Young stars rise as 2016 looks like a promising year for the MLB



Jeremy Hazelbaker celebrates after hitting a triple against the Milwaukee Brewers. Hazelbaker leads the NL with a .536 batting average

KEVIN DEITRICK, Sports Columnist

After opening week, the Major League Baseball season is off and running. There is nothing like opening week, really. You are excited for your team. You tell yourself that this is their year.

The possibilities are endless. Which team will be the big surprise? Disappointment? Who is going to be the next breakout star?

From the Colorado Rockies’ Trevor Story, the Chicago Cubs’ hot start and the very cold start from the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves, 2016 looks to be yet another great season for baseball fans.

There have been many surprises so far this year, but none have been bigger than Story, therookie shortstop.

In the first six games of the year, Story has hit seven homeruns. That is a record! Another big surprise is Houston Astros’ rookie first baseman Tyler White. White is leading the American League, batting .520.

These two guys aren’t the only ones off to hot starts. You’ve got veteran backstop Brian McCann batting .500 so far this year and St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker leading the National League batting .526.

There have been some teams that have been a surprises. One of those teams is the Baltimore Orioles.

In the AL East division, most experts have predicted the Red Sox, Blue Jays or even the Yankees to win the division. But so far this year, the Orioles are 7-0.

To start the year, Baltimore swept Minnesota, beat the Tampa Bay Rays both times they played them, and have won the first two of a three game series against the Red Sox. As a team, they are fourth in all of baseball, batting .293, and they are third with 13 total homeruns.

Another surprise team have been the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are 5-2 and second in the packed NL Central. This is the toughest division in 2016 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.

To start the year, the Reds swept the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game set. They took two of three against the Pirates and lost once to the Cubbies.

Yes, it is way too early. But for a team that is rebuilding, their good start has to give their fans some hope.

Another big surprise is the effect a new rule has had on the league already. A new slide rule has gone into effect after Chase Utley’s injury last season.

Utley slid into New York Mets shortstop. Ruben Tejada, after attempting to turn a double play in a playoff game last year, causing Tejada to tear his ACL.

Utley was then suspended for the rest of the playoffs. If you go back and look at the play, it looked rough.

If you are confused right now, let me explain. If a team attempts to turn a double-play, the runner at first is told to slide hard into second to break it up. But in Utley’s case, the base runners would slide to either side of the base (wherever the fielder is) to slide into his legs. It is almost like a cut block in football.

Anyway, the big surprise is that two games in the first week have ended because of that rule. The Tampa Bay Rays were in hot water late in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, and the game ended with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista getting called out for not maintaining possession of second base.

The same thing also happened in a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros.

As many surprises as there were, there have been some disappointments. Every year, it seems as though there is a team that decides to go all out and sign all these top free agents and make block buster trades in an attempt to make a World Series run.

One year, it was the Miami Marlins. Another year, it was the San Diego Padres. This year, it is the Arizona Diamondbacks.

They signed starting pitcher Zack Greinke, traded half their farm system to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller, traded the No. 1 pick in 2015, Dansby Swanson, former first round pick Aaron Blair and their young outfielder, Ender Inciarte, who hit .278 in 2014 and .303 in 2015.

They needed a shortstop, so they went out and got former All-Star Jean Segura from the Milwaukee Brewers.

They added these three talented individuals on top of an already talented roster. Coming off of spring training, Arizona is poised for a great year. Since the start of opening day, not so much.

Zack Greinke has been disappointing, especially after a 2015 campaign in which he won his second Cy Young Award. In his first two starts, Greinke is 0-2 with a 9.90 era. As a team, Arizona is 3-5 and last in the NL West.

With all the surprises and disappointments, there are players and teams that have gone out and have played the way we all expected them to. The most notable team is the Chicago Cubs. They have been on rebuilding mode for years, now they finally have their team.

With a great start already underway, the 2016 season looks promising for the MLB.