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Bench Chatter's Opening Day Power Rankings
We are more than a week into the baseball season...Seriously?! Wow, I've been clearly slacking on my content recently.
Anyways, I thought for this baseball season, I would go through each of the 30 MLB teams and judging them 30-1 based on last years performances, their off-season moves, and what we have seen in Spring Training. It will be fun to look back on this site, well after I graduated, and see how terrible I am at predicting.
Again, these are MY predictions for the 2023 season. IF YOU LOSE YOUR LIVE SAVINGS BECAUSE OF THIS, THAT'S YOUR DAMN FAULT FOR BELIEVING I'M SOME SORT OF "BASEBALL SUYOVANT". (But if you do will a ton of money because of this, at minimum please let me know ;) )
(Note: These is word-for word verbatim from the episode from Bench Chatter on March 30th. Tune in this quarter on Thursday's at 5 and Friday's at 3 for more high-octane baseball talk [or something pretty close to it :)})
Keep it moving folks! These teams aren't going to be doing anything special this season except compete for the draft lottery.
Last Season's Record: (60-102, 5th place in the AL West)
BC's Predictions: (50-112. 5th place in the AL West)
Let's be serious, can we skip the A's. They trade their gold glove catcher for peanuts this off-season, and their one all-star remaining, Paul Blackburn, is starting off the season injured. They're inching closer and closer to Las Vegas and cutting payroll, so if they don't care, I won't either.
Good luck, Shintaro Fujinami!
Last Season's Record: (62-100, 5th place in the NL Central)
BC Predictions: (60-102, 5th place in the NL Central)
The Reds basically did nothing but add Wil Myers and Nick Solak. You're going to watch this team to see if Hunter Greene and/or Justin Dunn will improve or to Joey Votto continue to see his skills deteriorate on a tanking Reds team. Oh, and their 2021 Rookie of the Year Jonathan India, too.
Last Season's Record: (66-96, 4th Place in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (65-95, 5th Place in the AL Central)
I'll keep this one brief, like the A's I don't care what the Tigers do. They traded Gregory Soto, their All-Star closer, to Phillies for some nice pieces, but pieces that won't help them now. The only notable thing left about the Tigers is the sludge that appears in the shape of Javier Baez.
THE COLORADO ROCKIES
Last Season's Record: (68-94, 5th Place in the NL Central)
BC Predictions: (63-99, 5th Place in the NL Central)
The Rockies are weird, they have names like German Marquez, Brad Hand, C.J. Cron, Mike Moustakas, Jurickson Profar, and Kris Bryant. And yet, wheat does that really mean? A team that looks competitive but is nowhere close it? Season 3 of Post-Arenado baseball and its unclear what direction the Rockies are going. It doesn't help when their best player remaining, Brendan Rodgers, might miss the entire season with a left shoulder injury. I fear the Rockies are two or three years away from being "four years away".
Most of these teams are definitely going show signs of signs of improvement. But don't kid yourself, they aren't playoff caliber teams.
Last Season's Record: (62-100, 4th place in the NL Central)
BC Predictions: (68-95, 4th place in the NL Central)
The Pirates will be draft lottery participants once again, that's not in doubt. However, the do have some interesting players on the roster: emerging young talent in Oneil Cruz, Ke'Bryan Hayes, and Jack Suwinski, solid vets in Ji-man Choi and Carlos Santana, contract-year players in Bryan Reynolds. Let's not forget old-man Rich Hill coming back for his 19th season.
And let's not forget about 'Cutch. 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen is returning back to the Pirates five years after being traded to San Fran before the 2018 season. Now 36, he clearly won't be the same player as his MVP days, but it is a wonderful reunion story to hear.
Last Season's Record: (55-107, 5th place in the NL East)
My Predictions: (60-102, 5th place in the NL East)
I mean, this team should be better considering that A) Most of the bigger piece from the Juan Soto trade should be making an appearance this season and B) The team should have a better aura around them given that now they no have the Juan Soto contract issue hanging over them. But we shall see, as on paper, they do look like on of the five worst teams on paper.
Last Season's Record: (69-93, 4th Place in the NL East)
My Predictions: (69-93, 4th Place in NL East)
I don't know what the Marlins are going for here. On paper, they have very solid starting pitching staff, with unanimous NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara leading a promising group of high-upside youngster and solid veterans. The have promising hitter Jazz Chisholm Jr. coming back from injury, signed Jean Segura in the offseason, and traded for AL batting champion Luis Arráez.
But...again, what exactly are they going for here? They traded a solid pitcher in Pablo Lopez, a significant cog in that pitching rotation last year for Arráez. Then they move Chisholm, a second basemen by trade, to centerfield because...they felt like there were no good outfield options? They trade Miguel Rojas, dependable infield depth, for "possible" future infield depth, thus needing to rely on guys like Jon Berti and Garrett Hampson to stay healthy?
Maybe they are playing 5D chess while I'm still playing checkers, and everything will work work out, and they have a winning record and make the playoffs, and win the god damn World Series.
Or maybe the Marlins don't know what they are doing either, good luck Skip!
Kansas City Royals
Last Season's Record: (65-97, 5th Place in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (69-93, 4th Place in the AL Central)
KC should be better, but even if they aren't, they should at least be fun. Will players like Aroldis Chapman and Franmil Reyes rebound with a change of new scenery? Can Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino continue their respectable rookie seasons? Will Salvador Perez break the Royals HR record with 50 this season? Will Zack Greinke say other "Greinke-ism" during the season? Baring the last one, it will be quite an interesting season to say the least.
San Francisco Giants
Last Season's Record: (81-81, 3rd in the NL West)
My Predictions: (78-84, 4th in the NL West)
The 2021 Giants were like a Cinderella story in March Madness. No expectations with aging roster and a unproven coaching staff, and yet somehow manages to win NL West with 107 wins,107! The beat the Dodgers for the best record in the MLB! They got all-star seasons from their veterans Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey! Kevin Gausman also was an all-star and was a Cy Young Candidate. They traded for Kris Byrant! Gabe Kapler was looking like a manager on the rise! They were one game way from the NLCS! THINGS ARE GREAT FOR THE ORANGE AND BLACK!!!
2022 then, was like Cinderella II, no where close to the original and only relevant by name. Forget that Buster Posey retired, and Kevin Gausman leveraged his season to sign a five-year deal with Toronto, the 2022 season was basically Carlos Rodon and recent World Series Champion Joc Pederson single-handedly hold the interest of fans.
With Carlos Rodon leaving that season, and with significant depth in the farm system, the Giants had to go after the big-name free agents to bring any sort of life life to the roster. And they succeed in getting not only Arron Judge, but also Carlos Correa. Two payers that would be with the team for a decade plus and while, yes, the $300 million dollar contracts would hurt once the players hit their forties. But it worth it if only to inject life into a roster that will be transitioning over to...
What? The Giants signed Arson Judge? Arron is going back to New York? Well at least they got....hmm? There is an issue with Correa's ankle? The deal is off? Michael Conforto will be our biggest signing?
THE ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Last Season's Record: (74-88, 4th in the NL West)
My Predictions: (78-84, 3rd in the NL West)
I see supposed baseball experts claim the Arizona D-backs as a sneaky contender for the NL Wild Card this year based on how they ended the 2021 season. And while yes, they were technically in the wild-card hunt for a brief moment for the second half, I'm not sure if that constitutes a playoff spot this year.
Yes I did place them third in the NL West this season, but that's more because the Rockies are trash and the Giants weak roster as a whole and somebody had to be in third. They did upsell C/OF Daulton Varsho for a true outfielder in Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (which will allow Ketel Marte to move back to his natural position of second) and a promising MLB ready catcher in Gabriel Moreno. But the didn't really address the starting pitching, which is outside of Zac Gallen is still filled with question marks; from the young guys like Ryne Nelson and Merrill Kelly, to the overpaid and declining Madison Bumgardner, to what you would consider Zach Davies to be.
SNEAKY CONTENDERS? OR MID AS $%#^
It wouldn't be shocking to see these teams in the playoff picture, but these teams are missing something that truly will make them contenders.
Boston Red Sox
Last Season's Record: (78-84, 5th Place in the AL East)
My Predictions: (74-88, 5th Place in the AL East)
I don't trust any of the Red Sox pitchers, despite what new signees Corey Kluber and Kenley Jansen showed last year. So this is strictly on the offense to carry this team to relevance. Now my prediction above was based after the Adalberto Mondesí and more importantly, the Trevor Story injuries, ruined not only the Red Sox infield depth, but offensive power as well. And yet, I still believe they are the sneakiest playoff contenders still, they are here because their offense still looks...pretty good. Keeping around their best hitter around in Rafael Devers for the next ten years is a start. Justin Turner, while 38, has so far fended off father time and produce respectable numbers. Yu Chang and Masataka Yoshida's World Baseball Classic performance has me thinking that as long as these four hitter can produce, they might have a chance to stick around the wild-card hunt until Story can come in and produce.
Last Season's Record: (74-88, 3rd in the NL Central)
My Predictions: (79-83, 3rd in the NL Central)
I feel the Cubs have the best shot of getting into a playoff spot in the National League.
That said, I have no idea how the Cubs are going to achieve it. Especially give their moves this offseason.
They barging hunted for Trey Mancini, Eric Hosmer, and Cody Bellinger but were willing to give larger contract to players like Jameson Taillon and Dansby Swanson.
If I had to guess, I'm betting they are hoping that the pitch talents from some of their rookies last year was a sign of normality versus a fluke, and they stay afloat with clutch hitting. With Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel out for the foreseeable future, I worry that Cubs won't click until June, and there will be uphill climb for the club at that point.
Los Angeles Angels
Last Season's Record: (73-89, 3rd in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (70- 92, 4th in the AL Central)
The Angels won't get any more respect from me.
Time after time again, I want to get more respect to a team with Shohei Ohtani and the ever overrated Mike Trout. Time after time, they prove that they don't have the hitting, pitching, fielding, running, spirt, luck, balls or whatever the fuck a team needs to make the playoffs. They don't have a farm system, so no young players to help them. They don't do good with trades or free agency, so no luck there.
Frankly until Arte Moreno decides to fuck off and sell the team, I will continue to doubt the Angels ability to win. When he announced his intentions to sell the team, I'm sure everyone in baseball was ecstatic. Othani and Trout might win something with the Angels!
He has since retract that, stating that is "best for the organizations that he stays".
I rest my case.
Last Season's Record: (68-94, 4th in the AL West)
My Predictions: (81-81, 3rd in the AL West)
Jon Gray and Martín Pérez finally has some help. The Rangers have struggled to keep supports a promising offense with quality starting pitcher and so this offseaon, they once again went on a shopping spree signing low-cost, high upside pitchers like Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi. Oh yeah, and a little known pitcher named Jacob deGrom.
My worry is, despite how promising and dangerous the Rangers offense can be, its also be streaky at points, and you can't afford to be streak if your trying to make the playoffs.
Additionally, will Corey Seager and Marcus Semien finally produce a season worthy of their contracts? Will DeGrom stay healthy enough to be the ace of the staff? If everything clicks, they might be in the third wild card hunt. If not...well...
Last Season's Record: (83-79, 4th in the AL East)
My Predictions: (84-78, T-3rd in the AL East)
Last season proved that the Orioles might be close to making the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season. They decided not to buy at the trade deadline, electing instead to sell, as management felt that the prospect of multiple playoff run in the future was worth more than the possibility of making trying to make a run in 2022. I actually felt that was the smart thing to do; if I had the choice between multiple games in the playoff from 2025-2029 and maybe two games in the 2022 playoffs, you bet your ass that I would that five years of consecutive playoffs in a heartbeat.
Aside from Kyle Gibson, the Orioles didn't do much this offseason. This means they believe a team of Cole Irvin, Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander surrounded by good enough pitchers and hitters will be enough to possibly contend. I think they are one year away from true contention, but don't be surprised if they are in the wild-card hunt come July.
Chicago White Sox
Last Season's Record: (81-81, 2nd in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (79-83, 3rd in the AL Central)
Let's ignore Liam Hendriks is currently battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma (reports are saying treatment is going well), or that Andrew Benintendi was the only significant signing this off season (good player, but is he seriously the biggest free-agent deal the White Sox has ever done?), to the severe allegations of domestic violence that faced Mike Clevinger during the off-season (the MLB determined he was clear of said allegations, we aren't going to go into dive deep into the mess that is the league investigations). I personally just don't have that much confidence in the Sox.
I'm sorry to the Sox fans reading this, I just feel the team hasn't show any sort of consistency. Remember they made the playoff under Rick Renteria in the Covid-filled 2020 season. Tony La Russa took over and while the team did win the AL Central, it wasn't because of La Russa. As you can tell 2022, that is what La Russa brings you (I know he had health concerns. I don't care. The White Sox weren't going anywhere with him). Now you are on your third manager in four years, so what am I supposed to believe, that remnants of the 2020 team is still as good as advertised, or is the team more like the 2022 team, injured and unable to get off the ground?
Was last year's results just a fluke, or a sign of things to come? Anubis's scale (or your local equivalent god) will determine their fate.
Last Season's Record: (92-70, 1st in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (91-71, 2nd in the AL Central)
The Guardians some how won the AL Nopetral last season (See what I did there?) and entered the playoffs as the youngest team in the playoffs (26). Only one player, Jose Ramirez, was over the age of 29 and their playoff roster consisted of 14 rookies.
And yet, not only did the Guardians beat the Rays in an 18 inning classic, they nearly forced the baseball world to laugh at the Yankees by taking the ALDS to five games.
The beautiful thing about the Guardians is now the same rookies that took the number two Yankees to the brink, now have playoff experience and still under team control. Starers like Hunter Gaddis and Triston McKenzie; outfields such as Oscar González and Gold-Glover Steven Kwan; and like 90% of the Guardians bullpen.
The biggest concern for the Guardians is where the offense is coming from outside of the star, Ramirez. Josh Naylor became the de-facto option B last season, but was somewhat inconsistent. Josh Bell was signed to be that more consistent option B, but is just coming off a down season himself.
Additionally, Minnesota made significant moves this offseason and if you believe that White Sox is for real, then this should be a competitive AL Central this season. I'm not too worried, but 'tis is a valid concern.
Last Season's Record: (86-76, 2nd in the NL Central)
My Predictions: (83-79, 2nd in the NL Central)
The Brewers had a comfortable three-game lead in the wild card race, despite trading away their star closer in Josh Hader right before the trade deadline. They should have been a playoff team last season, but going 29-31 afterward opens the door and the Phillies took advantage. The Brewers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2017, something I definitely took for granted.
So where do the Brewers go next? Their president David Sterns conveniently stepped down right before the end of the season, so serious changes much be on the way right? Eh, kind of?
Gone is Hunter Renfroe and Kolten Wong, in is Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro? They managed to get William Contreras from the Braves...somehow. Lorenzo Cain retired, Andrew McCutchen left, Christian Yelich is...still here.
Like previous years, its going to come down to the starting rotation and the bullpen to carry a sluggish offensive to the playoffs. But with news of unhappy Corbin Burns was about his arbitration process this past offseason and next year will be the final year he will be under any sort team control? If this season doesn't go the way Milwaukee wants, will the look to trade him? Will that be the beginning of the end?
St. Louis Cardinals
Last Season's Record: (93-69, 1st in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (95-67, 1st in the AL Central)
Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina have retired. The Cardinals are going to go through a new period in history. They oddly didn't have to do much, given the surprisingly talented youth in the farm (i.e. Jordan Walker). Yet went out and stole Wilson Contreras from the Cubs for five years, $87.5 million. They are even going to get the 105 MPH throw Jordan Hicks back and hopefully stay healthy this time.
But that pitching staff was a huge problem for them this season and still is, even if Adam Wainwright is on the team. Contreras's health is becoming an issue, how much longer will he be catching? Are you expecting Arenado and Goldschmidt to produce at a similar rate compared to last season (Goldschmidt did win the NL MVP this season...finally). I still feel like it's still the Cardinals division to lose, but I can see a lot going for the Cardinals this season.
Last Season's Record: (90-72, 2nd in the AL West)
My Predictions: (92-70, 2nd in the AL West)
I've been following baseball seriously since I was eight, and this past season was the first season I have ever seen the Mariners in the playoffs. I've seen the Royals, Pirates, and Rays, teams associated with futility make the playoffs and/or win the world series before I saw the Mariners in the playoffs. I saw Ichiro, one of my favorite players growing up, play out his career and never his team in the playoffs. And yet, after being one game away last season, they finally ended baseball's longest playoff drought, even managing to sweep a playoff series. I still feel that the Mariners gave the eventual champion Astros their best fight of the entire playoffs, and that had they won that series, they were going to be the World Series Champion.
I worry I'm looking at a fluke here though. A team with Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, Luis Castillo, and Robbie Ray shouldn't be considered fluke-ish. And yet here I am questioning things. Most of their success came from Eugenio Suárez revitalizing his career, Ty France having a breakout season, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby being young guys filling out the starting rotation, and guys like Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty, Cal Raleigh, and J.P. Crawford having clutch moments. The players that were expected to contribute (Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier, and especially Jarred Kelenic), didn't and the bullpen really was the x-factor in the Astros playoff series.
They traded Winker (And Abraham Toro) this offseason for Kolton Wong because offensive infielders(?) and traded a huge piece in the bullpen last season in Erik Swanson plus a prospect for two seasons of Teoscar Hernández. The Mariners played 8-D chess, when they really could have ran it back with the same team last year. It shouldn't affect them in the AL West this year, and maybe the Mariners know more than they are letting on. But these moves scream "FLUKE!" more than anything else to me.
Tampa Bay Rays
Last Season's Record: (86-76, 3rd in the AL East)
My Predictions: (84-78, T-3rd in the AL East)
The Rays are the perfect example of "Figure Out a Way" in baseball. I don't know how they continue to win with a shoestring budget, the lack of attendance (given the stadium), and the quick reshuffling of players, and yet they do win. This season was the probably felt more active than most, even though the only significant move they did was sign Zach Eflin to a three year deal.
The Rays know their hitting, specifically power hitting, is their weakness, even with Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena on the roster. Ji-Man Choi was traded to the Pirates, so where that power will come from is unclear. BUT as long as Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz come back healthy and compliment Eflin, Shane McClanahan, and Jeffrey Springs well, maybe they don't need it. Maybe they can make a deep playoff run with elite pitching and decent enough pitching. They have done it before, why not this year?
Last Season's Record: (87-75, 3rd in the NL East)
My Predictions: (85-77, 3rd in the NL East)
This team shouldn't have been anywhere close a World Series this past season. The Phillies apperently decided to fuck defense by signing all-offensive players like Kyle Schwarber Nick Castellano. The anti-DRS All-Start got off to a sluggish 22–29 and fired Joe Girardi.
At this point, this is where the Phillies 2022 season should have ended, but now. Bench coach Rob Thomson lead the team to a 87–75 record, slipping past the Brewers on the last day to take the final wild card spot, reaching the playoffs for the first time since the golden era abruptly crashed and burned in 2011. They swept the Cardinals, throttled the defending champion Braves in four, embarassed the Padres in five, and actually was two wins away from winning the damn thing before crashing back to earth and losing three straight. Schwarber and J.T Realmuto will be etched in the hall of legendary playoff performances, alongside Randy Arozarena in 2020, Daniel Murphy in 2015, and David Eckstein in 2006.
I highly doubt that the team, even with the additions of Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel, and Gregory Soto on the pitching side, and smooth-sliding Trea Turner on the hittign side will overtake the Braves or Mets for the NL East crown. Realistically, second place in the NL East and Central will take a wild card spot this season, so either the Phillies or a team like the Cubs, D-Backs, or Giants or take them. I think with no-bias whatsoever, the Phillies have the best chance at getting that slot.
But I'm biased Braves fan. Bryce Harper is hurt, ha ha! No playoffs for you!
THE MINNESOTA TWINS
Last Season's Record: (78-84, 3rd in the AL Central)
My Predictions: (94-68, 1st in the AL Central)
On paper, the Twins gets my pick for "Best Offseason" hands down. This is for two reasons. First, Carlos Correa was as good as gone after his one season with the Twins. But the Twins must have sabotaged his medical report or spread rumors about his ankle, because that's the only reason I can come up with for Carlos Correa coming back to the team at a practical barging for the team. Second, they made a lateral move by trading their 1B/2B Luis Arráez for quality pitching depth in Pablo Lopez (And got two prospects!). They are two moves, but two moves that don't change the team's dynamic too much.
This team should be winning the AL Central. They have quality starting pitching, especially with Kenta Maeda returning to the rotation. There bullpen is solid and the team's balanced offense doesn't display any flaws.
About the only concern is the health of Byron Buxton, because he really is the key to any future success for the team. If he can manage to finally get some health luck this season, then the team, arguably, might make it to the World Series.
If not, the T's will have to wait yet again for another playoff win.
The Playoff Contenders
Expect Playoffs in your future. My crystal ball only sees so far, though.
Toronto Blue Jays
Last Season's Record: (92-70, 2nd in the AL East)
My Predictions: (94-68, 2nd in the AL East)
After winning 91 games but missing the playoffs, the Blue Jays went all in signing Kevin Gausman, Yimi Garcia, and Yusei Kikuchi, then trading for Matt Chapman before the season. Before spring training, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stated “Last year was the trailer, now you guys are going to see the movie.” After getting Whit Merrifield from the Royals at the trade deadline, I guess you could say that their was to be a movie to be played.
A movie straight to hell, as not only did the Blue Jays not make it out of the Wild Card round, they were eliminated after being up 8-1. The Blue Jays were humbled last year.
I'm not sure how to judge their response in the off-season. Getting a good bullpen piece in Erik Swanson plus a prospect for two seasons of Teoscar Hernández isn't bad. Getting a gold glover in Daulton Varsho is good, though they had to give up a talented young catcher in Gabriel Moreno and a serviceable outfield Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Kevin Kiermaier basically was signed for outfield depth that no longer exists. I guess the hope is that an outifeld platoon of Springer, Kiermaier, Varsho, Merrifield, Biggo, and Kiermaier, will suffice.
We haven't even touched the pitching situation. Hyun-jin Ryu's injury create problems with the starting rotation. On the one hand, that's why Chris Bassitt was signed, he's basically has the same value as Ryu. But that does mean that Kikuchi would be taking sigificant starters innings until Ryu is fit to pitch, and that's not good if you are aware of Kikuchi's work (Note: He was an all-star in 2021. He number wouldn't suggest that.)
They still are the second best team in the AL East (Sorry Rays). But the lack of outfield depth and the questions around starting pitching is going to hold them back. Last year was probably their best shot and frankly if this is the movie, this is the sequel you can probably skip.
San Diego Padres
Last Season's Record: (89-73, 2nd in the NL West)
My Predictions: (96-66, 2nd in the NL West)
Remember their 2021 collapse? The one where the Padres were 66-49, went 13-34, started arguing with each other, and got eliminated from the playoffs in September?
Yeah, so did the Padres.
The collapse did cause Jayce Tingler to lose his job, but it did allow the Padres to steal Bob Melvin from the A's (because frankly, the A's didn't deserve him). They didn't have to do much before the season the season, but with the trade deadline set on being August 2nd, and the Padres sitting at 57–46, the Padres struck.
August 1st: Padres trade Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Lamet, Esteury Ruiz, and Robert Gasser to the Brewers for Josh Hader
August 2nd: C. J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell, James Wood, Jarlín Susana, and Luke Voit (originally Eric Hosmer, but he had a no-trade clause. Hosmer was eventally part of a trade to Boston for cash considerations) for Juan Soto and Josh Bell.
While neither of those trades really propelled the team forward that much, it did help the team make their first playoffs since 2006 (yes, they made it in 2020. No I'm not counting it). Upsetting both the Mets and Dodgers (which by the way, was the first victory in where a team defeated an opponent who was more than 22 wins better since 1906) should be a celebratory moment. But the Padres obviously aren't in the mood, especially since they were pushed aside by the Phillies in five.
This might have explained some of their moves in the off-season. Two times last season did Fernando Tatis cause controversy. The first costed valuable time on the roster during the season, the second possibly costed Tatis 80 games, which includes games this season. With there star SS out, they will need to fill the star power slot. They made a late push for Aaron Judge, but that would have been illegal. Xander Bogaerts for 11-years works. Though this will create a log-jam up the middle when Tatis comes back (who's up the middle between Bogaerts, Tatis, and Kim, who did well in Tatis absence). That's not mentioning extending Machado to an 11-year contract, that gives enough room to sign Juan Soto to a contract...should he want to.
The Padres had some issue on the pitch side of things. Their bullpen cost them the fatefu game five. So sign Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo to one year deals. Extend the pitchers you know will do well: Robert Suarez, Nick Martinez, Joe Musgrove (technically in 2022), and Yu Darvish. That last name, a six year deal worth 108 million...really? Technically pitchers age better than hitters...but still.
Offense had difficulties getting going in the postseason. With Josh Bell gone, take flyers on Rougned Odor, Nelson Cruz, and Matt Carpenter to fill the void.
These moves are win-now moves. What happened if they fail isn't a question, because they won't. Are they above the Dodgers or Braves or possibly the Mets, probably not, not with the security of Soto's contract or one more big name move. Can the Padres continue to go big game hunting after this year, I highly doubt it. But if they succeed in 2023 and finally bring a world series to San Diego, then it doesn't matter all the money they are pouring in now. And honestly, on paper this might be their best chance at doing just that.
New York Mets
Last Season's Record: (101-61, 2nd in the NL East)
My Predictions: (102-60, 1st in the NL East)
Daddy Cohen doesn't care that other baseball owner can't with his spending, he's buying the Mets a championship, come hell or high water. Think of the names that have appeared on the Mets since Cohen took charge: Lindor, Baez, Scherzer, Diaz, Alonso, Ottavino, McNeil, DeGrom, Marte. Last year was just the first year that the money spending works, the Mets won 101 games and losing out on the NL East crown by being swept by the Atlanta Braves during the final weekend of the season...despite being 10.5 game ahead of them at one point in the season...and then they got bounced by the Padres in the Wild Card Series, but that's neither here nor there.
What is important is to improve the team any way possible. DeGrom in now in Texas, so the Mets settled for the next best thing: World Series Champion and Unanimous AL Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander AND the best consolation prize, Mr. Ghost Fork, Kodai Senga. Signing Carlos Correa was just the icing on the cake for probably the best top-level talent team in the...oh, right....
Frankly, with Lindor, Alonso, and McNeil leading the offensive charge, backed up by Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo (who signed a eight-year deal, for being just good enough?), and Daniel Vogelbach. With a pitching staff lead by Scherzer, Verlander, and Senga, what's to worry about?
Scherzer and Verlander make nearly $90 million this year. They are 38 and 40 respectively. Scherzer missed a decent amount of time with injuries last season. Verlander is currently going to miss the majority of his starts in April due to a teres major strain. Can they stay healthy through the season? Pitcher have been more durable in the past decade, but any hiccup, especially to their top two guys could mean the difference between the the best record in the MLB and another Wild Card upset.
The Championship Contenders
If your betting money on a World Series Champ this year, these are probably your safest picks. And if everything is just "sportsball" to you, slipping one of these teams in conversation might makes you look less like a pompous ass.
New York Yankees
Last Season's Record: (92-70, 2nd in the AL East)
My Predictions: (94-68, 2nd in the AL East)
I'll try to keep this short. The Yankees are only here because there not an apparent flaw in their team. Their pitching used to be a huge flaw, but with Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortés leading a pitching rotation missing the newly signed Carlos Rodón, Luis Severino, and possibly Frankie Montas, that's not longer an issue. Especially with the number one ranked bullpen behind them. DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, prospect Anthony Volpe, and the twin towers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton lead the charge on offense. Keeping Judge, while expensive and could be costly down the line, was the biggest move for the Yankees this offseason. I don't think he will hit 63 HR again, but he still is the perfect specimen of speed, power, contact, and size. Keeping a dangerous hitter like that on your side is just the smartest thing to do.
If you had to pick a weakness for the Yankees, its Left Field and Third Base; specially, Aaron Hicks, who hasn't proven to be the guy the Yankees though they were getting, and Josh Donaldson, who has been steadily declining for the past two years. But I'm not worried, after all it is the Yankees. They will probably make a trade for a big name player offseason. They even have in-house options with Harrison Bader and Oswald Peraza (not sure why he's not on the roster).
There is no, alternate for the Yanks, its World Series or bust. I think there are four teams better than the Yankees and one team better than them in the AL. But you also wrong choosing them as you World Series Champions.
Last Season's Record: (101-61, 1st in the NL East)
My Predictions: (102-60, 2nd in the NL East)
As a Braves fan, I'll speak for the team and say that the 2021 World Series Champions had a disappointing 2022 season. Even though they came back from 10.5 games back to the take the NL East crown from the Mets, losing to their other rivals in the Phillies must have hurt.
There wasn't much for the Braves to do to improve the roster. The rise of Spencer Strider las season did create the top three with Max Fried, and Charlie Morton being one and two. Losing Kenley Jansen hurts, but the Braves had a ton of options to fill the role, from former starters, to young upstarts, to established veterans, the ageless wonder Jesse Chavez.
Technically, they did make some improvements. First taking low flyers on Sam Hilliard, Kevin Pillar, and Eli White. Then turning All-Star William Contreras into Gold Glover Sean Murphy. That doesn't sound like an upgrade, but the consider the aging Travis d'Arnaud and the defensive upside Murphy has over d'Arnaud now and what Contreras, who is younger at 25, will have in the future, this, along with his six-year, $73 million contract extension, is an move for the now and future.
Dansby Swanson is gone, through after the season he had in 2021, it made sense he was going to look for a big payday. Oddly enough, it sounds like he was going to come back on a five-year deal until the Cubs came in with there seven-year offer. But its okay, Vaughn Grissom will fill the hole just fine! Or maybe Braden Shewmake, who is having a really good spring right now, will fill the role...
...really? Neither of them? Orlando Arcia is getting the spot...AND A CONTRACT EXTENSION?! Okay, oddly enough this isn't terrible, at least we are aware of what Arcia can do on a good team.
They are a playoff team, maybe even the best team in the National league. But the one flaw I can find with the team is in regards to the Marcell Ozuna situation. Don't let the numbers fool you, after rocking out in 2020, Ozuna has looked like the same player he was during his Cardinals days, maybe even worse. Then was the whole domestic violence allegations, and being place on administrative leave, and the looking terrible out in the field...basically Ozuna is being paid like an very expensive DH and its money not well spent. The rotation of Acuña Jr., Hilliard, Pillar, White, Eddie Rosario, and Michael Harris II is roam the outfield and one of them is probably a better DH than Ozuna at this point. Yet he is going to open the season on the roster. If he can perform at a level even similar to 2020, or heck, in 2018, then this team will be flawless and my (biased) choice for World Series Champion. If they can't, then the team will have to make a very difficult baseball decision during the season if they want to keep afloat for the best record in the MLB.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Season's Record: (111-51, 2nd in the NL West)
My Predictions: (101-61, 2nd in the NL West)
The Dodgers, the LA team actually in Los Angeles, have managed had a high payroll for the and a deep farm system for the past decade that has allowed them to have a roster that is talented as it is deep. It had only had the one world series to their name at this point (the Astros 2016 WS win counts for them, thus the 2020 WS win counts as well), but it still keeps them at the top of baseball.
2022 might be a down year for the team. Losing Justin Turner of that 111-win Dodgers team hurt (veteran leadership), and losing Trea Turner (overall talent) left a massive talent gap, and losing Cody Bellinger just feels...weird. And the team didn't really replace it either, trading for Miguel Rojas and signing Jason Heyward, David Peralta, and J.D. Martinez. Yes, I know they had Gavin Lux, but he will miss the entire 2023 season with a torn ACL. Their pitching staff looks pretty weak; Kershaw, May, and Urías having to be surrounded by Noah Syndergaard, Michael Grove, and Shelby Miller (He's...still in the league?) while Walker Buehler will recover from Tommy John, likely putting him out until 2024.
Why am I not worried? Because is Kershaw, May, Urías, Will Smith, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Freddie Freeman, and/or Max Muncy still on the team? Will Tony Gonsolin make his return this season to aid the pitching staff? If the answer to them are yes, then the Dodgers are making a play for best record in the MLB. Plus if the youth of the team (Grove, James Outman, and Miguel Vargas) step up this season, the it's just the classic Dodgers formula working again.
I don't think the Dodgers will win 111 games this season, and I think the Braves and the Mets have better teams on paper, you aren't going to see me one bad thing about the Dodgers.
The One to Beat Them All
They're the team everyone will be chasing after this year. Frankly, I can't find any reason why they won't be here next year.
Last Season's Record: (106-56, 1st in the AL West)
My Predictions: (103-59, 1st in the NL West)
Alright. I will try to be brief with this one. If you made it this far, then I really appreciate you taking time to read this ranking with nary a stat on here. I know I could gush all about the Astros and why they should be winning the world series this year, but life is very finite, and I don't want to waste your life reading this.
The Astros are like a mix between the Dodgers and the Rays. They are team with a very deep farm system but a team without a true star on the team. Yes, technically they have Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but I would classify them the same as Miguel Cabrera (funny that this is the first time I'm mentioning his name), the face, not stars, of the team. That might belong to Yordan Álvarez, though when you think of the stars of the game, he isn't always the first person on your mind.
No this team doesn't have any true stars. What this team does is find young players who aren't the best at their position, but analytically, play like they are. That migates any losses from actual stars like Carlos Correa and Justin Verlander leaving with players like Jeremy Pena and Framber Valdez sliding into their roles seemlessly. Any weakness they may have, they will fill in free agency or trade their farm into getting the players needed to fill the hole. The latter helped build the bullpen into a top-ten-essque rotation; the former can be seen this season as First Base was the position of need for this team and they replaced an aging Yuli Gurriel with a slightly younger Jose Abreu.
This team still has Lance McCullers Jr. and Michael Brantley on the way, so even if the team faulters at the beginning, more talent will be on the way.
Really the only weakness this team had after winning the legacy defining World Series was management. There was a chance that both Dusty Baker and James Click being gone after the season. In the end, it was Click who departed...for some reason, so it will shall see how Dana Brown does.
Baring some collapse, they are my pick to repeat as AL Champions for the fifth time in seven years and appear in the World Series for the same amount of time. They will they go back-to-back? The bias Braves fan in me will no say no, but the honest baseball man in me says if there was any time for a repeat champions, this is the time.