MLB Predictions 2012: Guessing the Win-Loss Record for Every Team in Baseball
For Major League Baseball's Opening Day (on American soil, at least), the Miami Marlins open up their new stadium against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. So, on the day the season begins, here are my predictions for all 30 teams.
Here are a couple of highlights: Eight teams will finish within six games of each other in the National League wild-card race; seven teams will win more than 90 games, but two will lose more than 100 games.
Please comment with your thoughts, but keep this in mind: There are 2,430 games on the major league schedule each year, and a team has to win and lose every game! So, if you think a team should win (or lose) more games this year, also let me know who you think should lose (or win) more games to make up for the change!
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevin Towers has done a great job with the Diamondbacks.
In his first year as GM, he turned a 65-win team to a 94-win team that made the playoffs, losing to the Brewers in the 2011 NL Division Series.
The D-Backs should be improved in 2012, having added Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel to the lineup and Trevor Cahill to the rotation.
The bullpen is solid, and I think Justin Upton will again be a legitimate MVP candidate.
The team is better, but I don't see their record getting any better. I'm not sold on Ian Kennedy repeating his 21-4 2011 season, and the Giants and Rockies should be improved from last year.
Prediction: 94-68 (first place, NL West)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
If not for the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves would be remembered for one of the worst September collapses in baseball history.
They blew a 10.5-game lead to the eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals, and unfortunately for Braves fans, I don't see them making the playoffs in 2012 either.
The Braves' fortunes are closely tied to how their young starting pitchers, such as Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor, perform.
I think Jason Heyward is going to have a big year, but I don't think shortstop Tyler Pastornicky will be able to hit enough at the major league level even though he will be in the team's starting lineup.
The bullpen is one of the team's greatest strengths, with Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters setting up for Craig Kimbrel.
The Braves will be in the middle of the race for a wild-card spot, but I just don't think they have enough offense to win it.
Prediction: 84-78 (third place, NL East)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
After a long offseason in Baltimore, it's going to be a long year for the Orioles.
The O's were turned down by their top choices for general manager, and once they finally hired Dan Duquette, they didn't make any major additions.
Their best hope for improvement would be if pitchers Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz step forward in their development and finally give the Orioles some stability in their starting rotation.
Britton and second baseman Brian Roberts will open on the DL. Once they come back, the Orioles are still looking at almost 20 games each with the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and an improved Blue Jays club.
Maybe Duquette will someday bring the Orioles back to the playoffs for the first time since 1997, but it won't be in 2012.
Prediction: 65-97 (fifth place, AL East)
Boston Red Sox
J. Meric/Getty Images
Boston's biggest offseason addition was Bobby Valentine, but he's not going to step on the field to play for a team that went 90-72 and completed one of the worst regular-season collapses in baseball history.
I don't think the Red Sox are a bad team, but I don't think they're improved from last year's team.
Carl Crawford's had an awful spring training, and the bottom of the lineup is weak with Mike Aviles slated to play short and Mark Sweeney in right.
Their last two starters, Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard, are major question marks, as is the bullpen after losing Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies and Bard to the rotation. Andrew Bailey was acquired to replace Papelbon as closer, but he needs thumb surgery and will miss four months.
I don't see the Red Sox being able to keep up with the Yankees or Rays. Even with the new playoff format, I think the Sox will be watching the playoffs from home (while drinking beer and eating fried chicken) for the third year in a row.
Prediction: 87-75 (third place, AL East)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Theo Epstein era has begun in the North Side of Chicago, but Cubs fans shouldn't expect him to turn the Cubs into a World Series contender right away.
Other than adding Epstein, the Cubs only added Ian Stewart (to replace Aramis Ramirez), David DeJesus and Paul Maholm. Meanwhile, they lost Sean Marshall, Carlos Pena and Carlos Zambrano.
It's also unlikely that Epstein will push to win as many games as possible this year since he knows the Cubs won't contend, and will absolutely part with pieces like Alfonso Soriano (if he can find a team that will take on his contract) or Ryan Dempster.
The bright spots for the Cubs could be the middle-infield tandem of youngsters Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, as well as first baseman Anthony Rizzo if he gets called up from Triple-A Iowa this summer. Cubs fans will have to wait at least another year before watching their team play in October.
Prediction: 74-88 (T-fourth place, NL Central)
Chicago White Sox
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
I'm not quite sure what to make of the White Sox this year.
On one hand, GM Kenny Williams moved towards rebuilding by trading Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor and Carlos Quentin, and letting Mark Buehrle leave as a free agent.
On the other, they signed John Danks to an extension and did not trade Gavin Floyd or Matt Thornton for prospects.
If Adam Dunn and Alex Rios remember how to hit, and youngsters Chris Sale and Dayan Viciedo perform well in the rotation and left field, respectively, the White Sox could be a second-place team behind the Tigers. I just don't see it and I expect at least some of the veterans on the roster to be traded by the July 31 deadline.
Prediction: 75-87 (T-third place, AL Central)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
After finishing just 79-83 in 2011, the Reds will try to rebound and make the playoffs for the second time in three years this season.
The biggest offseason addition for the Reds is starting pitcher Mat Latos, who showed a ton of promise in San Diego before being dealt to Cincinnati.
Unfortunately for the Reds, closer Ryan Madson will miss the season with Tommy John surgery. This forced the team to move Aroldis Chapman back to the bullpen to set up for new closer Sean Marshall, who was acquired from the Cubs.
The Reds offense, anchored by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, is well-equipped to match up against the Brewers and Cardinals. If Johnny Cueto can pitch as well as he did last year and stay healthy for the full season, the Reds will be in the NL Central race to the very end.
Prediction: 85-77 (T-second place, NL Central)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Indians started 2011 33-21 before struggling through the rest of the year, finishing 80-82.
I see them taking a step back in 2012.
Ubaldo Jimenez has not been the same pitcher he was in Colorado, and the Indians have to have Jimenez pitch well in order for them to contend.
Derek Lowe is no longer a quality starting pitcher, and he projects as their fourth starter going into the season.
Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona) is likely to be suspended and miss a good portion of the season for lying about his name.
Travis Hafner hasn't played a full season since 2007, and they'd be fools to rely on Grady Sizemore coming back and helping the team contend.
The bright spots on the Indians are Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis, but the Tribe will live and die with their starting pitching this year. With all of the improvements made elsewhere in the American League this year, I'm not buying the Indians.
Prediction: 75-87 (T-third, AL Central)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Rockies went just 73-89 in 2011, but they're improved in 2012.
They added Michael Cuddyer in right field, who I think will hit more home runs playing half of his home games in Coors Field than in Target Field (he hit 20 in 2011).
They also added Marco Scutaro to play second base, and having Carlos Gonzalez healthy for a full season should help too. Plus, we can't forget MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki.
The weakness, however, is the Rockies' starting pitching.
Their Opening Day starter will be Jeremy Guthrie, and the timeless Jamie Moyer will join the rotation as well. What Guthrie will be able to do outside of the AL East and what Moyer is capable of at 49 years old are major questions.
Another major question is what Drew Pomeranz, acquired from Cleveland in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, will give the Rockies in their rotation. He's going to be a stud, but he might not be ready for the big show quite yet.
Prediction: 83-79 (third place, NL West)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
The Tigers are going to run through the AL Central. There's almost no doubt about it.
They won 95 games last year behind AL Cy Young Award and MVP winner Justin Verlander and improved the team by signing Prince Fielder. Even though they lost Victor Martinez for the year, adding Fielder while subtracting Martinez is still an upgrade.
I'm not sure Doug Fister will pitch as well as he did down the stretch last year, but in one of the weakest divisions in baseball, it doesn't matter.
Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander will carry the Tigers to the playoffs with ease.
Prediction: 96-66 (first place, AL Central)
Bob Levey/Getty Images
The Houston Astros will be the worst team in baseball this year. You can count on that.
J.D. Martinez might be their cleanup hitter this year—need I say more?
They converted their only truly reliable starter (Brett Myers) to closer duty, reducing his projected innings this year from 200 to about 60 to 70—what sense does that make? The only reason I can think of is that the Astros' front office thinks they can get more value in a trade for him if they market him as a closer instead of as a starter.
If they can get any value for him, Carlos Lee or Wandy Rodriguez, they should do it.
One player I'm going to keep an eye on this year is Jed Lowrie; he was overshadowed by stars in Boston, but I actually think he could develop into a pretty good shortstop.
The good news for the Astros is that they don't have any long-term payroll obligations. Carlos Lee is in the final year of his contract, and Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez are signed through 2013 with options for 2014.
That will keep them flexible enough to sign free agents when the time is right, and to easily lock up young players long-term.
Prediction: 56-106 (sixth place, NL Central)
Kansas City Royals
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Royals are going to score a lot of runs this year.
They're also going to give up a lot of runs.
Regardless, the Royals will be much improved in 2012 and are probably within a year or two of legitimately contending for a playoff spot.
This year, though, they'll have to settle for going .500—which would be huge progress for the franchise.
Eric Homser is the real deal, as is Alex Gordon, and I expect Mike Moustakas to develop into a solid third baseman.
Mike Montgomery should find himself in the Royals rotation sometime during the year, but as it stands now, their rotation looks like this: Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy.
They need their pitching prospects to come up and make an impact before they can contend in the American League, but the AL Central is weak enough that the Royals will score their way into a lot of wins.
Prediction: 81-81 (second place, AL Central)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The Angels won the offseason by adding Albert Pujols, but will they win during the regular season?
Despite the addition of Albert Pujols, the Angels' biggest strength is still starting pitching. Their rotation includes Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and C.J. Wilson. Jordan Walden is a pretty good closer, too.
They'll score runs with Pujols, too. They'll score even more if Kendrys Morales bounces back from almost two years out of the league with injuries or if Mike Trout can force his way onto the major league roster and produce. But jeez, do you think they'd like to have Mike Napoli back or what?
The race between the Angels and the Rangers in the AL West will be one of the more interesting competitions to watch this year. I think the Rangers hitting will propel Texas to another division title, but I think the Angels will find themselves in the playoffs as well.
Prediction: 93-69 (second place, AL West)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Whether the Dodgers win 100 games or lose 100 games this year, Dodger fans should view 2012 as a great success. They replaced owner Frank McCourt with a group led by Magic Johnson, and Johnson's already made it clear that the club will spend money to bring a winner back to Chavez Ravine.
They won't win a ton this year, but the Dodgers have two of the best players in baseball (Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw) to build around for the future.
This year, I think the Dodgers will finish right about where they've finished the last two seasons: 80-82 in 2010, and 82-79 in 2011 (one rainout was not made up).
The biggest changes will be in their starting rotation, where they added Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang to the back of their rotation, but also lost Hiroki Kuroda to the Yankees.
The lineup will be similar to last year, where the biggest X-factor will be shortstop Dee Gordon. He hit .304 with 24 stolen bases in just 56 games in 2011 and had a fantastic spring. If he can keep getting on base, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp will drive in a lot of runs.
One player to keep an eye on is Kenley Jansen, a fireballing relief pitcher who won't start the season as the closer but will almost certainly take over that role at some point and excel.
Prediction: 81-81 (fourth place, NL West)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
The Miami Marlins were extremely active this offseason, changing their name, moving into a new stadium, installing Ozzie Guillen as manager and getting their hands wet in the free-agent market for the first time in years.
The Marlins had a pretty good core of players in Josh Johnson, Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton before any additions were made. Injecting Jose Reyes to the lineup, Mark Buehrle to the rotation and Heath Bell to the bullpen will catapult them into the playoffs.
They now have the best lineup in the NL East with Reyes leading off followed by Emilio Bonifacio, Hanley Ramirez, Stanton and Morrison.
Their rotation isn't as good as the Phillies', but it will be solid if Josh Johnson is healthy. Carlos Zambrano pitching well would help, too, but I'm not counting on that.
Hopefully their fans come to watch the Marlins at the new stadium, because this will be one of the better teams in the National League.
Prediction: 87-75 (second place, NL East)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Brewers are going to take a step back from their 96-66 2011, but they'll still to contend with the Cardinals and Reds in the NL Central.
Losing Prince Fielder is a huge loss, clearly, but Mat Gamel should perform well taking over at first base and the Brew Crew also added Aramis Ramirez at third base to help offset the loss of Fielder. The offense won't be as good as it was last year, but it should score enough runs behind Ryan Braun and Corey Hart to support a solid pitching staff.
Braun won't see as many pitches to hit this year since he'll no longer be hitting in front of Prince Fielder, but he'll walk a lot and score plenty of runs.
Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke are one of the best one-two combinations of starting pitchers in baseball. Randy Wolf and Shaun Marcum are solid behind them.
The bullpen is good, too, with Francisco Rodriguez setting up for John Axford.
Prediction: 85-77 (T-second, NL Central)
David Maxwell/Getty Images
The Minnesota Twins were awful in 2011, going 63-99 after missing Joe Mauer and Justin Mourneau for most of the season. This year, both are back and the team will improve because of it.
However, they lost some key players this offseason that will keep them from returning to the top of the AL Central.
Michael Cuddyer fled the Twin Cities for Colorado, Jason Kubel is now a Diamondback and Joe Nathan is now the Rangers' closer.
To fill the offensive void left by Cuddyer and Kubel, the Twins signed Josh Willingham. They also added Jamey Carroll to play shortstop and Ryan Doumit to alternate catching duties with Joe Mauer, who will also play some first base and DH.
On the pitching side, Jason Marquis will join a rotation that had difficulty staying healthy last year. Ironically, Carl Pavano was the only Twins starter who did not hit the DL at some point in 2011.
Staying healthy is the biggest key for the Twins, particularly with Mauer and Morneau.
Prediction: 75-87 (T-third place, AL Central)
New York Mets
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
It's going to be a long year for the New York Mets, but I think that's in large part because of their division, not just their talent level.
Let's start with their pitching, which is clearly their strength.
They get Johan Santana back after missing the entire 2011 season. Behind him in the rotation are Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey and Dillon Gee. I'm not a fan of Pelfrey, but that's still an above-average rotation.
The Mets also bolstered their bullpen this offseason, acquiring Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez.
The weakness will be the lineup. Despite lowering and moving in the fences at Citi Field, the Mets will have trouble scoring runs, particularly if injury-prone players like David Wright and Ike Davis miss time this year.
Ruben Tejada will have a tough time filling the void left by Jose Reyes at shortstop, and who knows what Jason Bay will give the team? Josh Thole and Andres Torres are also question marks.
The Phillies are the Phillies, the Braves are solid and both the Marlins and Nationals are both much-improved teams this year.
If the Mets decide to trade Johan Santana during the year, that would make the Mets even worse down the stretch.
Prediction: 68-94 (fifth place, NL East)
New York Yankees
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Yankees did not make any huge free-agent signings this offseason, but they still found a way to improve a team that went 97-65 last year.
The Yankees' weakness last year was their starting pitching, and Brian Cashman took care of that this winter by trading for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda.
Pineda will start the season on the DL with tendinitis in his shoulder, but he still has the potential to be an ace whenever he comes back. Kuroda is an upgrade, too, even though he is coming to the AL East from the weak NL West.
The Bombers have starting pitching depth with seven solid options: CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and the recently un-retired Andy Pettitte. If any of their youngsters struggle, the Yanks have arms to replace them without too much of a drop-off.
The bullpen is deep with Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano as quality late-inning options.
The offense is about the same as a year ago, with the minor exception of adding Raul Ibanez as a left-handed DH. It may even get better if Alex Rodriguez is able to stay healthy for the full season.
The Yankees are loaded, and should be playing in the playoffs for the 16th time in 17 years in 2012.
Prediction: 96-66 (first place, AL East)
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images
The Oakland A's might score the fewest runs in the major leagues this year. They play in an enormous ballpark and have a terrible lineup.
Jemile Weeks and Yoenis Cespedes are the only two hitters currently with the club that should excite fans; Weeks is only entering his first full season in the big leagues and Cespedes is an unknown, having just come to America from Cuba.
They're a little bit better pitching-wise, but the rotation is not what it was last year after trading Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez in the offseason. Brett Anderson is supposed to miss most of the season, too. Bartolo Colon was a nice pickup, but Billy Beane probably only acquired him hoping to be able to trade him for a prospect during the season.
Jarrod Parker should come up to start sometime soon, which would be a boost.
It's clear what Billy Beane and the A's are trying to do: Build a team that could contend by 2015, if and when the team moves into a new stadium and when the Angels and Rangers are not as strong as they are now.
Unfortunately for A's fans, that means they're not going to contend this year.
Prediction: 59-103 (fourth place, AL West)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Phillies aren't going to win as many games as they did last year, but they're not going to decline as much as many think they will.
True, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will both miss a good chunk of the season, but the lineup still has Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins. Carlos Ruiz, Placido Polanco and John Mayberry aren't terrible either. They'll score some runs.
But really, as long as the Phillies have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in their rotation (which may not last longer than this year), they should be considered the favorite in the National League East. They lost Roy Oswalt, but Vance Worley is a quality young pitcher and added Jonathan Papelbon to replace Ryan Madson as closer.
The NL East is improved this year, but no team can match the Phils' rotation and that's why they'll win their division for the sixth straight time.
Prediction: 91-71 (first place, NL East)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
The Pirates looked like they had finally turned a corner last year, and even had a chance to go over .500 for the first time in 19 seasons. But after starting 53-47, the Bucs lost a devastating game to the Braves on a terrible call at home plate in the 19th inning, and the wheels came off after that. The Pirates went 19-43 after their fast start and finished the season 72-90.
This year, minor pieces have changed. Ryan Doumit, Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick are gone; Rod Barajas, Nate McClouth, Casey McGehee, Erik Bedard and A.J. Burnett join this year.
Burnett will miss the first month or so of the season after getting hit in the eye with a ball during bunting practice, but he will be the Bucs' ace when he returns.
Pedro Alvarez should make progress in his development and Andrew McCutchen was locked up long-term over the winter. The Pirates are waiting for prospects like Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell and Starling Marte to make it to the majors before they can really contend.
The Pirates are a team with a bright future, but still a stormy present.
Prediction: 74-88 (T-fourth place, NL Central)
San Diego Padres
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Padres are going to have another rough year, but they had an active offseason in which they acquired several players who can help them going forward.
They traded youngster Mat Latos to the Reds and acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso, who is a quality prospect but was blocked in Cincinnati by Joey Votto; he'll start at first base. They also got starting pitcher Edinson Volquez in the deal.
They traded young first baseman Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs for a package that included Andrew Cashner, a young power arm who will pitch out of the bullpen this year but should be a starter long-term.
Also new to the Padres roster are outfielder Carlos Quentin and reliever Huston Street. Cory Luebke is a prospect in his first full year in the rotation who has a bright future.
The future might not be now for the Padres, but they have several good pieces who should make them exciting to watch this year.
Prediction: 72-90 (fifth place, NL West)
San Francisco Giants
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The San Francisco Giants' biggest offseason addition is someone who was on the roster last year: Buster Posey.
The Giants had a completely different offense after his injury and having him return to 2010 form would, in my opinion, put the team back in the playoffs.
Adding Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to replace Cody Ross and Andres Torres could be marginal upgrades. The Giants just need to score enough runs to support their superb top three starters.
Madison Bumgarner could take his game to the next level this year and join Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain as ace pitchers. If Brian Wilson stays healthy, they'll have a solid bullpen as well with Sergio Romo setting up.
I see the Giants with the same record as they had last year, but in 2012, under the new playoff format, that will be good enough to make the playoffs.
Prediction: 86-76 (second place, NL West)
Brandon Wade/Getty Images
Here's the good news for Mariners fans: Your team won't come in last place this year.
The bad news: They still aren't very good.
Even though the offense will struggle, the M's finally have some young players on offense who will develop into very good major league hitters.
Dustin Ackley is going to be a start at second base, and Justin Smoak has great power at first.
They made a great trade this offseason in acquiring Jesus Montero. Even though he will likely be a DH in the long run, he has incredible power, particularly to the opposite field. They did give up Michael Pineda, but the Mariners have plenty of pitching in their system and they needed bats.
King Felix is King Felix, and watch for Hector Noesi; he was never going to have a chance in the Yankee rotation, but he could develop into at least an above-average major league starter.
Prediction: 68-94 (3rd place, AL West)
St. Louis Cardinals
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
Coming off of their second improbable World Series win since 2006, the Cardinals will seek to defend their title without both manager Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols.
That won't be an easy task, but the addition of Carlos Beltran should help lessen the impact of losing Pujols' production.
I'm not sure that Lance Berkman will repeat last year's numbers, but he can still be a solid first baseman and Matt Holliday is still there.
After getting Adam Wainwright back from Tommy John surgery, the Cards lost Chris Carpenter with a nerve issue in his right shoulder and it is unknown if or when he will return.
The team won the World Series without one of two aces, but will they be able to do it again without Albert Pujols around?
I'm not sure, but I do think they can win the division even without Carpenter for a chunk of the season.
Prediction: 87-75 (first place, NL Central)
Tampa Bay Rays
J. Meric/Getty Images
While the Rays' greatest strength is their starting pitching, I was very impressed by the acquisitions Andrew Friedman made on offense this winter.
Bringing Carlos Pena back to St. Petersburg was extremely smart, and I wouldn't be surprised if Pena hit 30 homers for the Rays. Luke Scott will also be a quality DH who provides power, which the Rays were lacking outside of Evan Longoria.
Speaking of Longoria, it's unlikely he'll hit .244 again. Desmond Jennings should take strides in his first full major league season as well.
Still, though, the Rays' pitching is what's going to carry them. I don't know if there's a better rotation in the American League (including the Angels'), with James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Jeff Niemann. Plus, Wade Davis is always there as a quality sixth option if someone gets hurt.
I don't trust Kyle Farnsworth as closer (especially since he's starting the season on the DL), but their starting pitching is good enough to mask that deficiency and the Rays always seem to find relievers out of nowhere who succeed.
Prediction: 92-70 (second place, AL East)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The Texas Rangers are loaded and a good bet to win the AL pennant for the third straight year.
They return the same stellar lineup that carried them to the last two World Series. Even though they lost C.J. Wilson to the rival Angels, they added Yu Darvish from Japan. Darvish is a question mark since he's never pitched in the majors, but he's had a good spring.
The Rangers are converting Neftali Feliz from the closer's role to being a starter, and Felix has had a decent spring making the adjustment. He's just the fifth starter in the team's rotation so there's not a ton of pressure on him to succeed immediately, but it would be a huge boost to the team if he pitched well.
Even though the Rangers moved their closer, the bullpen is still solid. They signed Joe Nathan to be the closer, with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara setting up.
This is a team without many weaknesses and a good bet to go to October again.
Prediction: 95-67 (first place, AL West)
Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The Blue Jays are a very trendy pick this year, and while I think they'll be an improved team, they're still probably a year or two away from contending.
Jose Bautista is the real deal and Brett Lawrie is going to be a star. However, J.P. Arencibia hit just .219 last year at catcher, while Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind are question marks.
Yunel Escobar and Eric Thames are solid hitters but still need seasoning before they can make the Jays' lineup elite.
Ricky Romero is a good starter, but Brandon Morrow still has not established himself as one of the game's elite despite his excellent strikeout numbers. In addition, the Jays are still waiting for Kyle Drabek to take the next step in his development.
The Jays could be a playoff team in almost any other division and would almost certainly be one in the National League, but they're stuck playing against the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees more than 50 times a year. That will hurt their record while they're still developing.
Prediction: 84-78 (fourth place, AL East)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Nats are another trendy pick this year, but I'm not sold on them yet either.
First off, outside of Ryan Zimmerman and to a lesser extent Wilson Ramos, the lineup is just not very impressive. Who knows what they will get out of Jayson Werth? And at this stage in his career, Mark DeRosa should not be any team's starting left fielder despite his strong spring. Adam LaRoche played less than half of last season and is returning from shoulder surgery, so it's also unknown what he will give the Nats.
Bryce Harper will join the big league club sometime this season, but he won't be ready to make an immediate impact or noticeably improve the team.
With pitching, Stephen Strasburg is elite and will be a great pitcher, but his impact will be limited by the Nationals only allowing him to pitch 160 innings. Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are also good major league starters, but I'm not sold on Edwin Jackson.
The Nationals will be an above-average team this year, but I think they'll take the next step when Bryce Harper takes the next step, which won't be until 2013 at the earliest.
Prediction: 82-80 (fourth place, NL East)
And there you have have predictions for all 30 teams. According to these records, the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers would win divisions in the American League, and the Rays and Angels would face off in the one-game Wild Card Playoff. In the NL, the Phillies, Cardinals and Diamondbacks would take division crowns, and the Marlins and Giants would play each other in a one-game playoff.
Will these predictions come true? Check back in October. But for now, enjoy Opening Day and good luck to your teams.