By Patrick Culcasi || Layout Assistant
Spring training is about one week in, and as new faces arrive at camps, a few teams are still facing scrutiny from players and fans. Following the Washington Nationals’ World Series Victory, the off-season has been filled with interesting trades and an ongoing sign-stealing scandal. The 2020 season should be one to watch. Young talent is on the rise within the league; however, there are also several returning stars. According to MLB.com, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers are the top two teams on the preseason poll. Those two teams are closely followed by the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees stand atop that list after their acquisition of former Astro and star pitcher, Gerrit Cole. The Yankees have power hitters to provide their offense, and the crucial addition of Cole bolsters the strength of their pitching staff, thus making them a complete team. If the Yankees aren’t at the top of the league, they will certainly be leading the American League East. The Dodgers, the number two ranked team, have recently acquired Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox. Betts is a top player in the league and has talent in both hitting and speed on the basepaths. Price is a veteran starting pitcher who will fall into the pitching rotation alongside All-Star pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. The Yankees and the Dodgers rightfully find themselves on top of the preseason poll through a combination of blockbuster acquisitions, returning veterans, and rising young talent.
In addition to trades that have led to breaking news, sign stealing (which is against the unwritten rules of baseball) has also made the headlines for a couple teams. Most notably, the Houston Astros have been accused and punished for years of sign stealing. This scandal has made some fans and players question the legitimacy of the team’s success in the postseason (a World Series victory and other playoff runs). The Astros cheated by using the centerfield camera pointed at the catcher to see what pitch was coming. They then banged on trash cans to signal the pitch to their teammates up at bat. The MLB has punished the Astros by banning the General Manager and the Manager which resulted in the Astros firing both of them. Additionally, the team was fined and their first and second-round draft picks were taken away for the coming two years.
A number of players have spoken out about their feelings regarding this scandal. Mike Trout, L.A Angels star outfielder, said, “If you know what’s coming, it’s going to definitely help them.” Trout and others have said how much easier the job of hitting a baseball would be if the batter knew what pitch was coming. Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees said something similar: “If I knew what was coming in ‘17, I would have hit 80-plus home runs.” One might wonder whether the Astros will live up to the prediction that they will end up being the third-best team in the league. The season will reveal if their stars can actually hit as well as they have, or if sign-stealing has carried them to success the last couple years.
No one knows what the season will hold, as there are many questions yet to be answered. Will the preseason poll be correct, or will a different team shock the baseball world? Teams have about one month to prepare for the 2020 season before opening day begins on March 26th.
Sophomore Patrick Culcasi is a layout assistant. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org