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Max Rosenfeld

100 Things You Need To Know By Opening Day

With just a few days until the start of the MLB season, here are 100 things that every baseball fan needs to know before Opening Day:

  1. The Chicago Cubs are the defending World Series champions. The last time the Cubs were defending champs was just 44 years after the Civil War- let that sink in for a second.
  2. They will win the National League Central again, the only question being by how many games.
  3. But still, Joe Maddon is dealing with an interesting dilemma due to his embarrassment of riches on the Cubs roster. He must find a way to balance playing time between Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Willson Contreras. That’s a nice problem to have.
  4. The longest World Series drought now belongs to the Cleveland Indians, who have not won a championship in 68 years.
  5. Francisco Lindor is the best shortstop in baseball right now.
  6. Andrew Miller is the best reliever in baseball right now.
  7. If Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are healthy, the Indians have the best pitching staff in the AL.
  8. Cleveland’s addition of Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 home runs and 127 RBI’s last season, makes them the favorite to win the American League.
  9. The Indians will return Michael Brantley, who came third in MVP voting in 2014.
  10. This is the last season of the Kansas City Royals championship window. Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain will all be free agents next winter.
  11. If the Royals aren’t a contending club at the deadline, they’ll most likely trade those pieces.
  12. It’s a make or break year for Byron Buxton, the former number one prospect in baseball.
  13. On the South Side of Chicago, the White Sox are building a powerhouse with young prospects such as Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. But they are not ready to win just yet.
  14. This means ace Jose Quintana could be traded before the deadline. Possibly to the Yankees.
  15. The Baby Bombers are just two short years away from signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Or both.
  16. Aaron Judge must prove he’s an everyday right fielder.
  17. Rob Refsnyder needs to show he’s even a Major League player.
  18. If you forgot Greg Bird’s name, you’re about to be reminded.
  19. Gary Sanchez won’t be as good as he was last year. But that’s fine- he’s still going to be awesome.
  20. Boston should win the AL East. Don’t expect them to miss David Ortiz too much.
  21. Chris Sale, their newest acquisition, will be placed into the first pennant race of his life. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds.
  22. Pablo Sandoval will be the Red Sox everyday third baseman. Let’s hope he hits above his weight.
  23. Andrew Benintendi may wind up batting third in the order. I think he’s ready.
  24. Jose Bautista is back for the Blue Jays on a one year deal. I anticipate a monster year out of the slugger.
  25. Coming off a standout performance in the WBC, Marcus Stroman is set to take the American League by storm.
  26. And so is his teammate, Aaron Sanchez, who should contend for the Cy Young.
  27. The Rays are still the Rays. Bleh.
  28. Chris Archer is great, however and should bounce back from a rocky 2016 campaign.
  29. PECOTA hates the Orioles, which means they’ll probably be good.
  30. We’re all still wondering why Zach Britton didn’t pitch the 9th inning of last year’s Wild Card game.
  31. Mike Trout was last year’s AL MVP. He probably deserves it every year.
  32. But his team is terrible, and they’ll be in the mix for the worst record in baseball.
  33. Still, the Angels front office won’t consider trading Trout. This is the proper move.
  34. Carlos Correa is my pick to be this year’s AL MVP.
  35. And the Astros are my pick to win the pennant.
  36. Ironically, Alex Bregman is a better shortstop than Correa. It’s the worst kept secret in the West.
  37. Anticipate a bounce back year from Dallas Keuchel.
  38. Houston signed Carlos Beltran in the offseason, adding a much needed veteran presence.
  39. Felix Hernandez is entering the twilight of his career and has never been in the postseason. This could be the year.
  40. After all, how long can a core led by Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz be held out of the playoffs?
  41. Texas plays Toronto for the first time on May 26th. Expect Rougned Odor to be ready.
  42. This will be Yu Darvish’s second season back from Tommy John and he is set to re-establish himself as one of the best pitchers in the game.
  43. The “Party at Napoli’s” has returned to Texas.
  44. So will Carlos Gomez, the most perplexing talent in baseball.
  45. Good news, Oakland: you still have the A’s!
  46. Bad news, Oakland: they stink.
  47. Good news, again: Sonny Gray should return by the middle of April.
  48. Bad news, again: if he’s any good, he’ll likely be traded.
  49. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a trendy World Series pick.
  50. They re-signed Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner in the offseason.
  51. Not only is Clayton Kershaw the best pitcher in the game right now, he might be the best ever.
  52. He has actually lowered his career ERA in every season following his rookie campaign.
  53. Yasiel Puig will be given every opportunity to prove he’s an elite outfielder.
  54. Julio Urias is only 20 years old and is ready to dominate the big leagues.
  55. Corey Seager is my pick for the NL MVP.
  56. The Dodgers will not get past the Giants easily, however.
  57. Last year San Francisco had their even year streak broken.
  58. But Madison Bumgarner still proved he’s an animal in the postseason.
  59. This season, Buster Posey will begin his slow transition into a first baseman.
  60. Hunter Pence is still a weirdo.
  61. And a damn good ballplayer.
  62. The Rockies lineup is genuinely good enough to win the World Series.
  63. Think about it: how much worse than the Cubs is a team with Nolan Arenado, D.J. Lemahieu, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ian Desmond?
  64. Significantly worse, because their pitching is trash.
  65. Colorado is still probably good enough to make a postseason push, however.
  66. Congratulations to the San Diego Padres for the #1 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft!
  67. But it should still be fun to watch Hunter Renfroe develop.
  68. A.J. Pollock will return from injury for the Diamondbacks.
  69. The real Zack Greinke will probably return and take the place of whoever that guy was who pretended to be him last year.
  70. Paul Goldschmidt will be fantastic and nobody is going to notice.
  71. Opening Day at Great American Ballpark is one of the great spectacles in baseball.
  72. Unfortunately for the Reds, this could be the only highlight of their season.
  73. Ryan Braun could be the best player traded at the deadline.
  74. We’re about to find out if Jonathan Villar is legit.
  75. Andrew McCutchen is a right fielder now.
  76. This means Starling Marte will play center field and Gregory Polanco will play left field.
  77. Jung-ho Kang might not play this season because of his third DUI back in Korea. No visa, no baseball in 2017.
  78. McCutchen almost got traded to the Nationals in the offseason, but for some reason Washington blew it.
  79. Instead, the Nats acquired Adam Eaton for the steep price of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.
  80. Koda Glover, an unproved right hander, will most likely be Washington’s closer.
  81. Bryce Harper hit only .243 last year. He will definitely be better.
  82. Daniel Murphy will probably regress, but that’s fine. No one can bat .350 forever.
  83. Max Scherzer won last year’s NL Cy Young.
  84. And the Nationals lost in the divisional round. Again.
  85. Tim Tebow will not make the Major League roster this year. Or ever.
  86. Noah Syndergaard is the unquestioned ace of the Mets.
  87. He’ll probably throw more 100+ MPH pitches than David Wright will play games.
  88. Matt Harvey must learn to pitch with lesser velocity following his surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
  89.  Robert Gsellman will be in the Mets rotation- remember the name.
  90. Dansby Swanson is the next Derek Jeter.
  91. Bartolo Colon is on the Braves now.
  92. So is R.A. Dickey.
  93. Atlanta will move into their new stadium, SunTrust Park, this season.
  94. Christian Yelich might win the batting title.
  95. Giancarlo Stanton might smash 50 home runs, if he stays healthy.
  96. Jeffrey Loria might sell the Marlins. The rest of baseball weeps.
  97. The Phillies won’t make the playoffs this year, but their young players will keep them interesting.
  98. This could be Maikel Franco’s breakout season.
  99. We already know who is good and who is bad in the National League. There won’t be many surprises.
  100. On either Sunday or Monday, each team will begin a 162 game journey. It’s time to get excited.

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Max is a student at Saint Joseph's University where he is a Communication Studies major. He is a contributing writer for Baseknock MLB and the host of the Payoff Pitch Podcast, which airs every Tuesday morning.

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