10 Philadelphia Phillies
This team will most likely finish third in the N.L. East this year, although with the injury to deGrom, Mets fans can begin to worry. Third place in this division is not a bad thing, however, as the Mets, Braves, and Phillies could all potentially make the playoffs. Harper and Castellanos will do their thing, and then you have “question mark” guys like Schwarber, Hoskins, Realmuto, Gregorius, Bohm, and Segura who are all very capable of having solid years, but could struggle just as easily. Zack Wheeler will shove and be in the Cy Young conversation, and I really liked Suarez last season, but if this team wants to be successful Aaron Nola will need to find his groove. If he can find his rhythm (and stop walking people), along with the Phillies finally securing a respectable bullpen, this team will surpass a lot of expectations by the end of the season and make things interesting come crunch time.
9 San Francisco Giants
So long Buster Posey, but hello yet another season in which the Giants find a way to play competitive baseball. No one expected this team to do that well last year, and they ended up with the best record and stealing a division in which everyone thought was a lock for L.A. Offensively, I looked at this team last year and was not impressed with their lineup (this year too). As a man who prides himself on numbers, however, it is hard to argue against a team that was second in home runs and fourth in total bases and OPS. As for pitching, the Giants gave up the least amount of walks and home runs, and were top 5 in almost every other category. This team might not have the high number of all star players other teams have, but they sure can compete with them. Expect the Giants to just beat out the Padres for second in the N.L. West and hopefully snag a wild card spot come October.
8 Boston Red Sox
A lot of people have the Red Sox as fourth in the division behind the Yankees, so maybe my bias for them pushes them up the rankings. It is hard for me, however, to not look at this lineup and wonder if they might surprise everyone and lead the league in runs scored (5th last year). My thought process for that comes with their addition of Trevor Story, which has to be extremely exciting for fans at Fenway. Between him, Martinez, Devers, and the rest of the squad, this team is also my favorite for most home runs this season (10th last year). On the opposite side of the field, it is clear the pitching staff in Boston could use a little help, and if they were to have a downfall this year that would be the reason. If this team is in contention for the division or a wild card spot come the deadline, I am hopeful they will go after an arm or two to make things interesting in the loaded A.L. East. Nathan Eovaldi and the Sox take on Gerrit Cole and the Yanks in the Bronx for Opening Day tomorrow. Gotta say Sox steal that one!
7 Houston Astros
While Houston may have lost their all-star caliber SS Carlos Correa, things are business as usual for the Astros coming into this season. They will miss Lance McCullers Jr. for the start of the year with an elbow injury, but Justin Verlander gets to return to his rightfully owned top rotation spot after missing two seasons following Tommy John. This will be a very interesting year for the Astros, as JV is a wild card and expectations will remain high after the success they’ve had as of late. Kyle Tucker was an animal in 2021 and looks to continue his success this year, along with fellow rakers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Michael Brantley. Oh, and I can’t forget the reigning 2021 A.L. batting champ Yuli Gurriel, who put up a .319 average and secured his first gold glove of his career. Long story short, this team will be an offensive powerhouse (again) hoping their pitching staff can fight off the Angels and Mariners from stealing the division title in 2022.
6 New York Mets
Steve A Cohen! The guy is everything I would want in an owner, but for now I am stuck with a family who I will refrain from mentioning (yeah, I know, I make everything about the Cubs). The Mets were clear favorites for the division in my eyes until the Mets curse went into effect, but a division title is still very obtainable. Jacob deGrom will be out for awhile, Taijuan Walker is having knee issues, and there were also some question marks on the health of Max Scherzer. Ouch, literally. Without deGrom, the Mets still have a top-notch rotation and their lineup is very respectable as well. For things to go right this year, the Mets must stay healthy and rely on their all stars to step up; and I think Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and new addition Starling Marte will do just that. I know I have the Braves ahead of the Mets in my rankings, and I admit the Braves will most likely win the division this year, but if this Mets team has a healthy roster going into October I am at a loss on how the N.L. postseason plays out this year.
5 Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay just gets things done. They have made the postseason three years in a row and this year does not look like that will be any different. Built around their young core, this team will rally behind stars Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena and look to fight for the division title yet again (with everyone in their division excluding Baltimore). Their depth is among the best in baseball and their “opener” concept has kept their pitchers healthy and fresh for the playoffs. This team is always ready to play a full 162 and with the addition of veteran Corey Kluber I expect nothing different in 2022. Will this be the year the Rays finally lift the Commissioner’s Trophy? Only time will tell. But if they do I am calling it now, Tyler Glasnow will be the reason why.
4 Defending World Champion Atlanta Braves
After an insane 2021 season, the Braves lost the face of their franchise in Freddie Freeman along with WS MVP Jorge Soler. Fret not Braves fans! Atlanta went out and snagged Matt Olson and Kenley Jansen to make up for it. Add in an eventual return from Mike Soroka (achilles), along with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna and we have a serious threat for back-to-back titles. Their starting rotation is nasty, headlined by lefty Max Fried followed by Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, and Huascar Ynoa. The bullpen is arguably one of the best in baseball, and past the seventh inning teams will struggle mightily to score runs. It really is as simple as there are no weaknesses for Atlanta, and I highly expect a strong performance from their entire roster this season. Let’s just hope either them or the Mets can take down that hall of fame team out west.
3 Toronto Blue Jays
It is pretty clear that Toronto has put themselves on the map as of late. With young stars Vladdy Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio people knew this team was going to be special. Add in George Springer, Matt Chapman, Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios to the roster within the last two seasons and we are talking about potential World Champs. This team is most likely the favorite to win the A.L. East at the moment, but even if they don’t, this team will be very much favorites to go all the way. The depth is there, the offense is there, the rotation is there, and the bullpen is one arm away from me giving them “there” status. I was in Toronto a couple seasons ago when things were starting to stir yet the record said otherwise, and talking to fans I could feel the same energy I felt with my Cubs back in 2015. They were patient and they might just be right. Watch out America, baseball is taking its talents to Canada.
2 Chicago White Sox
This is going to be a tough one for me to write, but it is clear the White Sox are going to do significant damage this year and I have to give credit where it is due. Lance Lynn is still recovering from knee surgery, so there may be a slow start at first, but if he’s healthy and ready to go sooner rather than later… I think the White Sox finish with the best record in baseball. Hear me out. The A.L. Central is simply not good enough to compete with the Sox, and while I believe they aren’t the best team in the A.L., I don’t see what stops them from just abusing their division opponents. The A.L. East will be too busy beating each other up, leaving the White Sox with a cake walk to the postseason which could very well help their chances to be fresh come October. The lineup top-down is scary, the rotation is everything a contending team would want (when healthy), and the addition of Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly (along with the subtraction of Craig Kimbrel) to the bullpen makes this team legit. On a side note, I am getting the sense someone on this roster will be near the top of the MVP conversation and his name might be Luis Robert. Yeah, and that’s in a league with Shohei, Trout, and Vladdy. Keep your head up Southside, this year could be the year that makes you forget about the previous two.
1 Los Angeles Dodgers
RF Mookie Betts (R)
1B Freddie Freeman (L)
SS Trea Turner (R)
DH Max Muncy (L)
C Will Smith (R)
3B Justin Turner (R)
CF Cody Bellinger (L)
LF Chris Taylor (R)
2B Gavin Lux (L)
Need I say anything more? These are the guys to beat in 2022, and they have a three-headed horsemen of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias (don’t forget about Trevor Bauer and Dustin May either). The bullpen is solid and if Craig Kimbrel can turn around and show he still has some gas left in the tank, that makes this staff very respectable. And by the way, they also have Treinen and Graterol in case the Kimbrel experiment doesn’t work out. What a year 2022 is going to be! Catch you guys soon and hope you enjoyed!
Side note: Bobby Miller with the cool story of the day