The 2018 MLB season is rapidly approaching. And yes, the big markets generally suck a lot of the attention. But there are some juicy stories that aren’t getting enough fanfare. Let’s unpack a few of them here and make sure we follow up on them in a couple of months.
Top 5 2018 MLB Storylines
1. Average game length – Did the final 2017 World Series game end yet? It feels like it just did. That’s because MLB games are getting longer and longer. The league didn’t put in a clock this season, but they’re trying other measures that they hope will shorten games. But it’s doubtful they make much of a difference. Still, it’ll be fascinating to see just how long that league-wide average ends up being.
2. Stanton vs Martinez – Giancarlo Stanton and J.D. Martinez were the big boppers who switched teams in the offseason. Which one will hit more long bombs? Both were on 60-homer paces. Can you imagine if they both disappoint and fail to crack even 35 homers?
3. Shohei Ohtani – The Angels’ new pitcher who can also play a position will garner a ton of attention early on. But will it last? The media referenced Babe Ruth at the time of his signing. I mean, really? Let’s see if he has any staying power as a hitter. After all, pitching wins championships. So he could end up just being a hurler at the end of the day.
4. How bad will the Marlins be? – Miami baseball fans are melting away, as the team once again gut the core and even jettisoned some iconic ambassadors. Derek Jeter is not popular in South Florida right now. It’s hard to say how many wins we can project for them, but it a 100-loss season is surely possible.
5. Any champion hangover? – A.J. Hinch doesn’t seem like the type to give even an inch and let his players show up or play soft. So the Astros should once again be a force this season. In fact, it’s scary to say but they could actually be better than last year. The question is can the rest of the league elevate too?
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.