MLB Season Preview


Stephen McDonald, Contributor


Major League Baseball’s opening day is on Thursday, March 30th, and DeMatha is quite excited. Fans are hopeful for the Orioles season but less than optimistic for the Nationals. Here is my team by team prediction for this years season.

AL East

1) Toronto Blues Jays: Toronto had a solid season last year, gaining a wild card berth after a 92-70 record. They have a stellar infield with Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman and midseason acquisition Whit Merrifield. Bichette lead the American League in hits last year and should continue to put up great numbers.  Plus, their dominant pitching duo of Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoa, they are prized to make a huge run. Manoa was top 3 in both wins and ERA last year.

2) New York Yankees: The Yanks have the hype as they do every year, especially after Aaron Judge broke the AL home run record last year. One win shy of 100 last year and a crushing sweep in the ALCS to the Houston Astros, the Yankees are motivated to win. Their pitching is solid as well with 4 potential All Stars in Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nester Cortes, and Luis Severino. They should easily claim a wild card spot this year, but they won’t go much further than that.

3) Baltimore Orioles: Trying to jog your memory to find excitement for the Orioles season is hard, but the feeling is back now. After an impressive 83-79 season last year, the O’s are ready for more. Adley Rutschman is a genuine stud at catcher, along with outfield star Cedric Mullins should be able to propel the Orioles to a good offensive season. Plus Baltimore had the top 2 AL steals leaders last year, Jorge Mateo at 35, and Mullins with 34. The larger bases should help their offense. The pitching needs work, but is highlighted by a good bullpen, starring closer Felix Bautista, which should be a contender for the MLB saves title this year.

4) Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have been quite competitive in their past few years even though they have a very small fan base. Their pitching should lead the way this year with aces Shane McClanahan and Tyler Glasnow, but don’t count out their hitting being good either. Outfielder Randy Arozarena has the potential to be an MVP some day.

5) Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox have had a notorious history of bad luck which continues this year, being in the best division in baseball. Infielder Xander Bogaerts left for the Padres in free agency which is a large blow but the offense wit 2 time all star Rafael Devers should be ok. The Sox are lucky about MLB’s recent postseason expansion, as that might be the only way to get in the playoffs this year.

AL Central

1) Cleveland Guardians: The Guardians should be the favorite to win the division. They have 2 really solid pitchers in Shane Bieber and Tristan McKenzie. McKenzie had a sub 3 ERA last year after pitching nearly 200 innings and is a dark horse candidate for the Cy Young Award at the end of the year. Their offense has budding outfielder Steven Kwan who had a tremendous streak to start last year off and Jose Ramirez at 3rd base which is some legitimate firepower. The only question left is, what is there to guard in Cleveland?

2) Chicago White Sox: The South Side’s baseball team took a big blow when Jose Abreu went to the Houston Astros. The team that went 81-81 last year will have to rely on its pitching this time. Dylan Cease had a stellar 2.2 ERA in 184 innings pitched, and Lance Lynn should step up from last year as well. The Sox will have another mediocre season this year, maybe going 81-81 again.

3) Minnesota Twins: The Twins have Carlos Correa apparently, after his offseason saga came to an end once he came back to the team he started the year with. The pitching staff is led by rising star Joe Ryan, who had a quite respectable season last year in his first full year. Other than that though, the Twins have a very average lineup, all players who are good enough to start but not good enough to be nationally recognized.

4) Kansas City Royals: The Royals somehow still have aging Salvador Perez, and you can make the argument that he is still a top 3 catcher in baseball. Other than that, the Royals are in their “rebuilding” phase. To put it bluntly it just means they’re not good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to get constantly laughed at.

5) Detroit Tigers: The Miguel Cabrera goodbye tour will be depressing for an already sad city. Even though Austin Meadows was added in free agency, the Tigers don’t have much to look forward too. Javier Baez was a great disappointment last year and should continue to be this year. At least the Lions are on the up and up.

AL West

1) Houston Astros: Is there any question of the Astros winning the division, if not the American League? Yordan Alvarez is an MVP candidate and Kyle Tucker was top 5 in RBI’s. Framber Valdez leads the pitching staff after Verlander’s departure. He has been a solid pitcher for the past three years and is expected to make a big step up this year. The last few members of the infamous cheating scandal are hanging around, but it is mostly powerful new players such as former White Sox Jose Abreu. The Astros should be a clear favorite to win the AL and possibly the World Series.

2) Seattle Mariners: Who could’ve imagined Seattle being good last year, and even more being a top 10 team this year. They have two big additions, one being last years trade acquisition pitcher Luis Castillo and 2nd Baseman Kolton Wong. Wong is a great defender and two time Golden Glove winner while also being a solid hitter. Castillo should easily have 3.25 ERA or lower this year after his stellar 2.99 ERA last year.

3) Los Angeles Angels: The Angels have Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. That seems enough to make the playoffs, but remember this team has had the baffling ability to disappoint fans rooting for them and entertain fans rooting against. Remember the name “the Los Angeles Area Angels of Anaheim?” That was entertainment and stupidity at its best, if only they had that name now with these two hall of famers, and still missed the playoffs.

4) Texas Rangers: The Rangers if healthy could be the best team in baseball, if healthy. The problem is with the addition of injury prone star Jacob DeGrom, they won’t be anywhere near that. Shortstop Corey Seager will also find some way to get hurt for the franchise. Just like the Angels this team is good on paper, but their physical help is not the best. Maybe this should have been the landing spot for Carlos Correa.

5) Oakland Athletics: The A’s are awful. They have almost no hope this year as their eggs have been placed into the “prospect basket,” for later. Sadly there have been talks of them moving recently, leaving the fans of the East Bay with no one to root for. Hopefully they stay in Oakland and win at least 60 games.

NL East

1) Atlanta Braves: The Braves are considered to have the best lineup in the major leagues, and amazingly that’s not because of their pitching staff, in which they have 2 all star candidates in Max Fried, Spencer Strider. They also have an aging Charlie Morton. The team is best known for their stellar offense led by Ronald Acuna and Matt Olson. Acuna will look to play his first full healthy season. The injury prone player is when of the most exciting to watch when healthy and should lead the Braves to win the NL East if he stays off the injured list.

2) New York Mets: The Mets have boosted their pitching even after losing the injury prone Jacob DeGrom. Justin Verlander was signed after he turned back the clock 10 years with his stellar season. Max Scherzer should also play well this season. Their offense also is amazing, headlined by Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor who should both hit more than 25 home runs and make the All Star game.

3) Philadelphia Phillies: Philadelphia is hungover from losing in championship games. But now they’re hungover with Trea Turner. The team added him for a pretty penny this offseason, reuniting him with hurting star Bryce Harper. The team took a big blow when slugger Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL. It is likely he will miss the entire season.

4) Miami Marlins: The Marlins have reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara who was an absolute beast from the pitching mound last year. But that’s pretty much the only bright spot, other than 2nd Baseman Jazz Chisolm’s earrings. Manager Don Mattingly and the Marlins “mutually parted ways,” last year. Plus there is little to no game attendance for the team, but at least they aren’t the Nationals.

5) Washington Nationals: The Nationals aren’t just bad, they are depressingly bad. The Cade Cavali injury made it even worse. Cavali was one of the top prospects before he injured his throwing elbow requiring Tommy John Surgery. Patrick Corbin will be the starting pitcher on opening day, after a dismal 6.31 ERA and a -2.5 WAR. Offensively, there is not much to look forward too either, recently the team has traded away all their offensive firepower for the prospect game.

NL Central

1) St Louis Cardinals: The Card’s have reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt who hit 35 home runs, and whose average was .317, finally getting his MVP after coming in second twice. What’s amazing is he didn’t even lead the team in WAR, which was done by Nolan Arenado. The team also has MLB’s unofficial “All Mustache Player of the Year,” Miles Mikolas. Not only is his mustache impressive, he boasted a 3.29 ERA while pitching over 200 innings last year.

2) Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers are still hanging on the scraps of Christian Yelich’s 2018-19 seasons in which he was by far the best player in baseball. But now he is just an average man with a recognizable name. Shortstop Willy Adames looks poised to have a huge step up this year after hitting 31 home runs a year ago. The pitching is lead by ace Corbin Burnes who should have a sub 3 ERA this year. The bullpen, which used to have the best closer in recent years Josh Hader, who was traded to the Padres last year, needs a guy who has that 100 MPH fastball and a high strikeout percentage.

3) Chicago Cubs: The Cubs’ 2016 World Series team is far away in the rear view mirror. The team last year placed hope in rookie Seiya Suzuki, who played exceptionally when healthy, but he will start this year on the injured list. Their ace, or lack thereof, is Marcus Stroman, who is a great number 3 pitcher but not number 1.He will most likely have to pitch more than the 138 innings he did last year. The Cubs aren’t good, but the have the advantage of being less bad than the Reds and Pirates.

4) Cincinnati Reds: The Reds lost their hope of a good season when pitcher Luis Castillo was traded to the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline last year. They look for hope in younger players such as catcher Tyler Stephenson and former Rookie of the Year Jonathan India, but both will have to take a big step up from last year’s lackluster performance. The Reds have little to no hope at contending for a playoff spot this or next year.

5) Pittsburgh Pirates: What can I say to be nice about them? They’re bad, very bad. But at least the fans can be entertained by shortstop Oneil Cruz. Cruz has some ability for power, as he owns the record for the hardest hit ball in baseball’s Statcast era at 122.4 MPH.

NL West

1) Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have been the best team in MLB for several years, but have only won one World Series in the past few, and that was in 2020. Freddie Freeman should lead a stellar offense with Mookie Betts and Will Smith being other highlights. The team did lose several key guys this year, in Gavin Lux to injury, Trea Turner to the Phillies and Justin Turner to the Red Sox. Their pitching is still stellar, headlined by Julio Urias who has the opportunity to get his second 20 win season in three years, and Tony Gonsolin who only lost one game last year. The main problem is they don’t have a main closer after Craig Kimbrel left to Philadelphia, that will put more burden on the stellar starters.

2) San Francisco Giants: The Giants’ aging nostalgic World Series reality tour is about to come to a halt. Brandon Belt left last year and only Brandon Crawford is left from the world championship winning teams. Pitching is on the rise though, with rising stars Logan Webb starting and Camilo Doval as a closer. The Rogers twins are solid setup men as well. Mike Yasztremski and Joe Pederson are the only two pitiful hopes at offense this year. Despite that, the Giants should have a leg up on the Padres for 2nd place in the NL West.

3) San Diego Padres: The Padres hype train is packed, as everyone from Chattanooga to Timbuktu has jumped on the bandwagon, but is it really worth it? Superstar Fernando Tatis is suspended for the first half of the year, and will find another way to hurt his shoulder for the second part. Manny Machado leads the offense and defense after wrapping up his huge contract, and should be on his way to an All Star appearance. Juan Soto was added at the trade deadline despite being in a down year, and he has great opportunity to rejuvenate his lackluster numbers this year.  The Padres have okay pitching, led by Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, who both have potential to be one of the National League’s top stars, but will have only slightly above average stats this year.

4) Colorado Rockies: The Rockies need help and luck this year, hopefully Denver’s thin air will lead them to victories. The team had horrible luck after signing Kris Bryant to a large contract and then his plantar fasciitis caused him to miss two months. Their starting pitching is less than lackluster but their bullpen is headed by good reliever Brad Hand, who should be able to close out crucial games.

5) Arizona Diamondbacks: Chase Field was packed during the World Baseball Classic, but won’t be for Diamondback games. The star of the team is Madison Bumgarner, yes, that Madison Bumgarner who won the 2014 World Series MVP and will shortly be eligible for Social Security. Offensively, Christian Walker leads the way after averaging .242 and hitting 36 home runs.