It has been a long, cold Winter. But have no fear baseball fans. We are officially a week away from regular season MLB action! In just one week, on Sunday, April 2nd, there will be three games on the docket! That means the 2017 MLB is virtually upon us!
The three games that will open the season will be as follows: New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays (1:10 EST), San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks (4:10 EST) and Chicago Cubs @ St. Louis Cardinals (8:35 EST).
To help celebrate and countdown until these games start, here at INSC we will be bringing you a form of countdown this week. Given today we are seven days away, this piece will feature the number seven in its topic. Tomorrow will see one with a six. Then five. And so on.
And today’s topic is the seven players I am most looking forward to watching this coming season! There are 30 Major League clubs. All of which have 25 men active rosters. Therefore, there are 750 players plus minor leaguers to choose from. So how could I possibly narrow this list down to seven?
Well, it wasn’t easy. But here we go!
Andrew Benintendi, Outfielder – Boston Red Sox
One of the favorites for AL Rookie of the Year already, Benintendi is set to bring some youth to the Boston Red Sox lineup. Fans were treated to a small glimpse of what he can do in 2016, as he did play in 34 games a season ago. And in that small window, he showed some nice flashes of skill. Now he appears set to bat second for the reigning AL East champs. So he should be right in the middle of anything the team does offensively in 2017. Remember his name, because he is going to be a good one.
Gary Sanchez, Catcher – New York Yankees
As a Yankees fan, I am quite familiar with Mr. Sanchez. I am also quite familiar with his insane home run barrage from a season ago. In 53 games and 201 at-bats, he launched 20 home runs. Every time I turned on the tv or radio I felt like he was hitting another long ball. So the main reason Sanchez is on this list is because I want to see if he can keep up the success. Obviously, he is not likely to hit homers at the same rate, but will pitchers catch on to him? Or will he be able to adjust and prove the team was right in moving Brian McCann to make room for him?
Carlos Martinez, Starting Pitcher – St. Louis Cardinals
Martinez is going to be 25 this season. And I think this is the year he goes from a name all Cardinals’ fans know, to a household name across all baseball houses. Martinez has some nasty stuff, and he has been named the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter. If he can live up to his skill set, he will prove he is not only worthy of that nod, but also worthy of being in the Cy Young discussion in the coming years. Last year he posted a 3.04 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. This season, he takes the next step to superstardom.
Nolan Arenado, Third Baseman – Colorado Rockies
This guy is going to make one hell of a case for the NL MVP this season. Do not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Offensively, he posts numbers that are just as good as anyone else. In most metrics, he is better than everyone else. Even when compared to 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant, Arenado’s numbers are extremely similar. Add in his Gold Glove defense, and this guy is the top guy to keep an eye on all season. So I hope Kris Bryant enjoyed his MVP season in 2016, because he is not going to repeat in 2017. Arenado for 2017 NL MVP. Write it down.
Noah Syndergaard, Starting Pitcher – New York Mets
Since I included my pick for NL MVP, I might as well include my pick for the Cy Young as well. Living in the New York market, I get to see plenty of the New York Mets. Jacob DeGrom has always been a favorite of mine, but then Thor came along. There is something special about Syndergaard. Maybe it’s because he has the nickname of a Marvel character, or maybe it is his dominant fastball. When you are looking for a pitcher who is simply fun to watch, look no further than this man. This 24-year-old will take another step forward in an already impressive career in 2017. Make sure you do not miss any of his starts.
Edwin Diaz, Relief Pitcher – Seattle Mariners
It is always fun to find the next big relief pitcher. This season, that will come out on the West Coast. The Seattle Mariners have a guy at the backend of their bullpen who is a someone worth watching. His name is Edwin Diaz. He saved 18 games in 21 attempts a season ago. And this season, he will be given the job to open the year. He has some solid stuff but honestly, I have not gotten the chance to watch him as much as I’d like. So this year, I will make it an appoint to do just that.
Aaron Nola, Starting Pitcher – Philadelphia Phillies
Nola is one of those promising young arms who had his 2016 season derailed thanks to an arm injury. Specifically, an elbow injury. He is a former first-rounder with boatloads of talent. His numbers were not the greatest before going down with the injury a season ago. But I know that skills are there. Pair that with his comeback from injury, and Nola is hands down a name I want to watch this season. The Phillies are the easiest team for me to see in person. So you can bet I will have a little extra push to go on nights Nola is taking the mound.
So there you have it. A list of 750 plus players widdled down to seven. Which seven players are you most excited to see in the 2017 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!