March 28, 2014

MLB 2014 season preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

This will without a doubt be a season of transition for Major League Baseball.

For that reason, we’re going to see some good, some bad and some weird things. Here’s what to look out for in the coming 162-game grind known as the MLB regular season.

-The MLB regular season has already started, but spring training is still going on. Weird, right? Yes, those two games in Australia between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the season last week – they weren’t just exhibitions. But that didn’t mean Spring Training was over. In fact, both of the teams that played in Australia kept on playing pre-season tilts. Kind of takes away from the whole season-opening series, right?

-Thanks to the Winter Olympics extending the NHL season and baseball trying to get the regular season to end earlier, we’re going to have two weeks of overlap between the NHL and MLB regular seasons. So, if you’re a Leafs fan, feel free to flip the channel to the Jays if you get too depressed.

-For the first time in 15 years, the New York Yankees won’t have the league’s top payroll. This year, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers at $235 million to the Yanks $204 million.

-It’s not like the Yankees weren’t trying to splash the cash either. The Bronx Bombers looked like their early 2000’s vintage, shelling out big deals to players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka.

-The average baseball salary is up to nearly $4 million this season. To put that in perspective, in 1995 – Derek Jeter’s first MLB season – the league average was $1.07 million. Oh, how far this league has come.

-Speaking of Jeter, he’ll be on a 162-game victory lap. This is the farewell season for one of the most popular players to ever hit the field. Expect a lot of tributes, a lot of pre-game ceremonies and – shockingly – some cheers even from the Fenway Faithful. In an interesting twist, Jeter’s final regular-season game will be in front of them in Boston.

-In an interesting loophole, suspended-for-the-season Alex Rodriguez will still earn some money. Of his $25 million salary, A-Rod will earn $2.8 million. Why? Because the season is actually 183 days long and A-Rod is only banned for the team’s 162 games. That leaves 21 days when he’s technically working.

-Did you know that there are currently no active pitchers with 200 career wins? Bartolo Colon and Mark Buehrle are close, but they likely won’t reach the milestone until at least mid-season. Remember the days when guys would be going for 300 wins? I guess longevity goes out the window with everyone blowing out their arms so quickly.

-Can Miguel Cabrera capture a third straight MVP and another near Triple Crown? I think it’ll be really hard without Prince Fielder hitting behind in the Tigers lineup.

-How many no-hitters will we see this season? After seven in 2012, there were just six in 2013. But, it may be an even-odd year thing. In 2010, there were six while in 2011 had three also. Don’t forget that last year we saw three no-nos broken up in the ninth inning either.

As for some predictions…

AL East: Boston Red Sox.

AL Central: Detroit Tigers.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels.

AL wild cards: Texas Rangers, New York Yankees.

NL East: Washington Nationals.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers.

NL wild cards: Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, LAA

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, WAS

AL Cy Young: Matt Moore, TB

NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner, SF

Surprises: Kansas City, San Diego, Albert Pujols somewhat comes back,

Disappointments: Robinson Cano, Chris Davis, Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, Max Scherzer.

Biggest name traded: David Price, TB.

The Blue Jays will finish: 82-80, fourth in the AL East.

ALCS: Tigers over Rangers.

NLCS: Dodgers over Nationals.

World Series: Dodgers over Tigers.

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