2013 MLB Predictions: Division Favorites in Early Trouble
Spring training is rapidly approaching and Opening Day is on the horizon. Teams will begin flocking to their respective training camps with a clear mind and with hopes of winning their respective divisions and make a deep push into October.
But when word spreads regarding the findings from an anti-aging clinic in Miami on Tuesday, some division favorites could be in trouble before the season officially begins.
The Nationals are the reigning division champions after finishing last season with a mark of 98-64, the best record in all of baseball. Not to mention, the Nationals boasted the best road record among any major league club.
Washington led the NL with a 3.33 ERA, which was second best in all of baseball last season.
That could change if Commissioner Bug Selig decides to dish out penalties to those players revealed on the report from the anti-aging clinic in Miami.
Among those named in the report is Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. According to the story on ESPN.com, Gonzalez—who recorded 21 wins in 2012—appears five times on the report.
If Gonzalez is indeed penalized for his actions, then the Nationals will be in major trouble without their most reliable pitcher.
It appears the National League Central Division will be a two-team race between St. Louis and Cincinnati.
No surprise there.
The Cardinals have reached postseason play four times in the last seven seasons, including two World Series championships and a pair of division titles. The Reds have won the division two of the last three seasons.
Cincinnati traded for center fielder Shin-Soo Choo from Cleveland and re-signed free-agent slugger Ryan Ludwick. The Reds also locked up free-agent hurler Jonathan Broxton, who may serve as the team’s closer depending on whether or not fireballer Aroldis Chapman is inserted into the starting rotation.
The Cardinals were relatively quiet this winter. Their lone offseason addition was left-handed reliever Randy Choate, who signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract in December.
If the Reds rotation holds up, they will be tough to beat in the Central.
The Giants will surely make a run to defend their World Series championship in 2013.
They re-signed right fielder Hunter Pence, who should provide some pop in the batting order to accompany Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey.
But the team to beat in 2013 will be the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers signed free agent starter Zack Greinke, who has won 31 games in the last two seasons.
It’s not likely that sluggers Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford will drastically decline at the plate, either.
The Yankees were thought to be the early favorites to win their third consecutive American League East Division crown.
But the aftermath regarding the findings from the anti-aging clinic in Miami could drastically alter this prediction.
Alex Rodriguez was expected to miss a portion or perhaps the entire regular season after undergoing hip surgery.
But now, the three-time AL Most Valuable Player could be facing another penalty. According to the report on ESPN.com, Rodriguez’s name appears on the report 16 times.
Rodriguez hit 18 home runs and notched 57 RBI while batting .272 for the Yankees last season.
If Rodriguez is dealt a major penalty for his actions, then the Yankees will be in early trouble.
The Detroit Tigers look like the front-runners for the American League Central Division crown.
After getting swept 4-0 in the World Series last October, the Tigers are looking for to embark on a deeper journey into the postseason this time around.
Detroit went out and signed free agent center fielder Torii Hunter with hopes of adding some protection and production to a lineup that boasted the league’s 11th-best offense last season.
Justin Verlander will look to build off of a noteworthy season that saw him win 17 games while fanning 239 batters.
It would be silly for the Los Angeles Angels not to win the American League West, especially with the loaded lineup they now possess.
The addition of free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton will further boast a batting order that features slugger Albert Pujols and 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout.
The Angels will have an explosive offense. That’s almost certain. But a slow start combined with an injury or two could allow the Texas Rangers to jump into the mix and possibly hold on the for good.
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