MLB predictions 2022: World Series and divisional picks
Expert, very academical predictions with no bias that will definitely be right (but let's be honest here).
Alright, it’s time for that time of year again where we can argue over predictions that no one thinks will happen - and, let’s be honest, no predictions do end up completely right - and then get bombarded by messages on Opening Day about how my predictions went wrong, while there’s still six months left of the season. Sports are wonderful, don’t you think?
But baseball is something that is just so hard to predict. There are times where some teams are so good that they are a lock to win the division - looking at you, Dodgers - but sometimes teams are barely ahead of others, and injuries can seriously shake up the field. (The AL East is the best example out there.)
Before we get to it, a) congratulations to Kansas and South Carolina, winners of the NCAA Tournaments, and b) let’s take a moment to appreciate baseball and the sport. We almost didn’t have this. Really. We almost didn’t get the sound of a 93-mph fastball in a catcher's glove, almost didn’t get to hear the crack of the bat that sails over the fence, almost didn’t get to see the games where the sun is beating and no one is in the stands since the home team is terrible, almost didn’t get to turn on the TV and always count on something to be on. We almost didn’t get to see the versatility and athleticism of Shohei Ohtani, or the raw power of Shohei Ohtani, or the unhittable fastball of Shohei Ohtani… wait, who’s another baseball player?
We almost didn’t get the awkward press conferences, like in Spring Training, when Fernando Tatis Jr. was asked how his wrist injury was due to a motorcycle accident and he said “which one,” or when Aaron Judge was asked about the vaccine and told reporters “we should focus on baseball now, and worry about that later.”
Most of all, we almost missed the games. The meaningless events, or the matches where everything is on the line. We almost missed the best part of the Summer.
And you know what the best part is? We won’t.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2022 MLB season.
*Marks playoff team, 12 will make it this year (6 from each league)
1. Blue Jays*: The Blue Jays have no holes, and on top of that, they are filled with talent at each position. Assembling a group of sluggers in Rogers Centre is big since the stadium is on the smaller end. The Jays also have got the best 1-to-5 rotation in the league, meaning each pitcher with a job has the skill for the exact spot. All the players deserved to be mentioned, but there isn’t enough space.
2. Rays*: The same old Rays. Actually, no, Kevin Cash’s squad this year has real, young talent, not a group of journeymen who come together in Tampa. The one weak spot is the stadium and the pitchers, a group of young throwers and unproved players.
3. Red Sox*: Acquiring Trevor Story at short was huge for Boston, who are looking high again. They have a decent-at-best rotation, which could be a problem since they struggled finding consistency until the playoffs last year. On the hitting side, the Bosox have power, power, and more power in one of the best pure hitting squads in MLB.
4. Yankees: No bias, but it’s hard to see the Yanks going too far. They missed out on all the big free agents, which is not a good sign as the Bronx Bombers are a very prestigious organisation. Trading for Josh Donaldson’s $50 contract limits moves at the deadline, something New York usually uses, while Isaiah Kiner-Falefa is an amazing low-cost pickup. Not all the lineup is like him though.
5. Orioles: This shouldn’t be a surprise. However, Baltimore carries the no. 1 farm system in the league, according to MLB Pipeline.
1. White Sox*: Chicago will have to deal with a division race, but they have a full lineup. Home run hitters, potential .330 hitters, defensive wizards, and a good rotation paired with a very good bullpen. Is this the year? Tommy La Russa will have to let them be who they are as players and people to do so.
2. Twins*: Who saw Carlos Correa going to Minny on a 3-year deal? Now you can see why they had a very busy offseason. The acquisition of Sonny Gray makes this team that much better. You can’t sleep on this lineup, which is full of power hitters, at third, first, and then centre field if Byron Buxton can stay healthy.
3. Tigers: AJ Hinch has made the Tigers relevant again. 77 wins last year was a huge step up, and high Draft picks in recent years like Spencer Torkelson at the hot corner (who’s starting Opening Day), makes this team an everyday contender for winning ballgames. Don’t play with the Tigers, they will bite you.
4. Guardians: The new name guys! Sure, the jerseys are nice but it’s hard to see that translating onto the field. The once-great rotation is on it’s last legs, and their MVP candidate Jose Ramirez is surrounded by trade speculation, which isn’t good for on-field play. Does he even finish the season with Cleveland? Who knows at this point.
5. Royals: Kansas City is finally calling up Bobby Witt Jr. They have brought back Zack Greinke. The former should be the only exciting storyline surrounding this Kansas City team, obviously unless Salvador Perez puts together another 50-home run season.
1. Mariners*: Seattle is doubling down on ending a playoff drought that has been around since 2001, the longest in professional sports. They stole Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez from Cincinnati, and also signed on defending Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. It seems that the Mariners are contending, and if their prospects like Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez, branded as the next big thing.
2. Angels: Is it the year that Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani get to play October baseball? Well, it will the closest they’ve gotten in recent years. Bringing in Noah Syndergaard was a super smart deal, and ‘Thor’ has showed up in Spring Training. They aren’t the strongest team, but a few good players are better than none.
3. Astros: Fall from grace? That never happened. Falling from contention? Not until this year. Losing Carlos Correa is not pretty, as he really was the centrepiece of that defence. Justin Verlander, back on a deal, is no longer an ace. The Astros main core is ageing fast. This may be their last chance.
4. Rangers: Committing half a billion dollars over the next ten years is a lot, but we’re talking about middle infielders here, so who cares? Marcus Semien and Corey Seager are teaming up in Texas, where the club has sprung themselves back into the conversation for postseason action. The one problem is, Texas plays in a pitchers park, so it’s not easy to hit home runs. Anyway, they’ll attract lots of fans with the air conditioning.
5. Athletics: Sellers! They are only acting up so the city of Oakland can build them a new stadium. However, they do carry some exciting prospects now, and who’s to say that this isn’t moneyball all over again?
1. Braves*: The defending World Series champions lost Freddie Freeman but still managed to find a potentially better first baseman in Matt Olson. He signed an 8-year deal and that locks down this Braves team. Keep in mind, they won it all without Ronald Acuna Jr., arguably their best player.
2. Mets*: Steve Cohen has used his financial flex to better the Mets and put together the best one-two punch in baseball: Jacob DeGrom and the newly highest paid MLB player, Max Scherzer. For once, the Mets will be the class of the big apple.
3. Phillies: The Phillies are in an interesting place. They have an extremely high payroll, the defending MVP, an okay rotation, but haven’t made the postseason since 2011. And no, since the NL East has became better as a whole, they won’t, but expect some fireworks and a lot of bell ringing.
4. Marlins: The World Series MVP, Jorge Soler, is going vice colours in 2022. The Marlins have done enough to stay out of the basement cellar, and have a very good rotation, but it won’t be enough.
5. Nationals: The Nationals won the World Series only three years ago but it feels like a lifetime since those days. Juan Soto has a ring but his best years, which are right now, are being wasted. Acquiring Nelson Cruz is relatively bold, but his regress is coming.
1. Cardinals*: October is in the cards for St. Louis. They have a stacked defensive team that consists of five Gold Glovers (!!!, three from the infield) and the old saying goes, defence wins championships. That obviously isn’t the whole story, but it goes without saying that Nolan Arenado and co. can hit. A 17-game winning streak brought them into the playoffs, this year it should be easier.
2. Brewers*: The Brewers have a stacked rotation. Their problem? Hitting doesn’t come easy. Milwaukee as is isn’t the top destination for home runs, but a less-talented team in terms of slugging needs help. If Christian Yelich can bounce back, then who knows, but right now it’s all on pitching.
3. Cubs: Don’t sleep on this team. Last year they were tanking after a decent start to the season. This year they signed Marcus Stroman and Japanese prodigy Seiya Suzuki. Does it bring them far enough? No, there needs to be some more help on the pitching side, but the Cubs have strung together a stellar infield.
4. Reds: I don’t want to talk about the Reds tanking, it’s a waste of time and only generates more attention (and therefore money) for Bob Castellini, who shouldn’t own a ballclub. That said, Jonathan India is really good.
5. Pirates: The Pirates just don’t have it yet. Sure, in the years to come, there is hope, especially with 2021 no. 1 pick Henry Davis (catcher), but now is not the time we see them crack .500.
1. Dodgers*: They’ve loaded up again. It’s unfair at this point. Adding Freddie Freeman at first base solidifies LA’s infield, the outfield spick and span, catching is great, pitching is great… frustratingly, nothing about the Dodgers is bad. They have a complete team and one that will take on anyone willing for a fight.
2. Giants*: Don’t sleep on them, no one should since they finished with 107 wins last year unexpectedly, a franchise record, but also because despite losses at pitcher and third this team is still talented. As Buster Posey walks out Joey Bart has his chance to shine, along with the farm system. It will be an interesting year in San Francisco.
3. Padres: You would think that the Pads would make October, but that train stopped when Fernando Tatis Jr.’s wrist started hurting. Sure, they still have a lot of talent, but when you lose a star like that who’s always so positive and exciting, the collective morale of the team can - will - dampen.
4. Rockies: I have no idea what Colorado is doing, I don’t like it, but it can pay off. Kris Bryant was signed on, which is a huge step up in the infield, however unlike Texas there was no follow-up. It seems that Colorado is banking on high-altitude, something that won’t work unless a real talented team is put together.
5. Diamondbacks: Listen, the Rockies would be in this position if not for their signing of Bryant. But I feel that the Diamondbacks extending Ketel Marte is a sign of potential this offseason. The problem in Arizona is that the farm is not yet good enough. In a few years, ‘los Serpentes’ will be relelvant.
And the winner of the 2022 World Series will be…
Toronto Blue Jays
This team, as I said, has no holes. They have a bonafide star at each position. When they didn’t have a third baseman, GM Ross Atkins went out to shop, and stole Matt Chapman, who promptly signed a two-year extension after spending a few days in Spring Training with the Jays. Unless there is an injury, there won’t be a need to trade for more. The farm system is still plenty with the likes of Gabby Moreno and Orelvis Martinez.
Most of all, though, the environment is phenomenal. With this team, you don’t need the stats or the analytics, all you have to know about the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays is by looking at the dugout when the cameras look at it. Regardless of score, everyone’s having a great time, and gelling, even if a translator is required.
Bolstering the bullpen, the rotation, the infield, outfield, a stellar manager in Charlie Montoyo who loves the club, believes in them, and is pretty good at making lineup decisions, the sky is the limit for the Blue Jays, and anyone can get behind them. It is going to be a fun year.