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Team Israel players lining up for the national anthem prior to their World Baseball Classic game against the Netherlands in Tokyo, March 13, 2017. (Matt Roberts/Getty Images).
Ausmus the Angel
New Los Angeles Angels Manager Brad Ausmus has his work cut out for him leading a team that has struggled lately. Of course, he inherits the league’s best player in Mike Trout. This is Ausmus’ second chance to lead a franchise after managing the Detroit Tigers from 2014-2017.
All eyes on Max Fried
The former first round draft pick starts the season with the Atlanta Braves. This will be a big year for the once-touted “sure thing.” Fried has the stuff and the Braves are on the rise. There has not been a dominant Jewish starting pitcher in a while and Fried has that potential.
Team Israel call-ups
To start the season, several of Team Israel’s players find themselves just on the outside looking in from Triple-A. Zach Borenstein has a new team in the Cubs. RC Orlan will try to catch on with the Indians. Both hope for a shot to play in the Majors this year.
Kapler part deux
The revival of the Phillies has a lot to do with Gabe Kapler’s managerial style. He motivated a young team that fell just short of the playoffs. Can Kapler’s magic continue to ignite Philadelphia’s growing expectations?
These days the minor leagues are full of Jewish ball players. Former MLBers are still looking to get recalled. We saw Ryan Lavarnway (Team Israel MVP) make his way back last season. Can he do it again with the Yankees? Others with new teams are looking to get back to the Bigs; Jeremy Bleich (Phillies), Cody Decker (Diamondbacks), Ryan Sherriff (Rays), and Zack Weiss (Twins).
Braun to pass Greenberg
Hank Greenberg is the greatest Jewish hitter of all time. Few would argue this point. However, with ten home runs this season, the Brewers’ Ryan Braun will eclipse Greenberg’s 331 HRs. Braun still has a few year’s left of quality play, barring injury, it is only a matter of time. Will Greenberg’s iconic place as baseball’s greatest Jewish hitter remain even if Braun surpasses his greatest feats?
Alex Bregman: AL MVP?
Phenom Alex Bregman finished 5th in the American League MVP voting. Coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery, will Bregman keep up his terrific play on the field? Can he continue to climb the ladder to be one of baseball’s elite?