By Jamie H. Vaught
As you know, when the MLB spring training camps are underway in Florida and Arizona, that means the baseball season opener is just weeks away.
That also means the 2017 baseball yearbooks -- Athlon Sports, Lindy’s Sports and Sporting News -- are available on the newsstands with their colorful preseason coverage.
Who is the team to beat this season?
Not surprisingly, all three publications have Boston, Cleveland and Houston winning their respective divisions in the American League. The popular candidates for the one-game Wild Card playoff are Texas, Baltimore, Toronto and Seattle.
What about the National League race?
Washington and defending World Series champion Chicago are the favorites to capture the East and Central Division, respectively. In the West division, Los Angeles is the top choice by two publications, while the other favorite is San Francisco. As for the Wild Card teams, St. Louis, New York, LA and SF are the best bets if they don't win the division.
The rebuilding Cincinnati Reds aren’t expected to do much this time. The yearbooks have the Reds at either No. 4 or No. 5 in the five-team Central Division. Cincinnati and San Diego posted the National League’s worst record at 68-94 last year. (Atlanta was 68-93.)
The skipper of the Padres, by the way, is second-year manager Andy Green, who starred at UK.
One of Lindy’s interesting articles featured Claire Smith, who recently became the first woman to receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor for a baseball journalist.
In Sporting News, the fans would enjoy a piece about the Braves’ move to the new SunTrust Park, a 15-minute drive from downtown Atlanta.
Also, UK junior first baseman Evan White is selected by the Sporting News as a member of its College Baseball All-America team. Florida, meanwhile, is No. 1 in SN’s preseason Top 25 for college baseball.
Athlon has several excellent stories, including “17 Things to Watch in 2017.”
If you're interested, more information about the yearbooks can be found by clicking on its respective Web site.
Athlon Sports: www.athlonsports.com
Lindy’s Sports: www.lindyssports.com
Sporting News: www.snyearbooks.com