Ranking the 10 MLB Teams That Will Be Most Exciting to Watch This Spring
The 2013 MLB spring season is now fully underway for teams playing in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues. With that said, there is a ton of excitement surrounding teams and their prospects of contending for a World Series championship.
Will the San Francisco Giants become the first team since the New York Yankees (1998-00) to repeat as World Series champions? Or will a team such as the Toronto Blue Jays emerge from the spring and seriously contend for a title?
These are some of the questions that could go a long way to being answered this spring. Here is a ranking of 10 teams who will be most exciting to watch this spring.
10. New York Yankees
The Yankees opened their spring camp in Tampa earlier this month to a myriad of questions.
Are Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera fully recovered from the injuries they sustained during 2012? Will Kevin Youkilis fit in the Yankee clubhouse and be able to carry the offensive load of the much-maligned and injured Alex Rodriguez? And speaking of Rodriguez, how will his hip injury and the fiasco surrounding his alleged involvement with the Miami Biogenisis clinic affect his recovery and 2013 campaign?
These questions will surely be some of the key storylines for the Yankees this spring.
Why the Yankees will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Yankees will be exciting to watch this spring for a variety of factors. It will be interesting to see how Jeter and Rivera fare coming off their season-ending injuries. Also, it will be interesting to see who emerges to capture the catching role, as there isn’t one clear frontrunner at the onset of spring training. It will also be interesting to see who steps up and replaces Curtis Granderson—who is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks with a broken forearm.
9. Boston Red Sox
The 2012 season was not a very exciting one for Red Sox fans. The season was full of unfulfilled expectations and strife as the boys from Beantown finished a disappointing 69-93—dead last in the AL East. The 2013 spring season dawns with a new manager, John Farrell, and several new key components.
Why the Red Sox will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Red Sox were pretty active in the offseason by adding Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Stephen Drew. They are also hoping that Jacoby Ellsbury can bounce back from what amounted as a lost season in 2012. Also, it will be exciting to see how Will Middlebrooks fares in his first spring training as the man at third base.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates
There will be a heavy emphasis on youth once again for the Pirates as they seek their first winning season since 1992. They came close in 2012 as they were above .500 for parts of the season and in contention for a postseason berth. However, the Pirates were unable to sustain their winning ways, and fell out of contention at the end of the season.
Why the Pirates will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Pirates are building a young core group of talent led by 2012 NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen. They made some noise this past offseason by trading All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox for Jerry Sands, Mark Melancon, Ivan DeJesus and Stolmy Pimentel.
It will also be interesting to see how Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon fare this spring as they prepare to play a prominent role for the Pirates in the not-so-distant future. Also, it will be interesting to see if Travis Snider and Starling Marte can become valuable parts to an outfield that already has a blooming star in McCutchen.
7. Cleveland Indians
The Indians enter the season with a new manager and several key additions.
The Indians have turned over the managerial helm to veteran skipper Terry Francona. The former Boston Red Sox skipper is hoping he can bring a new sense of success to a team who hasn’t won a World Series since 1948.
Why the Indians will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Indians will be exciting to watch as there are several new pieces on this year’s squad. The Indians brought in Mark Reynolds, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to fill prominent roles in the lineup. They are also hoping that Lonnie Chisenhall is ready to contribute on the major league level. It will be interesting to see how Francona mixes and matches these new players as the spring progresses.
6. San Francisco Giants
The Giants had a memorable year in 2012 as they captured their second world championship in the past three seasons. It will be interesting to see if the Giants can use that momentum as a springboard to become the first team, since the New York Yankees, to repeat as world champions.
Why the Giants will be exciting to watch this spring?
It will be interesting to see how Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum start off their spring campaigns. Both pitchers have had periods of success with the Giants—as well as periods of total bewilderment. The Giants also have a wide open campaign for the starting left-fielder job—as Melky Cabrera has left the Bay Area behind. It will be interesting to see who will be able to land the job. Incumbent Gregor Blanco, as well and rookie contender Roger Kieschnick should all be in the running for the position.
5. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels shocked the baseball world this offseason by signing Josh Hamilton to a five year, $125 million contract. The move should significantly bolster the Angels' changes at returning to the postseason for the first time since 2009.
It will also be interesting to see how Mike Trout fares in his second full season with the Angels.
Why the Angels will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Angels entered camp this spring with high expectations and a ton of talent. There is a lot of pressure on Angels manager Mike Scioscia to meld all the talent into a team with a viable shot of winning a world championship. Hamilton and Trout are the two big storylines entering camp for the Angels. It will be exciting to see how the spring season plays out for both of them.
4. Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals had a banner year in 2012, as they captured their first NL East crown in their current incarnation. Washington enters 2013 with high expectations and hopes as Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg look to lead the squad to the World Series.
Why the Nationals will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Nats will be exciting to watch this spring season as Strasburg and Harper continue to mature as players. It will be also interesting to see how Dan Haren fares as he returns from an injury-plagued 2012 campaign.
Also, who will emerge as the front runner to catch?
Wilson Ramos or Kurt Suzuki?
Will the loss of Mike Morse lead to declines in power production?
These are some of the exciting storylines that could go a long way to being answered this spring.
3. Atlanta Braves
The Braves were active during the offseason as they acquired a pair of Upton brothers—B.J. and Justin. Both Upton siblings figure to play prominent roles for the Braves as they aim for NL East supremacy.
Why the Braves will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Upton brothers will undoubtedly be the stars of the show at Lake Buena Vista this spring. It will also be interesting to see how Brian McCann progresses as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will also have to figure out who will hold down the back end of the starting rotation as Ben Sheets has retired and Tommy Hanson is now with the Los Angeles Angels. There will also be a battle for the third base job as Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson vie for the role.
2. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays seem to be intent on securing their first postseason berth since 1993 with the additions of several key players. Toronto went on an acquisition binge this offseason by acquiring Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and 2012 NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.
Why the Blue Jays will be exciting to watch this spring?
It will be exciting to see how all these new parts come together this spring into a cohesive unit. Will the 38-year-old Dickey and his knuckleball translate over to wins in the AL East? How will Reyes and company adjust to their new surroundings north of the border? It should be a ton of fun for Blue Jays fans down in Dunedin this spring, as the team prepares for 2013.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
There are high expectations for the Dodgers, not just to contend this season, but to win their first world championship since 1988. Don Mattingly will have the unalienable task of keeping a team full of talent on the right track.
Why the Dodgers will be exciting to watch this spring?
The Dodgers should be a ton of fun to watch this spring for several reasons. How will Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez fare in their first full season in Los Angeles? Also, will Zack Grienke provide the Dodgers the two-punch they have been sorely looking for to go along with ace Clayton Kershaw? What rookies will emerge and play prominent roles in 2013? These are some of the storylines to watch in Glendale.