by Brian Brownfield–
For sports fans, the calendar changing to April can mean only one thing: baseball is back. America’s pastime kicks off after an offseason full of trades, big signings, and a myriad of headlines for the 2015 season. While the statistics and records have been wiped clean, there is enough to look forward to for a fan of any team. Can the San Francisco Giants win back-to-back titles? Can Mike Trout defend his MVP crown? Who will be this year’s surprise team? This is an attempt to wade through all of the change, and break down the 2015 season while dealing with the important issues.
Who Went Where?
Once the offseason began, players began switching teams like they were hot on the stock market. Being in the Bay Area, it would make sense to begin with the load of players the Oakland Athletics added and subtracted. While adding the likes of DH Billy Butler, RP Tyler Clippard, and utility player Ben Zobrist, they also traded away 3B Josh Donaldson to Toronto, SP Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox, 1B Brandon Moss to Cleveland, and C Derek Norris to San Diego. Speaking of San Diego, they added a host of All-Star talent to their young roster as they look to claim relevancy in the NL West. Their brand-new outfield consists of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton, while adding James Shields to the starting rotation and Craig Kimbrel to the bullpen. Among other notable teams, the Miami Marlins were able to reel in 2B/SS Dee Gordon, SP Mat Latos, and 1B Michael Morse. OF Nelson Cruz signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners, giving them a much-needed potent bat, and the Washington Nationals added a major arm in Max Scherzer. OF Yoenis Cespedes was traded from Boston to Detroit in exchange for SP Rick Porcello, while Boston also signed former-Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval and former-Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez.
Return to Glory?
Can anyone knock off the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants? If there is anything we know from the last two times they have been champions, they have their problems the following season. So, if they continue to play their game of hot-and-cold years, someone else will have to rise to the occasion. The Giants are dealing with a lot of competition in their own division, including the revamped San Diego Padres, and the reigning NL West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Don’t forget about the Arizona D-Backs also, who made a few additions of their own in the offseason via foreign player signings.
AL East Champion: Boston Red Sox
AL Central Champion: Chicago White Sox
Al West Champion: Los Angeles Angels
AL Wild Cards: Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles
NL East Champion: Washington Nationals
NL Central Champion: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Cards: San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins
AL Champion: Seattle Mariners
NL Champion: Washington Nationals
World Series Champion: Washington Nationals