MLB Season Preview—What to Watch

Cole Reed, Staff Writer

From MLB

As winter draws to a close and spring begins, it’s finally time for another season of America’s favorite pastime. The 2023 MLB season began on March 30th, and in the first few weeks alone fans were given several storylines to look out for. It’s the perfect time to start following baseball. So, for any new fans looking to start, this article serves as a good entrance to the league that has been at the center of American culture for well over a century. In this article, I’ll be going through each division and recapping the major players, teams, and storylines to watch throughout the season, so that you can know how to experience the thrills of the season to the fullest.

NL East

From Sports Illustrated

Starting with the division of our hometown Phillies, the National League East is guaranteed to provide must-watch baseball from now until October. While the Phillies are up to a deeply disappointing start to the season at 4-9, the roster is simply too talented to stay at this subpar level. Reigning NL champions added superstar shortstop Trea Turner this offseason and feature one of the strongest hitting lineups in Baseball, especially with Bryce Harper back and healthy. However, the Phillies are sure to face very heavy competition from their longtime rivals, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. Both rosters are loaded with talent in their hitting and pitching staffs, and with additions like Justin Verlander to the Mets and Sean Murphy to the Braves, the division features 3 true powerhouses, making this season a great one to follow.

NL Central

While likely the weakest division in the National League, the NL Central still remains extremely entertaining. The favorite to win the division are the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee features a solid roster and a deeply talented pitching staff, which is likely to propel them into a playoff birth. The Brewers are not without competition, however, as the St. Louis Cardinals feature a talented hitting roster headlined by 2022 National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt. Additionally, the Chicago Cubs made multiple key signings this offseason to bolster their lineup. That’s not forgetting the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, who aren’t the most impressive teams going into the year, but have enough young talent to surpass expectations.

NL West

The NL West features as much talent as any division in baseball. According to the odds this year, the division will almost certainly be won by either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers have the type of dominant lineup that has become commonplace for the franchise, paired with an equally strong pitching rotation. Meanwhile, the Padres feature one of the most star-studded roster in baseball, with a true superstar at essentially every position. Superstars such as Juan Soto and Manny Machado make the Padres incredibly fun to watch. Baseball fans everywhere should be thrilled to watch these two juggernauts go head-to-head this summer.

AL East

From MLB

Continuing the trend of powerhouse divisions, the AL east is likely the most complete division, featuring 5 fairly strong teams. The Tampa Bay Rays have been off to a red-hot start to their season, winning their first 13 games in a row. The rays feature relatively young talent everywhere on the field and are looking to continue their dominant streak throughout the season. The AL East will make this hard to accomplish though, as the New York Yankees feature a lineup absolutely packed with power, led by American League MVP Aaron Judge. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles also both feature enough talent to win the division themselves, making the East a wide-open and extremely interesting division to watch this upcoming season.

AL Central

While lacking the top-end talent of the AL East or West, the AL Central is still sure to be very entertaining. The Minnesota Twins are the current favorite to win the division, with the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians closely behind. Minnesota features strong batter throughout the roster in Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo, and Carlos Correa, while Cleveland features a strong pitching rotation, and Chicago features talent that’s hard to quickly write off. Overall, this division won’t be the strongest the MLB has to offer, but the battle for the top spot is guaranteed to be a fun watch.

AL West

Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout combine for 3 home runs in Angels' win
Shohei Ohtani (right) and Mike Trout (left)

Finally, we come to the AL West. The West features talented teams from top to bottom in the LA Angels, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners. The Angels feature possibly the two best players in the sport in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout but have struggled to build a strong team around their two superstars. Meanwhile, The Rangers have their own group of stars in Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Jacob Degrom, and Seattle is a young team that only seems to get better as they gain experience. However, these teams all face the misfortune of facing the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros. Houston is as complete as teams come, full of stars at the plate, as well as bolstering the best pitching rotation in all of baseball. Houston seems unstoppable, but it’s entirely possible that they’re upset by one of the other rising clubs in this strong AL West division.

Overall, there’s a lot of storylines to look out for in this upcoming season, and this is bound to be one of the best years the MLB has seen in a while. The league is full of stars, powerhouse teams, bitter rivalries, and stiff competition that will allow any team to rise up and be crowned world champions this fall. As fans of the game, we should all be beyond excited to watch how this season unfolds.