Monthly Archives: February 2023

MLB Breakout Predictions: AL West

Caption: AL West teams

by Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

February 26, 2023

We’ve finally made it to the end of the series! Welcome to part six (of six), of my predictions for the breakout star on every Major League Baseball (MLB) team in 2023. We have finally made it all the way to the American League (AL) Western Division.

This division has been dominated recently by the Houston Astros, but last year the Seattle Mariners made a surprising run in the postseason.

Kicking off this list, however, are the Oakland Athletics. The A’s lost 102 games last season and they have nowhere to go but up.

I expect a large part of their rebuilding process is going to be Paul Blackburn. Twenty twenty-two was Blackburn’s first year entirely in the Majors, as he had spent all or parts of the last 10 years on various Minor League teams.

Over his nine seasons in the Minors, Blackburn had a 3.66 ERA in 721 innings. In his experience at the Major League level, he has struggled to keep on pace posting a 5.09 ERA over 249.1 innings.

Last season, Blackburn got his most starts in MLB since 2017 with 21 and he made the most of it, being named to his first All-Star team. He finished the season with a 4.28 ERA alongside his 89 strikeouts over 111.1 innings.

I predict that if Blackburn is able to stay healthy and make 25+ starts, he can go 12-8 with a 3.50 ERA. With Blackburn being a contact pitcher, he does have to rely on his fielders to be there for him when batters make contact so there is always uncertainty.

Finishing eight games ahead of Oakland were the Texas Rangers. This team spent around $350 million in one offseason to bring Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in to be their middle-infielders. They finished with fewer than 70 wins even with those two on the team.

The Rangers are another team looking to turn things around and I think a certain switch-hitting catcher might be a major key to their turnaround.

My choice for the 2023 breakout star of the Texas Rangers is Jonah Heim. Heim is entering his second season as the primary catcher for Texas. He played parts of the 2020 and 2021 seasons and was relatively inconsequential posting a 0 WAR (wins above replacement). But, this last season saw Heim play in 127 games, and post a 2.5 WAR.

Heim, as is the case with most catchers, is most valuable behind the plate and not in the batters box. Heim has posted an above average fielding percentage all of the last three years as well as having eight defensive runs saved above average.

I expect Heim to play in 130 games, have a caught stealing percentage above 30%, and have a 3+ WAR. With these numbers, I could easily see Heim starting behind the dish for the All-Star game this season.

This brings us to one of the oddest teams in all of MLB, the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have had two of the top five players in all of the league (Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout) every one of the last five seasons and haven’t been .500 or better in any of them. Nor have they finished above third place in any of those years.

I think that another one of their outfielders could be one of the keys to their success this year. Jo Adell has struggled to get on his feet in his three seasons in the big leagues. But I feel that a lot of times, position players need 2-3 years of struggling in MLB to really catch hold and play to the height of their abilities.

I think this will be the case for Adell who has posted a career .289 batting average in six seasons of Minor League play. Adell played 88 games in 2022 which was 50 games more than his previous high and while he didn’t produce amazing numbers, there were flashes of greatness.

Adell has the tools to be a star both in the field and at the plate, and I think he will do just that in the 2023 season.

I expect Adell to slash .250/.300/.350 with 18 homers and somewhere around 50 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.

Finishing 2nd in the AL West last season were the Seattle Mariners. This is a team that is amped up and ready to make another postseason push and they have the talent to do so.

I think this team will make it to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) and maybe even their first World Series ever.

I think the player that is going to have a true breakout season and propel them there is Luis Castillo.

Castillo has already proved himself as one of the better starting pitchers in all of MLB, but I think that this will be the year that he wins a Cy Young award.

Castillo has played six seasons in the Majors but is yet to make the leap from good to great. Part of that has not been his own doing. He started his career with the Cincinnati Reds and only had an ERA above 3.98 in one season. And outside of those two seasons, he never had an ERA over 3.40.

Those Reds teams did little to help Castillo with run support so his win-loss records look a little sketchy. But, finding his home in Seattle, I expect him to put up league-leading numbers, especially if he is able to master his changeup which is already one of the best in all of MLB.

I expect Castillo to go 15-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 180 innings to go alongside 200 strikeouts. As I mentioned above, I also anticipate him winning the AL Cy Young Award.

This brings us to the 2022 World Series champions, the Houston Astros. The Astros won the second most games in MLB last year, trailing only the Dodgers by five wins. I can only imagine that the Houston organization is taking this year as another World Series or bust year.

I think that this year, they are going to have more help from one of their quieter returning players, Chas McCormick.

McCormick has played two seasons for Houston batting around .250, but like I said before, I think a lot of hitters need a few years in the big leagues to get the swing of things. I’m sure he will bounce back just fine.

Over four Minor League seasons, McCormick slashed .278/.362/.402 which shows that he is more than capable at the plate. He is yet to show off his power numbers that he had in college (9 homers his senior year) but that should come with age.

I look for McCormick to slash .275/.360/.390 with 8-10 homers and 120 hits. He should develop into a great everyday outfielder for Houston.

My Trip to Super Bowl LVII

By Brady Shick

Brady Shick is a third-year Sport Management Major at BGSU from the Akron area. His main goals for the future are to work in baseball on the front office side of operations

February 25, 2023

Earlier this month, I was able to travel to Glendale, Arizona, with 19 other students, to work both the Super Bowl and other related events prior to the game. Throughout the week we were able to spend time together as a group and develop new friendships all while participating in a once in a lifetime experience.  

Early Week Activities 

We arrived in Arizona the Monday before the game but did not have an actual shift until Thursday, so we had a few days to experience the area and learn about the other people in our group. Monday, we spent a lot of time at our hotel hanging out in a big group – either hanging around the pool or when we sat down to eat our meals. Tuesday, we started to get more into a groove. First thing in the morning we drove to Phoenix from our hotel, which was about 20 minutes away, to pick up our credentials. After obtaining our credentials, our large group split into two groups with my group going to the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf event and the other going back to the hotel.

At the tournament, the golfers were playing a practice round so we were able to get in free. We saw golfers such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tyrell Hatton, and Viktor Hovland all while walking nearly eight miles that day. Wednesday was our last day off and we split into groups again with one group touring Chase Field, the Diamondbacks’ Stadium, and the other going hiking. I went on the Chase Field tour where we were able to see the clubhouse, dugout, bullpen, and even one of the suites.  

Working Experiences 

On Thursday, we finally had our first shift at the Phoenix Convention Center where the Super Bowl Experience was happening. The Super Bowl Experience was a fan event put on by the NFL the week before the Super Bowl. Most of our group was on the top level of the convention center helping to run the various games for the children. One group was at a kind of obstacle course while another was at a pickle ball station where a bunch of current and former NFL players came by. I was tasked with a job at the lower level of the convention center where I watched the line for the Super Bowl ring displays. Also downstairs were multiple autograph stages and the showcase of the Lombardi trophy.  

On Friday, most of the group volunteered at Hance Park after our training at State Farm Stadium but another member of our group and I just hung around the Glendale area and tried to soak it in a bit more. Saturday came with another shift at the convention center. Again, a large group of us was tasked with running the various games for the little kids. Meanwhile, I was outside making sure everyone got into the convention center in an orderly and safe manner. It wasn’t the most interesting of jobs, but I saw a few different NFL players and got to talk to some of their families which was really rewarding. After we were done working at the convention center, we got to meet up with Dick Maxwell and his wife at their hotel where Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell let us talk about our career aspirations and they gave us some advice on our future endeavors.  


On Gameday we were tasked with employee egress. We were responsible for making sure that all the employees and fans went out of their own respective gates and thus made it to the proper destination. Again, it may not have been the most glorious of jobs but at the end of the day it is something that needs to be done to ensure a great experience for both the fans and the workers. By doing this we were able to actually be on the campus of the Super Bowl which is a once in a lifetime experience and I thank both Bowling Green State University and SMA for allowing me to do so.  

My Super Bowl LVII Experience

By Carsen Hageman

Carsen Hageman is a first-year undergraduate student at BGSU, where he majors in Sport Management. As an active member of the Sport Management Alliance, he was part of a group of 20 students who attended and worked at Super Bowl LVII.

February 25, 2023

Growing up a huge NFL fan, I never thought about going to the Super Bowl. As I grew older though, I knew I wanted to work in sports so it was always a goal to make it there. So, once I learned that it was a possibility to attend the Super Bowl in my first year at BGSU, I was ecstatic! I was also fortunate enough to plan part of the trip to the Super Bowl through the Sport Management Alliance (SMA). As the Assistant Travel Coordinator, I helped plan the trip with the Travel Coordinator. Everything from flights to the rental cars needed to be planned months in advance.

One of the first things we did once we got to Arizona was to attend Super Bowl Opening Night. This was an event where all the players in the Super Bowl were available to be interviewed by the media. Fans got to sit and watch all of the players from each team being interviewed.

My favorite non-football event that we did in Arizona had to be touring Chase Field, the home of the Diamondbacks. On one of our days off, we found out that Chase Field did tours. It was perfect timing because pitchers and catchers reported in one week so people were in the building getting ready for spring ball. This was such a fascinating tour as we got to learn what it is like to run a facility like that. Lastly, our tour guide was from Springfield, OH, so we got to bond over being from Ohio. Since we fostered such a great relationship during the tour, our tour guide allowed us to take one of the bullpen balls home from the Diamondbacks’ personal batting cages within their locker room.

During the week leading up to the game, we all worked at the NFL Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center. The NFL experience is an event where fans interact with players and have fun at games like the one pictured above. The capacities we all worked in varied from working to make sure games ran smoothly to facilitating autograph lines. Throughout The Experience, there were a variety of autograph booths that included current and former NFL players signing autographs for fans. This was such a rewarding position as we got to interact with fans and make their experience one to remember.

During Super Bowl game day, we worked with Gameday Stadium Services assisting with the egress of teammates and other staff as the Super Bowl campus was very hectic. This was a little bit disappointing as we wanted to be inside the stadium. It did not turn out as badly as anticipated because we were able to go into the game during our break or even just to use the restroom.

The disappointment quickly went away after the game as we were able to get onto the field. Since it was an hour or two after the game, security allowed us onto the field. This was the highlight of my trip as everyone dreams of being on the field for a Super Bowl. Once we were on the field, we were able to walk around and take pictures for almost an hour. This included pictures on the sidelines and the Lombardi presentation stage.

Overall, this was an experience of a lifetime. To be able to spend a week in Arizona and gain real-world experience in sports is something I will never forget. I want to thank the entire Sport Management Faculty and Sport Management Alliance for a truly life-changing trip. Without the support from the staff and great planning from SMA, we would have never been able to have such a successful trip.

MLB Breakout Predictions: NL East

Caption: NL East Teams

by Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

February 25, 2023

Welcome to part three of six of my series predicting the breakout stars for each and every Major League Baseball (MLB) team for 2023. In this series, I have already discussed the Central Divisions for both leagues which brings us to today’s topic, the National League East.

Finishing in last place in 2022 were the Washington Nationals. This team won the World Series just three seasons ago, well not this exact team as the roster has almost entirely turned over. However, this team has a pretty high ceiling with all of the young talent they obtained through trading their top stars.

My pick for their breakout star is MacKenzie Gore. Gore was the third player picked in the 2017 MLB Draft and was one of the major pieces in the trade sending Juan Soto to the Padres. Although his career is six years old to this point, Gore is only 23 at the time of writing as he was drafted right out of high school.

Gore has only thrown 70 innings at the Major League level and while he struggled with an ERA of 4.50, he punched out 72 batters. Through 250.1 innings in the minors, Gore notched 320 strikeouts while maintaining a stellar 2.91 ERA.

I predict that this season Gore will start to reach his potential and look for him to throw 150 innings with 200 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA. MacKenzie should be a viable option for the ace of this Nationals’ staff.

The fourth-place finishers in the NL East last year were the Miami Marlins. This is another young team with a lot of potential over the next few years. There are a few different potential candidates for their breakout star.

Take, for instance, the cover of next year’s MLB The Show videogame Jazz Chisholm Jr., or even the returning Sixto Sanchez, but I think the player who will steal the spotlight is going to be Edward Cabrera.

MLB The Show fans already know what I am talking about with Cabrera as he has terrorized players for the past two years with his pitch variety and velocity.

In real life, Cabrera has a sinker that sits around 96-98 with lots of arm side movement as well as his 12-6 curveball that keeps hitters guessing. If everything goes right with players getting healthy, the Marlins could have Sandy Alcantara, Edward Cabrera, and Sixto Sanchez as the top three of their starting rotation.

I look for Cabrera to go 14-6 with an ERA under 3.00 and throwing at least 150 innings.

The next in the standings in the NL East last season were the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies really don’t have a lot of super intriguing young players on their team this season after their World Series visit. I’m looking for a relative newcomer to be their breakout star.

I think that Brandon Marsh will have a great season where he can finally shine. Marsh has spent his last two seasons sharing the outfield with stars like Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Now he gets the chance to shine in an outfield with Nicholas Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber.

I think if he is able to get his feet under him and play a lot of games again this year, he can become a very well-rounded outfielder. He is great defensively with his .990 fielding percentage, and will only improve with age.

I look for Marsh to bat .270 with 130+ hits as well as being one of the top defensive outfielders in the National League. His defensive play will really stand out being in an outfield with Castellanos and Schwarber who are both below average fielders.

Finishing second in the NL East last year were the New York Mets. The Mets spent a lot of money this offseason trying to make their way back to a World Series berth spending $500 million on free agents.

One of the Mets’ big acquisitions was star Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga, who I think will be a breakout star for the Mets. Over his 11 seasons in professional baseball, Senga has a staggering 2.42 ERA and a record of 104-51 with 1340.2 innings pitched. He has averaged almost 122 innings pitched during his time with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

Japanese pitchers often struggle when they come to the MLB due to the change in the size and feel of the ball being different than it is in Japan, but I expect Senga to make an impact from the start.

I anticipate that Senga will throw 100 innings with an ERA around 2.75 and 125+ punch-outs in his first season in the MLB. I look for him to put up even better numbers than Masahiro Tanaka even though Senga is about five years older than Tanaka was when he entered the league.

Finally, this brings us to the 2022 NL East champions, the Atlanta Braves. I wouldn’t really say that this player will breakout this year as he won the ‘2022 Rookie of The Year award.’ But I still look for Michael Harris to continue his exciting play and keep improving on his already impressive numbers.

Last year, Harris slashed .297/.339/.514 with 19 homers and 123 total hits. Harris only played in 114 games so averaging more than a hit a game as a rookie in the very competitive NL East, is a feat in and of itself.

I look for more of the same from Harris in 2023. If he can get his strikeouts down and walks up, I’m predicting a .300/.400/.500 slash line from him. That, along with 25 homers and easily 20+ stolen bases, and with a little bit of good fortune, I think he can put up 30/30 years for many seasons to come.

Next time, I’ll be talking about the ever chippy AL East so be sure to check back in a few days for that!

MLB Breakout Predictions: NL West

Caption: NL West Teams

by Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

February 23, 2023

Welcome back to my series predicting breakout stars for every Major League Baseball (MLB) team for the 2023 season. This time, we are rounding out the National League (NL) with the Western Division.

The West is always a tough division with 2-3 teams in playoff contention yearly. The Colorado Rockies finished in last place last year, so they get to kick off this list.

The Rockies are a very young team this year with their longest tenured player at eight years of experience (Randal Grichuk) and their oldest player being only 37 (Daniel Bard).

I think their breakout performer will be someone who has had a few years in the league, but hasn’t yet lived up to his first round hype. Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers was drafted 3rd overall in 2015 and although he has played 100+ games the last two seasons, he has yet to live up to amazing numbers at the plate.

This is not to discredit his work at the plate either. Rodgers has slashed .274/.326/.434 over the last two seasons which is more than acceptable for a shortstop of his caliber, especially if he is able to keep winning Gold Gloves.

Rodgers has also put-up decent power numbers averaging 14 homers and 26 doubles. Last year, he proved that he is capable of being more patient at the plate and can take walks if he doesn’t get his pitch. He more than doubled his walk count from 2021 in just 30 more games.

I think Rodgers will slash .290/.350/.460 with 20 homers as well as bringing his second consecutive Gold Glove to Colorado. I also anticipate him to be on the long list of people receiving MVP votes.

Finishing ahead of the Rockies were the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is another relatively young team with only a handful of players with more than 5 years of experience.

Arizona is looking to shock people this season and possibly even make a run for a Wild Card spot.

My pick for their breakout star is going to be Gabriel Moreno. Although he will be splitting time with Carson Kelly behind the plate, I think he can take the starting position by the All-Star break.

Through 25 games last season, Moreno hit .319, which is what he has done his entire career as he has a .310 average through five Minor League seasons. Especially in today’s game, finding a catcher who can hit for average is increasingly rare and, in turn, valuable.

I look for Moreno to catch 100 games for Arizona this year and slash .290/.360/.400 as well as possibly capturing a Gold Glove.

Finishing the middle of the Western Division last season were the San Francisco Giants. This brings us to the first of three (spoiler alert) pitchers I have chosen for this list. The Giants have a lot of talent but most of it is holed up in their pitching staff.

I think this player is only going to improve after his coming out party last year where he finished 11th in Cy Young voting.

This player is Logan Webb. The now 26-year-old, entering his 5th MLB season, put up career best numbers last season with his 192.1 innings pitched and 2.90 ERA.

Webb looks to be the best option to become the new ace in San Fran. He reminds me a lot of prime Matt Cain, another all time Giant great from those 2010-2014 dynasty years.

If the Giants’ lineup is able to provide good or even decent run support for Webb, look for him to possibly start the All-Star game.

I predict Webb will throw 200+ innings this season and keep his sub 3.00 ERA yet again. Webb is primarily a contact pitcher so I don’t expect his strikeout numbers to be very high, but he will still probably have at least 140 Ks.

Finishing in second place in the West in 2022, were the San Diego Padres, another team looking to make it back to the playoffs and to finally make that elusive World Series run.

The Padres are shaping up to contend again, and I expect a large contributor will be Brent Honeywell Jr. Honeywell hasn’t seen big league action since he started two games and pitched in three for the Rays in 2021.

Honeywell has struggled with the injury bug since being drafted in 2014 and spent 2018-2020 out of professional baseball rehabbing and working to get back into shape.

This being said, he is one of my favorite pitchers to watch as he is possibly the last Major League Baseball player/pitcher who still throws a screwball (outside of Brewers’ pitcher Devin Williams “changeup”).

I think that if Honeywell can stay healthy and throw 120 innings, he can keep his ERA around 3.30 and punch out 150+ batters. I really look forward to watching Honeywell in the coming years as he promises to become a dominant starter.

Finally, we’ve reached the last National League team in this series, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are always expecting a playoff berth and this year is no different.

I think this player has finally worked his way into an everyday role as well as helping to end the revolving door of relievers/closers the Dodgers have been working with ever since Kenley Janson left.

Brusdar Graterol is my choice for their breakout star in the 2023 season. Last year he appeared in 46 games, accruing 49.1 innings and allowing only 39 hits and 20 runs for an ERA of 3.26.

Along with his desirable numbers, Graterol is a treat to watch pitch as he touches triple digits with his fastball as effortlessly as you or I might toss a wad of paper into the trash can.

And while his ERA was a little higher than you would like out of your everyday closer, his fielding independent pitching or FIP, was 2.95. FIP takes into account errors and situations to determine a pitcher’s ERA using only things the pitchers themselves can control.

I predict that Graterol will play in 60 games this season and notch 40+ saves along with a 2.50 ERA over the course of 75 innings. Along with Webb, Graterol could easily become a starter in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic.

MLB Breakout Predictions: AL East

Caption: AL East Teams

by Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

February 21, 2023

Welcome back to part four of six of my predictions for the breakout star of every Major League Baseball (MLB) team for the 2023 season. Today we tackle the stacked AL East.

Kicking off with the team that finished in last place in 2022, the Boston Red Sox. Boston won 78 games last year which would be a huge upgrade for most of the last place teams in 2022.

The Bosox don’t really have a plethora of young talent to pick from, but the one that I have the most confidence in is Triston Casas. He will more than likely be sitting behind Bobby Dalbec at first base, but with Dalbec’s average dropping substantially every season since 2020, I could see Casas getting some serious playing time.

Casas is just 23 years old and has only played 27 games, so still has fewer than 100 at bats in his MLB career. Even though he struggled (.197/.358/.408) when he played last year, he still barely played. I could see Casas being a strong middle of the order batter for Boston this year.

I anticipate Casas playing 100+ games this season and slashing .270/.380/.450 if he is able to use his 6’5” frame to generate some power and use the 302’ right field wall to hit some homers. I could also see Casas hitting 18-20 homers with 80+ RBI.

Finishing five games above Boston in 2022 were the Baltimore Orioles. I would imagine, most people would expect me to say Adley Rutschman for their 2023 breakout star. However, I expect someone who is yet to have any MLB experience to have a much better statistical year.

The 2023 breakout star for the Baltimore Orioles will be pitcher Grayson Rodriguez. Another 23-year-old for the list, Grayson was drafted in the first round in 2018 and has put up four great seasons across the minor leagues.

In four seasons of minor league baseball, Rodriguez is 25-9 with a 2.47 ERA to go along with his 419 strikeouts in only 292 innings. Of course, the glaring issue is that he has zero MLB experience and has also averaged just over 4 innings per start. But I think that once he debuts this season, he will make an instant impact.

Rodriguez has a three pitch mix that he uses to keep batters off balance, including his fastball that effortlessly touches triple digits.

I expect Rodriguez to go 10-6 this year with a 2.80 ERA and to be a heavy candidate for AL Rookie of the Year.

Coming now to the first of three AL East teams that made the playoffs in 2022, are the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have a good mix of relatively young players and talented veterans. I would have Wander Franco as my pick, but I feel that he already had his breakout year when he was a rookie and continued to play well last year.

I also considered Shane Baz, but he’s currently injured and doesn’t look to be available for Opening Day.

So my choice for the Rays’ breakout star is Peter Fairbanks. Fairbanks is a 29-year-old relief pitcher who has been very underappreciated in my opinion. He has four years of MLB experience but has only thrown 114.1 innings up to this point. However, in his defense, Fairbanks is doing well with what he has been given putting up a 3.46 ERA and punching out 161 batters in his time.

I expect Fairbanks to be the full-time closer for Tampa Bay this season, and if they can make another playoff run he should play a massive part in closing those games.

My prediction is that Fairbanks will have 60+ innings pitched this year, an ERA around 2.50, and 30+ saves for Tampa this year. He is also a great early pick for the AL All-Star team.

Finishing second in the AL East in 2022 were the Toronto Blue Jays, another super good team with tons of talent looking to return to the playoffs in 2023.

Again, I was shocked to remember that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is only 23 years old and nearly has a triple crown to his name. However, my pick for their breakout star is someone who is yet to play an MLB game for Toronto.

Daulton Varsho is a rarity in today’s game as he is both a catcher and an outfielder. Varsho reminds me a lot of J.T. Realmuto since he is a brick wall behind the plate and he also has incredibly deceptive speed. Varsho stole 16 bases last season and I would be shocked if he doesn’t have more in 2023.

I think Varsho will finally get his feet under him at the plate and will start to bring his batting average around. I anticipate that Daulton Varsho will hit .265 this season with 30 home runs and 25+ stolen bases. The Blue Jays really have something special on their hands with a catcher that could easily become a 30/30 hitter.

Although I would love to see Varsho continue to catch, if Toronto wants to save his hitting and keep his legs fresh longer, I could see him transferring to mostly outfield duties.

Finally, we get to talk about everyone’s favorite, the New York Yankees. The Yankees didn’t make many moves this offseason as they mostly focused on bringing back Aaron Judge.

As excited as I am to get to see Jasson Dominguez, I don’t expect him to be on the team until September call-ups. So, my choice for the Yankees breakout star is Oswald Peraza.

Peraza only appeared in 19 games for New York last season, getting 15 hits in 49 at bats alongside his 1.000 fielding percentage. He seems to be the Yankee shortstop of the future, finally filling the gap that Derek Jeter left when he retired. And lucky for Yankee fans, he seems to have a sure-handed glove.

I think that if Peraza can stay healthy and get 80+ starts this season, he will be able to perform at the level Yankee fans expect.

I look for him to slash .275/.350/.400 with 50 RBI and no fewer than 25 stolen bases; if he does, he will be a heavy contributor to the 2023 Yankees.

Super Bowl LVII NFL Experience

By: Cassidy Sutton

Cassidy Sutton is a third -year undergraduate student at BGSU. from Plainfield, IL. She is majoring in Sport Management with a marketing Minor. Football, Hockey and Baseball are her primary sport interests, but she is also interested in stadium/arena management.

On February 6, 2023 myself and 19 other members of the Sport Management Alliance (SMA) at Bowling Green State University headed out to Arizona for Super Bowl LVII. Being a part of such a large sporting event was not only the chance of a life time, but an experience I will never forget. SMA was fortunate enough to work at both the NFL Experience and the actual Super Bowl game.

The NFL Experience was held at the Phoenix Convention Center starting on Monday the 6th and operating until Saturday the 11th. It was a ticketed event with the ticket prices being $20 on the weekdays and $40 on the weekend for the general public to purchase.

This event included three levels of interactive games and NFL memorabilia for fans to connect with the NFL on a different level. Some interactive games included, but were not limited to the 40 yard dash, field goal kicking, tackling drills, throwing drills, tackling drills, Fuel Up to Play 60, etc. These games were catered toward children mostly, but adults also took part in these activities.

Thursday February 9th, was the first day we worked the NFL Experience. I was assigned on the lowest level of the convention center which was filled with tons of different components relating to the NFL. To start off the shift I was tasked with monitoring the line for the Super Bowl rings. Although it doesn’t sound like the most exciting job, it was extremely amazing to see the past 56 Super Bowl rings all on display in the same room. The rings were also surrounded by every single NFL’s team’s helmet covered in Swarovski crystals. I was fortunate enough to not only be working with those, but also helping assist lines for autograph signings by well known athletes such as David Montgomery from the Chicago Bears.

Packers Super Bowl Ring

On Saturday February 11th, I worked on the middle level of the convention center where I handed out stickers to little kids, interacted with fans and took pictures. The stickers were used for people to take either an Eagles’ one or a Chiefs’ one and place on a giant football statue for extra good luck for the team. While I was up there, I got to walk around and see the different events happening throughout the day. I got to watch AJ Dillon from the Green Bay Packers play pickle ball with professional pickle ball players and assist with the field goal kicking event. The field goal kicking event consisted of two footballs set up on a stand and three field goals for guests to choose from, wind up and take their kicks.

After working the experience on Saturday we were given the opportunity to go back inside the convention center and check everything out for ourselves. We walked around the giant Super Bowl shop they had set up inside which had everything from specific Super Bowl teams’ gear to other NFL teams’ gear and they even had a section for Rihanna, the half time show performer’s makeup line known as Fenty Beauty. Myself and three other SMA members got the chance to check out a live broadcast that was being produced by the NFL Network. Reporters Steve Smith, Sr. And M.J Acosta were hosting the show live from the convention center. We got the chance to talk to them for a few minutes and even took a picture with them. While doing their live show they brought out defensive end from the New Orleans Saints Cam Jordan who also stopped to talk to us for a second and take a picture.

The NFL Experience is something so unique to the NFL and I never knew how big it was until I was there myself. It connects fans to the game of football in a whole new way and I really enjoyed it the most. Seeing all the great accomplishments and people that have come through the NFL was a once in a life time opportunity.

MLB Breakout Predictions: AL Central

Caption: American League Central Teams

by Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

February 16, 2023

In my last article, I started a series of who I believe will be the breakout performer for each team in the National League Central. Now, for the second in a series of six, I will preview the American League Central.

Starting off is the last place team from 2022, the Kansas City Royals. This Royals’ team is an amalgamation of some long-time fan favorites like Salvador Perez and Hunter Dozier as well as a returning star in Zack Greinke. There are also some new faces like Aroldis Chapman who could help the Royals improve from last season.

However, I am looking to a very fresh face to make his stand as their breakout star. I think Maikel García will have a great year and set himself up as the ‘Shortstop of the future’ for KC. Through his five minor league seasons, he slashed .272/.349/.371 and while he only played in 9 games in 2022 he still put up a .318 batting average.

Garcia also boasts a .917 fielding percentage through his minor league career. I would look for Maikel to bat .270 with 120 hits and 60+ RBI. He should be a very exciting player to keep an eye on for 2023 and the future.

Finishing ahead of the Royals in 2022 were the 4th place Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are a very interesting team with a lot of young talent who could all have lasting impacts on the organization. I considered going with Casey Mize as I anticipate him to be a perennial all-star once he hits his stride, but he is expected to be out until September with an injury.

I think a lot of people might be looking at Spencer Torkelson to be their breakout star this year, but I believe that this is going to be the year that Akil Baddoo will fully take center stage in Detroit. Baddoo is uber fun to watch play the outfield, he is everywhere all at once and has an absolute cannon for an arm that allows him to pick off baserunners that didn’t do their homework.

Baddoo’s stats at the plate leave a little to be desired but he still has never played more than 124 games in his two years of Major League experience. If he is able to get his 27% strikeout rate down to at or below the league average (22%) he will have no issue batting .280 with 25+ homers and possibly even swiping 20+ bags. I could easily see Baddoo as a new member of the increasingly rare 20-20 club.

Finishing in the middle of the division last year were the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have had lot of notably good starting pitchers over the last few years, Jose Berrios and Sonny Gray come to mind. But I believe their breakout player this year will be Pablo Lopez who the Twins acquired from the Miami Marlins in addition to two prospects for the 2022 AL batting champion Luis Arraez.

While I don’t expect Lopez to have comparable accolades to what Arraez did last year, I do see him emerging as their new ace. He went 10-10 last year with a 3.75 ERA with Miami. But I can see him being a top-15 AL pitcher this year if he gets enough run support. I look for Lopez to go 16-8 this year with an ERA hovering around the 3.00 area. While I still don’t like the Twins trading Arraez away, I feel they could have done a lot worse than getting Lopez in return.

The Chicago White Sox finished in second place in the American League Central Division in 2022. Another team with a lot of young talent in Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, and Yoan Moncada. But I’m going to chose Michael Kopech as my breakout star for the White Sox.

Kopech has had a rough go of it in his career so far, being a highly touted prospect in 2017 and ’18 with his first MLB start. But he has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and has never really put it all together. I think if he can stay healthy for a full year he can finally reach his full potential.

Look for Kopech to have 15+ wins with a sub 2.75 ERA and if he can throw anywhere close to 200 innings, he will surely have 200+ strikeouts as well.

Finally, rounding out the AL Central are the 2022 Central champions the Cleveland Guardians. The youngest team in MLB last year took their team all the way to the ALDS where they lost to the Yankees. The Guardians are going to have another really young team in 2023 and I look for their breakout star to be one of the faces of their 2022 team, Steven Kwan.

Kwan finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting last year as well as taking home a Gold Glove award. He was an amazing contact hitter for the Guardians slashing .298/.373/.400 with 168 hits while picking up 19 stolen bases. I expect Kwan to improve on last season and bat over .300 with 175+ hits and over 20 stolen bases. Kwan reminds me of a new age Juan Pierre as far as being a contact hitter who is more than serviceable in the field. I doubt that he will ever match Pierre in terms of stolen bases which shows how the game has changed. But I think that Steven Kwan will be a new Cleveland favorite for years to come.

Super Bowl LVII Predictions

By Sam Morris

Sam Morris is from Madison Heights, Michigan, and is an undergraduate student at BGSU majoring in Sports Management. He has a passion for sports writing and journalism. In his free time, he volunteers in the strategic communications department at BGSU at various sporting events and he also performs, writes, and produces his own raps for the music industry club at BGSU.

February 11, 2023

Super Bowl Overview

After my undefeated first round and a 3-1 second round, the conference championship games did not go as I expected as the Niners and Bengals both lost. The Eagles absolutely crushed San Francisco 31-7. The Niners’ offense slowed to a halt, losing both Brock Purdy and 4th string QB Josh Johnson to injury, and leaving them with no healthy QB’s available to play. However, this doesn’t take away from the amazing job that Philly’s offense did against the number one defense in the league. Although the Chiefs also pulled off the win, it was not without controversy as there were a few flags against Cincinnati late in the game that Bengals fans thought had cost them their chance to win. However, the Bengals had plenty of opportunities to put the game away beforehand and couldn’t get the job done. With all the upsets and crazy storylines in these 2022-2023 playoffs, the Super Bowl features the two overall one seeds and there is no consensus favorite amongst the media. Below I is my final breakdown of the playoffs with my prediction of the winner of Super Bowl 57.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (16-3) (AFC)    VS.     1. Philadelphia Eagles (16-3) (NFC)

                                   (Sunday, February 12th, 2023)

Breakdown: Super Bowl 57 has many interesting storylines to look for including the fact that this is the first Super Bowl where brothers (Jason and Travis Kelce) will be playing against each other. Being played in State Farm Stadium, one thing we know for sure about Super Bowl 57 is that there will be a lot of State Farm advertisements. Besides this, the Super Bowl outcome is anything but predictable. The Chiefs and Eagles overall have had the best seasons in their respective conferences, each amassing impressive 16-3 records to reach the Super Bowl. Because each of these teams has very few weaknesses, the Eagles are favored by just 1.5 points as of Saturday afternoon, making this the 4th shortest odds in any Super Bowl, according to CBS. These short odd are well-deserved, in my opinion, because of how close statistically these teams are to each other. On defense, the Eagles rank 1st (70) and the Chiefs rank 2nd (55) in sacks. Because these defenses are so similar and each quarterback has the ability to scramble, this game will be decided by which offense can put together consistently effective drives against the opposing powerhouse defenses.

In terms of offensive skill positions, the Eagles have a much better running game than the Chiefs behind Hurts, Sanders, Gainwell, and Scott. In fact, historically, the Eagles’ rushing game has the most rushing touchdowns in NFL History dating back to 1920, with 38 in total between the regular and postseason. However, I think the Chiefs’ explosive passing attack is better than Philadelphia’s with the chemistry and experience between the Mahomes-Kelce connection that can only be rivaled by Brady and Gronk. Adding Kadarius Toney has also been a sneaky signing because of his speed and ability to catch deep-ball fades consistently. The depth of JuJu Smith-Schuster and MVS (Marcus Valdez-Scantling) to the passing game also gives Mahomes quality second and third options to Kelce that I don’t think Devonta Smith and Quez Watkins match with the Eagles.

Although Mahomes is still working through the injury he suffered against Jacksonville, I believe the MVP’s talent and wealth of experience at such a young age will give him an overall advantage over Hurts in managing the atmosphere and pressure of the Super Bowl. Overall, it seems like Mahomes feels like he has something to prove against Hurts as Mahomes beat him for the MVP and has been consistently compared to him all year long. Mahomes also realizes that a second Super Bowl could put him in elite company among quarterbacks and help to solidify his ultimate legacy. To execute their game plan, the Chiefs need to score early and put pressure on the Eagles to throw the football, which is what the high-powered Chiefs offense is built to do. Although the Eagles are every bit as talented and deserving as the Chiefs to win the big game, I believe Mahomes and Andy Reid will execute their passing game plan against this dominant defense to win Super Bowl 57, giving Kansas City its 3rd Super Bowl victory in franchise history,   

Prediction: Chiefs (28)  Eagles (27)

MLB Breakout Predictions: NL Central

by Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

February 11, 2023

MLB Breakout Predictions: NL Central

Early spring is one of my favorite times of year because it means I get to look forward to the upcoming Major League Baseball (MLB) season. While most teams and fans have an idea of where their team will end up, there is always a chance that a new star will emerge and stake their claim as a top talent.

In this entry, I plan to discuss who I believe will be the “dark horse” for each team (by division) across MLB in 2023, starting with the one that I have to most experience with. The National League (NL) Central.

Starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates, there are a lot of possibilities as they have plenty of young talent. I look for Andrew McCutchen to have a bounce back year in his return to the Pirates; Ke’Bryan Hayes is also super fun to watch and will be a key member of the team for years to come. However, you simply cannot miss my pick, Oneil Cruz, the 6’7” short stop with all five tools at his disposal.

Given Cruz‘s size, he has been compared to Cal Ripken Jr., even though Cruz has three inches on Ripken when talking about height. In 2022, he did worry fans with his 34.9% strikeout rate and .233 batting average, but I’m going to chalk that up to it being his first Major League experience.

I anticipate that Cruz will hit .275 with 80+ RBI and at least 20 homers.

Next, we can take a look at the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are a team with loads of young players who could step up and bring the rebuilding process to an end. I would like to say that Alexis Diaz (younger brother of Mets closer Edwin Diaz) will be the breakout star for the Reds this year. But I don’t believe the team will give him enough save opportunities to consider him their star.

I look for another pitcher, Hunter Greene, to be the definitive ace of the staff and star of the team. Greene has shown flashes of greatness in the past with his blazing fastball and frisbee-like slider. He has already set many MLB records for pitch velocity in just his rookie year.

I think Greene will stay healthy this year and throw 175 innings. If he can keep his home runs against down, I think he can keep his ERA under 3.00 on the season.

Finishing ahead of the Reds in 2022, were the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had a sneaky good offseason this year, picking up former league MVP Cody Bellinger and established star Dansby Swanson. But outside of established stars, I look for second baseman Nick Madrigal to finally hit his stride in the Majors.

Madrigal is yet to play 60 games in one season which I believe has prevented him from setting his feet and catching onto things. But through 552 plate appearances in his career so far, he’s got a .289/.336/.355 slash line. While the .355 slugging is a little lower than you’d like to see, he is a traditional second baseman.

If Madrigal plays the whole season, expect him to put up a .280+ average and at least 150 hits. With Madrigal, you are getting a sure handed second baseman who can bat leadoff and get ‘ducks on the pond’ for the power hitters in the lineup.

Finishing above the Cubs in the Central standings are the Milwaukee Brewers, another team with a lot of star power to show this season. Featuring former MVP Christian Yelich, all-stars Brandon Woodruff, Devin Williams, Corbin Burnes, and Willy Adames, this team can seriously contend for the NL Central crown and even more.

Aside from all of the above is one of my favorite players to watch, first baseman Rowdy Tellez. In a Brewers’ uniform, Tellez gives me flashbacks to another great Brewer first baseman, Prince Fielder; both are big boys who can hit the ball a country mile.

Tellez hit multiple clutch homers for the Brew Crew last postseason and I don’t see him stopping anytime soon. He is a true power hitting first baseman who brings a charge to the team when they’re down. Last year, he smashed 35 homeruns and 89 RBI yet he only managed a .219 average.

I’m expecting Rowdy to have a major breakout year where he hits 40 homers and 100 RBI. To do so, he needs to improve his average to somewhere around .240, but I know he can. Look for the Brewers to find their new franchise first baseman in a ‘Rowdy way’ this season.

Finally, there are the winners of the NL Central in 2022, the St. Louis Cardinals. Much like the Cubs, my choice for their breakout star isn’t someone known for his hitting (although he can still hold his own at the plate). The Cardinals have so much star power on the team that it is difficult to find someone primed for breakout who hasn’t already emerged.

Last year’s NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Willson Contreras to go along with their already strong pitching staff makes for a team primed to repeat as NL Central Champs.

I have chosen outfielder Lars Nootbaar as my breakout star for the Cardinals this season. Lars showed off his defensive prowess last year making many memorable grabs in right field along with some more than competent batting stats to boot. Last year he only batted .228 but he had a .340 on base percentage as well as a .448 slugging percentage. On top of that he already has a career 120 OPS+ meaning that he is 20% better than the average major leaguer today.

I can see Nootbaar batting .260 with 20 homers and 80 RBI this season. I would even venture to say that if he chooses to focus on power in his swing, he could hit 30+ homers at the sake of his average.