As you may know, the Major League Baseball (MLB) season officially kicks off tomorrow! That being said, I have made my usual record projection and will give a breakdown of how I see things going in 2023. Let’s hope for the quality of baseball to improve with the implementation of the pitch clock and the immense amount of young talent. 

First, I will break down each division—but before I do that, I want to point out the fact that the MLB schedule has changed quite a bit. Now teams will play each divisional rival only thirteen times compared to close to twenty. These extra games guarantee that each team plays every other team regardless of league and division. Overall, this is great for the game of baseball as we will see a competitive balance and fans will get to see all of the star players across the league. 

Now, here is my breakdown of the season.

Graphic created by Chris Laurenzo on Canva

AL EAST:

1. Yankees (96-66)

2. Blue Jays (90-72)

3. Rays (87-75)

4. Orioles (80-82)

5. Redsox (79-83)

Overall this is probably the best division in baseball if not the second best at a minimum. I have all of these teams near or above .500. 

The Yankees won this division last year with 99 wins and have improved a great deal. However, they are dealing with countless injuries, which I believe will force this race to be closer than it should. 

As for the Blue Jays, they were disappointing last year. Many people, including myself, had them making the World Series. They severely underperformed, although the team still had a great young roster. The Rays always find a way to win games but struggled on the road last year going 35-46. If the Rays want to stay competitive, they need to tighten up on the road. The Orioles will be an exciting team to watch in 2023. They have the AL Rookie of the Year favorite in Gunnar Henderson to team up with Adley Rutschman, who had a very impressive rookie season proving that he is an elite catcher. 

As for Boston, the whole morale of the team is down after injuries and letting Xander Bogaerts walk. Their pitching staff is extremely weak and their current projected lineup shouldn’t scare too many pitchers.

AL CENTRAL:

1. Guardians (90-72)

2. White Sox (81-81)

3. Twins (80-82)

4. Tigers (73-89)

5. Royals (70-92)

After easily winning this division just a season ago, I have the Guardians repeating as AL Central champs. However, this isn’t saying much as both the AL and NL Central are the two worst divisions in baseball. The Guardians are a gritty team that can surprise people. Obviously, José Ramirez is always in the MVP discussion but Steven Kwan is a huge make or break factor for the team in 2023. If he can build on last year’s impressive season, the Guardians could make a run in the AL. 

The rest of this division is pretty bad; even if one of the Twins or White Sox sneaks into the playoffs somehow, it will be a quick exit for them. The Tigers are now realizing the mistake they made in investing in Javier Baez and the Royals are just hoping that Bobby Witt Jr. and Brady Singer continue to develop.

AL WEST:

1. Astros (97-65)

2. Mariners (93-69)

3. Angels (79-83)

4. Rangers (76-86)

5. Athletics (60-102)

The injuries to both José Altuve and Lance McCullers Jr. made me scrape off a few games for the Astros. Houston might start off slow and allow the Mariners to hang in the race for longer than anticipated, but the Astros are the best team in baseball and will continue to be until another AL team steps up. The Mariners were the team that I was extremely high on last season. They had a great year and ended their twenty-year playoff drought. Julio Rodriguez is a star and will continue to play like one in 2023. Also, a full year of Luis Castillo as the ace will help them win additional games. 

Now for the Angels and Rangers, I had some trouble coming up with their final records. It’s hard to put a team with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani at just 79 wins. However, the Angels have been disappointing for many years now and did not do enough to address their shortcomings this offseason. The Rangers added Jacob DeGrom but I’m not sold that he will stay healthy. If he does, the Rangers should easily hit 80 wins and possibly compete for the final wild-card spot. 

Finally, we have the Oakland A’s. Not much to say here besides the fact that they fleeced the Yankees and gained two really good pitchers out of it in Ken Waldichuk and J.P. Sears.

NL EAST:

1. Braves (96-66)

2. Mets (93-69)

3. Phillies (88-74)

4. Marlins (76-86)

5. Nationals (61-101)

The NL East is clearly the best division in the National League for many reasons. Their top three teams include those that can very well compete for the World Series in 2023. 

First, although the Braves did lose shortstop Dansby Swanson, they are extremely deep and still have a great lineup—especially their 1-7 hitters. Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider top an impressive Braves rotation as well. 

The Mets took a serious blow with their closer Edwin Diaz who got injured during the World Baseball Classic. He is the game’s best closer and will likely be out the entire season. However, their lineup is stacked and they swapped DeGrom for Justin Verlander. With Diaz, I really think they could’ve won this division (and they obviously still can) but it will be much more challenging. 

As for the Phillies, they are the reigning National League champs for a reason, however, they have two major injuries in Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. With the addition of Trea Turner, I do believe that if fully healthy this Phillies team is the team to beat in the NL. Injuries, of course, are a part of the game but it does make it interesting because Harper will return late in the season to help this team make a final playoff push. 

The Marlins and Nationals are both irrelevant to me. However, I think the Marlins are a few years away from being playoff ready and of course, they have the best young pitcher in the game in Sandy Alcantara.

NL CENTRAL:

1. Cardinals (89-73)

2. Brewers (85-77)

3. Cubs (74-88)

4. Pirates (68-94)

5. Reds (61-101)

As I stated earlier, the central divisions are the worst in baseball, but the Cardinals are a team that is capable of doing some damage in the playoffs. As for the Brewers, I think the team will ultimately miss the playoffs, but I can see them sneaking in or winning the division if the Cardinals have injuries. In my mind, this division is a two-team race with the bottom three teams being very bad—So let’s just focus on St. Louis and Milwaukee. 

For the Cardinals, the heart of their lineup with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado is deadly. Also this offseason, they added Willson Contreras as their catcher. As a Yankees fan, it will be interesting to see how Jordan Montgomery will do in St. Louis since he was solid in New York and a change of scenery might be a good thing. 

For the Brewers, they are going to need to rely on their starting pitchers. Between Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, they have a more than dominant pitching trio. Their lineup shouldn’t scare anyone quite frankly. I expect them to push the Cardinals until the end but anything more than that would require some luck.

NL WEST:

1. Padres (94-68)

2. Dodgers (92-70)

3. Giants (81-81)

4. D-Backs (75-87)

5. Rockies (66-96)

Last and certainly not least, we have the NL West. I was torn between the Dodgers and the Padres for a bit, but I think that the loss of Trea Turner is indescribable. Also, the bottom of the Dodgers’ lineup does not scare me one bit. As far as starting pitching goes, they have some concerns with Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard. 

The Padres, on the other hand, should be really excited about 2023. The Dodgers in my mind got significantly worse, while the Padres improved. Fernando Tatis Jr. will miss the team’s first twenty games due to suspension, but once he comes back they have an elite lineup that can compete with any team. Regarding the Giants, avoiding Correa is probably a good thing, but not making any major improvements this offseason was not. The Giants remind me of the Brewers in the sense that their lineup should not scare you, but they do have some very solid starting pitchers. They can compete but will ultimately fall short of the playoffs.

Takeaways:

Ultimately, I predict that the same twelve teams will make the playoffs from last year. Obviously not with the same seeding, but there is a talent gap this year and this new schedule will help to slowly decrease that gap. As far as World Series predictions go, it’s still the Astros’ to lose. I don’t see many teams in the AL competing with them in a series. In the NL, the Padres have a real shot to make a deep run but it is very open due to the injuries suffered thus far by the other teams.

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