NL East

Predictions

5 Miami Marlins

4 Washington Nationals

3 Philadelphia Phillies

2 Atlanta Braves

1 New York Mets

Miami Marlins

Key Additions: OF Avisail Garcia, OF Jorge Soler

Key Subtractions: N/A

Strength: Young and promising starting pitching

Weakness: Slugging and scoring runs

Face of the Franchise: Jazz Chisholm

Player to Watch: Sixto Sanchez

The Marlins had one of the more disappointing offseasons considering what they could have potentially built. They made the postseason in a weird 2020 and have been excellent at developing their young farm system, but with ownership’s reluctance to go out and spend money on big names, it led to Derek Jeter stepping down. While the Garcia and Soler signings will be fun for a while, with such a talented division, this is just going to be another year of empty seats in that weird fish tank in Miami where they potentially deal veteran contracts away at the deadline to get even younger.

Washington Nationals

Key Additions: DH Nelson Cruz, 2B Cesar Hernandez

Key Subtractions: 3B Ryan Zimmerman

Strength: Getting on base

Weakness: Giving up home runs

Face of the Franchise: Juan Soto

Player to Watch: Josh Bell

This entire season will not amount to World Series competitiveness from the Nationals since they had their complete blow up of the 2019 World Series roster, so there are only 3 goals in mind: get Stephen Strasburg healthy and on the mound, get Nelson Cruz to hit a ton of home runs and mentor the young players in the clubhouse, and build enough of a winning culture so that Juan Soto, who might be the best player in baseball, will want to stay and sign an extension for the future.

Philadelphia Phillies

Key Additions: OF Nick Castellanos, RP Jeurys Familia, RP Corey Knebel, DH Kyle Schwarber

Key Subtractions: OF Andrew McCutchen, RP Hector Naris, OF Brad Miller

Strength: Home run-hitting beasts at the top of the lineup

Weakness: Starting pitching depth and fielding.

Face of the Franchise: Bryce Harper

Player to Watch: Ranger Suarez

The Phillies are still in the midst of the longest postseason drought of any NL team and need to capitalize on prime Bryce Harper in his prime as soon as possible because he signed that massive deal TO BE in Philly. They had a terrible bullpen last season, so they addressed it with their signings, and they added even more home run-hitting bats. They still face a glaring issue: it still might not be enough. They have such a top-heavy team that can’t field and a roster that just simply isn’t as complete as the Braves or Mets that it might not even amount to much. They at least spent this offseason addressing their issues, so we’ll see how big of a step forward it actually is.

Atlanta Braves

Key Additions: 1B Matt Olson, RP Collin McHugh, RP Kirby Yates, RP Kenley Jansen

Key Subtractions: 1B Freddie Freeman, OF Joc Pederson, OF Jorge Soler

Strength: Bullpen depth

Weakness: Consistent starting pitching 

Face of the Franchise: Ronald Acuna Jr.

Player to Watch: Ian Anderson

The Braves won the World Series on the back of their franchise player and MVP, Freddie Freeman. The Braves took one of the most bold moves of the offseason: they chose to not re-sign their “statue guy” and trade for Matt Olson, a younger stud of the same position and sign him for the next decade on a better deal. We’ll see if Olson can create his own legacy in Atlanta. Losing Freddie is gut-wrenching to imagine him in his new uniform, but the champs conceivably got even better. They created the best bullpen in baseball and Ronald Acuna Jr. will be back from injury. Think about that for a moment: their most-talented young player tore his ACL and they got better and won the World Series WITHOUT HIM. They’ll have Ronnie back this year as they look to recapture the magic and defend their crown as one of the best teams in the National League.

New York Mets

Key Additions: SP Max Scherzer, SP Chris Bassitt, SP Adam Ottavino, OF Starling Marte, OF Mark Canha, 3B Eduardo Escobar

Key Subtractions: SP Noah Syndergaard, SP Marcus Stroman, 2B Javier Baez, RP Aaron Loup

Strength: The best starting rotation in baseball

Weakness: Consistent offense/putting up runs

Face of the Franchise: Jacob deGrom

Player to Watch: Starling Marte

The Mets arguably have some of the most talent on their team, but for some reason, be it fate or some sort of curse recounting their former ownership group’s sins, there has always been some sort of dysfunction preventing them from utilizing that talent to the fullest. This is the year that it will all come together. They signed Max Scherzer, and he is the alpha dog, veteran leader face of baseball that does not tolerate any sort of shenanigans that could take this train off the track. With Scherzer and deGrom headlining the most-stacked rotation in baseball from top-to-bottom and some key offensive additions that will finally unlock some of that offensive run support they’ve been missing, they’re World Series contenders this year. 

Oh, and their owner has all the money in the world to only make the team even better if need be.

AL East

Predictions

5 Baltimore Orioles

4 Tampa Bay Rays

3 New York Yankees

2 Toronto Blue Jays

1 Boston Red Sox

Baltimore Orioles

Key Additions: SP Jordan Lyles, 2B Rougned Odor, C Robinson Chirinos

Key Subtractions: C Pedro Severino

Strength: Getting at-bats

Weakness: Any pitching statistic you can think of

Face of the Franchise: Trey Mancini

Player to Watch: Cedric Mullins

The Orioles have been pathetic whenever it comes to competing over the past several years given that they’ve had the opportunity to build around a roster that they made the playoffs as recently as 2016, but it’s all been torn apart, and they have no desire to grow either. Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, and John Means are all players you can build your franchise around, but none have been paid, and that means they’re probably going to be dealt at this point since they’re the single team in the AL East that isn’t a juggernaut. They’re in the “we just hope we don’t lose 100 games” category.

Tampa Bay Rays

Key Additions: SP Corey Kluber

Key Subtractions: DH Nelson Cruz, RP Collin McHugh

Strength: Everyone can get on base

Weakness: Overthinking the game of baseball

Face of the Franchise: Randy Arozarena

Player to Watch: Wander Franco

We’ve already made a mistake in doubting the Rays, just as we do every year. They still had the best record in the AL while losing Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow and Willy Adames for half the season and using the 6th-lowest payroll and playing in a dump of a ballpark. They did something they never do, though- they’ve already extended their 21 year-old phenom shortstop Wander Franco, who we’ll get to see a full season of now. The Rays never pay stars! The biggest issue they face is that while their prospects will have a year under their belt, the rising tide of the AL East raised all of the other competing ships, but not theirs. They just did not spend or do anything to better themselves to the level of the other competing teams, and the tougher division with Tyler Glasnow out with Tommy John surgery could mean that they’re stuck standing in a game of musical chairs.

New York Yankees

Key Additions: SS Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B Josh Donaldson, 

Key Subtractions: 3B Gio Urshela, C Gary Sanchez, 2B Rougned Odor, OF Clint Frazier, SP Corey Kluber, 1B Luke Voit

Strength: Getting efficient at-bats

Weakness: Leaving runners on base

Face of the Franchise: Aaron Judge

Player to Watch: Isaiah Kiner-Falefa

The Yankees certainly got a NEWER roster this season, but it wasn’t quite what we were expecting given their huge market. As they fell to the Red Sox in the Wild Card game in 2021, there were swirling rumors of Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, or a flamethrowing starting pitcher through free agency. They decided to cut their losses with a half measure, but still make an improvement- Kiner-Falefa is an incredibly versatile infielder, Josh Donaldson will be a clubhouse energy guy with a lot of energy that Red Sox fans will HATE because of how polarizing he is, and they brought back Anthony Rizzo. They’ll hit many home runs over that short porch with the boppers they have throughout the lineup, but it feels like they didn’t make as big of a leap as they could have in comparison to some of their competition in the AL.

Toronto Blue Jays

Key Additions: SP Kevin Gausman, SP Yusei Kikuchi, 3B Matt Chapman

Key Subtractions: 2B Marcus Semien, SP Robbie Ray, OF Corey Dickerson

Strength: Youth and starting pitching depth

Weakness: Inexperience

Face of the Franchise: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Player to Watch: Alek Manoah

The Blue Jays lost 2021 Cy Young-winner Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, who came in third in MVP-voting last year. They somehow got better. They made some of the most all-in moves this offseason to capitalize on their young and talented roster- they got Kevin Gausman to replace Ray, they built more depth with Kikuchi, they rewarded Jose Berrios with a massive extension after he looked incredible upon arriving in Toronto at the deadline last year, and they traded prospects for one of the best defensive third basemen in MLB, Matt Chapman, who is dying to have a great offensive year. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s numbers were otherworldly last season, and as he lost a ton of weight this offseason, he’s already telling the media that last year was the trailer, and this year was the movie. After spending time away from their home ballpark due to COVID, they’ll finally be back, and the only thing preventing them from being the most frightening team to face is that we have not seen them put it all together and do it yet, and we’re about to find out.

Boston Red Sox

Key Additions: SS Trevor Story, SP James Paxton, SP Rich Hill, SP Michael Wacha

Key Subtractions: SP Eduardo Rodriguez, SP Adam Ottavino, SP Martin Perez, DH Kyle Schwarber, RP Garrett Richards

Strength: Offensive firepower from top-to-bottom

Weakness: Youthful starting pitching

Face of the Franchise: Rafael Devers

Player to Watch: Alex Verdugo

Photo: Steve Helber / Associated Press

There were doubters regarding this Red Sox team last year after an abysmal 2020 directly after trading Mookie Betts. They played with house money, had a blast doing so, and were 2 games shy of winning the American League pennant. This year, the focus will be all about the ring now that they know what they’re capable of. Their offseason additions are telling: the starting pitchers are all veterans who will be leaders in the clubhouse with a winning mindset, addressing their pitching issues at a cheaper cost. They signed one of the prized shortstops of free agency, Trevor Story, who is primed to hit approximately 87 home runs over the Green Monster this year (this is an estimation). The key leaders, Devers and Bogaerts, are both in the sweet spot of their peak now, and share the same winning mentality that their manager Alex Cora has as he brought the team back together after his hiatus. They have the best vibes and energy of any team primed to make a World Series run in the American League, and with their offseason moves, they are the favorite to come out of the most-loaded division.

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