielder Marcell Ozuna. They also signed closer Will Smith, as well as veterans Cole Hamels and Felix Hernandez to add experience to the starting rotation. They have tons of young talent on the roster and marinating in the minors, and they are the favorites to win a third straight NL East crown. The Philadelphia Phillies will be another team to look out for led by manager, Joe Girardi. The additions of infielder Didi Gregorius and right-hander Zack Wheeler (signed away from the division rival New York Mets) increase the Philadelphia Phillies’ chances of taking Bryce Harper back to the postseason after a disappointing 81-81 finish in 2019. Lastly, the New York Mets lost Wheeler but added a formidable late-inning arm by signing free agent Dellin Betances away from the New York Yankees and took a flier on 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, who posted a 5.52 ERA in 2019 with the Red Sox and will compete for a spot in a loaded rotation fronted by reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. That’s three teams with a reasonable chance at winning the division or at least grabbing a wild-card slot.
In the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds signed Moustakas away from the Brewers and inked versatile veteran Nick Castellanos and Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama. They also added Pedro Strop to help the bullpen and netted Wade Miley to boost the back end of the rotation. They’re a sneaky contender. The Milwaukee Brewers lost catcher Yasmani Grandal and infielder Mike Moustakas via free agency, but they added outfielder Avisail Garcia, first baseman Justin Smoak, infielder Ryon Healy, and infielder Brock Holt. They lack a proven ace, but they’re coming off an 89-win season and are in the mix with 2019 NL MVP runner-up Christian Yelich returning from injury. The NL Central is gonna be fun to watch.
Finally, in the NL West by adding Mookie Betts and David Price from the Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers gilded a roster that won 106 games in 2019 and was already a top title contender.
Overall, this is gonna be an exciting season we have upon us. Each division has something to look out for. This is the time where each team gets ready and prepared to contend for the title in October. We are far away from the playoffs, however, the training and work that is put in now will benefit in the long run.