Top 5 Storylines Of The 2018 MLB Season

Jose Altuve

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Baseball is just about to return. The crack of the bat, the sound of pitches hitting the catcher’s mitt, the smell of hot dogs in the air are all just a short week and a half away. With a new season though, comes new headlines that have the chance to be written over the 162-game voyage and for a few select clubs, the postseason. The excitement of new faces in new places, possible repeats, and maybe some new blood ready for primetime will make this MLB season hopefully as memorable as any in recent years. Here’s a peek at the five storylines to watch closely in Major League Baseball in 2018.


1. Are the Houston Astros set to repeat as champions?

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There’s no doubt the Astros are built to repeat. Problem is, there hasn’t been a back-to-back World Series winner since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000. A lot of critics are have asked the question if the club’s hunger to win again is still there after winning the first title in franchise history

The core is still very much intact with reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Houston’s pitching staff is still one of the most dominant in the game with Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr. Adding star righty Gerrit Cole from the Pirates this offseason will only make that staff extremely harder to solve.

In the outfield and bullpen, the Astros are loaded with youth and veterans. Houston could have their hands full with an improving American League Central with a Minnesota Twins club being a playoff team a year ago, the dangerous Cleveland Indians, and two clubs in the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox who are both ready to contend once again. Despite that factor, until proven otherwise, the Astros will be the favorite to win it all again.


2. Will the New York Yankees bash their way to the World Series?

Get on up. pic.twitter.com/VqsnD9Wpag

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 10, 2018

The Bombers came within one game of the Fall Classic last year, falling to the eventual champion Astros. After suffering that disappointment, they made it their goal to go out and prove once again the Evil Empire is back in full force. They traded for another superstar who can mash, the one they call Giancarlo.

In 2017, the Yankees hit 241 home runs as a team, the most of any team in the game. Now with Giancarlo Stanton in the mix with his bash brothers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yanks are primed to shatter those numbers and beat teams into submission with the longball. But if it’s not those three, the crazy thing to believe is opposing pitchers and teams will have to deal with the underrated Didi Gregorius, and if healthy, Greg Bird.

It’s just plain scary to realize how much power the New York Yankees lineup has this season. The home run will be New York’s biggest weapon as they not only fight for the AL East crown but when they get into the postseason. They aren’t nicknamed the “Bombers” for nothing, and this year will be no different.


3. How will Shohei Otani fare in his first MLB season?

screenshot via MLB Network

Known as the Japanese Babe Ruth, the expectations are incredibly high for Otani. Being he is an excellent hitter and supreme pitcher, Otani wants to prove that he will be just as dominant in the States as he was in his native Japan. The Angels — who have missed the playoffs since 2014 — are depending on Otani and superstar Mike Trout to finally put the club back on the map.

Anytime a new player with hype makes it to the Bigs, the opposition will pay a close amount of attention to them, and Otani should see no difference. Another big thing to take into consideration, Otani is only 23 years of age. Many 23-year olds are still maturing and trying to find their place and in Major League Baseball and Otani’s case, how he progresses from the first few months into a full season will be must-see.

Otani will have eyes on him from his first at-bat and pitch he throws. It will be fun, and how he changes the Angels fortune will be what fans and pundits focus on the most.


4. Who will win the National League West?

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The National League West could be the best division in baseball. In 2017, the division saw a major shift in power from the preceding years. But this year, it could be a fight from the first pitch in late March down to the final pitch in late September.

You have the defending NL champs in the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have arguably the best pitcher in the majors in Clayton Kershaw and one of the best hitting lineups. The Arizona Diamondbacks who despite losing catcher J.D. Martinez still have one of the top 1-2 pitching duos in the MLB in Zach Greinke and Robbie Ray. The San Francisco Giants reloaded in the offseason with Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, while the Padres added Eric Hosmer and the Rockies young core is ready to make waves in the division.

Determining how this division will unfold is like trying to make a 7-10 split in bowling. It’s almost impossible. But you can say one thing, watching these teams battle all season long will be a treat for all baseball fans.


5. Will this be the last season of Bryce Harper in a Nationals uniform?

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The rumblings have been heard for some time now about what Bryce Harper’s future will be. Heck, even that report about the $500 million dollar contract not too long ago doesn’t seem that ludicrous. Harper is in a contract season with the Nats and with the changes made around him and the organization, what will decide if he stays in Washington or takes the free agency route will be heard all year-long.

Harper, 25, was drafted number one overall in the 2010 MLB Draft and has been with the Nationals since making his debut in 2012. He’s put up monster numbers every season since his arrival and is a five-time All-Star and one-time NL MVP (2015). Where Harper has struggled and not been able to help the Nationals gets over the hump, is in the postseason. The consensus feeling is that if he and the club can’t finally do some damage if they make the postseason, that it could play a part in if he wants to commit long-term to keep playing in the nation’s capital.

Harper watch is going to be another enjoyable, yet intriguing situation. For Nationals fans, it’s going to be long, it’s going to be excruciating at points hearing all the hoopla about him possibly leaving, and it’s going to keep you wanting for more. There will be things to keep a keen eye on all season with Bryce Harper as there usually is, but his decision about his future trumps them all.

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