The Rundown: Names To Know For The 2015 Major League Baseball Season

Above: New York Yankees 3B/DH Alex Rodriguez, just one of the names you need to know for the 2015 Major League Baseball Season

The 2015 Major League Baseball season is officially underway as Spring Training games commenced on Tuesday.

Over the next eight months, you’re going to be hearing a lot about a handful of baseball players – some you’re familiar with, others you might not have heard of before but will quickly become familiar with if you (a) like baseball even a little bit or (b) tend to watch shows like Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn.

Because we want you to sound smart when your friends/co-workers/know-it-all neighbour starts waxing poetic about players to watch this upcoming season, here’s a group of names you’ll be hearing a ton during the 2015 Major League Baseball season.

This is The Rundown.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B/DH, New York Yankees

You’d have to have been living on another planet for the last dozen years to not be familiar with this one and even though “A-Rod” is clearly in decline and coming off a year-long suspension, the fact that he plays for the Yankees and is arguably the most well-known baseball player in the world means his name will come up in conversation quite frequently.

Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets

Harvey was on his way to being a breakout superstar in the Summer of 2013, building off a solid 10-game appearance to close out the previous season by dropping dominant outing after dominant outing on the bump for the Mets. He was an All-Star and beginning to garner some of that New York sports star profile… and then he went under the knife.

Harvey missed all of the 2014 season after Tommy John surgery, but returns this year as the youthful leader of a surprisingly deep rotation for a Mets team that might not be awful.

Aaron Sanchez, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

If you’re a Canadian reading this column, you’re poised for a steady diet of Blue Jays Baseball on TSN and Sportsnet this spring/summer/fall. The young right-handed pitcher debuted with the Jays last season and was outstanding as a reliever. Heading into this season, he’s penciled into the bullpen, where he could emerge as the closer, but he could also move to the rotation. Either way, expect to hear his name a ton this season.

Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins

When you sign the biggest contract in the history of professional sports – a 13-year, $335 million extension – you’re going to be under the microscope and people are going to talk about you. In his first five seasons, the 25-year-old outfielder has launched 154 home runs playing on horrible teams. This year, the Marlins (like the Mets) aren’t awful and Stanton has some help in the lineup, so as long as he’s healthy, he could make a run at 50 home runs.

Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

The Houston Astros have been really, really bad for the last couple years. They’ve basically been the Philadelphia 76ers of baseball, jettisoning every veteran asset imaginable to make room for youngsters while loading the farm system with top draft picks. Correa was a suprise first-overall selection a couple years ago, but the 20-year-old shortstop has made the Astros brass look brilliant, rocketing through the minors.

A leg injury halted his progress last year, but he should hit the big leagues by the middle of the year and generate lots of conversation by the time the end of the year rolls around.

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

It feels weird to say that the pressure is on when you’re talking about a 22-year-old ballplayer, but Harper has been the center of attention since he got his GED following his sophomore year in high school in order to start playing pro ball early. During his first year, he was mentioned alongside Mike Trout and the two won Rookie of the Year honours in their respective leagues. Since then, Trout has won the AL MVP Award and blossomed into the best player in the game, while Harper has struggled through two injury-plagued seasons.

Washington is one of the pre-seasons favourites to win the World Series and Harper will play a big part in determining whether that happens or not.

Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers shipped Matt Kemp to San Diego this winter in order to clear a path for Pederson to start every day in centerfield. Coming off a minor league season where he hit .303 with 33 homers, 78 RBI and 30 steals and was named the Pacific Coast League MVP, the 22-year-old is expected to be the next big star for the Dodgers beginning this season.

He struggled during his cup of coffee with the club last September, but with plenty of reps and a constant place in the lineup, the former 11th round draft pick should establish himself as a Rookie of the Year candidate in the first half of the season.

Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox

In addition to just having a tremendous baseball name, Betts plays in Boston, so that automaticaly means he’s going to get more attention than a promising young outfielder in Kansas City or Minnesota or just about anywhere else. Betts hit .291 in 52 games with the Red Sox last season, showing flashes of power and speed while transitioning from the middle of the diamond to centerfield.

He’ll have competition in the outfield from fellow prospect Rusney Castillo and with Dustin Pedoira still entrenched at second, Betts could end up being a “super sub” in 2015. Wherever he plays, he’ll make an impact.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Bryant is the best prospect in baseball thanks in large part to his ability to smash baseballs into orbit. Last year, he hit 43 bombs between two levels and he enters 2015 as one of several promising young talents that should make Wrigley Field an entertaining place to watch a game this season. It will be a couple weeks into the season before Bryant makes his debut with the big club, but once he does, expect balls to leave the yard at an alarming rate.

Theo Epstein & Jed Hoyer, President and General Manager, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are going to one of the focal teams of 2015 because of (a) their incredible wealth of young talent, including Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez and (b) their inevitable decision to delay Bryant’s arrival in order to retain his contractual rights for one more year.

Epstein, the man who brought a World Series back to Boston, and Hoyer, the former San Diego Padres GM brought in to bring the Cubs back to glory, will be front and center in all discussions about this club, as after several years of mediocrity, “The Northsiders” should find themselves back in playoff contention this season.

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