As the Yankees take the field this afternoon and as Austin Jackson steps up to the plate, they will usher in a year that will leave behind the age of Ken Griffey Jr., Andy Pettitte and Trevor Hoffman and continue the new era of Jason Heyward, Buster Posey and Neftali Feliz. Never before has there been such a year of transition so clear that leaves the superstars of the past to the young promising talent of the future as there was in 2010.
The 2011 season will bring these now seasoned youngsters into their sophomore campaign as well as bring many other promising young talent into the majors such as Brandon Belt and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
Not only will 2011 bring in many new young talents into the game, but many breakout players hoping to build on their 2010 campaigns as well. Players like Jose Bautista, R.A. Dickey, Carlos Gonzalez, and Angel Pagan will enter 2011 with the hope of continuing their status as all-star quality talent in the big leagues.
This upcoming season will also go without many of the game’s top stars. Adam Wainwright and Stephan Strasburg will more likely than not miss the entire 2011 season and Johan Santana and Chase Utley will most likely miss the first half.
There is also quite a crop of players looking to rebound from 2010. Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay, Kendry Morales, Edison Volquez and Jonathon Broxton will look to forget their mutual problems from the past year and regain their status of top tier players.
Baseball in 2011, to the dismay of many Met fans, myself included, will feature one of the best pitching rotations in history. Through a series of acquisitions since 2009, the Phillies have created a rotation of four ace quality arms in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. This rotation features three former twenty game winners, two of them have Cy-Young awards on their mantles. With the Phillies offense not as strong as it once was, due to age and the loss of Jayson Werth, they will be still one of the bigger stories of 2011 as they will almost certainly win the NL East title on the strength of their quartet of aces.
Lastly, there are several milestones that many veterans will likely reach in 2011. Mariano Rivera is 41 saves away from the elusive 600 mark, Chipper Jones is just ten hits short of the 2,500 plateau and most importantly, Derek Jeter is only 92 hits away from the 3,000 hit mark, a feat only accomplished by 27 other players in baseball history. Jeter’s 3,000th hit will be the icing on the cake for a sure-fire first ballot hall-of-fame career.
As baseball gets underway tomorrow, we will all have high hopes for our respective teams, namely the Mets for most of us, and hope that the countless hours we will soon spend in front of the TV this season will result in us viewing an October run. All the examining and speculation of this past winter comes down to this, now all we can do is sit back, relax and enjoy: Baseball 2011.