Justin’s Three Sleeper Teams

Justin Ballou, Reporter

As the first pitch of baseball season is thrown out, every team around the country feels that this might be their year. The Phillies, Rangers and Mariners have all started the 2019 campaign off with a bang, gaining recognition from fans around the nation.


Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies went into last season with high expectations, but finished just below the .500 mark at 80-82. However, following the monster acquisition of outfielder Bryce Harper this offseason, the Phillies became the instant favorite to win the NL East, while the Nationals (Harper’s former team), is on the decline. (Harper signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with Philadelphia). While the other teams in their division were relatively quiet over the offseason, the Phillies made some splashes by signing starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and catcher J.T. Realmuto. Philly fans haven’t seen their Phillies in the playoffs since 2011, but have hopes that their superstars deliver highlight-reel plays and that they perform up to their expectations.

Seattle Mariners

Seattle currently leads the AL West division, which is one of the tougher divisions in baseball. The Mariners opened the year in Japan with their star, Ichiro Suzuki, deciding to officially retire from the league after 19 seasons. Seattle was lacking power last season, but addressed the position by signing designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, formerly of the Cleveland Indians. Although Encarnacion is a strikeout-or-home-run type of hitter, he provides the big bat the Mariners have been lacking. With “King” Felix Hernandez still an ace for the pitching staff, Seattle has high hopes of winning the AL West and making a playoff push.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers entered this season with little to no playoff expectations or aspirations, but have started off fairly hot and are currently third in the AL West. Texas is a young team that has a great amount of firepower with outfielder Joey Gallo, first baseman Ronald Guzman and outfielder Nomar Mazara. The Rangers seem to be in a great position for the future, as their young core starts to catch fire. Texas’ starting rotation is solid, but the problems strike the Rangers late in games when their bullpen pitches. Their closer, Jose LeClerc, has started off the year with a 7.88 ERA. Texas also has problems with their starting rotation, as pitcher Drew Smyly has a 7.80 ERA and Shelby Miller has a 7.63 ERA. The Rangers are playing their final season in Globe Life Park and will move next door in 2020 to play in their new dome, Globe Life Field.