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MLB Predictions 2022

Despite the fear we baseball fans were going to be subjected to a completely unnecessary 2nd shortened season in 3 years, MLB and the Player's Union decided to play nice long enough to ensure we get a full 162 game schedule for the second season in a row. Sure, Opening Day should have been on 3/31 but I guess we'll settle for an Opening Day in early April and a full slate of games. 

My predictions were not so great last season, you can view them here, but I also didn't have really huge misses. My biggest miss, ironically, was calling the Giants a borderline wildcard team and picking them 3rd in the division while having the Padres (!!) not only winners of the NL West, but also the NL pennant and World Series championship! Oopsie. Lesson learned. Never believe in the Padres until they actually win something. Overall, I got three division winners correct (White Sox, Brewers, Braves) and 6 out of 10 playoff teams (White Sox, Brewers, Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Astros). I whiffed completely on all the 2021 individual player awards. So here I am using my crystal ball looking for redemption and my first ever all-correct picks. My NCAA bracket busted in the Sweet Sixteen, so I'm assuming my baseball prediction success is due for a perfect score. Here's how the 2022 season will shake out, with the inclusion of one extra wildcard team this season. Giddy up!

(Division Winners bolded, wildcards italicized)

AL East: Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles

AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Royals, Indians 

AL West: Astros, Mariners, Angels, Rangers, Athletics 


NL East: Mets, Braves, Phillies, Marlins, Nationals 

NL Central: Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates

NL West: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Dbacks


ALWC: Red Sox over White Sox, Mariners over Rays

NL WC: Padres over Brewers, Giants over Braves


ALDS: Blue Jays over Mariners, Astros over Red Sox 

NLDS: Dodgers over Giants, Mets over Padres


ALCS: Blue Jays over Astros

NLCS: Mets over Dodgers


World Series: Blue Jays over Mets 


2021 Awards Predictions

AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Blue Jays

NL MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr, Braves

AL CYA: Gerrit Cole, Yankees 

NL CYA: Jacob deGrom, Mets 

AL ROY: Adley Rutschman, Orioles

NL ROY: Seth Beer, Dbacks 


A look at the AL East: What a bear of a division in 2022. The Orioles are going to be the doormat, but every other team in this division could end up with a winning record. Yankees fans are not impressed with the offseason moves (or lack thereof) and rightfully so. This 2022 Yankees team feels a bit disjointed and while they should still hit decently, they're pinning their hopes on a lot going right both in the line-up and on the rubber. Right now, they look to be in for a dogfight with the other teams in their division for a wildcard spot and I'd give the edge to those other teams at present. The Red Sox added Trevor Story to lengthen their line-up but their rotation still is hit or miss. A lot hangs on whether Chris Sale can stay healthy and provide ace level production. If he does, the rest of the Red Sox rotation slots better behind him. The Rays always figure it out and they had the best record in the AL last season so there's no doubt they'll use their voodoo magic to procure a wildcard slot in 2022. They're the latest team to try to fix Corey Kluber and it's just safe to assume at this point they will. They don't look that threatening on paper, but they haven't looked too scary the last couple seasons and all they've done is go to a World Series and win 100 games in back to back seasons. However, the crown of the AL East belongs to Toronto this year. They just missed the playoffs in 2021 and this season, they appear to have all the necessary pieces. They swapped out Robbie Ray for Kevin Gausman and they'll get a full season of Jose Berrios this year. Their rotation is strong 1-5 with Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, and Yusei Kikuchi rounding out the starting five and their line-up extremely strong 1-9. They have plenty of depth and even their bullpen is decent. If the young guys keep improving and the rotation can do its thing, the Blue Jays look locked and loaded for a World Series run. 

A look at the AL Central: This division can go in a bunch of different ways and I'm not sold on the White Sox repeating their successes from last season, but they also had a lot of unfortunate injury issues last season which means they may be due some health. Their line-up will score plenty of runs so the onus will be on the rotation holding up. They lost co-ace Carlos Rodon but if he can stay healthy, Michael Kopech should ease that loss. They'll need Dylan Cease to continue his ascension and Lucas Giolito to be a top of the rotation guy and Lance Lynn to continue providing solid innings. If they do that, they can hand the ball off to what should be a filthy bullpen, especially if they keep Craig Kimbrel. That would give them 3 closers in their bullpen and shortening games will make the White Sox a very tough team. The Twins get all the credit for spending money and trying to field a good team. They traded for Sonny Gray and shocked the baseball world by signing offseason prize Carlos Correa. They made some shrewd trades but it's hard to look at their rotation as is and see them going toe to toe with the White Sox. If they pull a trade for one of the A's starters on the market, they will solidify their position as a playoff contender. The Tigers took positive steps last season and they should continue to improve and get better. A wildcard run shouldn't be ruled out with their upcoming talent though it'd rate as a moderate surprise if it happened this year. I thought the Tigers were going to go big for Carlos Correa, but instead they settled for Javy Baez. I don't love that for them and while Baez will tighten their defense, his swing and miss bat is hard for me to love. I don't see the Tigers being quite there yet, but the future is starting to become the present. The Royals are being picked as sleeper wildcard contenders, but I'm not buying it quite yet. Zack Greinke is on the downside of his career and the rest of their staff is mediocre at best. A lot would have to go right for the Royals and a lot wrong for the other AL wildcard contenders for KC to have a shot. I don't see it in 2022. Then there's the Guardians. This team still has a lot of solid pitching and they could easily be the 3rd best team in the division. However, their line-up is still very mediocre and the owner seems intent on not spending which is sad for Cleveland. If they got some bats, the Guardians could be contenders in their first year with their new branding, but instead a sell off at the deadline, inclusive of star Jose Ramirez and perhaps ace Shane Bieber could be in the offing instead. When that happens, expect Cleveland to sink to last place in the division. 

A look at the AL West: The A's are doing their every few seasons sell off of their stars and they probably aren't finished. Gone are the Matt's (Olson and Chapman), Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Bob Melvin, and probably soon Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea, and a slew of others. In their place? A bunch of no names. I doubt A's fans can even put together the line-up at this point. The A's are good at bouncing back from these sell offs, but this year they're ticketed for last place in a division that looks to be improving. The Astros have been the class of the division and now that the A's have dismantled, they'll try to hold off the up and coming Mariners. While Houston has lost George Springer and Carlos Correa in consecutive offseasons, their line-up still is plenty dangerous. Justin Verlander will be back and healthy, replacing the departed Zack Greinke. The Astros young rotation stepped up last season and they'll look to further improve behind Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. The Astros should still win the division but they'll get pushed by the upstart Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have the longest playoff streak in baseball and they haven't won a division since 2001. They are going for it this season, with a good mixture of prospects emerging and veteran pieces. They spent big on Robbie Ray and made a big trade with the Reds for outfielder Jesse Winker and Kyle Seager's veteran replacement Eugenio Suarez but it's hard to see the M's toppling Houston this year. They should be in the wildcard hunt again, after they finished last season just two games back of making the playoffs. The Rangers have been the offseason darlings, spending big on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Jon Gray but they still seem pitching needy and it's hard to see them really competing. Due to the expanded playoffs, they could be in the playoff hunt, but it's unlikely they finish much higher than .500. 

A look at the NL East: It must be said that it's nice seeing a Mets owner spending like they're in New York. Steve Cohen, the Mets second year owner, first made a splash bringing Francisco Lindor over and followed that up with a 3 year mega deal to Max Scherzer this offseason. He's allowed his GM to fill the rest of the roster out with solid veteran pieces like Starling Marte and Mark Canha and the Mets seem poised to challenge the defending World Champion Braves for the division in 2022. It's hard to name a more powerful duo than Jacob deGrom and Scherzer leading a rotation and the Mets have it. If both guys stay healthy, Mets fans may have something legitimate to cheer on in Queens this season. It's not as if the Mets middle and back rotation drops off big time either. With Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker the Mets rotation has good depth 1-5. They should be balanced all around but even with all that, it'll be tough to topple Atlanta, who somehow lost Ronald Acuna and still won the World Series. This offseason they lost Freddie Freeman but replaced him with a younger, equally as good Freddie Freeman by trading for the A's Matt Olson. If Austin Riley can keep up his production and Acuna comes back healthy, the. Braves will once again be a tough out and should be fighting hard  to win the division, though their rotation isn't as sturdy as the Mets. The Phillies are sort of like the Padres of the East, they always seemingly underperform. This year they've completely punted the notion of defense, signing statues like Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to add length to their line-up. The Phillies line-up does look super powerful because a 3-4-5 of reigning MVP Bryce Harper, Castellanos, and Schwarber is super scary and that doesn't include dudes like Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto, Jean Segura, and perhaps a rebounding Alec Bohm. The Phillies weakness, however, always comes down to their pitching. Their bullpen has been a gas can the last couple of seasons but this year they spent some money to address it. The guys they signed are iffy but could be solid and that would solve a major problem. The rotation hinges again on Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler and last year's trade acquisition Kyle Gibson to allow less runs than their offense scores. The Phillies should factor into the wildcard race this season after a disappointing collapse last season that left them only 2 games over .500 but with their terrible defense and questionable pitching, it's hard to see them holding off Atlanta and New York for the division. The Marlins are full of starting pitching. Good, young starting pitching, with even more good young starting pitching on the way. The problem for the Marlins is they may not score much. They added some decent veterans in Avisail Garcia, Jorge Soler, Joey Wendle, and Jacob Stallings but it's hard to see them quite ready to contend. If everything breaks right for the Fish, they could be in the wildcard conversation though because their pitching is that good. As for the Nationals, they went into full rebuild mode last season and this season they'll continue on that journey despite signing ageless icon Nelson Cruz. Their starting pitching, once their hallmark, looks mediocre at best, and if Stephen Strasburg can't stay healthy or be the ace he was, it borders on terrible. The Nats will be playing for the best positioning in the new draft lottery this season. 

A look at the NL Central: This is said every year, but the Cardinals are an organization that just knows how to win. They can be 15 games back by the trade deadline and by mid September, they'll be right in the thick of it. That's just who the Cardinals are to the befuddlement of the rest of the division. This year is no different. The Ancient Ones are reunited yet again with Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright rejoined by old friend Albert Pujols for one last hurrah. They'll be surrounded by Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and one of the NL's surprise best outfields. Will it be enough? Behind Wainwright, the starting pitching is questionable. Jack Flaherty can't stay healthy and offseason signing Steve Matz has rarely stayed healthy as well. Miles Mikolas and guys like Dakota Hudson and Jake Woodford look to round out a rotation that shouldn't really scare anyone. The bullpen could be really good but it's hard to see the Cardinals besting the Brewers for the division, who seem like the best all around team in the Central. Milwaukee boasts a killer trio fronting its rotation, with returning Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes headlining a staff with Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta also in it. The back of the rotation is decent as well and they have arguably the best closer in baseball still with Josh Hader. The line-up relies big time on the bounceback of Christian Yelich and if he struggles again in 2022 it may be a bit harder for the Brewers to score runs as their line-up is merely okay. They're relying a little too much on veterans Lorenzo Cain and Andrew McCutchen but they should score enough to get by given the strength of their pitching staff. The rest of the division is not a threat. The Cubs are caught between rebuilding and reloading and they could surprise this year and contend for the wildcard, but it realistically looks like a building year for Chicago, even with the additions of solid veteran pitchers Wade Miley, Marcus Stroman, and Drew Smyly in addition to the signing of Japanese superstar Seiya Suzuki. It feels like this was just a start for Chicago and that they're at least one more year from truly contending. The Reds traded away Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, and Sonny Gray and let Miley walk away for nothing then turned around and signed guys like Tommy Pham and Donovan Solano. It's hard to take them seriously. For a team that missed the playoffs last season, they got worse, not better and shouldn't be a true threat in either the division or the wildcard. The Pirates are undergoing a full rebuild and may trade stud centerfielder Bryan Reynolds at some point and are already playing service time games with their shortstop of the future Oneil Cruz. They will be nowhere close to competitive. 

A look at the NL West: Last season was one for the ages, not just for the NL West, but MLB. The Dodgers and Giants had one of the most surprising and enthralling division races of all time, made all the better that it was the Dodgers and Giants, the sports all-time greatest rivalry (yeah, I said it). The Dodgers won 106 games. In any. year, that should have been an easy lock for a division title. Not in 2021. The Giants won 107 games and of course it all came down to the final weekend of the season. The Giants broke LA's division titles streak but the Dodgers got the last laugh by knocking the Giants out in the NLDS in a full five game series, but it was one of the best divisional races in the history of baseball. The Dodgers, never to be satisfied with not winning a real World Series, went out and signed Freddie Freeman in the offseason, just like they went out and signed Trevor Bauer last offseason. Freddie is a much better human than Trevor Bauer and the Dodgers are prohibitive favorites, yet again, to win the World Series in 2022. The line-up is lethal. Every starting position player has a chance to be an All-Star and there's a few who could be MVP. The rotation is a bigger question mark. Clayton Kershaw returns for another year, but he's also another year older and hasn't stayed healthy in the last several seasons. Walker Bueher and Julio Urias are the present and future of the rotation and the trio make up a solid 1-3, but the back end of the rotation has question marks. Come Opening Day, the rotation will be rounded out by Andrew Heaney and Tony Gonsolin, neither of whom are unbeatable. They have some up and coming starting pitching prospects that will make their debuts at some point and Dustin May will return from Tommy John surgery late in the year, but the rotation doesn't look quite as formidable as it has in the past. The bullpen will look different too, with Kenley Jansen closing games in Atlanta this season. That leaves Blake Treinen as the likely closer but Dave Roberts hasn't anointed him, or anyone, yet. Regardless, the Dodgers always make moves to be deadly in October and they have to be the favorites for the division. The Padres majorly underperformed in 2021. Coming off a playoff "season" in 2020, the Padres were expected to be neck and neck with the Dodgers in 2021 for the division. Instead, the Giants were that team. The Padres didn't even finish above .500 and Fernando Tatis Jr suffered a few injuries during the season that also derailed them a bit. The Padres are going to be missing Tatis Jr for the first couple months at least this season, but they did make one big meaningful change: they got Bob Melvin in their dugout. Melvin is a proven winner and if there's anyone who can get the most out of the talent in San Diego, it's going to be him. Even without Tatis, the Padres should be in the thick of it due to their incredible rotation. With co-ace Mike Clevinger back and healthy, San Diego has Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell in their first four slots of their rotation. That is pretty good. The backend of the bullpen is a little more murky, but again, don't underestimate the value of Bob Melvin. The Padres should be challengers of the wildcard and division race, but in the end, they're the Padres, which means they'll probably wind up third in the division, albeit very much in the wildcard discussion. The Giants were the team no one saw coming last season. Projected to finish 3rd or 4th, they set a franchise record with 107 wins and bested the Dodgers for the division. The line-up was shockingly one of the best in the National League due to resurgences by Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, a resurgent Buster Posey, and surprise breakouts from LaMonte Wade Jr and Darin Ruf. Then there was Brandon Crawford, who turned in a legitimate MVP season, finishing 4th in the voting. No one could have seen all that happening but it did and the Giants were one of the most powerful offenses in baseball. That went along with very solid pitching from top to bottom, headlined by a breakout season from Logan Webb and a dominant first half by Kevin Gausman. Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani stayed mostly healthy and provided consistent solid innings. Manager Gabe Kapler tinkered with the bullpen until he found the right roles for everyone and when he did, that unit became a force. In 2022, the Giants rotation comes back mostly intact, substituting Kevin Gausman for perhaps an even better pitcher in Carlos Rodon, a potential lefty co-ace to pair with Logan Webb. Wood and DeSclafani return and the fifth slot will be filled by Alex Cobb, who's arguably an upgrade over the departed Johnny Cueto. The bullpen returns intact and should be just as solid. That being said, the line-up took some major losses. Midseason acquisition Kris Bryant signed with the Rockies and Buster Posey shockingly retired. Donovan Solano left for Cincinnati and the Giants filled all their absences up with... Joc Pederson, a left handed hitter. It doesn't quite make sense, but if Farhan Zaidi taught us anything, it's not to doubt him. The Giants should once again be in the thick of contention, but a lot will have to go right yet again for them to keep up with LA. The Rockies are an enigma. They pissed off Nolan Arenado a years back and evenutally traed him. They disenchanted Trevor Story. It looked like the Rockies were going to acknowledge they needed to go into a full rebuild, but the Rockies never think they're that far off from contending, so instead they spent a lot of money on Kris Bryant. The line-up actually is pretty decent and if the rotation all pitches the way they're capable, Colorado in theory could challenge for a wildcard spot. It would be just as crazy as the Giants winning 107 games last season, but it could happen. It's highly doubtful though. As for the Dbacks, they're in rebuild mode. They were god awful in 2021, a punching bag for the rest of the NL West, and while they shouldn't be as bad in 2022, even if you squint you can't see a contender here. They'll be fighting the Pirates and Nats for lottery picks. However, Dbacks fans should enjoy the best named baseball player currently: Seth Beer, 

Comments

  1. Excellent analysis! Hoping for a Blue Jays-Giants World Series. Every year, a couple teams that look dominant on paper collapse. So while I agree with most of your picks, I will say the Rays will finish around .500 in the AL, and the Yankees take their playoff spot. While in the NL, the play-off predicted Mets implode. The safest WS prediction would be LA-Toronto, but I'm going with my heart. Play Ball! All the best, Kid Fresh

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