The MLB is back and that means teams are packing up their bags and making trips to embark on the grueling journey from March to November to prove to be the best in the MLB. Here’s my top 10 picks.
10: Cleveland Guardians
After being eliminated by the New York Yankeesin 2022, Cleveland signed first baseman Josh Bell for two years. Bell will have a tremendous partner to work with across the diamond in José Ramírez, who is entering the second year of his sizable seven-year $141 million dollar contract extension. Ramírez will be a driving force for the Guardians’ offence coming into 2023 after he led the team with 29 home runs and a career-high 126 runs batted in (RBI) last season. I expect the Guardians to contend for the American League (AL) Central division title if Ramírez continues to put up outstanding numbers.
9: Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia shocked the baseball world last season when they went on a Cinderella run to the World Series. They eventually lost to the Astros in six games, but Philadelphia did not hesitate to improve their team by signing shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year $300 million dollar contract that will keep him around for the long run in the city of brotherly love. The two-time all-star was a great leadoff hitter for the Dodgers as he posted a .307 batting average over his 212-game tenure with Los Angeles.
8: Toronto Blue Jays
With a core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman and George Springer, it’s time for the Blue Jays to take flight this year. If Toronto wants to be a contender for the World Series, Guerrero Jr. must be at the forefront of it all and continue to put up MVP-caliber numbers as he did in 2021, when he led the AL in on base plus slugging (OPS) with 1.002. By adding three-time Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier on defence, the Blue Jays are looking like one of the best teams in the American League.
7: St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis signing catcher Wilson Contreras has made their elite infield just got even better. .Now St. Louis rosters Contreas along with 10-time gold glove winner Nolan Arenado and four-time gold glove winner Paul Goldschmidt. Contreras is an excellent defensive catcher at 30 years old with a strong arm that can gun down baserunners in remarkable fashion, as he only allowed 11 stolen bases in 2022. If healthy, the Cardinals will be a threat to go deep in the playoffs.
6: Atlanta Braves
Atlanta still holds a lethal roster of stars even with the loss of Dansby Swanson. The flexibility of the Braves roster being signed long-time gives Atlanta a generous time frame to take a shot at capturing their fifth title in franchise history. Players like Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. are locked up for the Braves and Atlanta will be dangerous for the foreseeable future.
5: Los Angeles Dodgers
It was an offseason like no other in recent memory for Los Angeles, who witnessed players like Justin and Trea Turner leave the organization. The Dodgers seem to be embracing a different approach in 2023 after winning a franchise record of 111 games in the regular season last year before having their playoff run ended by the San Diego Padres. Expect young prospects such as 22-year-old third baseman Miguel Vargas to have an expanded role in the lineup this season. Vargas was dominant in 2022 with the Dodgers AAA minor league affiliate, posting a .304 Batting average and OPS of .915 through 113 games.
4: San Diego Padres
The Padres got right to work in the offseason by signing shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a massive 11-year $280 million dollar contract. San Diego seems determined in the pursuit of their very first World Series in franchise history, and with the Bogaerts, the Padres will be a dangerous team again this season.
3: Houston Astros
As the defending World Series Champions, Houston enters this season firing on all cylinders after winning it all in 2022 against the Phillies. Despite the loss of former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, the Astros have retained most of their core and added José Abreu to an already loaded infield featuring gold glove winner Alex Bregman. With Jose Altuve’s injury at this year’s World Baseball Classic, the Astros will likely be without the second basemen through the first month of the season, but this should not be an area of concern for Houston.
2: New York Mets
While losing a two-time Cy Young winner in Jacob DeGrom may leave a bitter taste in the mouth of Mets fans, New York wasted no time replacing him with future hall-of-famer Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana to the starting rotation. At 40 years old, Verlander is still putting up tremendous numbers. He won 18 games and held an Earned Run Average (ERA) of just 1.75 last season with the Astros, which was good enough for him to be named the 2022 American League Cy Young winner for the third time in his career. Even though this Mets team has all the parts needed to make a deep postseason run, the loss of star closer Edwin Diaz will be costly.
1: New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have clinched a playoff berth in six straight seasons but are yet to play in a World Series. However, they have been in this position before and failed to win a World Series. New York should be trying to win a title at all costs this season, no matter the price. Their acquisition of Carlos Rodón and resigning Aaron Judge to a monster nine-year $360 million dollar deal will help them tremendously this season as the “Evil Empire” aims to strike back and win it all in 2023.
2023 World Series Champion Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Houston Astros in seven games
After losing to the Astros in the 2017 World Series, I think Los Angeles has a chip on their shoulder and what better way to get redemption than winning a championship against their rivals in Houston. The Dodgers had a rough ending last year, but hold a mix of both experience and youth. The Dodgers will use this as to make a deep push in the playoffs to win the MLB championship.
Cover photo via USA Today