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After a near 100 day hold out the new MLB season gets underway soon. Mark Ross looks at the state of play ahead and who could find themselves in the World Series.

Finally, Baseball has come back to the fans. The long bleak winter is finally over as the MLB and the players union finally agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. For a while there it looked like the lockout would last the entire year, but now each team will play the 162 games they were scheduled to play. After 99 days of arguing all that the fans need to deal with is the league starting a week later than usual. There will be a lot to take away from the new CBA but let’s take a look at the early season predictions.

Opening Day is now scheduled for April 7th and the early favourites are the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA is still riding high on the back of the Super Bowl victory by the Los Angeles Rams. A successful season by the Dodgers will keep the momentum going and we have them as the early favourites at 5\1 to win the World Series.

Just like all sports, baseball is impossible to predict. You could never have predicted that the Atlanta Braves would go on to win the World Series in 2021 after being the lowest seed heading into the playoffs. If you are reading this then the words “impossible to predict” is not what you want to hear. I understand that, but the fact of the matter is that all sport is impossible to predict, my aim is just to give you a helping hand to make the best decision. Who knows, I might even predict the winner of the whole thing.

NL West

Despite losing the division last year, there is no doubt that the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favourites to win the division this year. The addition of Freddie Freeman has only made this team stronger and at 5/1 they are the heavy favourites to not only win the NL West but to win it all. As for the rest of the division, the only real challengers to the Dodgers are the San Francisco Giants and the  San Diego Padres. The losses of Kevin Gausman and Buster Posey, to the Toronto Blue Jays and retirement respectively, are huge blows to the Giants. Despite that, they still have a strong rotation with the addition of Carlos Rodon. Despite that though, this Giants team are significantly behind the Dodgers and shouldn’t challenge them for the title.

San Diego will be without Fernando Tatis Jnr until July time and this creates a huge gap between the Dodgers and the Padres. There is no doubt that the Padres have a roster capable of winning the NL West and possibly the whole thing. Until they get Tatis Jnr back they will be chasing the Dodgers and probably be too far behind to catch them.

Standings:

Team Wins Losses
Los Angeles Dodgers 101 61
San Francisco Giants 94 68
San Diego Padres 92 70
Colorado Rockies 76 86
Arizona Diamondbacks 68 94

 

NL Central

As much as I would love to say the Pittsburgh Pirates will win the NL Central Division, there is just no way it happens this year. The future might be bright in Pittsburgh but it is still a pipe dream to imagine this team in the playoffs let alone winning everything. A two-horse race awaits in the central division as the Milwaukee Brewers will battle it out with the St Louis Cardinals.

I am going to give the edge to the Brewers in this one. They have an all star in Freddy Peralta, a potential rookie of the year candidate in Aaron Ashby, a strong bullpen, and a starting lineup capable of winning over a hundred games.  This team should get the better of the Cardinals despite the additions they have made to their team. Jack Flaherty might be missing for the majority f the season and that would be a huge blow for the Cardinals. I have the Cardinals winning 85 games but the Brewers winning the division with more than 90 wins on the season.

Standings:

Team Wins Losses
Milwaukee Brewers 90 72
St. Louis Cardinals 86 76
Chicago Cubs 84 78
Cincinnati Reds 75 87
Pittsburgh Pirates 66 96

 

NL East

Now we get to the reigning champion, Atlanta Braves. Despite losing Freddie Freeman, the Braves used the money saved to bring in Matt Olson, Kenley Jansen and Collin McHugh. Will that be enough to keep them above the New York Mets? After the disappointment in 2021, the Mets went out and spent even more money this offseason. Max Scherzer replaced Marcus Stroman and the additions of Starling Marte and Mark Canha will keep the Mets in contention throughout the season.

The only other team I can see challenging in this division are the Philadelphia Phillies. By bringing in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos the Phillies are likely to be amongst the league leaders in home runs and RBI. Unfortunately, their defence is terrible and is bound to cost them games down the stretch. For that reason I am out on the Phillies and giving the edge, very slightly, to the New York Mets. They will get one over on the reigning champions and win the division.

Standings:

Team Wins Losses
Atlanta Braves 94 68
Philadelphia Phillies 86 76
New York Mets 85 77
Miami Marlins 77 85
Washington Nationals 68 94

 

AL East

The American League East is shaping up to be a bit like the AFC West in the National Football League. Filled with super teams and impossible to pick a winner. Just like the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Las Vegas Raiders will be vying for a divisional title, the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox will be doing the exact same. All these teams finished with over 90 wins in 2021 and none of them have dropped of significantly in the offseason so far.

Despite all four teams getting over 90 wins last year, the Rays still won the division by eight games and are the favourites to repeat again this year. Despite the fact that Tampa Bay will be missing Tyler Glasnow, they do have Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz. Most importantly they will have a full season of Wander Franco. In 2021 he hit .288/.347/.463 with a 127wRC+. He is bound to be the headline of this lineup. They are currently at 14/1 to win the whole thing and are well worth a punt.

As for the Blue Jays, they were the only team in 2021 to win 90 games and not make the playoffs. After missing out by such a fin margin they will be putting everything in to securing a playoff spot this year. You now how the saying goes, it’s all about getting an invite to the dance, then anything can happen. Improvements from Bo Bichette continue an the one-two punch of Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios is as formidable as any in the league.

Any Baseball that I did watch when I was younger seemed to be dominated by the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. As much as you can never rule them out, this division seems destined to be won by a Blue Jay or a Ray.

Standings:

Team Wins Losses
Toronto Blue Jays 94 68
Tampa Bay Rays 90 72
New York Yankees 86 76
Boston Red Sox 85 77
Baltimore Orioles 58 104

 

AL Central

The Chicago White Sox are by far the favourites to win this division with only the Cleveland Guardians to really keep them honest. Cleveland have some superstar talent but they don’t have the additional pieces around them to make a real run at a pennant. Detroit are maybe another season away from challenging for the division but might cause a few upsets this year.

In 2021, Chicago were the only team in the division to finish above.500 and that means that there is no team that is more favoured to win their division in all of baseball. If were being honest, they can start designing the shirts, hats and pennants now. The odds wont be high as this is as close to a sure thing going, but it is a guaranteed win.

Standings:

Team Wins Losses
Chicago White Sox 89 73
Detroit Tigers 79 83
Cleveland Guardians 76 86
Minnesota Twins 75 87
Kansas City Royals 70 92

 

AL West

Just like the Central division, the West has a clear winner in 2022. Reigning American League Champions, the Houston Astros are stapled on favourites for the West. Justin Verlander is back and if they get full healthy seasons from Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Alex Bregman they will win the division in a landslide.

Much like the Detroit Tigers, the Seattle Mariners will compete for a World Series, it just won’t be in 2022. Jarred Kelenic has room for improvement and until they bring in some more depth, the additions of Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez won’t be enough for them to challenge the Houston Astros this year.

Standings:

Team Wins Losses
Houston Astros 96 66
Los Angeles Angels 88 74
Oakland Athletics 82 80
Texas Rangers 70 90
Seattle Mariners 68 92

 

So there you have it, our breakdown of the 2022 Baseball season. If you take one thing away from this article, bet the house on the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are the clear favourites and the addition of Freddie Freeman only puts them in a stronger position.

 

World Series Odds:

Los Angeles Dodgers – 5/1

Houston Astros – 17/2

Chicago White Sox – 11/1

Toronto Blue Jays – 11/1

Atlanta Braves – 14/1

Milwaukee Brewers – 16/1

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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