Major League Baseball Poised for a Comeback Season


Guardians’ outfielder Steven Kwan is taking baseball by storm. Photo courtesy of AP Photo.

Since its founding in 1876, MLB has consistently been one of, if not the most, popular sports leagues in America. Considered to be “America’s Favorite Pastime,” baseball has always had a large following of fans and many star players in the media.  However in recent years, MLB’s rating has declined, with baseball discussed less than ever. 

Last season in 2021, MLB reached a 37-year low in total game attendance, dropping almost 34% compared to 2019. This was the 8th straight season in which the MLBs attendance has declined. In addition, MLB’s viewership has a 12% drop in league wide household average from 2019-2021. Whether it was cheating scandals, poor marketing, or the player lockout, American baseball has continued to become less appealing to fans around the world.

 However, with the player lockout resolved, and the season starting, it is starting to feel like the perfect time for baseball to finally make a come back. With the country adjusting to life with Covid, families are returning to MLB stadiums to watch their favorite players battle it out. With the NFL currently in the offseason, and basketball soon coming to an end, baseball should be able to steal the sports media’s attention, hopefully sparking some traction for the rest of the season and years to come.

With respect to star players, MLB is loaded with talent all over the league. Whether it’s star veterans like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, young prospects like Wander Franco and Bobby Witt Jr., or new flashy superstars like Fernando Tatis Jr. or Ronald Acuna, MLB seems to have everything a successful league needs to bring in fans. In addition, baseball also features some of the most unique players of all-time like the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, who is a star pitcher and hitter, and is the closest thing we have ever seen to Babe Ruth. 

In MLB, there is no salary cap so teams are free to use as much of their revenue as they would like to sign players. As a result, small market teams have a much harder time succeeding due to the fact that they have to gain most of their talent in the draft because they do not have the money to pay for star free agents. Throughout the past decade, the teams that have been the most successful are considered big market teams with high payrolls. However this year some smaller market teams seem to be breaking that trend, making this season a lot more interesting. For instance, the Milwaukee Brewers are currently the number one team in the National League. This is impressive because they are considered to be the 4th smallest team in terms of market size. In the American League, both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Minnesota Twins currently stand at the top of the standings even though the Rays are the 3rd smallest team and the Twins the 12th in terms of market size. To put into perspective how impressive it is that these teams are doing so well, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a total payroll of just over $290 million dollars this year. While the Rays and Brewers combined have a total of just over $217 millions dollars. So for these teams to have better or equal records to teams spending more than their two budgets combined shows how competitive baseball will be this year, and how interesting and unexpected it may get.

In addition to star players and surprising teams, we have also gotten to see flashes of stardom from some new and surprising faces this season. One of the most amazing stories this year is Steven Kwan of the Cleveland Guardians. Kwan has entered the season with a .340 batting average which ranks among the top of the league. However before the season Steven Kwan was unheard of. Kwan was drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 June ametuer draft and was not a well known prospect coming out of the farm system. But since getting brought to the “big stage” Kwan has been on fire and even recorded one of the most unique and most impressive starts to a career ever, which was seeing 116 pitches without a swing and miss: the most pitches out of every player to debut since 2000. Another surprising player is Seiya Suzuki of the Chicago Cubs. Last year Seiya Suzuki was crushing it in a Japanese baseball league and considered one of the best players in that league. It was no shock that he Suzuki was signed to an MLB team this season, however his quick start is impressive nonetheless with Suzuki instantly becoming a star. In Suzuki’s first 13 games he notched 4 home runs and 12 RBI while hitting with a .333 batting average, all ranking in the 99th percentile of hitters in the MLB.

Hopefully these surprising teams and players, along with the stars the game already has, can lead to an exciting and competitive MLB season, sparking baseball’s return as “America’s Favorite Pastime”.