BY FRANCIS ABBAMONTE
Last Thursday, March 29th, Major League Baseball (MLB) opening day commenced.
The anticipation is over and now the 2018-2019 season is underway.
Last season, the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 and won their first World Series in franchise history.
The Astros will look to defend their title and return to the World Series again this year, but it is a long season and many teams are looking to knock off the defending champions.
Last season, the New York Yankees fell just short from returning to the World Series where they lost Game 7 of the ALCS against the Astros who would go on to become the World Series Champs.
During the off-season, the Yankees made a blockbuster move by acquiring National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins.
Stanton hit 59 home runs last season while Judge hit 52 home runs.
With the addition of Stanton in the off-season and the Yankees keeping their core intact, they look to dethrone the Astros.
The Yankees weren’t the only team that improved during the off-season.
The Boston Red Sox didn’t stay idle and made a blockbuster move as well by signing free agent J.D. Martinez who previously played for the Arizona Diamondbacks
Martinez was coming off one of his best seasons statistically and hit 45 home runs.
This move kept the Red Sox on pace with the Yankees and fueled their long time rivalry.
The former 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs added depth as well during the off-season.
Their biggest acquisition was signing free agent Yu Darvish. Darvish previously played with the National League champion Los Angles Dodgers, who ultimately lost to the Astros. Instead of resigning with the Dodgers, Darvish signed with the Cubs with hopes to help lead the team back to the World Series.
The Cubs lost the NLCS against the Dodgers 4-1 last season.
One issue for the Cubs was pitching and now Darvish will be a big help for them, for a potential return to the World Series.
Two teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season but got better in the off-season are the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Angels.
The Phillies added two key free agents in the off-season was pitcher Jake Arrieta and first baseman Carlos Santana.
Both players add a veteran presence to a young and upcoming Phillies team.
The Angels signed Japanese two- way Phenom, Shohei Ohtani during the off-season. Ohtani was named the MVP of Japan’s top league in 2016 hitting 22 home runs while having a 1.86 ERA.
Ohtani is a pitcher, but also has a powerful swing to pair with their star Mike Trout.
One team that remained silent during the off-season was the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals made back-to-back postseason appearances in the playoffs, but ultimately fell to the Cubs in the NLDS.
They hope to build off of last season and go deep into the playoffs, especially with 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper playing on the last season of his deal before becoming a free agent after the 2018-2019 season.
A lot has happened during the off-season, but now the season is underway.
Each MLB season is different, so it is anyone’s guess on who will win it all this year.
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