Well, we made it! The 2023 MLB season is finally here which means it's time for last minute predictions. Happy Opening Day to all the baseball lover's out there as hope springs eternal once again. As every team in the majors gets to say today, "Why not this year?" Without further ado, let's get into the predictions from yours truly. We will go through playoff standing predictions and award predictions.
American League Playoffs
1. Houston Astros (99-63) - AL West Winner
The American League has run through Houston two of the last three normal major league seasons, and there is no evidence pointing towards that not continuing this year. Even though they lost Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, the Astros still have a strong rotation that certainly doesn't lack depth.
Framber Valdez and Christian Javier are a formidable one-two punch at the top, while rookie right-hander Hunter Brown has a lot of upside as the number five starter. The bullpen has a lot of solid options as well, led by closer Ryan Pressly and other high-leverage arms in Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero. The already dangerous lineup built around MVP finalist Yordan Alvarez and breakout outfielder Kyle Tucker, added former White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.
2. New York Yankees (95-67) - AL East Winner
The AL East was won by the Yankees for the second time since 2012 last year and they are the favorites to repeat. But the division race won't be getting ay easier as the Blue Jays continue to get more dangerous, the Rays are always seemingly right in the hunt every year, and the Orioles are at the end of their rebuild. Sorry Red Sox fans, but you know. It is very likely that the Yankees and Jays are fighting it out for first place all season long, but once the Bombers can get healthy they are the team to beat. Their fully healthy rotation is, on paper, one of the best in the major leagues. Gerrit Cole is a perennial Cy Young candidate, Carlos Rodon as been one of the best starters in the league over the last few years, Nestor Cortes showed his elite potential in 2022, and Luis Severino can be an ace at the backend.
Not to mention the fact the depth arms they have like Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German. That depth will be put to the test early on and it's good to get the injuries out of the way early on so they can be at full strength later. The bullpen is as strong as anyone, which will also be down some pieces at the start - Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino - but have a lot of depth down in Triple-A as well as the big league club. The lineup is very dangerous as they returned MVP Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, and have potential with Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres. They also some promising young bats in Anthony Volpe - set to make his debut - Oswaldo Cabrera, and Oswald Peraza who will start the season in Scranton. If this team can click on all cylinders and get healthy, the Yankees can win over 100 games for the first time since 2019.
3. Cleveland Guardians (90-72) - AL Central Winner
The Guardians won the AL Central last season as the only team in the division above .500. They used their contact-over-power approach to a tee which they combined with their steady pitching from the rotation and bullpen. With their lineup not featuring much power outside of Jose Ramirez last season, Cleveland added Josh Bell and Mike Zunino which should give their pop potential a boost. There could be at least 60 homers between those three alone. That lineup also has plenty of young bats that can give more production this year, such as Gabriel Arias and George Valera. The rotation is still led by Shane Bieber and the bullpen by dominant closer Emmanuel Clase.
4. Toronto Blue Jays (94-68) - Wild Card 1
5. Seattle Mariners (93-69) - Wild Card 2
6. Minnesota Twins (88-74) - Wild Card 3
AL MVP - Shohei Ohtani
AL Cy Young - Shane Bieber
AL Rookie of the Year - Anthony Volpe
1. Atlanta Braves (94-68) - NL East Winner
The Braves have the chance to show up with one of their best rotations in some time, with Spencer Strider, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Kyle Wright a very formidable top four. Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd both made the Opening Day roster, as Wright will begin the season on the injured list. Those two rookies have been battling out all spring for the fifth rotation and will get the chance to continue that into the regular season. They excelled and the competition should only push each of them to do even better. The Atlanta lineup was already very good, led by MVP candidates Austin Riley and Ronald Acuña Jr., and Matt Olson. Now they add other former Oakland Athletic Sean Murphy, who provides pop at the plate and is a very solid catcher behind the plate.
2. San Diego Padres (92-70) - NL West Winner
The gap between the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West is closed. This has been the Dodgers division every season since 2013, except the outlier in 2021 when the Giants won 107 games to take it. Now the Giants are back in the depths of hell, and the Padres are about ready to take the reins in the division. Just a month or so ago, I still thought it was the Dodgers division to lose, and perhaps they will still take it. But the longer you look at the Dodgers, the more you see holes. The Padres have so much more depth, while the Dodgers are beginning the season with a boatload of injuries with next to no depth. Gavin Lux is out for the season with a torn ACL he suffered early in Spring Training and Tony Gonsolin is beginning the season on the injured list. What are you going to get out of another year older Clayton Kershaw? Can Dustin May step up? What version of Noah Syndergaard will we see? Those are just some of the questions hanging over the rotation for the Dodgers. The Padres, like any team, have questions as well, but are more likely to be easier to answer. Just start with the lineup that should see an MVP-type season from Juan Soto, added Xander Boegarts - who consistently puts up .300 seasons - and will get Fernando Tatis Jr. back on 4/20 (blaze it). The rotation is more backloaded than the Dodgers, despite not having as many "ace-type" arms. Joe Musgrove starts the season on the IL with a fractured toe, but is on track to return rather quickly. Yu Darvish and Blake Snell are behind Musgrove in the rotation, while San Diego also added Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo who have some potential.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) - NL Central Winner
4. New York Mets (92-70)
5. Philadelphia Phillies (91-71)
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-72)
NL MVP - Manny Machado
NL Cy Young - Zac Gallen
NL Rookie of the Year - Ezequiel Tovar
Follow me on Twitter @AlexTBPK for all the baseball content all season long, which will include my coverage of the Yankees' Triple-A club, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.
Picture Credit: From Getty Images