Young Players Look to Make Their Mark in the 2013 Major League Baseball Season

By  Keith Butcher

With college basketball in the rearview mirror, football months away from anyone’s minds, and the NBA and NHL playoffs soon to be underway, baseball is the only sport worth watching in the upcoming spring months. Though it’s still too early for some fans to take a serious interest in the overwhelmingly long baseball  season, it should be an exciting year, full of plenty of quality players and teams to keep an eye on.

There are plenty of young players that could have breakout years, such as Danny Espinosa, Anthony Rizzo, Jarrod Parker, Lance Lynn, Wilin Rosario, Allen Craig, Jeff Samardzija. These are players that the casual fan probably hasn’t heard of, but all of young guys could be household names if they play up to their potential this upcoming season.

Most people have heard of other players, such as Adam Jones, Hunter Pence, Billy Butler and Robinson Cano who have had great careers, but are still fairly young. This could be the year that we find out whether these young stars are currently in their prime or if they could perhaps reach an even higher level of offensive output.

Some players that need to be observed as the next couple of seasons go on are Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez, Zach Grienke, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Justin Upton, Josh Hamilton and Buster Posey. All of these all-star- caliber players signed overpriced contracts in the offseason and need to produce well beyond their God-given potential to make their teams’ investment worthwhile. Therefore, these players will be put under more pressure than in years past and could very well have slow starts, but will hopefully have very strong numbers by the end of the year.

Finally, the potential playoff picture looks very similar to that of last year’s. I think the Tigers, Orioles and Angels will win their American League divisions, and the Red Sox and the Athletics will take the two wild card spots. In the National League, the Nationals, Reds and Dodgers appear to be the favorites in their divisions, while the two wild-card spots could be taken by the Braves, Cardinals, or Giants. This season is shaping up to be as good as, if not better than, last year.