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MLB Season Preview

Following a 99 day lockout, the MLB is finally coming back. With Opening Day right around the corner, I decided to examine how each division stacks up for this season. Here's a look at how I think everything will pan out once we reach October.


AL EAST


1. Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)

In what most fans and analysts say will be the toughest division in baseball this year, the Toronto Blue Jays sit at the top as my AL East champs. The team up north is loaded from top to bottom. The Blue Jays were heavy buyers in the offseason after losing their All-Star shortstop Marcus Semien to the Rangers, managing to trade for debatably the best defensive third baseman in the league in Matt Chapman and acquiring starting pitcher Kevin Gausman coming off the best year of his career. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are already loaded with an AL MVP favorite Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and a strong pitching rotation with Jose Berrios and Hyun-Jin Ryu who can be number ones on their own team. Overall, I see the Blue Jays being a scary team this season that can make a deep run in the postseason.


2. Tampa Bay Rays (90-72)

At this point it’s second nature to consider the Rays as one of the top teams in baseball year in and year out. The Rays never sign the big free agents or spend the most money, and they stayed true to that approach this offseason. Besides signing their young phenom Wander Franco to a long term deal, the Rays pretty much returned all their lineup from that season and that’s a good thing considering they had one of the best offenses. Pairing that along with their insane bullpen depth, I once again see the Rays comfortably making the postseason.


3. Boston Red Sox (87-75)

Okay let me get this out of the way, I am a Red Sox fan. However, I am unbiased as usual. In all honesty, the AL East is going to be a close heavyweight match throughout the entire season, but I believe the Red Sox when all is said and done will be right in the middle of the pack with the third best record in the division. The Sox have one of the top lineups in the league from 1 to 9 with excellent hitters in Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Bogaerts, and the RBI king in Raffy Devers. The Sox also signed one of the biggest names in the free agent market in Trevor Story, who will have a field day hitting at Fenway Park. Additionally, I expect first baseman Bobby Dalbec to breakout this year and Kike Hernendez to continue his hot hitting from last year’s playoff run. The big flaw about the Red Sox though is their pitching. Chris Sale is hurt to start the year, they lost Eduardo Rodriguiz in free agency, and didn’t make any improvements to the bullpen. For these reasons, I have the Sox coming in at third in the AL East.


4. New York Yankees (83-79)

To be frank, the Yankees are due to have their whole team injured at one point this season. I don’t want that to happen because I enjoy the Red Sox beating them at full strength, but this Yankees team is haunted by injuries year in and year out. Taking that for account, I have the Yankees as the 4th best team in the division. I’m personally not impressed by the Josh Donaldson trade. I think Donaldson is washed up and just a big name who won the MVP a little less than a decade ago. The Yankees managed to keep Anthony Rizzo, but I just don’t think this team is good enough to make any noise this year. Sure, they might make the postseason, but the pitching is a bit suspect and things just seem to always go wrong for the Yankees when they’re not playing at Camden Yards. Sorry not sorry Yankees fans.


5. Baltimore Orioles (59-103)

You know that meme of the 5 soldiers gathered behind a wall in what appears to be in the middle of a war, but the man standing in the middle is dressed as a clown and just shouldn’t be there? Yea, so that’s the mighty Baltimore Orioles. Shoutout Cedric Mullins though, who is quite literally the only bright spot on that team. The only nice things to say about the Orioles is that their stadium is a fantastic place to spend a nice summer day and they offer great food at their concessions.


AL CENTRAL


1. Chicago White Sox (96-66)

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox on winning the AL Central as of March 2022. I mean seriously we can already give them the pennant. The White Sox are just light years ahead of the rest of the AL Central in my opinion. This is the White Sox division to lose. Their team is loaded with young studs in Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and don’t forget to mention Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, and their loaded rotation/bullpen. Ultimately, this is likely to be the least competitive division in baseball this season which will allow the White Sox to rack up wins against struggling teams.


2. Minnesota Twins (82-80)

Well, out of completely nowhere, the Twins landed the best free agent in baseball this year, signing Carlos Correa to a three year deal with a player opt-out in the 2nd and 3rd year. If you’re Correa you love this deal. You can basically take this year to remain solid on the Twins and test free agency again next season to find a better match for yourself to land a long term deal. When it comes to the Twins though, this team is very average. Byron Buxton and Correa are cornerstone type pieces, but the only other fascinating players in the lineup are power hitter Miguel Sano and the incoming pieces from the Yankees in Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez. I see the Twins as the MLB’s turkey and cheese on white bread. Sure, it’s solid, but there’s just nothing to get excited about.


3. Detroit Tigers (79-83)

Things are looking to be heading in the right direction for the first time in Detroit since their success in the early 2010s. The Tigers brought in Javy Baez to lead the franchise at shortstop to pair along with the rest of their growing young lineup that includes nice pieces in third baseman Jeimer Candelario and outfielder Akil Baddoo. As a whole, I just don’t see the Tigers being in playoff contention quite yet as some experts might suggest they already are, but I see them headed in the right direction.


4. Cleveland Guardians (73-89)

Yes, that’s right, the Guardians will be debuting their new nickname this season and…well… that might be the most interesting footnote about them this offseason. This team literally did nothing. Although Cleveland has a nice rotation led by the strong arms of Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac, their lineup in all seriousness may be bottom 5 in the league. Besides Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes, this team has no offensive firepower whatsoever. It’s safe to say it’s going to be a long season in Cleveland.


5. Kansas City Royals (70-92)

Similar to the Tigers, the Royals are finally looking to improve this year as they bring up the top prospect in baseball in Bobby Witt Jr. to join the infield this year. In addition, the Royals have some other good young pieces in Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi and they/ll be able to rely on their veteran Salvador Perez all season long.


AL WEST


1. Houston Astros (92-70)

Yeah… the Astros are going to be good again. I mean love him or hate him Altuve is very likely leading this squad to another AL West crown with help from great position players Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel, and Kyle Tucker. With those guys and a solid rotation led by Justin Velander, the Astors should comfortably make an appearance in the postseason again this season.


2. Seattle Mariners (87-75)

The Mariners just missed out on the postseason last season and added another year to the longest playoff drought in major league baseball. However, I expect things to change this season and predict the Mariners to make the postseason due to their excellent offseason. Bringing in Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and All-Stars Adam Frazier and Jesse Winker to play alongside their offensive leaders from last season Mitch Haniger and Ty France, provides a massive boost to the roster. Personally, I just love this Mariners team and will be rooting for them all season long and I must include they have some of the sweetest jerseys in the league.


3. Los Angeles Angels (82-80)

This Angeles team is so complicated to evaluate every season. They have the best baseball player in the world in Mike Trout and arguably another top 5 MLB player in Shohei Ohtani to finally play alongside him as they are both ready to start the season healthy. So will this finally be the season we see the Angels make it over the hump? Personally, I expect them to be a fringe playoff team, but with the other complimentary pieces of David Fletcher, Anthony Rendon and a possible resurgence of Noah Syndergaard… maybe they do have a chance to make the postseason.


4. Texas Rangers (75-87)

You might have forgotten but the Rangers landed two huge free agents to secure their middle infield before the lockdown began in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. In total, the Rangers spent almost $600 million in free agency and almost $300 million more than the team below them. Besides Seager and Semien, this team is in the midst of a massive rebuild and will surely miss the postseason as they look to keep on improving for future years.


5. Oakland Athletics (68-94)

There was a massive yard sale in Oakland this offseason as the A’s have cleared house and look to begin a long rebuild. Oakland had some really nice players, but shortly after the lockout traded Matt Olson to the Braves, Matt Chapman to the Jays, and previously dealt Chris Bassitt to the Mets. In fact, the A’s didn’t spend $1 in free agency until last week when they signed a random infielder for one year. At this point, A’s fans should just focus on the Warriors’ playoff run for as long as they can this season.


NL EAST


1. Atlanta Braves (98-64)

The reigning World Series champions look to remain hot and be the first team to repeat as champs since the Yankees did two decades ago… and honestly they have a great chance to. Even though they lost their franchise player in Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers, this Braves team is loaded from dugout to bullpen. First off, the Braves quickly replaced Freeman by trading for first baseman Matt Olson who can easily be just as good as him for half the price. Most importantly though, the Braves playoff team is still intact with absolute sluggers in Ozzie Albies, Eddie Rosario, Austin Riley, and the return of Marcell Ozuna from suspension. The Braves also have elite pitching with starters Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and acquired one of the best closers in the league in Kenley Jansen. Pretty good team, right? Wait. Did you forget too? Remember that guy Ronald Acuna Jr.? Yeah, he’s pretty good and I think people fail to remember him being on this roster. Acuna will be returning from injury and I fully expect this Braves team to make a deep run for the World Series this season.


2. New York Mets (88-74)

Although their stint with Javy Baez didn’t even last a full season, the Mets still remain as a great team for this upcoming season. The Mets were able to acquire one of the best pitchers in the league in Max Scherzer to pair along with unquestionably the best pitcher in baseball in Jacob deGrom. In addition, the Mets added another ace to the rotation in Chris Bassitt and outfielder Starling Marte to an already balanced lineup which includes slugger Pete Alonso and a top player in the league in Francisco Lindor. In the end, I expect the Mets to be the best team in New York this season.


3. Philadelphia Phillies (81-81)

The Phillies currently hold the longest playoff drought in the National League, and to be honest, I think that streak continues this year. The Phillies added some absolute hitting machines this offseason to help out their reigning MVP Bryce Harper. Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber should be able to have absolute home run derbys at Citizens Bank Park. While there are other great pieces in their lineup such as J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies pitching is just absolute garbage. Part of the Phillies' failure in recent years has been due to their lack of a bullpen and I think that will cost them again this year as they will just miss out on the postseason.


4. Miami Marlins (73-89)

Cool jerseys, cool stadium, cool city, cool players on the team, but an overall cool record for this squad. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some guys that got some swagger on this team such as Jazz Chisholm, and free agent signings Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler, but this team isn’t doing anything special this year. Similar to a Tigers team, the Marlins are slowly gathering themselves to become competitors in the future.


5. Washington Nationals (67-95)

It’s hard to think about the fact this team won a World Series only 3 years ago because this team is going to be a complete dumpster fire. Besides their young, superstar centerpiece in Juan Soto who signed for a mega deal to stay in Washington, this Nationals team pretty much has nothing else worth noting.


NL CENTRAL


1. Milwaukee Brewers (90-72)

The Brewers have been the team to beat in this division for the past handful of years. Led by their two aces Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, I expect that streak to continue this year. Obviously, you can’t forget their franchise cornerstone Christian Yelich, who will lead the way offensively with the help from Willy Adames and newly acquired outfielder Hunter Renfroe who had a great offensive season with the Red Sox last year. Therefore, I think there’s a good chance the Brewers remain as the NL Central champs.


2. St. Louis Cardinals (83-79)

The Cardinals pretty much did nothing this offseason besides looking to rerun the same team that took them to the postseason last season. I mean this team is solid from top to bottom to say the least. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt will do their thing and hopefully Tyler O’Neil and Paul Dejong can repeat their seasons from last season and keep the Cardinals competitive. The only reason why the Cardinals fall behind the Brewers is their weaker rotation and bullpen. Overall, we have ourselves another turkey and cheese sandwich similar to the Minnesota Twins.


3. Chicago Cubs (72-90)

This Cubs team is going to be rough this year. Honestly, there’s going to be a big drop off between the Brewers and Cardinals and the rest of the division. While I expect the Cubs, Reds, and Pirates to all be bottom feeders in the NL this season, I suppose I'll give the Cubs the best record only because they have some proven vets scattered throughout the roster. Overall, if you’re going to Wrigley this year, you’re going purley for the environment and food, not the product on the field.


4. Cincinnati Reds (70-92)

The Reds had some nice pieces last season, but quite literally lost all of them this offseason such as Nick Castellanos, Sonny Gray, and Jesse Winker. Nothing else to say about this team besides they have the reigning NL ROY in Jonathan India and fan favorite Joey Votto still kicking it at first base. I would confidently push the bank account in the middle of the table betting that it’s going to be a down year in Cincinnati.


5. Pittsburgh Pirates (62-100)

The Pirates are my Orioles of the NL. Similar to the Orioles, the Pirates play in an awesome stadium, but their team is down bad. I really have nothing else to say about this team except their farm system is arguably top 5 in the league so expect prospects to be called up throughout the year.


NL WEST


1. Los Angeles Dodgers (102-60)

This team is not fair. I swear every big name that hits the market the Dodgers just swoop up and claim them and the rest of the league acts like nothing happened. In recent years we’ve had Mookie Betts, Trae Turner, Max Scherzer, and now Freddie Freeman. Any one of those guys would be a normal franchise’s best acquisition in the past decade. This Dodgers team is just insane as always. 1 through 9 this team looks like an All-Star lineup. The pitching may be a tad down this year, but with the lineup that they’re putting out there they should be able to win over 100 games and contend for a World Series as always.


2. San Diego Padres (90-72)

I predict the Padres to bounce back this year. I know that Frenando Tatis Jr. will be starting the year injured but the rest of this team should be able to carry the load until he returns. With guys like Manny Machado, Jake Croneworth, Eric Hosmer, Will Myers, and the addition of Luke Voit, this team should have no problem offensively. With that said, I think the Padres are in the conversation of having the best rotation in baseball with the Blue Jays with arms like Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger coming back from injury, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgove. Overall, with a new manager this season, I see a resurgence in San Diego this year.


3. San Francisco (88-74)

I don’t know what to think of this team. The Giants dramatically exceeded expectations last season by winning the NL West over the Dodgers by one game. Unfortunately, I do not see that type of success repeating this year. Don’t get me wrong, the Giants still have a good roster led by Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and a rising star in Mike Yastrzemski, but I just don’t see the same type of results from 2021 as they lost Kris Bryant and Kevin Gausman in free agency. Ultimately, I think the Giants can still sneak in the postseason with the help of an additional postseason team.


4. Colorado Rockies (72-90)

Speaking of Kris Bryant, he lands in Colorado with the Rockies after signing a massive 7 year, 182 million dollar deal. However, the Rockies lost their centerpiece player Trevor Story to Boston this offseason and really have nothing else to look forward to besides some decent batters in Charlie Blackmon and C.J. Cron. Overall, there’s just nothing to get Rockies fans out of their seats for this year as they are falling behind in a loaded division.


5. Arizona Diamondbacks (55-107)

And now best for last… the worst team in the league last year, the good ole Arizona Diamondbacks. This team just simply stinks out loud. There’s just nothing to talk about here. The only player worth mentioning is Ketel Marte who is actually a pretty good player and will most likely represent them in the All-Star game this season. Besides that, don’t even bother thinking about this team at any point of the season and mark them down as wins when they play your favorite team.


PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

American League:

  1. Chicago White Sox (AL Central Winner)

  2. Toronto Blue Jays (AL East Winner)

  3. Houston Astros (AL West Winner)

  4. Tampa Bay Rays (Wild Card 1)

  5. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card 2)

  6. Seattle Mariners (Wild Card 3)


National League:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West Winner)

  2. Atlanta Braves (NL East Winner)

  3. Milwaukee Brewers (NL Central Winner)

  4. San Diego Padres (Wild Card 1)

  5. New York Mets (Wild Card 2)

  6. San Francisco Giants (Wild Card 3)


WORLD SERIES:

Dodgers over Blue Jays (4-2 series)


AWARD PREDICTIONS:

AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

NL MVP: Trae Turner


AL Cy Young: Kevin Gausman

NL Cy Young: Max Fried


AL ROY: Bobby Witt. Jr

NL ROY: Seiya Suzuki





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