Sports aficionados based in the states will soon have the luxury of witnessing the long-awaited resumptions of its most prominent leagues that, of course, have been on hiatus in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Major League Baseball will be the first to return and will thereby give fans their first taste of these unprecedented projects. With that obviously comes a legion of potentially overlooked storylines, so let's dive into a list of some of the biggest things we're most looking forward to for the upcoming baseball season.
5. What Will the Nationals' Title Defense Look Like?
Did everybody just forget that the Washington Nationals are the defending World Series champions? It sure seems like it as the club has garnered next to zero publicity in the months leading up to the start of the 2020 season. This obviously won't be a legitimate title defense, but we can't wait to see how Washington fares following the departure of slugging third baseman Anthony Rendon in free agency. Some analysts aren't giving them a chance, but the Nationals have plenty enough talent to be one of the last teams standing when all is said and done. That, of course, is assuming they don't endure a World Series hangover.
4. If a Surprise MVP/Cy Young Emerges
The 2020 campaign will comprise of just 60 games, so there will undoubtedly be an asterisk next to the winners of the annual awards. On top of that, the truncated schedule will set the stage for a potential unknown commodity to reap the benefits of getting off to a hot start. Don't be surprised if a dark horse candidate emerges from the shadows and walks away with one of MLB's most distinguished awards this year.
3. How Will the Astros Respond?
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak and the ridiculous negotiation process between owners and the MLBPA, the Houston Astros were the talk of the baseball world in the wake of the league's investigation into their sign-stealing scandal. Fans might not be permitted at stadiums to heckle them, but it will be interesting to see how they perform with supposedly no cheating operation in place and if opposing pitchers choose to retaliate. Make no mistake about it, all eyes will be on the Astros this season.
2. The Universal DH
Any National League apologists still crying that the universal designated hitter was implemented this season should just cut the nonsense. This is going to be awesome. Do you really want a pitcher stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs as opposed to an accomplished hitter? We'll pass on that. There are several teams in the NL that figure to benefit from having a DH, and we can't wait to see what kind of implications it ends up having in the playoff race. Get your popcorn ready.
1. How Players Adjust Without Fans
Something tells us that not having fans inside stadiums in 2020 will come to benefit a slew of players that falter under pressure. On the flip side, some of the most tenacious competitors feed off the energy from some 50,000 jubilant spectators, so will their respective games be hindered in any way? We all know that there's nothing like playoff baseball, but will the vibe be the same with no fans? In terms of underrated storylines, we're chomping at the bit to see how players respond to this supposed adversity.