2013 MLB Preview: 5 Things to Watch


The 2013 season is right around the corner and once again teams are beginning to gear up for a run at the World Series. For the next 6 months teams will deal with injuries, downslides, and the unknown that could turn their seasons in a completely different direction. The season will always have its ups and downs and it will always be those teams who can manage the ups and downs who can win the World Series. Last year it was the San Francisco Giants who came out on top as they would manage a number of unexpected issues to finish on top. They would not see that Tim Lincecum would fall off and struggle as a starting pitcher as they would lose their young ace. They also didn’t see that this young ace would find new life in the bullpen during their playoff run. They wouldn’t see that one of the best hitters in the league, Melky Cabrera, would fail a drug test and miss the end of the season and also the entire playoffs. They wouldn’t expect that their rock in the 9th inning and one of the best closers in the game Brian Wilson would go down for the season with a serious injury. That Sergio Romo would take over for Brian Wilson was also a big surprise. The Giants would come through all of this in the roller coaster that was the 2012 MLB season and they would make an amazing run at the World Series. They would get hot at the right time and never give up on any of their series. They would end it with a four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to win their second World Series in three years. It was a season of the unexpected and in 2013 teams can expect the same thing as the only thing that is guaranteed is the unexpected. 30 teams will enter the season undefeated but only one will come out as the champion for 2013 and that team will have plenty to talk about in the season that was. With these teams going into the unknown there are plenty to look forward to including these five parts of the 2013 season that will be sure to make headlines throughout the season.


Super Sophomores


2012 was the season of the rookie with players like Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, Will Middlebrooks, and many more. Two rookies stood out though as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper set the MLB on fire in their first season and led the youth movement in the league. Bryce Harper was always expected to be the lights out young player he has become. Since he began lighting up the high school leagues only to get his GED and begin playing College baseball at 16 years old. He was one of few can’t miss picks in the MLB draft and the second one in as many years for the Washington Nationals. He would make his MLB debut in 2012 at the age of 19 and would go on to have the best season by a teenager in MLB history. Mike Trout was a very different story as he was a relatively unknown until he made his debut in the 2012 season. Trout would come out of nowhere and would have a season that nobody has ever had in his rookie season. The 20-year-old would finish the season with the best rookie average, OPS, RBIs, home runs, and stolen bases. Both rookies would win the Rookie of the Year award in their respective leagues. Now they face the task of beating the Sophomore Slump to not only do what they did last year but to do better. Both players will be watched more than ever to see what they can do this year in their sophomore season in the MLB to determine if they truly are the future of the league.


What can Strasburg  do?



The Washington Nationals were a team with bad luck and good fortune finishing last two years in a row and getting the best two draft picks in the last decade. Stephen Strasburg was the first of these two picks and was considered the pitcher of the future in 2009. The first year of his career Strasburg would make a big impact striking out 14 batters in his first MLB start. It was clear that he was as advertised and would be the ace of the Nationals team for a long time. An inflamed shoulder in 2010 would eventually become a torn UCL that would lead to Tommy John Surgery and an entire season on the bench. His return in 2012 was highly anticipated as the Nationals looked to be on their way to the playoffs especially with him at the helm. Strasburg would return and would continue where he left off leading a good pitching staff to the top of the NL East. As the Nats approached the playoffs rumours began to swirl that the team was willing to shut down the young pitcher to avoid putting too much stress on his surgically repaired arm. They would do just that as Strasburg would be pulled from the lineup for the end of the season and through the playoffs. 2013 will be the first full season that Strasburg gets to play, unless he is injured, and fans are just waiting to see what is in store when he gets to pitch all season including the playoffs. Strasburg’s year could be 2013 as he will have free rein to pitch as much as he can and that is an exciting prospect for this young pitcher and for the fans.


The New Dynasty?



The San Francisco Giants will go into the 2013 season as the defending champions which will be a familiar feeling for the team. The Giants are quickly becoming the latest dynasty in the MLB with two championships in three years. The Giants have always been a part of the fabric of the MLB since their days in New York in the 1880s. Then they would disappear as they would win the World Series in 1954 and begin to fall into irrelevance. The Giants would be the bad team that would be an easy win for others every year. Then the Giants began their change as they would build their minor league system to provide a great base. As these players developed they began finding their way to the major league club the Giants were getting much better. It all came to a head in 2010 when the Giants would win their first World Series since 1954. The 2011 season would be a big step back thanks to injuries and the championship hangover. Then in 2012 the Giants would get back to it as they would get hot at the right time to win another World Series. Now the Giants are in a special position as they look to be the Dynasty of the 2010s with two World Series in three years. The Giants are in a unique position as they are clearly the dominant team of the decade but can they avoid the World Series hangover or will they fall into the pattern that made them a different team in 2011.


Toronto’s Overhaul


The Toronto Blue Jays are a team on the fringe in the MLB as the only team to be located outside of the USA. The only Canadian team in the MLB can sometimes fall between the cracks as they are rarely mentioned in the headlines. That changed 20 years ago though, when the Blue Jays became one of the most dominant teams in the MLB. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the Jays would be one of the best teams in the league and would regularly compete for the American League East crown. In 1992 they would win their first World Series and follow it up with another title in 1993. Since the 1993 season the Jays fell into irrelevance and continued to struggle to find a place among the rise of the Red Sox and Rays along with the dominance of the New York Yankees. This offseason the Jays quickly removed themselves from the irrelevant section of the MLB with one trade. The Jays would complete a 12 player deal with the Miami Marlins to bring in Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes among a few other players. Then the Jays would trade once again this time bringing in NL Cy Young Award Winner RA Dickey from the New York Mets. In all the Jays lost a lot of their great minor league system but gained an entirely new MLB team. The Jays made the most headlines in the 2013 offseason and now they have to put it together on the field as they will have more focus than they have had in 20 years to see if all of the moves will pay off.


Miracles or Beginning of a New Era?


Last year two teams captured the imaginations of the MLB as they went from the bottom of the league to the top. The Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics have regularly found themselves at the bottom of the league. The fans had been long-suffering with two teams that could not seem to get things right. They would sit at the bottom of the league and get the advantage of a high draft pick but would never draft anyone who would work out. That was until the 2012 season when both teams came out of nowhere to run for into the playoffs. The Orioles would go from being considered the worst team in the AL East to competing with the Yankees into the last week of the season for the top spot. The Oakland Athletics would overcome a number of teams with massive new additions, Albert Pujols in LA and Yu Darvish in Texas, to win the AL West. Both teams would move into the playoffs after years of sitting on the outside and wondering what to do next. Now both teams are in a different situation as sneaking up on other teams is out of the questions. The league is expecting both of these teams to come out strong and have a good year meaning no team will take them lightly. With the new focus these teams will finally show their true colours in a full MLB season. The biggest question for both teams is whether or not the 2012 season was a fluke or if these two franchises have finally turned the corner.

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