2013 Major League Baseball Season Preview
I am a firm believer that Opening Day of the Baseball season should be a national holiday and everyone should be giving the day off to take in all of the games being played. Even the President of the United States makes time to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a game. Anyways, nothing is better than the smell of a freshly cut baseball field, and with that sweet aroma in the air, here is my 2013 Major League Baseball Season Preview.
National League – * Denotes Playoff Team
*Washington Nationals (94-68) – The Nationals are my pick to win the World Series. The combination of starting pitching, bullpen, and lineup are just too strong. They could potentially have both the NL CY Young Award winner in Stephen Strasburg and the NL MVP Award winner in Bryce Harper this season.
*Atlanta Braves (92-70) – I really, really like this team. I’ll go as far as to say I like this team so much that I almost picked them to finish ahead of the Nationals in the division and win the World Series. If starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran can live up to their hype, I think it could happen.
Philadelphia Phillies (85-77) – The Phillies have major, major questions marks. Roy Halladay had a terrible Spring Training, with his fastball sitting at 85-87 MPH and questions are starting to be asked if Halladay’s career is done. But with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee healthy, they should win 85 games.
New York Mets (78-84) – This team is still about two years away from making some noise in this division, but they are on their way. With David Wright locked up and two very good prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud and starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, the Mets are moving in the right direction.
Miami Marlins (65-97) – If you thought no one went to Marlins games last season, they may set the record for lowest attendance in a season. Basically, this team is made up of Giancarlo Stanton and a bunch to Triple-A players. If there is one bright spot, the starting rotation could be surprisingly decent.
*Cincinnati Reds (89-73) – The Reds offense is loaded with homers coming in the form of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. The lack of a true Center Fielder will hurt them defensively, but when you are scoring 7+ runs a game and have a dominate closer in Aroldis Chapman, you won’t need to play much defense.
*St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) – The Cards return a loaded team. Not only are they set with well-established veterans, but we may finally start to see some of these awesome prospects they’ve been hiding in their farm system, mainly starting pitcher Shelby Miller and outfielder Oscar Taveras.
Milwaukee Brewers (81-81) – Things can go really well for the Brewers, or they can go really bad. If Carlos Gomez can improve on last year’s quietly good season and if starting pitchers Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada can pitch well, things can be good. If Ryan Braun is suspended for 50 games, all is bad.
Pittsburgh Pirates (77-85) – Every year it seems like we pick the Pirates to either sneak into the playoffs or have a winning season. This season, I’m confident neither will happen. While I think they will be able to score runs with star Andrew McCutchen, the starting pitching just aren’t there for them this season.
Chicago Cubs (69-93) – I can see GM Theo Epstein working here. While he still has a lot of work to do in order for the Cubs to be a playoff contender in the near future, they have nice building blocks. Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Jeff Samardzija are a nice core to build a playoff team around.
*San Francisco Giants (91-71) – Beware, homerism might be at play. It’s always hard to predict what a team will do the season after winning a World Series, but I see no regression with this Giants team. Same lineup, same starting pitching, same bullpen that won the 2012 World Series. Repeat?
Los Angeles Dodgers (87-75) – I’m a die-hard Giants fans. Do you really think I can pick the Dodgers to make the playoffs? They may have made the big trades, getting Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and made the big free agent signing in Zack Greinke, but it does get you team chemistry.
Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77) – As a Giants fan, I’m actually more scared of the D-backs chasing them down for the NL West division title rather than the Dodgers. They have a really good starting rotation now with adding Brandon McCarthy and they have a sleeper NL MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt.
San Diego Padres (76-86) – I think the Padres will be better than people think. Chase Headley had a MVP type season and with Petco Park moving their fences in to be more hitter friendly, it should improve his HR numbers. I also really like Cameron Maybin and think he will have a breakout season.
Colorado Rockies (69-93) – They have two great players in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. But when you have a starting rotation of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Jeff Francis, and Jon Garland, and you’re pitching in the thin air of Denver, good luck trying to win ball games.
American League – * Denotes Playoff Team
Tampa Bay Rays (90-72) – No matter how many fans don’t show up to their games or how few of their players are recognizable, the Rays always find a way to win. Besides Evan Longoria and David Price, there aren’t a lot of star-studded names on this team, yet. Watch out for a call-up of Wil Meyers.
*Toronto Blue Jays (88-74) – GM Alex Anthopoulos did a masterful job assembling this team. He pulled off two of the biggest trades this offseason in getting Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson from the Marlins and R.A. Dickey from the Mets. They are too good on paper not to make the playoffs.
New York Yankees (84-78) – Age and injuries may finally catch up with the boys in pinstripes. Too put it in prospective, their opening day starting lineup: Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner, Juan Rivera, Kevin Youkilis, Brennan Boesch, Chris Stewart, and Eduardo Nunez. Good Luck!
Baltimore Orioles (82-80) – I don’t foresee the Orioles having that same magical season in 2013 as they did in 2012. The offense will be there, but in looking at their starting rotation, I just don’t see 90 wins in them. I do like Adam Jones a lot and think he could be a good AL MVP sleeper candidate this season.
Boston Red Sox (77-85) – They did a great job trading away a lot of big contracts and dead money, but I think they are still one to two years away from getting back into the playoff picture. There are just too many question marks in their lineup with Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Napoli.
*Detroit Tigers (96–66) – They play in the weakest baseball division and feature a triple-crown, AL MVP Award winner in Miguel Cabrera and a viable CY Young Award winning pitcher in Justin Verlander. I’m beginning to think that 96 wins is on the conservative side of win totals for this ball club.
Kansas City Royals (85-77) – Last season, this team was primed for the playoffs. After not living up to expectations, the Royals are in full-blown win now mode. They traded away their best prospects in Wil Myers for James Shields in order to bolster their struggling starting pitching. I hope it works.
Cleveland Indians (80-82) – This team is actually not that bad and could surprise some people. Their lineup is pretty solid with the additions of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, and with a healthy Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera, they could score some runs and make things interesting.
Chicago White Sox (75-87) – The White Sox seem to be one of those teams that always hangs around till the end and causes trouble. I don’t see that happening this year. Their starting pitching outside of Jake Peavy and Chris Sale is suspect and it’s going to be a matter of time before Paul Konerko begins to slide.
Minnesota Twins (72-90) – There is no doubt that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire can will this team to a winning record, but I just can’t see it with the players they have and especially their starting rotation. And Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer just aren’t the same players they once were either.
*Los Angeles Angels (91-71) – I know last season they flamed out and were a disappointment, but I can’t see the Angels not making the playoffs. They are too talented on paper not to make it. Albert Pujols will come back to life and the Angels will get a full season of Mickey Mantle light, Mike Trout.
*Texas Rangers (89-73) – Their outfield is dicey right now, so don’t be surprise if we see a trade for a corner outfielder or a player-position move. The most likely will be a player-position move and the prime candidate is Ian Kinsler. His move allows for super-prospect Jurickson Profar to be called up.
Oakland A’s (86-76) – The A’s burst onto the scene last season, shocking the baseball world by winning the AL West division and coming one game from beating the Tigers in the playoffs. But they did so by getting career years out of their young prospects. They’ll still be good, but regression will set in.
Seattle Mariners (79-83) – This team could be the Oakland A’s of last season. They have a lot of young players primed to have a good season, and a lot of young prospects who if they get the early call-up, could make a big impact on the team. One young player, Jesus Montero, could have an All-Star season.
Houston Astros – (56-106) – This team has the makings of setting records, and I don’t mean in a good way. I fully believe this team may challenge the 1962 Mets for having the worst win-loss record in baseball history. Hell, there are probably some triple-A teams that could beat the Astros in a series.
Baseball Playoff Predictions
AL Division Winners:
AL East – Rays
AL Central – Tigers
AL West – Angels
Wild Card Teams – Blue Jays, Rangers
NL Division Winners:
NL East – Nationals
NL Central – Reds
NL West – Giants
Wild Card Teams – Braves, Cardinals
World Series Prediction:
Nationals over Tigers
AL MVP – Robinson Cano, 2B Yankees
NL MVP – Ryan Braun, OF Brewers
AL CY Young – Jered Weaver, SP Angels
NL CY Young – Stephen Strasburg, SP Nationals
AL Rookie of the Year – Wil Meyers, OF Rays
NL Rookie of the Year – Andrelton Simmons, SS Braves
AL Manager of the Year – John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays
NL Manager of the Year – Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals