By JULIAN BELL
The beginning of the 2018 Major League Baseball season has seen some new talent that may improve the future of many teams. Last year, the Houston Astros took home the grand prize after beating out the Dodgers in the World Series. Time before a new season has allowed many teams to improve, and possibly threaten the defending champions this year.
The Los Angeles Angels have a new star on their team. For years the team was led by home run champion Albert Pujols. Now a new, fresh player has arrived. His name is Shohei Ohtani. The 23-year-old Japanese native made his MLB debut with The Angels as both a pitcher and designated hitter. His first at bat resulted in a single. The next three games saw three consecutive home runs for the up-and-coming star. Ohtani was known as Japan’s Babe Ruth, and like Ruth, he takes the mound and and goes behind the plate. This makes him the first player since Babe Ruth to hit and pitch, but the young rookie’s skills are looking more and more like Ruth’s with each passing day. Ohtani is already highly respected by his teammates, so much that they gave him the silent treatment after hitting his first home run in Anaheim on April 3. Ohtani’s pitching is quite impressive for a rookie. He led his team past the Athletics earlier this season in another game, after striking out six batters across six innings on April 1. Ohtani’s skill sets are impressive, but he also has the demeanor of a seasoned MLB player. He gave up a home run in the same game, and maintained his composure and finished strong.
This type of composure is what all pitchers need, and the young rookie is already demonstrating this quality. Between his calm and collected nature on the mound and his batting power, Ohtani is a double threat to other Major League teams and might be be the key to helping the Angels make the playoffs later down the road.
Some stars have started this season off to a great start, but they weren’t expected to excel so soon. The New York Yankees acquired right fielder Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins before the start of the 2018 season, and his presence was immediately realized. The home run phenom crushed balls out of Marlins Park for seven straight seasons, and won the 2016 Home Run Derby, before joining the Yankees. Stanton made his debut in Yankees stadium on March 29, where he crushed two home runs. His first one came in his first at bat against the Blue Jays. His teammates also playfully gave him the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout after nailing his second homer, with the hidden message being, it was expected. Stanton is often compared to his younger teammate, Aaron Judge, who dominated his rookie season last year, with his amazing home run power. Judge also won the Home Run Derby in 2017 and now Judge and Stanton are a duo, a nightmare for pitchers around the league.
Andrew McCutchen kicked off his debut with his new team, the San Francisco Giants. The outfielder played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2009 through 2017, before being traded to the Giants before the start of the 2018 season. McCutchen never looked back. His initial debut with his new team was off to a rather slow start, but things picked up as of Saturday, April 7 against the Dodgers. McCutchen went 6-for-7 with four RBI and crushed the game winning walk off home run in the bottom of 14th inning. The Giants were down 5-4 before the big hit, which put his team up 7-5 in the 14th inning.
Such strong performances from rookies and veterans this season, pose a serious threat to the defending champion Houston Astros.