2022 MLB Season Steps Up to the Plate

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The Atlanta Braves at the Texas Rangers on May 1.

Caroline Carmichael, Life & Arts Editor

After 99 days of lockout, Major League Baseball reached an agreement. There will be a 162-game season, as games began on April 7. 

The 2021 World Series Champions were the Atlanta Braves (YAYYYYY), and they will be hoping to make another run at the title. 

Since the lockout, some rules in the MLB have changed. A universal Designated Hitter has been implemented in the National League (no more walk-offs hit by Max Fried). Additionally, the postseason is now a 12-team format. Every team in each league will play the others in at least one series. Game 163 is now gone forever (like Jorge Soler’s home run in game six of the World Series, which still hasn’t landed). This year the trade deadline is August 3 so there are no logistical issues. The draft format has also changed: picks 1-6 are now a part of a trade lottery, 7-18 go to non-postseason, non-lottery teams in the opposite order of how they finished, 19-22 go to the teams that lost their wildcard games, 23-26 are the losers of league division series’, 27-28 go to losers of the league championship series, 29 is the loser of the World Series (the Astros), and pick 30 will go to the world champions. 

Major League Baseball will be thoroughly entertaining yet again this year. The American League will prove to be extremely competitive once again this season. The National League has several dominant teams, and they will have a race to the top.  

American League 

East

The Toronto Blue Jays have a serious shot at winning the American League title this season. They added Matt Chapman in the offseason, but they lost Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien. However, they are returning Vladamir Gurrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, and their pitching staff will be led by former Twins pitcher, Jose Berrios. Their pitching staff does not contain a whole lot of big pitching names, but they do have depth.  

The Boston Red Sox were only two wins from going to the World Series last year. In the offseason, they added Trevor Story to their lineup, which was already strong in the first place. Rafael Devers, who hit 38 home runs last year and is a potential player of the year candidate, is returning. They really need Chris Sale and James Paxton to both be effective with their pitching. The sale will be recovering, so he will not be available for the first two months of the season. Therefore, the pitching staff is going to be led by Nathan Eovaldi. 

The Tampa Bay Rays are led by shortstop Wander Franco and second baseman Brandon Lowe, who hit 39 home runs last season. They have made it to the playoffs the past three straight years. Their pitching staff will be led by Shane McClanahan, who went 10-6 last year, and former Guardians and Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber. Tyler Glasnow is coming off of having Tommy John Surgery, and he will not return till later in the season. 

The New York Yankees won 92 games last season and lost in the American League Wild Card Game. They are led by Gerrit Cole, for them to have more consistent pitching Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon will need to be good contributors to their rotation. Their offense will be led by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, DJ LaMahieu, and new acquisitions Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Filefa. They did lose catcher Gary Sanchez in the offseason. 

The Baltimore Orioles are in the same situation as usual. They’re bad. Again. But, they are getting closer. Their younger talent is beginning to work their way into the roster and on to the lineup. Adley Rutschman, one of baseball’s top prospects, is leading this path.

Central 

For the Kansas City Royals, Bobby Witt Jr., the #1 prospect in all of baseball, has made the major league roster. The Royals won 74 games last year, and need younger players to take a leap forward, in order to improve their record.  The pitching staff will be led by Zack Greinke, who has returned to the team, after spending previous seasons with the Diamondbacks and the Astros.  Offensively, the team will be led by Whit Merrifield, and Salvador Perez, who hit 48 home runs last year.

Unexpectedly, the Minnesota Twins finished in last place in 2021, so they brought in Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Joe Smith, and Chris Archer. The team will be led by Byron Buxton, who hit .306 with 19 home runs in 2021.

The Cleveland Guardians are no longer the front runner in the AL Central.  While they still have Jose Ramirez, who hit 36 home runs in 2021, the rest of the everyday lineup will be young. A major question mark for the team will be the return of Shane Bieber, who had an injury-riddled 2021 season. Cleveland will need him to return to his 2020 form, in order to compete for the division title.

The Chicago White Sox may be the most talented roster in Chicago in many years. Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jiminez, Yasmani Grandal form a strong lineup. The pitching staff is led by Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn (out for the first month), Michael Kopech, Dallas Keuchel, and Dylan Cease.

After getting off to a poor start in 2021, the Detroit Tigers played above .500 level baseball over the final 130 games.  The team will be led by Javier Baez, who hit 31 home runs in 2021. The pitching staff is led by Eduardo Rodriguez, who was 13-8 for Boston in 2021, and future star Casey Mize, who posted a 7-9 record in his first full season in MLB.

West

The Seattle Mariners were outscored by 51 runs last season, but hopefully, that number will not be as high this year seeing as though they added two new players. Pitcher Robbie Ray and outfielder Jesse Winker were both signed this offseason. 

The Houston Astros won the American League last year but lost the World Series in game six. They lost shortstop Carlos Correa, but I’m not sure too many people are upset about him leaving the team. Jeremey Peña will be replacing him as the shortstop, and Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez will be leading the team this season. 

The Los Angeles Angels will be led by Shohei Ohtani, who can literally do it all, and Mike Trout, who will be returning from an injury and hoping to stay healthy. They also have standout player Anthony Rendon. Since Shohei will be their number one starter, the addition of Noah Syndergaard will strengthen their pitching staff, as he will become their number two. 

The Texas Rangers should be taking a step up and should be at least better than how they were last year, but who really knows how they will play. The Rangers went on a bit of a spending spree this season, as they spent the most money in an offseason in MLB history.  

They signed shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Corey Seager along with pitcher Jon Gray during the offseason. 

The Oakland Athletics lost their star first basemen, Matt Olson, in a trade with the Braves. But they gained Cristian Pache who will bring a new asset to the team, speed. Kevin Smith and Sean Murphy are both returning and will be leading the team. 

National League 

East

Jazz Chisolm Jr. will be leading the Miami Marlins with the help of the newly signed Jorge Soler. Soler is coming off of a World Series MVP award. The Marlins have little to no pitching, so they probably will not be making it very far this year, as per usual. 

The Atlanta Braves, 2021 World Series Champions, have a team that looks a little different this year. While returning most of their players, Freddie Freeman, the face of the organization, is no longer a Brave. Since Freeman had a falling out, the Braves traded outfielder Cristian Pache for infielder Matt Olson, who by the way is having few issues so far. They signed Kenley Jansen, former Dodgers reliever, and re-signed Eddie Rosario, NLCS MVP. Consistency with starting pitching is a thing that could prove to be an issue, as the Braves will be shuffling starters. Some consistent names are Max Friend, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, and Huascar Ynoa, while some inconsistent names will be Kyle Wright, Touki Touissant, Tucker Davidson, and Bryce Elder. On another note, Dansby Swanson is the Brave’s best player currently. 

The New York Mets signed Pete Alonso and Max Scherzer during the offseason. They will be waiting for their star pitcher Jacob DeGrom to recover and will be hoping that he can stay healthy. Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will be returning, and he will be one of their more dominant players. 

The Washington Nationals will be led by Juan Soto along with the newly signed Nelson Cruz. They will not have the strongest pitching this year. 

The Philadelphia Phillies are going to be really strong offensively this year. They already have Bryce Harper, adding Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to their outfield. While they have Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, their pitching might not be solid, so they will need those two to really stay consistent. 

Central 

Last year, the Chicago Cubs traded away their whole team right before the deadline. This year, they have signed Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki. Even with these additions, they will not make a run, but they should at least provide some competition. 

The Milwaukee Brewer’s pitching staff is stacked, as they have three great starters that will cause some other teams some issues; Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Josh Hader will be their most consistent. Hopefully, Cristian Yelich will be more consistent offensively than he was last year. 

The Cincinnati Reds will be led by Joey Votto. They lost pitcher Sonny Gray and outfielder Jesse Winker. Former TCU pitcher, Nick Lodolo will have a shot at a starting pitching spot this year. Hunter Greene is also one of their top prospects. 

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Albert Pujols during the offseason, and Nolan Arenado is also returning. Other than that, I am not sure what else the Cardinals have. 

Basically, the Pittsburgh Pirates sucked last year, and the same is going to go for this year. Regardless of what they did in the offseason, they probably won’t have a shot at any title of any kind unless that title is called last place considering that Ke’Bryan Hayes is all they have. 

West

The San Francisco Giants won 107 games last season with a really good roster. However, they lost both catcher Buster Posey and pitcher Kevin Gausman. The Giants will be led by shortstop Brandon Crawford. 

The Colorado Rockies signed Kris Bryant. That’s about it. They don’t have much offense and they don’t have much pitching either. Plus with the division they are in, it is going to be hard to be good. 

The Arizona Diamondbacks have Ketel Marte. That’s it. Got nothing else. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers added and re-signed a lot of people, some familiar to the team and others not so much: Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Heaney, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Taylor, Caleb Ferguson, Hanser Alberto. They did lose Corey Seager though, so at least there is that. Basically, the Dodgers are going to be really, really good again this year (what is new). Cody Bellinger is currently struggling right now, but who knows what will happen with that. And Trevor Bauer? I could not tell you. I don’t think anyone could tell you. 

The San Diego Padres pitching staff will be made up of Sean Manea, Yu Darvish, and many more. If they remain consistent, they should be pretty good. Consistency is the key here. Currently, Fernando Tatis Jr. is hurt, but he tends to find himself in disagreements with his other teammates, so they might not care as much. 

Predictions

My prediction for the World Series matchup is: from the American League: the Toronto Blue Jays and from the National League: the Atlanta Braves. While yes repeating in the World Series is extremely hard to do, I am quite a bit biased. 

I think that the winner of the American League MVP will be: Vladimir Gurrero Jr. because he is as dominant as ever. I am also a little biased to who the National League MVP will be because he plays for the Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr. Now, I am completely aware that he is coming off an injury, but he will be as strong as ever. 

And for the Cy Young award winners, I believe that the winner from the American League will be Justin Verlander from the Astro. I think that he could make a great return this season and end up really making a difference for his team. Last, but not least from the National League: Carlos Rodon from the San Francisco Giants. He won it last year with the Chicago White Sox in the American League, so what is stopping him from winning this year in the National League?