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Moller: 2023 MLB predictions

| Wednesday, March 29, 2023

With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day just a couple of days away, it’s time to predict each division and pick a preseason World Series champion.

AL East

Predicted finish: Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles, Red Sox

The AL East has the reputation of being the toughest division in baseball, and 2023 should be no different. The New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays all made the postseason last year, and all three teams seemed poised to make a run at the division again. It seems likely they will all find the playoffs, as they have each improved their rosters in the offseason. Outside of the three favorites, the Baltimore Orioles greatly exceeded expectations last year, and they will also look to make a playoff push with their young team. The Red Sox are likely to lag behind with a roster lacking depth from top to bottom.

AL Central

Predicted finish: Twins, Guardians, White Sox, Tigers, Royals

The last few seasons, the AL Central has been won by mediocre teams, and this year will likely tell a similar story. Last season, the Twins and White Sox were plagued by injuries, allowing the Guardians to run away with the division in September. The Central figures to be a three-team race again as the Royals and Tigers both have young, inexperienced rosters that won’t be ready to make a playoff push. The Twins were the most injured team in baseball last year, and if they are healthier, they should have a great chance to win the division. Their rotation has a bunch of mediocre pitchers, though, and they will likely need Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez or Joe Ryan to emerge as a true ace. Although I’m taking Minnesota, the Guardians and White Sox should be within five games of the Twins by the end of the season, making this one a real toss-up.

AL West

Predicted finish: Astros, Mariners, Rangers, Angels, Athletics

The Astros somehow improved their incredibly talented World Series-winning team from last year by adding All-Star Jose Abreu at first base. They should run away with the West again. Beyond the Astros, the Mariners, Rangers and Angels will hope to make a playoff push. The Mariners made a great run at the end of last season on the backs of Julio Rodriguez and Luis Castillo and this talented roster should allow them to make the playoffs again. On paper, the Rangers should be in the mix. After adding Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney to their rotation, they now possess one of the most talented rosters in baseball. The Angels are definitely on the outside looking in, but with superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, anything is possible. The Athletics will truly need a “Moneyball” miracle if they are going to be in the mix.

NL East

Predicted Finish: Phillies, Mets, Braves, Marlins, Nationals

The NL East may rival the AL East for the best division in baseball this year. The Phillies, Mets and Braves are all teams with World Series aspirations, and this should be a back-and-forth race all season. I am taking the Phillies to win the NL East after an amazing run to the World Series last year, but the loss of Rhys Hoskins for the season due to injury is a tough blow. The Mets will look to keep pace behind the arms of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, and a talented lineup from top to bottom. The Braves still have most of the key pieces from their World Series team two years ago, and they will look to win the division for a third year in a row. The Marlins and Nationals should find themselves at the bottom of the division throughout the season.

NL Central

Predicted Finish: Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, Reds

The Cardinals have lost in the wild card round in each of the last three seasons, and they will look to make a deeper run after adding Willson Contreras behind the plate. St. Louis will be the favorite to win the division ahead of the Brewers, who have a great starting rotation and bullpen but lack hitting. The Cubs find themselves in an interesting position after scrapping nearly their entire roster last year, but they added talent this offseason in Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon and Trey Mancini. They likely won’t contend this year, but they should be much improved. The Pirates and Reds, meanwhile, figure to be in the middle of a rebuild.

NL West

Predicted Finish: Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies

The Padres possess a star-studded roster that includes Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and Xander Bogaerts. In theory, they should win the division. I am sticking with the Dodgers, though. Although the Dodgers were surprisingly quiet in the offseason, they still have Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Will Smith in the field. The Dodgers starting rotation has more depth than the Padres as well, with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and Noah Syndergaard. The D-Backs have some solid arms in Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Madison Bumgarner to go along with some young talent in the field, and they should be much improved. The Giants struck out with Carlos Correa this offseason and failed to make a splash elsewhere, so I expect further regression from them this year. The Rockies lack much pitching depth at all, which will make it difficult to win games at a home ballpark that heavily favors offense.

Playoff Predictions

Wild Card

(6) Tampa Bay Rays def. (3) Minnesota Twins
(4) Seattle Mariners def. (5) Toronto Blue Jays
(6) Atlanta Braves def. (3) St. Louis Cardinals
(5) San Diego Padres def. (4) New York Mets

Divisional Series

(1) Houston Astros def. (4) Seattle Mariners
(2) New York Yankees def. (6) Tampa Bay Rays
(5) San Diego Padres def. (1) Los Angeles Dodgers
(6) Atlanta Braves def. (2) Philadelphia Phillies

Championship Series

(1) Houston Astros def. (2) New York Yankees
(6) Atlanta Braves def. (5) San Diego Padres

World Series

(1) Houston Astros def. (6) Atlanta Braves

The American League side was fairly straightforward. The Yankees and Astros have the most talented rosters, and they seem set to meet in the ALCS again. Once again, I anticipate the Astros eliminating the Yankees behind superior pitching and home field advantage. The National League, on the other hand, doesn’t really have a true favorite right now. Although I picked the Dodgers and Phillies to win their divisions, the Padres and Braves have the talent to catch fire at the right time and pull off some upsets to meet in the NLCS. I expect the Braves to prevail in that series behind their starting pitching, but ultimately fall to the Astros in a rematch of the 2021 World Series. The Astros won the World Series pretty easily last year, and with an improved roster, they should repeat as World Series champions in 2023.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

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