Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 All-of-MLB Preview

Now that I've come up with a reasonable number of wins to predict for my hometown Phillies (although I might like to adjust that given the first two games of the season), I can stop being such a homer and say something about the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball.  Yes, even the Astros.

Some might consider this post to be too late, but I swear I wrote the predictions on Sunday and filled in the analysis afterward.  But let's be real here, you don't care that much, and by the end of the month I'll probably regret half of these predictions anyway.

Let's go to work.  I'll go division-by-division, giving my guess at each team's record, including the difference in wins from last year that that record would represent.

NL East
Nationals: 98-64 (even)
Braves: 96-66 (+2)
Phillies: 84-78 (+3)
Mets: 70-92 (-4)
Marlins: 65-97 (-4)

The Nationals and Braves were two of the top teams in the NL last season and managed to improve in the offseason.  Washington added pitching depth in Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano and a year of experience (and a month's worth of games) for Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.  Atlanta added the Upton Girls (shoutout to Jon Patrice).  Meanwhile, the Phillies added and subtracted some middling players, the Mets lost a Cy Young winner, and the Marlins traded their entire roster and more than a few fans away.  Health will boost the Phils, but I don't see them sniffing Atlanta or Washington.

NL Central
Reds: 95-67 (even)
Cardinals: 85-77 (-3)
Brewers: 81-81 (-2)
Pirates: 79-83 (even)
Cubs: 62-100 (+1)

The Reds were sneaky good last season despite missing Joey Votto for much of the season, and they added some more offense in Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Ludwick.  The Cardinals have Adam Wainwright a year removed from a significant injury, so he's expected to bounce back, but the loss of Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman should be enough to cause them to fade a bit.  The Brewers gain Lohse, but the loss of a half-season of Zack Greinke should bring about a bit of a downswing.  The Pirates are oh-so close to that elusive winning season, but the lack of 18 games against the AAA-stros (see what I did there?) will probably be a downer.  And so will the Cubs.

NL West
Giants: 93-69 (-1)
Dodgers: 89-73 (+3)
Diamondbacks: 79-83 (-2)
Padres: 75-87 (-1)
Rockies: 68-94 (+4)

The Giants had another fortuitous closing stretch of the season and nabbed another World Series, and I don't see them being unseated, especially if Tim Lincecum can figure himself out.  The Dodgers get a full season of Mo' Money, Mo' Problems (Greinke, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez added in the past year on top of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier), so they should stay close.  The D'Backs traded away Justin Upton, but I think they stay at least marginally competitive thanks to the emerging Paul Goldschmidt and an underrated pitching staff.  I'll be honest, I know very little about the Padres (and I'm just fine with that) but I bet their pitching and ballpark should keep them more competitive than the by-far-league-worst pitching staff that the Rockies put on the field in 2012.

AL East
Rays: 94-68 (+1)
Blue Jays: 90-72 (+17)
Orioles: 84-78 (-9)
Red Sox: 78-84 (+9)
Yankees: 76-86 (-19)

The AL East and West are definitely the hardest divisions to pin down.  Sure, the Yankees won it last year, but they're getting worked by the previously-terrible Red Sox to start the year, and have more 2013 payroll on the DL right now than a bunch of teams (after all, A-Rod is making more than the entire AAA-stros team).  The Blue Jays added the entire Marlins team and aren't likely to be ravaged by injury like they were last year, so they should be right up there.  The Orioles got absurdly lucky in terms of performance in close games in 2012, and with the Sox and Jays being more competitive, I see them dropping back a bit.  But when you look at it, the Rays are the one team that you know is going to be right there at the end of the season (unless they trade David Price, in which case all bets are off), so I think they're sort of the safest pick to come out of the East.

AL Central
Tigers: 90-72 (+2)
White Sox: 83-79 (-2)
Indians: 74-86 (+6)
Royals: 72-90 (even)
Twins: 64-98 (-2)

The AL Central, on the other hand, might be the easiest division to pick.  The White Sox were close last year, but the Tigers' ridiculous lineup and strong top end of the rotation should keep them on top.  The Indians added a lot of speed in Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn and a manager who likes to run in Terry Francona, so maybe they'll get back to respectability.  The Royals added James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays in a win-now move, but they compromised their future by trading away top outfield prospect Wil Myers.  Not that relevant here, but I just don't see the added pitching as getting them over any humps unless Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas improve.  The Twins, well, don't have Francisco Liriano anymore.  That's a good thing.

AL West
Rangers: 93-69 (even)
Angels: 92-68 (+3)
Athletics: 90-72 (-4)
Mariners: 80-82 (+5)
Astros: 54-108 (-1)

And now it gets tricky again.  The A's made a ridiculous run to catch the Rangers at the end of last year, and Texas lost Josh Hamilton to last year's underperformers, the Angels.  I see the A's losing a bit of their mojo, but they are a young roster with some really interesting pieces in Yoenis Cespedes and their starting pitching (Parker, Milone, Griffin, Straily), so I don't see too much of a drop-off.  The Angels have a ridiculous Trout-Hamilton-Pujols combination, but the rotation is headed by an apparently-declining Jered Weaver and 2012 underperformer CJ Wilson, and follows with a possibly-broken Tommy Hanson and Big Joe Blanton.  The Mariners added some bats (Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales) and moved their outfield fences in, so maybe they have a little bit more life in them.  But really, what's keeping the rest of this division afloat record-wise is that the Astros are entering the fray.  After all, the AL West had 6 more wins per team than the non-Houston NL Central teams, so I can't see the 'Stros doing much other than boosting the records of their new division rivals.

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