The new MLB season starts this week and it’s an exciting time for fans and players alike. There was much movement throughout the offseason which leads to more parity around the league. There hasn’t been a repeat champion since the New York Yankees did it back in 1998-2000. With only a few days left until Opening Day, here are my predictions on how each division will shake out and how the playoffs will go.
NL East: New York Mets
The Mets had the division last season until they didn’t. It wasn’t a collapse as many like to call it but this is the year that they get it back. Bringing in Justin Verlander and Japanese star pitcher Kodai Senga alongside Max Scherzer gives New York arguably the best rotation in baseball. They also still have Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, giving them one of the best lineups as well. Watch out for the Mets in 2023 in the NL East despite other strong teams within.
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis still has two of the best players in the game in Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt and then they brought in Willson Contreras to fill the gap at catcher. This team is loaded and will make a big jump towards being an elite team this season. I am very high on the Cardinals in 2023 and while Milwaukee always finds a way to be competitive, it’s the Cardinals division to lose.
NL West: San Diego Padres
Did anyone have a better offseason than the San Diego Padres? Not only did they enter having taking down their rival in the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason but they then added in Xander Bogaerts to the mix. They also are getting Fernando Tatís Jr. back into the fold. This is a true super team from the top to the bottom. The only question mark for them is the starting rotation but they are sufficient enough to win games. Plus, everyone knows that the Padres will probably address any issues at the trade deadline. San Diego finally has a consistent winner and there are big expectations for this club in 2023.
Wild Card team #1: Atlanta Braves
Atlanta has a solid core in place and will once again be a threat in the National League. I have them finishing second in the NL East, right behind the New York Mets. This is a tough minded team that won’t be an easy out at all so expect them to be a major player for the pennant.
Wild Card Team # 2: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies grabbing Trea Turner was a power move. Adding him to the team that went on a surprise World Series run was impressive and shows just how much they want to win. They will be major contenders again and their lineup is as strong as any in the game.
Wild Card Team #3: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers won 111 games last season but found themselves bounced in the NLDS to the Padres. They lost a lot of talent but luckily for them, they have a great farm system and planned for this. They are hoping that their new youth movement gives them their next round of home grown stars. They will still be a very good team but will likely take a small step back in the standings this coming year.
AL East: Toronto Blue Jays
To me, this is the Blue Jays time to finally claim the division title. Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman, George Springer and Alejandro Kirk makes for a scary time for opposing pitchers. This is an absolutely loaded squad and one that should do damage in the American League this coming year. They finished second behind the Yankees last season and Toronto got off to a very slow start to the year. This is going to be a neck and neck fight to the finish between them and the Yankees but I have Toronto claiming the AL East.
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
Many believed that the White Sox could have been a real threat in the American League last season but it never quite panned out that way. They had a ton of injuries and inconsistent play but still managed to go .500 on the season. Despite everything, this team never quit and found a way to win games. They brought in outfielder Andrew Benintendi in the offseason and he gives them a nice bat in the lineup and strong defense. Additionally, the arrival of prospect Oscar Colas should give this team a boost as well. Give me the White Sox to turn things around and get back on track this season in a weak division.
AL West: Houston Astros
The Astros will have competition from the Mariners for the division. Plus the Rangers and Angels both will be much better as well. The only weak team here is the Oakland Athletics and they will likely be at the bottom of the division once again. Despite the competition, the Astros remain the best team in this division and will claim it again. The defending champions reign true in the AL West.
Wild Card team #1: New York Yankees
The Yankees went out and got Carlos Rodón to add to their rotation. He should provide them a nice piece behind star Gerrit Cole but this team still has some question marks. They still have MVP Aaron Judge and a bunch of talent but they stumbled towards the end of the regular season last year after a hot start. I like them to be very competitive and get into the postseason as the first wild card.
Wild Card Team # 2: Seattle Mariners
The Mariners finally got back into the postseason last season and even won their wild card round. They did get swept by the Astros in the NLDS but it was closer than the sweep indicated. This is a talented and young squad that is ready to show that last season was no fluke. The Mariners are here to stay and they reach the postseason once again.
Wild Card Team #3: Texas Rangers
I’m higher on the Rangers than many but I believe in this team. I loved the move to sign Jacob deGrom and if he can stay healthy, the Rangers will be a tough team. I know it’s a lot to ask due to his recent history but with a new medical team, maybe things are different. They had the lineup to compete and now have a newly built rotation. Plus they are now managed by Bruce Bochy and he knows what it takes to win. I’m buying Rangers stock for 2023 right now and not looking back.