With pitchers and catchers ready to report for Spring Training and another MLB Opening Day just around the corner, the Athlon Sports 2014 Baseball Annual slides home in time to provide the preseason analysis and predictions craved by fans of the national pastime from the Bronx to the Bay and everywhere in between.
We take a lap around the big leagues in "14 Things to Watch in 2014," examining Robinson Cano's move from New York to Seattle, expanded instant replay, St. Louis' seemingly bottomless well of young pitchers, Albert Pujols' April struggles and Ryne Sandberg taking over as skipper in Philly.
"Short Hops" takes a look at the lighter side of a day at the ballpark — with quotes from Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld, deadpan delivery from Red Sox fan Steven Wright, Prince Fielder's nacho-eating habits, and donuts (on the scoreboard and out of the deep fryer).
In "Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish," we decide whether or not free-agent contracts signed by Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo and Co. were investor home runs or expensive swings-and-misses.
The "College Baseball Preseason Top 25" gives a sneak peak at the game's next generation, while the "Fantasy Baseball" section provides a Top 100 cheat sheet as well as extensive position-by-position rankings that include over 400 players.
This year's magazine is also highlighted by the following feature stories:
"2004 Draft Revisited" — A look back at a draft class whose leadoff pick was Matt Bush, a bust taken one pick before Cy guy Justin Verlander and ahead of future big league studs like Jered Weaver, Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia.
"The Cuban Connection" — The big leagues are being flooded with Cuban talent. Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig jumped from Havana to All-Star status. Now Jose Abreu has inked a $68 million deal with the White Sox. What has caused this recent surge? Is the baseball embargo over?
"The Code: Baseball's Unwritten Rules" — How slow is too slow for a home run trot? When is retaliation called for? To plunk or not to plunk? These are just a few of the questions addressed on a nightly basis in baseball.
This year's edition also includes a team-by-team preview of all 30 clubs, with rosters, stats and schedules as well as a look at each club's farm system. We also present our predictions for the 2014 American League and National League division races, playoffs and World Series, as well as the top candidates for MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year.
Finally, we run down the obscure events that had never happened until 2013 — like a player hitting home runs in consecutive at-bats against Mariano Rivera (Miguel Cabrera) and a pitcher losing a zero-earned-run, two-or-fewer-hit playoff start (Clayton Kershaw).
Athlon Sports' Baseball Annual is the most complete preview available today. Order your copy now!