Nick from E2W Breaks down the 2022 MLB Season: What Me Worry About a Lock Out?
All in All, the 2021 season was a lot of fun, not only did the Red Sox knock the Yankees out of the playoffs, but the legend of Shohei Ohtani was born! It did not end like I predicted (White Sox v Padres in the World Series…oops) but it was a heck of a year anyway. For the 2022 season, Baseball added another wild card team (12 playoff team structure now), gone is the one game format (which I thought was a lot of fun), replaced with a 3-game format for the first round, with the 1 and 2 seeds getting a bye. The DH is universal, the automatic runner on second base for extra innings is back (vomit), doubleheaders as they should be, are back to 9 innings, and finally because he literally changed the face of the game last year, the Ohtani rule is born (Pitcher can remain at DH after being pulled from the mound). Shit that is a lot to take in, all that after a lock out. I give baseball credit for comprising, neither side got nearly all they wanted, but the fans get a 162 game season and for that I’m grateful. Let’s break it down.
A.L. East: Well last year I said the Blue Jays and I have tendency to be a year early with these things, so I am rolling it back baby! The Jays got RHP Kevin Gausman and third baseman Matty Chapman to even out an already exciting group of returning stars. They came up short last year in what turned out to be the most competitive division in baseball, this year they make it happen. The Red Sox, Rays, and Yanks all have a case to be made here was well, but each of those 3 teams needs things to break right, maybe nothing quite as important as Sox Ace Chris Sale retuning to 2019 form. Last Place: Orioles (year 8 of the rebuild?). Prediction: Jays win tight division 93-69
A.L. Central: The White Sox really beefed up the bullpen adding Kendall Graveman to an already devasting 8, 9 duo of Kimbrel and Hendricks, so on paper that is the best bullpen in the league. It also opens the door for long time prospect (former Red Sox Prospect*) Michael Kopech to get some run in the rotation, which I think they will need since no-hitter hero Carlos Rodon packed up for San Francisco in the offseason. With a killer lineup and the assets to acquire a starter if they need one, I think this is the year the White Sox really push for a championship. Last place: Guardians, I think things break bad for the for the Guardians and they end up moving Jose Ramirez at some point before the trade deadline. Prediction: White Sox take Central again 96-66
A.L. West: Ohtani is awesome, but how about a healthy Mike Trout? Look the rotation will need good innings out of Noah “Thor” Syndergaard and that may be asking a lot, but if the Starters can get them into the 7th Loup, Tepera, and Iglesias will close the door more often than not. I think the Astros are taking a step back, and even though I like the young scrappy Mariners (now with Robbie Ray), I think the Angels have enough to win the west. Last Place: Rangers cross them off then. Prediction: Angels edge Mariners 91-71 in a battle!
N.L. East: It is hard to knock the defending Champion Braves off their perch but losing Freddie Freeman is enough of a big deal to do just that. Mets are a little cursed I will admit, but adding Scherzer, Escobar, Marte, and Bassittmake them seem like a pretty curse-proof group. It may take a minute for all the newcomers to gel, but once they do, the Mets cruise. Last Place: Nationals take another step back and literally… Prediction: Mets on the back of 2 aces cruise to a 99-63 East Title
N.L. Central: The Brewers added Hunter Renfroe and Andrew McCutchen to round out an already strong lineup, and I suspect Yelich returns closer to form in 2022. No reason to be worried about the Brew Crew health provided. Last Place: Reds who are moving in the wrong direction and will be sellers early. Prediction: Brewers go back to back Central titles 97-65
N.L. West: Did anyone see a 107-win season from the Giants coming in 2021? Certainly, I didn’t and actually I think it may have been a fluke. I still really like the Padres and might’ve picked them to win the West if the Dodgers hadn’t snatched up Freddie Freeman. With Bellinger being bad last year, Freeman really shores up that lineup ensuring that they will win a lot of games. I would still keep my eye on the Padres even with the Tatis injury, if Mike Clevinger is good (big if) then they may contend. Last Place: Diamondbacks, yup they still suck. Prediction: Dodgers smooth sail to a 104-58 West Crown
A.L. Wild Cards: Red Sox, Rays, and Tigers
N.L. Wild Cards: Braves, Padres, and Cardinals
World Series: Mets and White Sox
Gotta go renegotiate my contract so I don’t have to do any unnecessary calisthenics.
Enjoy the 2022 Season, Let’s Play Ball!
Nick is a contributing member to E2W Podcast and writes a move blog Reelwatchability.com. He also played baseball in the California Penal league where he put snot on the baseball regularly. Eh, the hell with it.