In the past I’ve done preview posts division by division and a separate one for award predictions. I am not doing that this year. Consider it a victim of the lockout. In the compressed spring training I was unable to keep track of all the transactions let alone put together 7 in depth preview posts. The season starts this week, though, so here is my take all in one shot. There is an overarching caveat, too: literally nobody knows really how thing will turn out because the lockout will continue to affect the entire season. Some players will start cold or get hurt because they aren’t ready with the short preseason. At least through April rosters are expanded to allow more bullpen arms.
1) Rays, 2) Jays, 3) Yankees, 4) Red Sox, 5) Orioles
This s the division about which I am the least confident. Seriously, first through fourth could come in any order without surprising me. I have literally never picked the Rays (superstition) to finish first before, but I’ve seen most pundits calling for them to be in third or fourth, and it pissed me off. Most of said pundits based it on lack of payroll…and when have the Rays ever had a big payroll? The Jays are the preseason darlings of the punditry. I have them second because I think the absence of Robbie Ray will hurt and that the presence of Matt Chapman will not help as much as they hope. The Yankees, like the Jays, will be fearsome with the bat…when everybody is healthy…which I’m guessing will not be as often as they like…kind of like each of the past two years. I am expecting some regression from the Red Sox pitching, feeling they outperformed what should be expected of them last year. The Orioles will finally let Rutschman don a big league uniform.
1) White Sox, 2) Tigers, 3) Twins, 4) Guardians, 5) Royals
The White Sox are pretty clearly the class of this division. I doubt there will be much of a race here unless they get hit hard by the injury bug. The Tigers showed some nice improvement last year, and I expect there to be more this year. The Twins getting Correa for this season is nice, but (as I posted when he signed) their talent leaving and entering this off season was pretty close to equal. The Guardians are still apparently operating under the idea that a team does not need a viable outfield to contend. The Royals bringing back Greinke was great. Let’s hope for their sake the >5 ERA after the All Star break last season wasn’t a harbinger of things to come.
1) Astros, 2) Angels, 3) Mariners, 4) A’s, 5) Rangers
The Astros are not as good this year as last, but are still better than everyone else in the division, especially if Verlander regains his form. The Angels, while not great, should actually have a major league rotation besides Ohtani this year. I have them in second if Ohtani, Trout, and Rendon stay off the IL for the most part. The Mariners picked up Robbie Ray and could also vie for a playoff spot. I unfortunately expect a bumpy road this year from the A’s. I’ve seen predictions for the Rangers to move up to second. That’s based on their spending $500M this offseason on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. My view is that was some big win now spending by a team that is just not otherwise constructed to win now. I am also quite leery of the deal for Seager—great player but with a significant injury history. The Rangers better hope his bad luck is behind him. One other thing about the Rangers’ record breaking free agent spending spree: the previous record holders (2019 Phillies) did not make the playoffs, and the record holder before that (2014 Yankees) likewise did not make the playoffs.
AL bold prediction: The Angels will finally get Mike Trout into the postseason.
AL playoff teams: Rays, White Sox, Astros, Jays, Yankees, Angels.
ALCS: Rays over the White Sox
1) Mets, 2) Braves, 3) Phillies, 4) Nationals, 5) Marlins
The idea here is that a healthy all year deGrom + Scherzer + Bassit will carry the division. I also think the Braves should have ponied up to keep Freeman and thus also not have to give up significant prospects to replace him. Phillies phans will be phrustrated that their position this year will be much like last year. The Nats and Marlins will both be mediocre…I put the Nats in fourth because they have Juan Soto.
1) Brewers, 2) Cardinals, 3) Cubs, 4) Reds, 5) Pirates
I think the Brewers’ main obstacle between them and a division crown will be avoiding injury. If they stay healthy, they have the best talent in the division. Many seem to be writing off the Cards; I think that’s a mistake. Nice job spending money to fill holes by the Cubs…of course they could have used some of that money to keep some of the 2016 core around. We will see how the new group gels. The Reds seem to have aborted their window of contention, but they won’t nose dive into the cellar because the Pirates have a tight grip on that slot with no obvious plan to change that situation.
1) Dodgers, 2) Giants, 3) Padres, 4) Rockies, 5) Diamondbacks
The Dodgers didn’t keep Scherzer. They didn’t keep Seager. The Trevor Bauer of field saga will continue. It won’t matter. They will win 100 again. Last year’s Giants were not a fluke, and they got a couple nice new parts for the pitching staff, Don’t be surprised if they contend again. Losing Tatis until at least June is going to be rough on the Padres. The Rockies signing Bryant away from the Giants is a coup, but why not re-sign Story to then instead of letting him walk? The Diamondbacks will be better, but that doesn’t mean they will be good.
NL bold prediction: The Cardinals will make the playoffs. Pujols will get home run #690 but not #700. He, Molina, and Wainwright will all retire at the end of the season.
NL playoffs: Mets, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Braves, Cardinals
NLCS: Dodgers over the Mets
WS: Rays get their revenge over the Dodgers
MVPs: Luis Robert AL, Juan Soto NL
Cy Young: Dylan Cease AL, Corbin Burns NL