The Fastest MLB “Preview” Ever!

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres

It’s seriously 10:30 am on Opening Day. Can I get this post done before the first pitch happens in 2.5 hours?

If my math is right, this is the 145th season of Major League Baseball. It’s literally the only thing older than my father in law. You’d think that a league that’s been around for so long would be able to get the season opener right, but today is simply Opening Day. Last weekend, the Opening Series was in Australia (that’s not a misprint). Last night was Opening Night in San Diego (which involved a team that was in the Opening Series). Today is Opening Day. Have I lost anyone yet?

Anyway, baseball is soldiering along, senseless starts be darned. Because there’s really nothing that could keep me from watching, I came up with some storylines worth keeping tabs on from now through October. That’s right, baseball is gonna be around for a while. I’m not sorry if that’s not your thing.

Do the Red Sox have a realistic chance to repeat as champions?
That’s right, Boston won the World Series last year! After a forgetful 2012, they won the whole shebang last year. The only meaningful player lost was Jacoby Ellsbury, and they have enough good young players to make a big deal via trade if necessary. So, the answer is “totally”, right?

We know baseball doesn’t work that way. We also know that Tampa, Baltimore, New York and (okay it’s at least possible) Toronto will be threats. That’s just in the AL East! I happen to think that the Sox will come up a bit short of winning it all. But, that’s why they play the games, or something.

How does one play the game ” the right way”?
I promise you that this is a phrase you’ll hear at least 40 times if you watch baseball for a week. Apparently there are rules and, um…stuff that are separate of the official rules. No one really knows what this stuff is, but they know it when they see it. (Yes, you should be confused right now) The only people who really throw a fit about not playing the game the right way? Ken Harrelson (White Sox TV play by play man, general malcontent) and Brian McCann (Yankee catcher, home run taunting policeman). Now, should you find out what it means to play the game the right way, please let me know!

Should you start learning what WAR, OPS, FIP, wOBA, and UZR mean?
Yes. Don’t get left behind. A quick rundown:
WAR-Wins Above Replacement. Basically, this measures how much value a player provides to his team. Fangraphs has a great explanation here.
OPS-On base percentage (how often does a player get on base—hits, walks, hit by pitch—it doesn’t matter) + slugging percentage (hits, total bases, tightness of pants). You actually Sr this stat pretty often
FIP-Fielding independent Pitching. This measures how a pitcher’s allowed run average would look if fielding was not a factor (which could help or hurt a pitcher).
wOBA-Weighted On Base Average. Maybe I should let Fangraphs handle this one.
UZR-Ultimate Zone Rating. Gonna let Fangraphs explain that one too.

This is a lot to learn in one day. That’s why the season is so long, duh! Of course, you don’t have to learn these things, but I do think that learning at least one or two of them will enhance your baseball experience.

Are these giant contracts bad for baseball?
Maybe. But it’s not my money. You should think of it the same way. Because, it’s not your money either.

5 Somewhat Bold Predictions
1. Yasiel Puig will be the reason a bench clearing brawl happens during a game this season.
2. The Texas Rangers will win the AL West.
3. Every mistake by Miguel Cabrera will result in someone bemoaning his contract extension.
4. The Nationals will win the NL East.
5. Mike Trout will finally win MVP.

It’s 12:45 now. I better post this.
Wait, that’s not a storyline. Or is it? You should watch some baseball this season, I think you’ll like it!

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