BY JEFF ANGUS
After looking back at 2012 in the NFL and the NBA, today is the day to look back at the year that was for Major League Baseball. The MLB had a great year in 2012 – we were witnesses to some impressive performances from players and teams both the American and National Leagues. The San Francisco Giants captured their second World Series title in three years. And the Toronto Blue Jays shocked the baseball world with an incredibly busy off-season, and the team is relevant as a true contender for the first time in two decades.
Let’s look at some of the more noteworthy stories.
TRIPLE CROWN CABRERA
Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera became the first player in baseball to win the Triple Crown since 1967 (the last year that the Maple Leafs won the cup, by the way). Cabrera went toe to toe with super rookie Mike Trout (more on him later) all season long in the major offensive categories. Cabrera finished with a batting average of .330 to go along with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.
The Tigers have their core locked up for the long term – they are the heavy favourites to emerge out of the AL Central once again. And the Tigers are +850 to win the World Series at this moment.
THE BLUE JAYS MAKING MOVES
After another disappointing and injury-riddled season, the Toronto Blue Jays made major waves with a number of significant offseason transactions. They overhauled their coaching staff, offense, and pitching rotation in the matter of a few weeks. Will the moves pay off? That remains to be seen, but as a Jays fan it is nice to see other teams taking Toronto seriously for the first time in a long while. It has been 20 years since the Jays even qualified for the playoffs. Assuming all of the players they acquired don’t sustain season-ending injuries in April or May, look for the Jays to make a triumphant return to the October baseball season in 2013.
At the very least, they are certainly now the team to beat in the AL East.
Get excited, Jays fans:
ROOKIE SUPERSTARS MIKE TROUT & BRYCE HARPER
A pair of talented young prodigies took their respective leagues by storm. Mike Trout was arguably the best player in the AL last season playing for the LA Angels, while Bryce Harper electrified fans in Washington DC with his aggressive style of play and swagger on and off of the field. The sky is the limit for both players – their respective talent levels are through the roof. Trout could see an improvement on his offensive numbers from last season – the Angels have an absolutely stacked batting order. With Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols hitting behind him in the batting order, Trout is going to see his fair share of pitches to hit.
What makes Trout and Harper so special is that they are both multi-tool talents. They can beat you with speed, defense, power, or contact ability.
THE LO$ ANGELE$ DODGER$
The Dodgers fell short in their quest to buy win a championship last year, but that won’t deter their new ownership group from doing everything in its power to put the best possible product on the field.
The group (fronted by former Lakers great Magic Johnson) bought the team for approximately $2 billion in March of 2012, and they spent a ridiculous amount of money over the next few months to bring talented players to the Dodgers. The club opened 2012 with a payroll of about $90 million, and the current payroll entering the 2013 season stands at close to $210 million. After bringing in Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford last season, the Dodgers signed star pitcher Zack Greinke this offseason.
Why are the Dodgers so comfortable with spending such a ridiculous amount of money, you may ask? Well, the club signed a very lucrative television deal with Fox. The team will make roughly $240 million per season over the next 25 years as a part of the television deal (yes, you read that right, $240 million per season). Money is no object for the Dodgers, and it won’t be for the next quarter century, either
THE GIANTS STAND TALL
The Giants finished off another impressive season, capturing their second World Series title in three years. Their roster featured a lot of talent at all positions, but they were far from the best team on paper in baseball last season. And they had to stage impressive comebacks against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals to even qualify for the World Series. Tim Lincecum had to adjust to life as a relief pitcher after struggling with his command. Thankfully the rest of the Giants pitching staff stepped up. Buster Posey’s leadership from behind the plate was another significant factor in the success of the Giants (Posey also captured the National League MVP award for his play in the regular season).