MLB Opening Day 2021

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Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images

Cactus League game, Kansas City Royals vs. Texas Rangers.

By Emily Chin , Staff Writer

With spring training coming to an end, fans already have much to look forward to. Just this season, there have been major and minor rule changes. One of them being the termination of the universal designated hitter (DH) position, which will not be present in the National League but the American. Another huge change is in doubleheader games, where a team plays two games on one day, which will only result in seven full innings. If the doubleheader surpasses the seven-innings, a player will be placed on second base at the start of the next inning.

Spring training can tell you a lot about a team’s growth and their projected abilities for the regular season but can also misguide fans. Though seeing which teams are winning and which aren’t, spring training is a time for teams to test out new acquisitions and line-up changes.

Looking at spring training, the West division is no joke this year. Both the American and National League are filled with highly powered teams.

In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been playing respectively well in the Cactus League. The Dodgers will go far, especially since their team roster hasn’t significantly changed from their 2020 World Champion team.

But the league also contains the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, who have been projected to do well. Perception of the Padres before spring training was highly optimistic. The team now has pitcher Blake Snell, along with younger players: Ronald Acuña Jr., Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis Jr. The three were expected to make the Padres an aggressive team to play against but looking at their win-loss record, it has been quite a disappointing circumstance. Again it’s just the off-season, so they have a lot to prove once their regular-season starts.

In the American League, two teams that didn’t have many expectations but showed up during spring season were the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers. The Angels were expected to do somewhat well, especially since they have veteran Mike Trout and players like Shohei Ohtani and Jo Adell. Plus, newly acquired pitcher Jose Quintana, who’s been playing exceptionally during spring training, can take the Angels far in the postseason. As long as players stay healthy and consistent, the Angels will definitely be a team to watch.

Another exciting team to watch will be the New York Yankees. In the Grapefruit League, the Yankees place second after the Miami Marlins. An intimidating player to watch out for is pitcher Aaron Nola; watching the past games in spring training, Nola was able to switch between his fastball and breaking ball with total control. It’s crucial if he could maintain consistency throughout the regular season.

As for the Chicago teams, the Chicago Cubs are another team that has been surprising fans. Placing first in the Cactus League, players have stepped up to the occasion to reduce their weaknesses. Late acquisition, Joc Pederson, was quickly able to make a name in Chicago. The left-fielder signed a one-year, seven-million-dollar deal, hoping to be an “everyday” player. Pederson has already been hitting a surmounting amount of home runs, doubles, and bunts during games, so it’s no shocker if he has. big year this season.

The White Sox, on the other hand, had high expectations but unfortunately missed the mark in the Cactus League. Ending on the lower end of the standings, fans hope that this will only be an offseason problem, and the organization will quickly be able to rebound and reflect their supposed projections.

On the first day of the regular season, games to watch are the Toronto Blue Jays against the Yankees, Rangers against the Kansas City Royals, and the Sox against the Angels. Some teams are allowing fans to watch in-person but with limited capacity. Important dates to watch out for is July 11-13 which is draft day, and July 13, which is the 91st All-Star Game which takes place in Atlanta. Both the Cubs and Sox plan to have a successful year, so Chicago fans will just have to wait and see if either of the organizations can take this success to the post-season and bring home a World Series trophy.