For all they do wrong in marketing and promoting their game, Major League Baseball does Opening Day right. Even though it’s one of 162, the least meaningful opener in all of the sports, statistically speaking, that first pitch on the first day still feels special!
Let’s look at Opening Day with the big picture and betting market in mind as I list the five most essential players set to debut in a new uniform on one of the World Series favorites.
With Carlos Rodon on the IL, no New York Yankees (+850) made my list, although rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe is one to watch. Similarly, the New York Mets (+900) made a big splash with Justin Verlander, but he’s not expected to take the ball until Saturday.
With Edwin DÃaz sidelined, David Robertson could be their most impactful newcomer today if the Mets go into the ninth with the lead. Reading this, associate editor Joe Cervenka thinks Daulton Varsho of the Toronto Blue Jays (+1200) should be on this list, and if the former D-Back betters last season’s 27 homers, he might be right.(1) Philadelphia Phillies (+1500): SS Trea Turner
The defending NL East champs already had a potent lineup–their 205 home runs were sixth in the Majors. Rather than rest on their laurels, which wouldn’t be wise in the competitive NL East, the Phillies went the aggressive route and signed Trea Turner away from LA. If Captain America’s WBC heroics were any indication of his season to come, watch out!(2) San Diego Padres (+1000): SS Xander Bogaerts
If I told you in 2018 that Manny Machado (then with the Dodgers), Fernando Tatis Jr. (minor leagues/Padres), Juan Soto (Nationals), and Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) would be in the same 2023 lineup, who would have guessed it would be in San Diego? A small market team no more, the Pads have put together an NBA-esque Super Team. Is Bogaerts the final piece?(3) Houston Astros (+600): 1B JosÃ© Abreu
As if Houston needed another big bopper. JosÃ© Abreu only hit 15 home runs last season, but that would be a big improvement over Yuli Gurriel (8 HRs in 2022). Moreover, Abreu is just a year removed from his fifth 30-homer season and sixth 100-RBI campaign with the White Sox. Adding fresh blood hungry for success is necessary for teams seeking a repeat.(4) Atlanta Braves (+750): C Sean Murphy
Are the Oakland A’s becoming to the Braves what the Kansas City A’s were to the Yankees in the 1950s? With Travis d’Arnaud and William Contreras, you’d think Atlanta was the last team in the market for a catcher. But smart organizations play chess, not checkers, and the Braves added Sean Murphy, whose 3.5 WAR bested both of their All-Star backstops in 2022.(5) Los Angeles Dodgers (+750): DH J.D. Martinez
The Dodgers project to have several new faces in this year’s lineup, more than you think, with free agent addition J.D. Martinez the most prominent. At this stage of his career, the DH isn’t going to make up for the production lost in Turner, but he will be called upon to provide their star bats with protection in a lineup that drops off toward the bottom.
SportsGrid’s Opening Day Lineup has you covered below.