It’s time for everyone to make their predictions for the upcoming Major League Baseball season. I can be like everyone else and just predict the winners. But where’s the fun in that, especially predicting the NL Central? (Cardinals again. Yawn.) I have specific questions about the upcoming season, along with my predictions for them.
Will the Angels keep Ohtani?
God, I hope so. But we know Shohei Ohtani wants two things: 1. To get paid. 2. To play for a contender. Number 1 is easy because the Angels will overpay for players (even mediocre and over-the-hill ones). Remember how everyone thought Mike Trout would wind up with the Yankees? He’ll be here for a while.
Number 2 is harder, especially in a brutal AL West. But if Trout and Rendon remain healthy, and if this young pitching staff gels, and if the Mariners and Rays fall off this season, the Angels have a legitimate shot at the postseason. That may be enough to convince Shohei to stay. Arte wanted to stick around for a reason. He may be serious this time about making the Angels a successful team.
Will the A’s stay in Oakland?
No. Oakland had years to deal with the stadium issue. Despite all the renderings of a Howard Terminal ballpark, nothing has happened. So, the A’s have to go. Everyone says Las Vegas, but the city’s main draw is tourism. The Raiders and Golden Knights make sense because people want to go there in the fall and winter. But do people really want to go to the desert in the summer heat? Instead, why not Portland, Vancouver, or San Antonio? Or if you don’t mind doing some realignment, Nashville or Montreal. (Welcome back Expos!) But if you’ve ever wanted to see baseball in Oakland, this may be your last chance.
And the Rays?
I’m more optimistic about the Rays’ situation. Tampa is a great sports city, and they love their Buccaneers and Lightning. With the right stadium in the right location, the Rays will get the attendance numbers they deserve.
Will the Padres cook the Dodgers’ goose?
I’ve seen many ball clubs load up with superstar free agents only to fizzle in the regular season. (Looking at you, Mets.) The Padres are great on paper and had a deep postseason run last season. I’m not convinced they’re an elite team. The Dodgers are still a great ball club. Not 111 wins great, but still great. We’ll have to see. It will make for an exciting NL West, though.
How do you think the new rules will work out?
Players are already adapting to the pitch clock and larger bases. The main thing we’ll notice is that games end sooner. (So, I won’t have to start work late the day after going to a Dodgers game.) Ending the shift should be great for some batters.
And what are your predictions for the season?
- NL division winners: Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves
- NL wildcards: Padres, Phillies, Mets
- AL division winners: Astros, Guardians, Yankees
- AL wildcards: Blue Jays, Rays, Angels (Wishful thinking, I know.)
- NL pennant: Braves
- AL pennant: Astros
- World Series champion: Astros (They’re just too good, and Dusty needs another ring.)