The peanuts and cracker jacks are fully stocked. The batting practice cages are in place, followed by the sweet sound of balls crackling of bats. Baseball is back. After a stellar 2018 Major League Baseball season that saw the Astros win their first ever World Series, 2019 has a ton of great storylines to watch.
2018 MLB Storylines to watch
Baseball betting odds have the Astros favored to repeat at 5 to 1, followed by the Dodgers at 11 to 2. The Yankees are 13 to 2 to win the World Series, with the Indians next at 6 to 1. The Red Sox are listed at 1o to 1.
1. Bryce Harper
In a year where he could become a free agent this fall, Bryce Harper’s health and production is a fascinating topic. Will he be as explosive on the basepaths as he used to? Does his power return? Can the Nationals resign him? Talk about a crazy talented free agent that could hit the open market.
2. The Yankees and Red Sox
Forever intertwined in the American League East, both the Yankees and Red Sox added key power pieces this offseason, with Giancarlo Stanton acquired from the Marlins by New York and Boston signing free agent J.D. Martinez. Is it a foregone conclusion that these two clubs make the playoffs? Probably. But which one finishes first?
3. The future of the Rays
Tampa Bay has been on the brink of losing the Rays for years now. It won’t help that the on-field product is expected to be weak. Local officials continue to try and keep the team in the area. But are there enough fans to care if they leave?
4. Surprise team
Which surprise team will break through in 2018 and make a playoff run? A trendy pick is the Brewers, who have acquired players like Lorenzo Cain, and who boast good young talent. Others think that if everything goes right the Padres could push above .500. I think the world has given up on making the Mariners a trendy pick.
5. Speed of the game
There is no pitch clock this season. But we are headed that way if the speed of the game continues to lag. In an era where teens want to consume everything in clips, and to watch more than once thing at once, baseball can no longer operate as they did in the 50’s. We’re all curious to see how the average length of a game increases or decreases.
Matthew Ross is a radio host on TSN 690 in Montreal, Canada, and a contributor to ESPN Radio 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow @MatthewWords