Anticipation, joy, optimism fill the air as Opening Day approaches. You are locked in for Game 1…of 162. That never stops us from drawing conclusions. Dreaming about the one game sample size perhaps becoming the standard for the season. Good or bad, usually emotionally-driven, we all overact to Opening Day.
So let’s have some fun with it. My overreactions to the first Opening Day in an era of baseball with a “shot clock”.
Dylan Cease and Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young Race Comes Down to a Final Start
Two of the most talented pitchers in the American League showed out on Opening Day. Cease went 6 1/3 innings of two-hit, one-run ball while striking out 10. Cole set a Yankees record for most strike outs on Opening Day with 11.
Both teams are in the race late in the year and everyone is talking about which arm wins the Cy Young. Even Steven A. Smith is being forced to talk about it. The last series of the season Cease gets the Padres and Cole gets the Royals. Cole edges out Cease thanks to Kansas City’s inability to hit a baseabll.
James Outman Beats Corbin Carrol in Rookie of the Year Race
Ok, don’t stop reading now. This is just for fun. Outman debuted with a two-hit night including a home run and double. He scored three runs and had two RBI. Corbin Carroll’s D-backs fell 8-2 to the Dodgers with Carroll going 0-for-3.
Outman proves he’s an everyday option and with the help of the Dodgers lineup racks up more counting stats than Carroll. Like it or not, voters value counting stats. Outman is just the latest Dodger rookie to contribute in a big way.
The A’s spoil the Angels start, and End of the Season
The Athletics sent the fans home happy with a late comeback win on Opening Day. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but a Shohei Ohtani start ended with a loss for the Angels. Fighting for a playoff birth, the Angels need the last series of the year to make it.
Who do they play? The Athletics. Oakland plays spoiler and keeps Trout home once again in October and Ohtani leaves in free agency.
CJ Cron hits 40 Home Runs
Cron’s career high in home runs is 30. For as much power as he has, and playing half his games in Coors, 40 seems achievable. After hitting two on Opening Day in San Diego, Cron continues his power display hitting 10 by the end of May.
A career year leads to buzz around the deadline, but Colorado repeats history. They keep him in a Rockies uniform, so he can be part of a 76-win team.
The White Sox Finally Prevail
After years of frustration, injuries, and whatever the hell we call the Tony LaRussa era, the White Sox reach their ceiling. Cease leads the charge, with a bounce back from Lucas Giolitto. Luis Robert Jr. stays healthy and proves he is what we think he can be, and Eloy Jimenez hits his way into the Home Run Derby. Chicago wins the division and makes the playoffs.
David Robertson leads the NL in Saves
The loss of Edwin Diaz had the baseball world firing up trades that had the Mets overpaying for options that were not likely, or even not proven. Robertson, once a 39-save closer for the Yankees, sets a career-high in saves for the other New York team and silences the critics.
The Mets finish the year with the most wins in the National League. A divisional title in hand, they falter in the playoffs.
Brendan Donovan is an All-Star
Donovan lead off for the Cardinals and racked up three hits, three runs, and two RBI which will be the standard, not the exception, for the Cardinals second baseman. Once a utility option, Donovan cements himself as the starting second baseman on a first place team.
Donovan’s break out forces the Cardinals to finally trade for starting pitching as Nolan Gorman is packaged in a deal to help St. Louis prepare for a playoff run.
Cubs Finish Second in NL Central
Marcus Stroman led the Cubs to an eye opening 4-0 victory over the Brewers on Opening Day. Despite the Cubs rotation being filled with back of the rotation level arms, the Brewers offense never takes off and this terrible division becomes the laughing stock of baseball.
Ian Happ, Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner, and Seiya Suzuki help Chicago reach the 20th offense in baseball, but a sneaky good bullpen does enough to get the Cubs to second place. The Brewers sell at the deadline ending their Corbin Burnes era.
Adley Rutschman wins Silver Slugger and Gold Glove
Rutschman started the season 5-for-5 with four RBI, helping the Orioles top the Red Sox 10-9. Baltimore’s buzz is real, and Rutschman proves to be their most valuable piece. He leads American League catchers in average, while putting up a 5.0 WAR season.
Behind the plate, Rutschamn works his magic to make the Orioles rotation of No. 4’s look like No. 2’s. Blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out runners as we see the Orioles win more 10-9 games.
Baseball Viewership increases by 12%
The 2 hour and 14 minutes Rays/Tigers game is beautiful. Baseball found a way to limit the amount of Tigers baseball we have to watch and that alone helps the league. Stolen bases and shortened games brings back the millennials who ditched the sport to watch a six-shot soccer match.
Once September comes around, you can watch a baseball game that starts at the same time as your favorite football team, and still have time to watch the second half of pigskin.