Posted by

Allen Adams Allen Adams
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer


Play ball! A 2022 MLB season preview

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Believe it or not, Opening Day is almost upon us.

In just a few days, Major League Baseball will hit the field for the start of the 2022 season. Sure, it’s a little later than it might have been, thanks to the still-inexplicable lockout that resulted in an offseason packed with uncertainty only to land on a meet-in-the-middle compromise that probably should have been reached back in December, but whatever. We’re getting baseball!

The bat will still crack. The glove will still pop. Blazing fastballs and towering home runs will be abundant. Familiar faces will display their usual excellence and unknowns will display unexpected transcendence. And for the more data-driven – the numbers will continue to tell you the truth. The joy of that part of baseball is that there will ALWAYS be more numbers.

We all love it for different reasons.

So we’ll see if the Atlanta Braves can become the first back-to-back World Series winners in a generation. We’ll see what two-way talent Shohei Ohtani does to follow up on an MVP year. Can Bryce Harper win his second MVP in a row and third overall? What about Cy Young winners Robbie Ray and Corbin Burnes? We’ll find out which young phenoms are the real deal and which are fool’s gold, which long-timers are out of gas or still have a little left in the tank.

And so, in my ongoing futile quest to look ahead at what is to come, here is one man’s opinion on how the upcoming season might play out. One thing is for certain: there will be some surprises. There always are. Baseball is back, folks – better late than never.

Play ball!

(Division winners = x; Wild Card = y)


American League

AL East

Toronto Blue Jays - x

Boston Red Sox - y

New York Yankees - y

Tampa Bay Rays

Baltimore Orioles

The truth is that the top four teams in this division could land in any order and I wouldn’t be shocked – sorry Baltimore – but this is how it looks to me at the moment. The Blue Jays are absolutely stacked talent-wise, with guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and the newly-acquired Matt Chapman ready to do some bashing and a solid pitching staff from top to bottom (though they did lose Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to free agency). If the Jays can manage even average run prevention, their offense will blow teams off the field. Plus, with Canada’s stringent COVID policies, they’re likely to get plenty of home games against depleted teams missing unvaccinated players. I do like the Red Sox to make the playoffs – the signing of Trevor Story beefs up an already formidable lineup led by Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. Hopefully, Bobby Dalbec develops and young guys like Tristan Casas will contribute. I’ll concede that my inherent homerism is a factor here; the pitching staff looks like it could be trouble both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Basically, Nathan Eovaldi needs to hold up and Chris Sale needs to come back sooner rather than later and the bullpen needs pre-All Star break Matt Barnes to show up again. Still, I like this team to win enough to earn a wild card berth. Of course, if the Yankees hitters perform closer to their usual standards they might leapfrog not just Boston, but Toronto as well. This is a team with a lot of bashers – Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo – that won’t be any fun to pitch to. There could be a LOT of homers coming out of that lineup, with dudes like D.J. LeMahieu scoring ahead of them. Plus, their rotation is headed up by Gerrit Cole, who is an early Cy Young favorite. If the pitchers can stay healthy – a big if considering their recent injury history – the East is trouble. That said, the Rays are plenty dangerous as well, with their seemingly never-ending cavalcade of live bullpen arms. Seriously – Tampa Bay just didn’t give up runs last year, thanks to interchangeable dudes throwing 100. They’ve got some pop in the lineup, as well as one of the most exciting young players in the league in Wander Franco. As I said, I have them fourth here, but they could land in any of the spots above them and it wouldn’t be a shock. As for the Orioles, well … perhaps the easiest bet in MLB this year is Baltimore finishing fifth in this division. There’s just not a lot here. They’ve got a couple of good players – Cedric Mullins became a star last year, while guys like Adley Rutschman could make that leap this season. But this team was BAD and hasn’t gotten much better. The reality is that if they can avoid losing 100 games, that’ll be a victory. Baltimore has the lowest odds to make the playoffs of any team in baseball … and even those odds might be too high.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox - x

Minnesota Twins

Cleveland Guardians

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

Not going to lie – I really like this White Sox team to make some noise this year, particularly since the Central has taken something of a step back as a whole. They’ve got some incredible young offensive talent on the field. I love guys like Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez to have breakout years, adding to their already impressive stat lines. The addition of A.J. Pollock is big, and I like Gavin Sheets to surprise with the bat as well. Plus, they have potential top-tier arms in Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease leading the rotation. The bullpen might be a problem, though – there’s not a lot of high-end talent here after trades and injuries. I love the moves the Twins have made in the offseason. The big one is acquiring star shortstop Carlos Correa, of course, but he’s not the only big bat in this lineup. I’m a believer in Byron Buxton and think that this is the year he finally manages to stay on the field. If he does, this could be the most potent one-two punch of any lineup in the league. They’ve got some decent hitters surrounding them as well – Jorge Polanco chief among them. However, it’s unclear if they’ve got the juice to get anyone out. Their best pitcher might be rookie Joe Ryan; Minnesota needs wily vets like Sonny Gray and Rich Hill to overperform if they’re to have any real shot at contention. The Guardians have some good pieces here – Jose Ramirez remains one of the best all-around players in the game, while Shane Bieber will likely contend for a Cy Young if he stays healthy. They’ve got a couple of other potentially strong pitchers as well – people have liked what they’ve seen from Triston McKenzie, while Emmanuel Clase could be a dominant closer. But beyond Ramirez, it just doesn’t seem like the Guardians will hit much. They’ll need Franmil Reyes to keep basking and dudes like Bobby Bradley to step up. Will they? Tough to say. Next up, we have the Tigers, a team that seems a bit at sea. On the one hand, they went out and got Javier Baez, who might be frustrating at times, but is one of MLB’s most exciting players to watch. Other new additions like Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Pineda could help the rotation immensely. They’ve got some young studs in Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene. But I just don’t think it’s enough. They’ll play decently, but the most memorable moments in Detroit this year likely come via milestones hit by the aging Miguel Cabrera. And then we have the Royals. The dear, sweet Royals. Salvador Perez led the league in homers last year – he might hit 40 again. Adalberto Mondesi could go 20/50 if he stays healthy. Bobby Witt Jr. might be the best prospect in the game. But all in all, it’s pretty thin on both power and patience – hallmarks of the game. Don’t expect much.

AL West

Houston Astros - x

Los Angeles Angels - y

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

Oakland A’s

If the cards fall right, the Astros could wind up with the best record in the American League when it’s all said and done. Kyle Tucker looks like a potential MVP candidate, while Yordan Alvarez continues to flash incredible power. Jose Altuve isn’t what he once was, but he’s still a hell of a player. They need Alex Bregman to bounce back and rookie Jeremy Pena to step up. Justin Verlander is back from Tommy John surgery; if he’s even 80% of what he was, the Houston rotation has a chance to be close to what it was last season, i.e. one of the best in the league. The bullpen is so-so, but if the ‘Stros hit like they can, it won’t matter. Picking the Angels always burns me, but I keep doing it because they have two of the best players in baseball. Sure, Mike Trout is getting older and has a history of being dinged up, but the dude was the best player on the planet for a decade and isn’t far removed from that perch now. Plus, there’s reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani, who proved that it’s possible to be an elite hitter AND pitcher in today’s MLB. Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh can both mash. Historically, L.A.’s downfall has been pitching, and it’s better – Noah Syndergaard has been added behind Ohtani and there are other live arms in the rotation. The staff isn’t great, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it has been. The improvement should get them over the hump and into the postseason – for one game, at least. I considered picking Seattle for the playoffs, but decided against it – I didn’t want to jinx them. The pieces are there. They added Robbie Ray to front the pitching staff. I like youngsters like Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez to have big years. If hitters like Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker can exploit their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, there’s a strong lineup here. Is it strong enough to overcome the teams in front of them? I hope so – 20 years is too long for any fanbase to miss the postseason. The Rangers made some splashy moves in the offseason, signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien and instantly upgrading to one of the best offensive middle infield situations in the league. After that, though, it gets bleak pretty quickly. They have a couple of young bats with bounceback potential, but that rotation looks ROUGH. When you’re counting on Jon Gray to lead the way, well … let’s just say that that’s not what you want. I’m anticipating a long season in Arlington … but not nearly as long as Oakland’s. The A’s are just blowing it up, having sent just about every player with any real impact potential packing. Matt Olson, easily their best hitter, is gone. Matt Chapman, with his tremendous combo of power and defense – he’s gone too. Starter Sean Manaea? Oh yeah, they traded him as well. Right now, it’s Frankie Montas as the ace and not a whole lot more.


National League

NL East

Atlanta Braves – x

Philadelphia Phillies – y

New York Mets

Miami Marlins

Washington Nationals

I mean, the Braves DID win the World Series last year, so you have to like their chances to follow it up with a postseason berth. Yes, they lost Freddie Freeman, but they replaced him with Matt Olson, who is just about as excellent. And they still have Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna and Austin Riley and (eventually) Ronald Acuna Jr. That’s a healthy helping of big bats. On the mound, you’re looking at guys like Max Fried and Charlie Morton, with Mike Soroka hopefully joining in down the road. They also look to have a potentially stacked bullpen. Throw it all together and you’ve got a return trip to the playoffs. I’ve got the Phillies not only finishing second, but also making the playoffs. It feels a little crazy, but I’m going with my gut. They have the league MVP in Bryce Harper and signed a pair of offensive studs in Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber. I also think Aaron Nola bounces back and pitches at a high level, as do a couple of other Phillie starters. Unfortunately, you also have to play defense, and it is there that this pick feels iffiest. This team could be an all-timer of a terrible defensive squad; I’m crossing my fingers for just not-good. If they get that, they’re in the playoffs. The Mets looked like they might be poised to make a move at a division crown, but they couldn’t help Metsing all over themselves. It’s not their fault, necessarily – all-world starter Jacob deGrom is injured again, out for a while at least, and free agent signee Max Scherzer is dealing with some injury struggles of his own. If both were healthy, look out Atlanta … but they’re not. Bounceback seasons from the likes of Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso could go some way toward making up the difference, but – apologies to my good internet friend David Roth – LOLMets. Meanwhile, Miami is quietly putting together what looks like a talented squad. Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia can both hit homers in bunches, while Jazz Chisholm is among the most exciting young players in the game. On the mound, they have a couple of studs-in-waiting in Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Rogers; if those two keep developing, no one is going to want to face them. Still, it’s the Marlins, so expect it all to crumble. That said, they might hit .500 for the first time in years. Last and least, we have the Nationals. You have to feel for Juan Soto, who could well be the best young hitter in the game and he has absolutely nothing around him. Dude might wind up walking 150 times on the season, with an MVP-caliber season that is meaningless because no one else can hit aside from the aging Nelson Cruz. They’re not great at pitching, either, thanks to the departure of ace Scherzer. Oh, and they can’t really catch the ball or run the bases. For better or worse – almost certainly worse – this is the Soto show.

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers – x

St. Louis Cardinals – y

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Brewers have a lot going for them here. They have perhaps the best rotation in the big leagues. Corbin Burnes won the Cy Young and Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta were legitimate contenders for that award. Their back-end guys are better than a lot of teams’ aces. They’ll need to get the bats back on track – I’m looking at you, Christian Yelich – but when you can pitch like Milwaukee, you don’t need to worry quite so much about scoring. It doesn’t hurt that the division is kind of garbage. That’s right – I picked the Cardinals to make the playoffs, just like I do every year. And while I’m not always right, I’m definitely usually right. This isn’t a flashy team, but they’ve got legit players in guys like Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt in the mix. Perhaps the biggest issue is age – you’ve got a veritable geriatric ward with Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and the swan song of the largely-decrepit Albert Pujols. Still, if Wainwright can stay healthy and starters like Mike Mikolas and others can put up good seasons, you’ll see St. Louis in the postseason. I’m not going to be the guy to bet against them. The Cubs aren’t going to be that good, but they’re better than the teams below them in this division. I love the addition of Japanese star Seiya Suzuki – I expect him to be the next guy from NPB to make a big impact on MLB. I like Ian Happ a lot as well. And while the rotation doesn’t throw crazy hard, there’s no denying that Kyle Hendricks, Wade Miley and Marcus Stroman know how to pitch. It won’t be enough to get them to the promised land – or even into October – but perhaps there’s room for some optimism on the South Side. The Reds have a few positives going for them – their pitching staff might actually be pretty good, led by the excellent Luis Castillo as their ace (at least until he gets traded). And the resurgent Joey Votto is still here; anyone who loves baseball is rooting for Votto to continue being productive for as long as possible. After that, though … the cupboard is pretty bare. Ultimately, their biggest advantage is getting to play the team behind them a bunch. Lastly, we come to the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose hopes for any kind of postseason appearance are over before the season even begins. Aside from a couple of very good players – Bryan Reynolds is a star in the making, while enormous shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz (he’s 6’7”!) are fun – there’s not a lot going on in Pittsburgh. The defense projects to be pretty good, but when your team can’t really hit and can’t really pitch, there’s only so much the defense can do. The reality is that the only reason I’m not picking this group to lead the major leagues in losses is because the Baltimore Orioles exist. The fact that there’s even a conversation about that is damning enough.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers – x

San Francisco Giants - y

San Diego Padres

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Perhaps the biggest no-brainer of them all. The Dodgers somehow, after a season in which they won well over 100 games, are … better? They added Freddie Freeman, who won the MVP in 2020, to a lineup that already included absolute monsters like Mookie Betts and Trea Turner. Plus, they’ve got Max Muncy in there, along with a hopefully resurgent Cody Bellinger. On the mount, you’ve got Walker Buehler and Julio Urias and oh yeah, Clayton Kershaw is still here. This team has a shot to be one of the most prolific scoring offenses in league history while also carrying an elite pitching staff. It’s not whether they’ll win, but by how much. As for the Giants, well … I feel safe in saying that they won’t perform to the level they reached last season, but they’ll still be plenty good. It’s tempting to call them a fluke, but they did lead the league in homers – expect them to keep mashing their way through the NL. Pitching is a bit iffier – I like Logan Webb to continue developing into an ace and Carlos Rodon to more or less maintain, but the rest of the rotation is dicier. A lot of those issues can be covered by the still-exceptional bullpen. We’ll see how much they miss the retired Buster Posey; my guess is a fair amount, but not enough to keep them out of October. I’ve got the Padres third here, just missing the playoffs, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they surge. It really boils down to whether they can hang in until Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return around midseason; if Manny Machado and company – Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer in particular – can hit enough to keep San Diego afloat, Tatis could be the catalyst for a surge. None of it matters if they can’t improve the pitching, though, and while I expect some sort of bounceback, I just don’t think it will be enough to get them there. The Diamondbacks remain a bastion of sub-mediocrity, with very little to get excited about. Oh, they’ve got a rotation full of veteran Guys – they know how to pitch, but they won’t blow your hair back – and they added a proven closer in Mark Melancon. But there aren’t any real standout hitters to speak of here, aside from the very good Ketel Marte. Again, it’s a situation where they aren’t terrible, but they don’t have nearly the firepower to pass the teams ahead of them. As for the Rockies, well … who the hell even knows with these guys? They sent Nolan Arenado packing, only to bring in Kris Bryant – a little older, worse defensively – to do the same job. German Marquez seems like he may have solved the problem of pitching in Coors Field, but no one else on the staff really seem up to it aside from maybe Kyle Freeland. Maybe Randall Grichuk hits some bombs, maybe C.J. Cron keeps hitting, but really, this team doesn’t look to have much going on, either in the short-term or the long-term.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 April 2022 12:55


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine