New Year's resolutions typically have an expiration date of, you know, six or seven hours, depending on the lines at your favorite fast-food place. We do them anyway, because we're optimists at heart. So here's to your better self in 2018.These lists don't have to be all about cheeseburgers and
New Year's resolutions typically have an expiration date of, you know, six or seven hours, depending on the lines at your favorite fast-food place. We do them anyway, because we're optimists at heart. So here's to your better self in 2018.
These lists don't have to be all about cheeseburgers and interval training, though. Baseball needs 'em as well. Where we've been and where we'd like to go, etc.
Let's consider 10:
1. The Astros will keep the magical things that defined them in 2017.
That's their enthusiasm, energy and passion. That's approaching every game the same way, whether they've got a 21-game division lead or they're in danger of going down 0-2 in the World Series.
This is the intangible something that virtually everyone in the sport noticed. The 2017 Astros did a really good imitation of the happiest people on earth. Some of that came from the tone set by manager A.J. Hinch. Some of it was also the attitude that George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa brought to the park every single day. Every other player fed off that vibe.
The Astros won't be the same in 2018. Having reached the mountaintop, the second quest will be different. Here's hoping that the love they have for competing and for one another does not change. It was a huge part of what made watching them so much fun.
2. Michael Trout will play postseason baseball in 2018.
To truly understand the greatness of baseball's best player, we must seen him on the sport's biggest stage. In seven seasons with the Angels, he has made just one brief appearance in the postseason.
Now, though, the Angels are all in for 2018, with the additions of Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler. If Garrett Richards and Matthew Shoemaker stay healthy, Trout will have a chance to shine under the brightest lights.
3. The Nationals will have that breakthrough season.
In the past six seasons, only one team has won more regular-season games than the Nationals. (The Dodgers have 559 wins, the Nats 555.) That number is the best indication of the good work Washington general manager Mike Rizzo has done.
But the Nationals have yet to win a postseason series, and now with Bryce Harper in his final year before free agency, the team has never had a better chance to win.
If they keep Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg healthy, if Harper is Harper this season, if that bullpen holds up in October, the Nationals have a great chance to make this their best chance to write a different ending.
4. Giancarlo Stanton will take a moment on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium to appreciate his new world.
Whether you love the Yankees or hate them, you simply have to be excited that Stanton is on a stage befitting his talent. Even after Stanton hit 59 home runs last season, some fans still don't realize just how good he is. All that can change while playing for the Yankees.
If you're not excited about seeing Stanton and Aaron Judge in the same lineup, you don't have a pulse.
5. Chad Bettis and Jameson Taillon will have great, healthy and inspiring seasons.
We tend to think of pro athletes as invincible, and sometimes they see themselves the same way. Real life intervened in these players' lives last season when both underwent cancer treatment -- Bettis for the second time.
Both are healthy now and already preparing for Spring Training. Both of them say the experience changed them in ways they're still trying to wrap their minds around.
As baseball fans, we want both to be able to just go pitch -- Taillon for the Pirates, Bettis for the Rockies -- and have the best seasons they've ever had.
6. Byron Buxton will become the daily human-highlight reel.
We finally saw the whole package of talent on display down the stretch last season, when Buxton played the best center field in the game and dazzled at the plate and on the basepaths in helping the Twins reach the postseason.
Here's the best part: Buxton is 24 years old. His career is just getting started. Last season, he reminded us why he was once the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Young players don't always come with guarantees or timetables, but in the case of this guy, we were right.
7. The Orioles will somehow find a way.
If this is the last time the band will be together, so be it. Change is afoot in Charm City with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton, Dan Duquette and the incomparable Buck Showalter in the final year of their contracts.
Things aren't off to a great start with Britton having suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Nevertheless, let's hope Duquette finds a couple more starting pitchers and that this group that brought the O's back to prominence still have another great run in them.
8. Jerry Dipoto's good work is rewarded with some October baseball in Seattle.
Dipoto arrived in Seattle three offseasons ago and began reshaping the Mariners with dozens of trades -- not blockbusters, but small trades focused on inching the storyline along.
Dipoto got a 10-game bump to 86 wins in 2016 before injuries negated whatever chance the Mariners had in '17. He has been back at it this offseason, but he really needs a productive and healthy season from Felix Hernandez.
The AL West again looks like one of the toughest in baseball with the Astros and Angels also looking like postseason teams. But that will just make an October run more satisfying in Seattle.
9. David Price learns to brush off the criticism.
That's the message new Red Sox manager Alex Cora must get across to Price. He must convince him that the media does what it does, and that there's far more positive than negative things said or written about him.
As for Twitter, he should use it to communicate with fans and have some fun. He's really good in that medium. But he shouldn't let the occasional idiot ruin his day.
Boston is one of the great places to play baseball. Sure, Red Sox fans and the media are demanding. In the end, though, they want good things for the team. They are NOT rooting for failure. Take a deep breath, focus on what's important and enjoy 2018.
10. Keep the parity.
This is the best thing about being a baseball fan right now. Every team has a chance to compete, something that has never been true before. In the past 10 seasons, eight franchises have won the World Series -- three for the Giants and one apiece for seven others.
Twenty-one of 30 MLB teams have been in at least one postseason series in the past 5 seasons. Only five teams made the postseason in both 2016 and '17. And that's a good thing.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.