Mike’d Up: MLB pre-season predictions

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Keston Hiura, left, steps off the bag after beating Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (35) to first base for an out during the second inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

There is simply no time in sports more appealing than the beginning of a season. A new beginning for your club, a new coat of paint on your white picket fence of sorts.  

This season, Major League Baseball has a shot at a full 162 and I could not be more excited. With the season starting in just a couple weeks, I am going to start my pre-season predictions series. This week I am going to take a look at how I think each division could shake out and make some pie-in-the-sky postseason predictions. Next week I’ll circle back and do my season awards. 

Notes: These are projected records by the writer. An asterisk (*) denotes a playoff berth. 

American League (AL) East 

  1. New York Yankees (102-60)* 
  1. Toronto Blue Jays (92-70)* 
  1. Tampa Bay Rays (84-78) 
  1. Boston Red Sox (7290) 
  1. Baltimore Orioles (69-93) 

This is the Yankees division to lose. If their outfield and pitching staff can stay healthy, the Yankees will have their way with the AL East.  

The Blue Jays have taken the next step up in its rebuild, but the team doesn’t have the rotational strength needed to make it through the offensively potent East. Springer and Co. in Dunedin will be fun, though. 

The Rays lost Blake Snell and are relying on Tyler Glasnow to carry them this season. They are smart enough to stay afloat, but I wouldn’t bet on them making the postseason. 

The Red Sox and Orioles are not good. They will not be good this season. I don’t care that Chris Sale could be back or that Bobby Dalbec could be good — this is a bad baseball team and the moves they made don’t make up the gap. All I need to say about Baltimore — it’s the Orioles, like c’mon. 

National League (NL) East 

New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor hits a single during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros, Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  1. New York Mets (99-63)* 
  1. Atlanta Braves (97-65)* 
  1. Philadelphia Phillies (88-74) 
  1. Washington Nationals (83-81) 
  1. Miami Marlins (75-87) 

This is the most exciting division in baseball this season. The Mets are going to be incredibly fun to watch with the best pitching in the world, Jacob deGrom, and one of the best shortstops, Francisco Lindor, joining the ranks. 

I like the Braves a lot, but I think the Mets narrowly edge them this year. I just don’t see the Braves rotation as a real contender, so that is why I have them in the Wild Card game.  

The rest of the division hasn’t really added much in terms of talent but are all competent enough to make a run if they get hot. It’s going to be a fun year for NL East fans. 

AL Central 

  1. Chicago White Sox (96-66)* 
  1. Minnesota Twins (93-69)* 
  1. Kansas City Royals (78-84) 
  1. Cleveland Indians (76-86) 
  1. Detroit Tigers (60-102) 

I believe in the Chicago White Sox. They’ve added Lance Lynn to shore up the rotation and still have one of the most intriguing lineups in baseball. They are a young team but now that they have had a year together, they can be dangerous. The only thing that could spoil it is the bastion of the old guard Tony La Russa.  

The Twins are amidst the longest postseason dry spells in American sports history, as they have lost their last 18 postseason games. I think that continues this season, with a Wild Card loss to the Blue Jays. 

The last three teams in this division are going to be a six-month long snooze-fest. I would steer clear. The Royals have at least attempted to add talent but still don’t have it, yet, in my opinion. 

NL Central 

St. Louis Cardinals’ Jose Rondon (64) scores on a sacrifice fly hit by Nolan Arenado during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  1. St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)* 
  1. Milwaukee Brewers (83-79) 
  1. Chicago Cubs (80-82) 
  1. Cincinnati Reds (76-86) 
  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (57-105) 

I feel for NL Central fans. This offseason they have had to deal with has been like the baseball version of one of those slow, kid roller coaster rides at town fairs that have one small hill.  

That one hill is when the Cardinals acquired Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies. Otherwise, it has been dreadful. 

AL West 

  1. Oakland Athletics (97-65)* 
  1. Houston Astros (85-77) 
  1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (83-79) 
  1. Seattle Mariners (71-91) 
  1. Texas Rangers (65-97) 

I wish the Angels were good. I would give anything — or at least like a few dollars — to have one season of Shohei Ohtani pitching and hitting AND Mike Trout playing in the postseason. The chances of that happening are slim, unfortunately.  

I have the Athletics continuing their run of dominance in the West and then getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs. It’s a tradition like none-other. 

NL West 

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56)* 
  1. San Diego Padres (98-64)* 
  1. San Francisco Giants (86-76) 
  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (70-92) 
  1. Colorado Rockies (69-93) 

This division is finally interesting again. Not because of its depth, but the two-headed monster at the top of the division — the Dodgers and Padres. 

While I do not think the Padres are going to be the best team in baseball, the Dodgers will be. They just won the World Series and added the NL Cy Young to the mix. Good luck San Diego, I’ll be pulling for you, but the Dodgers are going to run away with the division once again. 

World Series pick 

I am going to pick the Padres over the Blue Jays in five games.  

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