MLB Season Preview

Alex Bingham, Sports Editor

The MLB lockout is finally over and the season is beginning this month. Here is my breakdown of each division for this upcoming season:

AL East: The top four teams in the di- vision all eclipsed 90 wins last season with the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees all making the play-offs. The Red Sox added free-agent Trevor Story to play second base along with deepening their bullpen, and the Rays and Yankees both stay in playoff contention. Despite the losses of Marcus Semien and Robby Ray, Toronto is my pick here with a deeper ro- tation that added Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi, and will enjoy full seasons from Jose Berrios and Alek Manoah. Don’t be surprised if more than one—or even all three— of the American League wild card spots this year go to AL East teams, though.

AL Central: The White Sox easily won the division last year despite Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez miss- ing extended time. Other teams in the division are stronger, with the Twins signing star free agent Carlos Correa, and the Royals and Tigers bringing up star prospects Bobby Witt Jr. and Spencer Torkelson, respectively. However, the development of the White Sox’s core of Robert and Jimenez along with possibly the best bullpen in baseball makes them an easy pick to repeat as divisional champions.

AL West: The Houston Astros have long dominated the AL West. This could be the year for change, though, as Carlos Correa, arguably the team’s best player, left in free-agency. Additionally, the Mariners, who just missed out on a playoff spot last year, look to break the longest postseason drought in the MLB with the addition of AL Cy Young winner Robby Ray to a young core that features top prospect Julio Rodriguez. The Astros are still my pick here, but the division is looking more competitive.

NL East: Despite sitting with a record around .500 at midseason and with superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. out with an ACL tear, the Atlanta Braves miraculously turned their season around and won the World Series. Fan-favorite Freddie Freeman leaving to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers hurts, but the additions of Matt Olson and Kenley Jansen will be huge. The Mets signed Max Scherzer and the Phillies signed sluggers Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, but with injury issues and a lack of depth plaguing both teams, Atlanta remains my pick in this division.

NL Central: The Milwaukee Brewers took the division last year with the emergence of Corbin Burnes as a Cy Young winner to headline an already strong pitching staff. The Cardinals may threaten this season, with a strong infield coming off of last year’s wild card loss to the Dodgers. However, based on the strength of their pitching and a potential bounceback season from former MVP Christian Yelich, the Brewers remain my pick here.

NL West: The Los Angeles Dodgers are yet again the runaway favorites in the NL West—and perhaps the entire league—with star power at every position, including the recent addition of Freddie Freeman. The Padres and Giants may be the top challengers to LA, but with injuries hitting the Padres and San Francisco losing Kevin Gausman and Kris Bryant, it feels impossible to pick anyone but the Dodgers to win this division.

This piece also appears in our April 2022 print edition.