As we prepare to embark on yet another wild and enthralling MLB season it’s time for everyone’s favorite exercise in futility: Predictions! After 2012’s thrilling season ended with the Giants raising the World Series trophy the offseason that followed was full of surprises. Annually overlooked ball clubs like Cleveland, Toronto, and Kansas City all made big win-now moves while traditional powers like the Yankees and Phillies opted for minor moves and the ensuing result could turn baseball as we know it on its head. So without further adu, I present to you my thoughts and ideas about what’s in store in 2013. No matter what happens, 2013 should be a thrilling year so sit back, grab a beer, and get settled in for some great baseball.
AL East Champion – Tampa Bay Rays
AL Central Champion – Detroit Tigers
AL West Champion – Los Angeles Angels
AL Wild Cards – New York Yankees and Texas Rangers
NL East Champion – Washington Nationals
NL Central Champion – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West Champion – Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Cards – Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies
World Series – Washington over Tampa Bay
AL MVP – Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
NL MVP – Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
NL Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
AL Rookie of the Year – Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
NL Rookie of the Year – Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
Five Bold Predictions
1. Allen Craig will battle it out with Joey Votto for the NL MVP award
Fresh off of signing a 5 year contract extension, Cardinals 1st baseman Allen Craig will emerge as one of the top players in the National League. Craig’s phenomenal pitch recognition skills will keep his batting average near the top of the league and a full year of good health will lead to career highs across the board. Unfortunately for the Cardinals’ 1st baseman, he plays in the same division as Joey Votto. When Votto’s healthy he’s the best gap-to-gap hitter in baseball and now that he’s got Shin Soo-Choo hitting at the top of the order the RBI’s should start flowing. With players like these, the NL Central should be one of baseball most entertaining divisions.
2. The Houston Astros will challenge the 1962 Mets and the 2004 Tigers for the title of “Worst Team of 162-game Era”
The Astros were miserable a season ago, dropping 107 games on their way to the worst record in baseball. And it gets even worse for Astros’ fans because the franchise is moving to the AL West, which figures to be one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The pitching staff has one, maybe two, legitimate Major League starters right now (Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell) and the offense is even more miserly. The only offensive player on this roster who would start for any other team in the league is Jose Altuve. Losing 120 games is a really tall order but with this roster in this division it’s certainly doable. The front office has the chops and intelligence to turn this around eventually but right now the Astros are in such a state of disrepair that 2017 is the next time winning baseball is seen in Houston.
3. The Los Angeles Angels will be the first team since the Yankees in 2009 to score 900 runs
Thanks to a ferocious top of the order featuring three MVP candidates in Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, the Angles will have no problem piling up the runs. Trout in particular looks like a solid bet to swipe 50 bases and while becoming the first player since Jeff Bagwell in 2000 to score 150+ runs.
4. The Atlanta Braves will lead baseball in strikeouts, and it will cost them a playoff berth
The fans should be able to catch a nice breeze in Atlanta this season because no team in baseball looks like they are going to whiff more often. The brothers Upton will finish the year with at least 300 combined strikeouts. Dan Uggla’s also a lock to finish with 150+ strikeouts as well and we haven’t even discussed Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, who both have swing-and-miss issues as well. Atlanta has a ton of talent but they look like a team that won’t get on base enough to let that talent shine through.
5. The Royals will climb above .500 but they won’t make it much further than that in the rugged American League
The acquisition of James Shields gives Kansas City the ace they’ve been missing since shipping Zach Greinke off to Milwaukee and some in-house improvements from Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas should make the Royals a much-improved ball club. Add in the hardest throwing bullpen in baseball, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon and you have the pieces for a contending team. But the mediocre rotation after Shields and sub-replacement starters in left (looking at you Jeff Francouer) and 2nd base will leave the Royals on the outside looking in come October.
Recommended reading to get you ready for the season:
Feel free to leave any comments or predictions of your own below!