As the past couple of days have passed, the madness is now fully underway. No, I’m not talking about the NCAA March Madness tournament, but the realization that the start of the 2013 MLB season is exactly one week away. Next Sunday, the MLB will begin their regular season play, as the Texas Rangers will go into Houston and face the newest American League team, the Houston Astros. The game, which will be the first of many ESPN’s star-studded Sunday line-up, will begin at 8pm EST.
With the start of the baseball season right around the corner and the amount of upsets that have taken place so far in the NCAA basketball tournament, I believe that it is only right to list some teams that I think may surprise the baseball world. Last season it was the Washington Nationals, the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics. Every year there is always that one surprise team that emerges as a contender to the amazement of everyone. This year will be no different in my opinion. With teams stocking up on talent in the offseason, we fans will be in for yet another great season of America’s favorite past-time. While there are some teams that I think are a lock in the playoffs, there are some teams that may come out and surprise some folks. In no particular order, I am going to list a few ball-clubs that I think may come out and potentially be this year’s Cinderella teams.
Number 3: The Oakland Athletics
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Money Ball”, you will know exactly how the Oakland Athletics like to do things. Since they are a small market team they must build within the organization and are restricted when it comes to making big time moves. Well last season it appeared that Billy Beane’s way of running the team pulled off yet again as the Athletics we’re able to capture the AL West in a division that features the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels. Despite their successful 2012 campaign, the Oakland A’s are still being under-looked. Yes, their division did get tougher; however, they might have gotten tougher as well. During this past offseason the Athletics brought in slugger Chris Young and former Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros infielder, Jed Lowrie. They also brought in Hiroyuki Nakajima, the talented shortstop from Japan. The team also filled a glaring hole behind the plate, after signing John Jaso. Jaso will fit perfectly with the A’s both offensively and defensively. He is an extremely underrated defender and although he might not be the strongest hitter, what does he do a lot? That’s right everyone; he gets on base.
Not too many people think the A’s can repeat their success of the 2012 season. I myself think that if this team can manage to stay healthy and get good pitching in a hitting division, this team could end up finishing atop the division.
Number 2: The Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are a team that I am really looking forward to watching this season. Although they have struggled in previous seasons, I truly believe that this season is the beginning of a rebuilding process that will finally work in Cleveland.
In the offseason the Indians were able to reel in two time World Series Champion manager, Terry Francona. Francona is arguably one of baseball’s best minds. After taking over as the Boston Red Sox’s manager in 2004, the team that was always one-upped by the Yankees finally began to do the one-upping; as they were able to capture their 6th World Series title. Just three years after that they were able to win the Fall Classic yet again. Francona is going to help bring a winning attitude to a team and a city that isn’t used too much sports success.
Along with the signing of a fantastic manager, the Indians were also able to manage to bring in some top free agent talent. On January 4th, the team signed former Yankee Nick Swisher to a four year contract and on February 15th, they singed center fielder Michael Bourne to a four year deal as well. Cleveland also signed slugger Mark Reynolds. The Indians also have some talent at the pitchers position. With ace Ubaldo Jimenez leading the charge in this starting rotation that is made up of Justin Masterson and Brett Meyers and closer Chris Perez expected to be back within the next week or two, this Indians pitching rotation can end up being pretty good.
I also believe that catcher Carlos Santana is going to have a break-out season as the Indians catcher. The young 26 year old has impressed so far in his early career.
The Indians are going to be a good ball club this year. I think they’ll be better than most people think. They have the talent and they also have the right manager. Maybe if Cleveland has a good sports team they can finally get over LeBron James.
Number 1: The Kansas City Royals
Last but certainly not least we have the Kansas City Royals. The Royals have been bad for a long time. How long you might ask? Well, the last time the Royals were in the playoffs it was 27 years ago. Although I wasn’t around to see them succeed, I have certainly been around long enough now to see them fail year in and year out. I think I can finally say that after 18 years of living, I might actually get to watch a successful Royals team.
For the longest time this team could not pitch. Well, that should no longer be the case. This offseason the front office basically turned over this entire pitching rotation. After giving up arguably one of the best prospects in baseball, out-fielder Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Royals added a multitude of really good pitchers. In return for Myers, the team received All Star pitcher James Shields and Wade Davis. On top of that, the team also traded for Ervin Santana, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels. Along with the additions to the rotation, they were also able to re-sign Jeremy Guthrie, who went 5-3 for the Royals last season. Pitching has always been an issue for the Royals, but now, that should just be a thing in the past.
The Royals are hoping that some of their younger players such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas can continue their development process this season. Although Moustakas was able to hit 20 home runs last season, while driving in 73 RBI’s, he only hit an average of .242. Hosmer who also was quite successful was only able to have a batting average of .232. The Royals will certainly be looking for these two to step up their game this season.
If the Royals offense can be average or better, this Royals team can easily finish in second place in the American League Central right behind the Detroit Tigers.
Thanks for Reading!