It’s here, It’s here, It’s here!!! This week the baseball season began with its first week of spring training games. We waited 124 days for this day, so many days, I don’t know how I kept it together. But that doesn’t matter now because we have to go over what this baseball season will look like.
The players association and the league agreed to have the usual 162 game season. This means there will be 162 games and the players will have their full salary. I’m excited for this because it means we will have more baseball! I know that sounds cheesy, but think about it: this season will have nearly 3 times more games than last year’s 60 game season. The MLB initially proposed a 154 game season to the MLBPA (MLB players association), which would have pushed the season back one month, but that was rejected and we are set to have opening day on April 1st.
On to what to look for. In spring training there are some new rules in place for how the games will function. The one that is the most interesting in my opinion is that managers can end the half inning when their pitcher exceeds 20 pitches in that inning. On Tuesday this very thing happened when the Red Sox played the Braves. Garret Richards (a pitcher for the Red Sox) had loaded the bases and walked a run in. Then he reached 23 pitches and Alex Cora (the Red Sox manager) decided that he wanted to end the half inning so no more runs could be scored. Now I don’t believe that was fair because spring training is about seeing a player’s value and getting them warmed up for the season. To end the inning and prevent the other team from testing their players’ value was wrong. The fact is victory doesn’t matter in spring training, what matters is seeing if you want a certain player on your team for the regular season. You can’t do that if they don’t play.
Time to turn our attention to the players to keep an eye on. In this part I’ll go over some of the players to watch during spring training.
Ke’Bryan Hayes: The early favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. He posted an astonishing .442 OBP in 95 Plate appearances. That ranks first among qualified rookies and, although he wasn’t qualified for rookie of the year last year, all eyes are on him this spring.
What to look for: Power. His scouting reports rank him great in fielding (75/80) but not phenomenal in power (55/80). However, he surprised most people with 5 home runs in 24 games. Keep an eye out for any extra base hits and powerful homeruns Ke’Bryan has this spring.
Spencer Torkelson: The number one draft pick in last year’s draft. The Tigers young slugger was invited as a non-roster invite, meaning that he will play for the Tigers spring training team but will not play for the major league team at the beginning of the season.
What to look for: Spencer Torkelson played first base at Arizona State but the Tigers have him playing third base. Look out for how he performs playing at third and sit back and have some popcorn when he’s batting. He has a 70/80 in power, even more remarkable for his first year as a pro.
Wander Franco: Give it up for the number one prospect in all of baseball: Wander Franco! Hopefully you read that part with an echoey voice that carried out Franco plus a drumroll. If not, go and read it again. Wander Franco has an 80/80 in the hitting grade, which is insane, plus a 60 in power. He finishes with a 70 overall. We don’t have much to judge him by, but multiple reports say he’s the best player since Mike Trout. If you don’t know, Mike Trout is the best player in baseball currently, and one of the best to ever play.
What to look for: That is a lot of hype for one player and a lot of expectations. I want to see how he plays against major league pitching and how he is in fielding. He only has a 50/80 grade in fielding so something to look for is how he tries to improve that. But also have some fun watching this guy, he’s something else.
These are the things to look out for in Spring Training. Most of all though, have some fun. It’s baseball season again!