Spring Training begins countdown to MLB season

Will Royals be able to recapture last year's glory?

Justin Rimpi

It has been just under four months since the last game of the MLB Playoffs concluded. That game was Game 5 of the World Series that saw the crowning of the Kansas City Royals as 2015 World Series Champions.

With pitcher’s and catcher’s for all 30 MLB teams reporting this week, and the position players reporting next week, the 2016 MLB season is beginning to take shape. As in any season, there is a handful of teams that seem to be contenders, but sometimes these pre-season contenders do not live up to the high expectations being placed on their shoulders.

For example, the Washington Nationals were many experts picks to win the National League Pennant if not the World Series. In reality though the Nationals did not even get a taste of the playoffs as they finished second in their own division to the surprise National League Pennant winners the New York Mets. The Houston Astros whom have been cellar dwellers in the American League Central and the National League West for virtually a decade made it into the playoffs.

All of these examples in addition to many more just comes to show the parity that exists in Major League Baseball. Pundits nor fans really know how their team will fair in the gauntlet of a 162 game season. As the 2015 New York Mets can attest to, a team could plod along up until late July and then make one move that puts life back into their season and then find themselves in the World Series.

Many pundits say the Chicago Cubs, yes the Chicago Cubs, are primed for a World Series. It seems the Chicago Cubs are picked everything single year to break through through their 107 year World Series drought. Another team that seems to be a trendy pick is the New York Mets.

The New York Mets have improved their defense in the off season, which really hurt them in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. The main culprit of their defensive meltdown in the “Fall Classic” was second baseman Daniel Murphy. He now finds himself with the divisional rival Washington Nationals. Murphy has been replaced by former Pittsburgh Pirate second baseman Neil Walker who is a much better fielder than his predecessor Murphy.

The Toronto Blue Jays also have a very legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year as well. Their high-powered seems up to the task once again this year of carrying the team. Led by 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson the Blue Jays offense looks to be ever better than they were last year when they ranked first in many major offensive categories like Runs scored, Home Runs, and OPS.

The defending champion Kansas City Royals have flown under the radar this off-season as they have made no significant moves in the off season to improve their team. Instead they lost their best Starting Pitcher Johnny Cueto whom signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free-agent. The Royals have retained their solid bullpen, but will that be enough to vault them back into contention for a championship.

There is sure to many ups and downs in the six month MLB season. Each team goes into Spring Training with a sense of optimism that this will be their year and they will be World Series champion at the end of October. As the season progresses many teams will have to rationalize that this will not their year even though they put everything they had into this season. Other teams will have great years, but just not be able to achieve the ultimate goal of a World Series. When all is said and done 29 teams will come up short and only one will be crowned World Series champion and be remembered for their achievements for years to come.