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Play Ball! 5 Major League Baseball Storylines You Need To Keep An Eye On This Season

Submitted by on April 7, 2012 – 12:51 pmOne Comment

Guess who’s back? It’s Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Roy Halladay, Jose Reyes, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, and the rest of the Major League Baseball players out there. That’s right. After an offseason that was filled with free agent transactions, a very public steroids story involving the reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun, and plenty of other juicy tidbits, baseball is finally back. And, it’s better than ever.

We’ll admit, the baseball season has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. For whatever reason, MLB has insisted on having three or four official “Opening Days” in order to maximize the exposure given to the league. But now that every single MLB has played at least one game, we thought it was time to take a look at what we all have to look forward to this season. So, with that in mind, we put together a list of the five Major League Baseball story lines you need to keep an eye on this season. Let’s play ball!

1. Will the Miami Marlins be the sleeper team that almost everyone thinks they are and make the playoffs?

There’s a lot of excitement around this team. They added a bunch of new players like Reyes and Mark Buehrle to their roster. They now have Ozzie Guillen calling the shots as their manager. And they’re playing in a brand-new stadium that should give inject some life into their fan base. But, can they really challenge the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves in the NL East? They have a chance to do it. But, there’s also a chance that they’ve been hyped up so much this offseason that they could fall flat on their faces.

2. Can the Boston Red Sox overcome last year’s epic collapse and challenge the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East?

Bobby Valentine was asked to manage the Bo Sox after their former manager Terry Francona was fired last fall. His mission? Get this team back to the playoffs and make Red Sox fans forget all about what happened last September. Some people think he’ll be able to do it. Others, not so much. Now, it’s time to put up or shut up. We think it’ll be an interesting race in the AL East that could, once again, come down to the final days of the season.

3. Can anyone stop the Detroit Tigers?

They’ve got two of baseball’s most feared hitters—Fielder and Miguel Cabrera—in the middle of their lineup. They’ve got Cy Young winner Justin Verlander taking the mound every fifth day. And they’ve got a division full of teams that are on the downslope this year that’ll be trying to take them down. You might as well pencil them into the playoffs now. But, can they win once they get there? That is obviously to be determined. All we know is they’ll be a tough out for whoever draws them in the first round.

4. Does Albert Pujols make the Los Angeles Angels a legitimate World Series contender?

Pujols signed a huge contract to play for the Angels for the next 10 years. Now, it’s time to see if he’ll be able to make a big impact in his first one with the team. They’re one of the early favorites to win it all. But, can Pujols really mold this team into one worthy of playing deep into the playoffs? It won’t be easy in the American League.

5. Does the National League have any chance of winning the World Series again?

Take a look at just about any MLB power rankings list and the first five or six teams are going to be from the American League. From the Yanks and Red Sox to the Angels and Texas Rangers, the AL is loaded this year. So, the eventual World Series champion is definitely coming out of the AL, right? Not so fast. The Phillies can play with anyone. And there are a lot of NL teams—the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds, for instance—who aren’t getting much hype but who could make a run if and when they make the playoffs. That’s why you need to stay tuned.

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