Projecting 2013 Division Winners

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2012

Projecting 2013 Division Winners

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    While the start of the MLB season is far away and there are still a number of moves to be made this winter, it is still possible to make early predictions of which MLB teams will win their division in 2013.

    These projections are obviously subject to change, but right now they are based on each team's current roster.

    A number of divisions will have very tight races this year and could come down to the wire. These two- and three-team races will keep the season very entertaining from beginning to end.

American League East

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    Even though it is early in the winter, there have already been some major changes in the American League East.

    The Toronto Blue Jays pulled off a mega-deal with the Miami Marlins to acquire Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.

    B.J Upton has signed with the Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Rays have brought in James Loney (h/t Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports). The Boston Red Sox have replaced Loney in their lineup with Mike Napoli and have also signed Jonny Gomes (h/t Ian Browne of MLB.com).

    Baltimore has yet to make any big moves; currently the Orioles trying to figure out if they can bring back Mark Reynolds or if they will need to replace him.

    The New York Yankees have some problems heading into next season. Derek Jeter is coming off an injury and Alex Rodriguez will now miss part of the 2013 season because he needs hip surgery (h/t Scott Miller of CBS Sports).

    This leaves the division wide open in 2013. Toronto could very well be favorites in the AL East by the time the season starts, but they are not there yet.

    Predicted Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

American League Central

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    There was a tight race in the American League Central last season between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox, but that likely will not be the case in 2013.

    Both the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians will not be contending for the division title in 2013. While this season could be the year that Kansas City turns things around, the Royals will have a long way to go to try to challenge the White Sox and Tigers.

    Chicago has seen a few important players such as A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis hit the free-agent market. Replacing these players may not be easy, and even if the White Sox find two solid replacements, it might not be enough for them to defeat the Tigers.

    Detroit has to be considered the favorite in the AL Central in 2013. The team reached the World Series last year and is bringing back almost the entire roster. Getting Victor Martinez back will be huge for the Tigers in 2013.

    Predicted Winner: Detroit Tigers

American League West

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    The American League West will be getting slightly bigger in 2013 with the addition of the Houston Astros. They will not be much of a threat for the AL West title.

    Seattle has a few talented young pitchers who could reach the major leagues next season; the Mariners are looking for a big bat. If they get one, then they will be more competitive in 2013.

    It appears as if the American League West will be a three-team race between the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.

    Each of these three teams has the talent to win the division, and the race will likely come down to the wire. With the way these teams' rosters currently are, the Angels have a slight edge. This could change quickly if the Rangers bring back Josh Hamilton, trade for Justin Upton or sign Zack Greinke.

    With just one or two small moves, the defending division champion Athletics could find themselves as favorites heading into 2013.

    Predicted Winner: Los Angeles Angels

National League East

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    The National League East is shaping up to be a three team race next season.

    After their fire sale, it would be highly unlikely that the Miami Marlins would be able to put together a contending team. The New York Mets will likely be better than a 74-win team this season, but they will not be in the playoff hunt.

    That leaves the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals.

    Atlanta has made some big moves this winter by signing B.J. Upton and dealing Tommy Hanson for Jordan Walden (h/t Associated Press via Washington Post). This move means the back end of the Braves bullpen will be solid.

    Philadelphia is in the market for outfielders this winter and will likely pick up at least one big name. Their starting rotation is still strong and will help them contend in 2013.

    After winning the division in 2012, the Nationals should be considered favorites this year. Washington added Denard Span this year, which gives them a quality center fielder (h/t David Brown of Yahoo Sports). A full season of Stephen Strasburg will also be a big plus for the Nationals.

    Predicted Winner: Washington Nationals

National League Central

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    Last season the Cincinnati Reds proved to be the class of the National League Central and won the division by nine games over the St. Louis Cardinals.

    In 2013, the Chicago Cubs still should not be a threat for the division title. Theo Epstein is working to turn the team around, but they will not be there yet.

    Similarly, the Pittsburgh Pirates are getting better, but they likely will not have what it takes to win the NL Central crown.

    There is a lot of talent on both the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers, but they will have a difficult time trying to unseat the Reds.

    Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick are now on the free-agent market, but the Reds have potential replacements at those positions and could also look to make a signing or two. Todd Frazier should take over at third base. Cincinnati has also brought Jonathan Broxton back to keep its bullpen strong.

    Unless St. Louis or Milwaukee makes a big move, this division appears to belong to the Reds.

    Predicted Winner: Cincinnati Reds

National League West

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    The Colorado Rockies are coming off a rough 2012 season, and things might not get any better this season. They will likely be the cellar dwellers of the National League West.

    The San Diego Padres are better than their record from last season indicates, but they do not have the talent to challenge the teams at the top of their division.

    There will potentially be some deals for the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter since the team is considering trading Justin Upton as well as Jason Kubel (h/t Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports). While the Diamondbacks should finish over .500 with their current roster, they probably will not win the division.

    The race for the National League West will likely come down to the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.

    San Francisco took home the World Series title last season and brought back Angel Pagan (h/t Associated Press via Washington Post). If Tim Lincecum could return to his Cy Young level of performance, the Giants will be hard to beat.

    Los Angeles made a number of major acquisitions during the 2012 season that will help them go after the division title this year. The Dodgers are looking to make some more big splashes this winter and are currently considered the favorites to land Zack Greinke (h/t Jon Heyman of CBS Sports). Should the Dodgers get a solid No. 2 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, they will be very hard to beat.

    Predicted Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers