Predicting the Final 2013 MLB Standings

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2013

Predicting the Final 2013 MLB Standings

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    Experts and fans alike will be passionate about their predictions for 2013 MLB season.

    In sports, predictions are like opinions—everyone has one.

    With vast roster changes by many MLB teams, the landscape in 2013 promises to be quite different from 2012.

    Based on those changes, here is a division-by-division breakdown of where each MLB team will finish.

American League East

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    1. Toronto Blue Jays: 95-67

    The Blue Jays now boast an offense that's potent, fast and the has ability to score runs in bunches. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will have plenty of run-producing opportunities with Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera hitting in front of them.

    The addition of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to the starting rotation gives the Jays a formidable trio to pair with returnees Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.


    2. New York Yankees: 90-72

    This is still a scary Yankees lineup despite the loss of Nick Swisher and Russell Martin. If Derek Jeter returns to full health and Brett Gardner can regain his 2011 form, the offense should be productive.

    CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova make for a strong rotation. David Phelps can provide spot starts when needed as well.

    Mariano Rivera will look to end his storied career on a high note, and the rest of the Yankees' bullpen is solid.

    But it's simply not enough to overtake a retooled Blue Jays roster.


    3. Tampa Bay Rays: 87-75

    After five straight winning seasons, the Rays can no longer be counted out. Despite the loss of James Shields and Wade Davis, the Rays' pitching staff will be strong once again. Cy Young Award-winning David Price leads a rotation that includes Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Jeff Niemann, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer.

    Closer Fernando Rodney will look to duplicate his magical 2012 season, supported by a solid supporting cast in the bullpen.

    The biggest question remains the offense. Wil Myers will likely start the season in Triple-A, and Evan Longoria will need to stay healthy throughout the year. First base (James Loney) and catcher (Jose Molina) remain black holes offensively.


    4. Baltimore Orioles: 83-79

    After their first postseason appearance in 15 years, the Orioles did little to upgrade their roster this offseason.

    Much of the O's success last year came in one-run games (29-9) and extra-inning affairs (16-2). The likelihood of that happening again is slim.


    5. Boston Red Sox: 76-86

    The Red Sox made several changes after their worst regular-season record since 1965.

    Still, question marks abound. Can David Ortiz remain healthy after missing nearly the entire second half last year? Can Jonny Gomes be an everyday left fielder? Will Mike Napoli be healthy and productive for the entire season? Can newcomer Shane Victorino help spark the offense near the top of the order?

    New manager John Farrell will also be asked to turn around around a pitching staff that finished with the third-worst ERA in the American League last season.

    Improvement will be made, but not nearly enough to compete in the AL East.

American League Central

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    1. Detroit Tigers: 94-68

    The Tigers will be looking for their third consecutive AL Central title in 2013, and they'll have no problem reaching that goal.

    The offense returns intact, strengthened by the addition of right fielder Torii Hunter and the return of designated hitter Victor Martinez. Anchored by Prince Fielder and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, it will be the best offense in the division.

    A rotation featuring Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez is among the best in the American League. This is a team built to win now. The Tigers are primed to make another World Series run.


    2. Kansas City Royals: 84-78

    The Royals have had one winning season in the 21st century. They'll add to that total in 2013.

    The addition of James Shields and Ervin Santana vastly improves the starting rotation. Jeremy Guthrie seems to have found his comfort level in Kansas City as well.

    The bullpen is one of the team's great strengths. Anthony Castrovince of recently ranked it as the 10th-best bullpen in baseball.

    If youngsters Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer can live up to their potential, the offense has a chance to be solid. The Royals will put together a winning season, but they will still fall short of the postseason.


    3. Chicago White Sox: 80-82

    Much like the Baltimore Orioles, the White Sox did little this offseason to upgrade their roster. Jeff Keppinger was signed to replace the departed Kevin Youkilis, but no other major pieces were acquired.

    John Danks is making his return from surgery to arthroscopically repair a capsular tear in his left shoulder. The bullpen is steady but not spectacular. It ranked eighth in the American League with a 3.75 ERA last year.

    Offensively, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios need to continue their resurgence, with both putting up far better numbers last season than in 2011. Paul Konerko will again be expected to carry a full load again at age 37.

    The White Sox remain a team with question marks at catcher and second base. And they don't have much depth.


    4. Cleveland Indians: 77-85

    The Cleveland Indians should see improvement over last year's 68-94 finish, but a complete turnaround is definitely a reach.

    Brett Myers and Trevor Bauer help to upgrade a rotation that was woeful in 2012. Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs could provide help offensively as well. But the Tribe still has far too many questions concerning its pitching to truly be considered a contender.


    5. Minnesota Twins: 68-94

    The Twins may have made some strides in an attempt to upgrade their starting rotation, but they paid a heavy price.

    Gone are Denard Span and Ben Revere, two solid outfield contributors last year. In their place are the unproven Darin Mastroianni and Chris Parmelee.

    The rotation now features Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, Kevin Correia, Liam Hendriks, Cole DeVries and Brian Duensing. Mike Pelfrey could help at some point after returning from Tommy John surgery.

    The rotation was the worst in the American League last season. While the additions may help, they won't help enough to get the Twins out of the AL Central cellar.

American League West

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    1. Los Angeles Angels: 96-66

    It's likely that Angels owner Arte Moreno is still feeling the sting of a disappointing 2012 finish. He assuaged that sting by acquiring one of the best sluggers in baseball.

    Adding Josh Hamilton to a lineup that already boasts of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo gives the Angels more than a fighting chance in 2013. General manager Jerry Dipoto also added Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett to fortify the bullpen.

    The biggest question mark concerns the rotation. Can the Angels win with Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas supporting Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson?

    My guess is yes.


    2. Oakland Athletics: 91-71

    The A's will be good once again in 2013, proving that last year's magical season was no fluke. Chris Young, John Jaso and Jed Lowrie have been added to give a boost to the offense, and Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will try his luck on American soil for the first time.

    The pitching staff remains largely intact, and it ranked second in the American League with a 3.48 staff ERA last season.

    But it simply won't be enough to match the firepower of the Angels.


    3. Texas Rangers: 83-79

    The back end of the Rangers' rotation is still up in the air entering spring training. Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando are locks. Martin Perez will get a long look this spring, and Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won't be available for at least the first two months of the season.

    The bullpen took a hit with the loss of Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. The losses of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young will be a lot to make up for on offense as well.

    Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar could be pleasant surprises offensively in 2013, but the Rangers simply lost too much to keep up with both the A's and Angels in 2013.


    4. Seattle Mariners: 75-87

    The Seattle Mariners came to an agreement with ace Felix Hernandez on Thursday, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, committing to seven years and $175 million. It makes Hernandez the richest pitcher in MLB history. But the Mariners will be in trouble next season regardless.

    Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez were all brought in to help a sagging offense. They will help, but not nearly enough.

    The Mariners' rotation beyond Hernandez has question marks. Hisashi Iwakuma will move into the No. 2 slot following the departure of Jason Vargas. Blake Beavan has shown flashes, but inconsistent would best describe his 2012 season. Erasmo Ramirez and Hector Noesi round out the rotation.

    Young pitching prospects Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are likely still at least a year away.


    5. Houston Astros: 51-111

    The Astros start life anew in the American League West. It figures to be a rough beginning.

    They will sport a payroll of roughly $25 million, the lowest in baseball in years. New manager Bo Porter is being given an offense that will struggle to score and a pitching staff that will struggle to prevent runs. In a division that's gotten much more competitive, that doesn't bode well at all.

National League East

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    1. Washington Nationals: 98-64

    The Washington Nationals return a team vastly similar to last year's NL East-winning squad. The only significant changes will have Denard Span roaming center field and Dan Haren replacing Edwin Jackson in the rotation.

    Newly acquired Rafael Soriano makes the Nats' bullpen a potent weapon in the late innings as well. The Atlanta Braves will attempt to give the Nationals a run for their money. However, they'll fall well short.


    2. Atlanta Braves: 92-70

    The addition of the Upton brothers—B.J. and Justin—will give Braves fans plenty to cheer about in 2013. Their offense will certainly benefit as well. A terrific bullpen and solid rotation also will bolster the Braves' chances.

    It just won't be enough to finish ahead of the powerful Nationals, although it's likely enough to earn the Braves another postseason berth.


    3. Philadelphia Phillies: 87-75

    The Phillies return with a starting trio—Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels—that is still considered among the best in baseball. The bullpen was fortified with the addition of Mike Adams as well.

    Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will be heavily counted on remain healthy and continue to power the Phillies' offense. However, catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended for the first 25 games and left field remains a major question mark.


    4. New York Mets: 66-96

    The trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays may have been a smart move for the future, but it did nothing for the present. The Mets' rotation was considerably weakened by it.

    The outfield can best be described as anemic, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Lucas Duda, Jordany Valdespin and Collin Cowgill all vying to contribute in some way.

    Travis d'Arnaud, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler could all impact the big club in some way in 2013, but not nearly enough to save the season.


    5. Miami Marlins: 58-104

    The good news for Marlins fans is that Giancarlo Stanton will still be fun to watch.

    The rest of the team could be an unmitigated disaster.

    First-year manager Mike Redmond will trot out an assortment of washed-up veterans (Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco) along with completely unproven youngsters (Rob Brantly, Adeiny Hechavarria).

    Redmond will turn prematurely gray by the time his first season is complete.

National League Central

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    1. Cincinnati Reds: 92-70

    The Reds return with a team that will finally have a legitimate leadoff hitter.

    Shin-Soo Choo should help at the top of the order. Todd Frazier will have an everyday job at third base as well. Ryan Ludwick will be asked to provide protection for Joey Votto in the middle of the order.

    The rotation will sport a different look, with southpaw flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman joining righties Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey. Mike Leake will likely move to the bullpen.

    Whether the 2013 rotation can be as durable as last year's version remains to be seen.


    2. St. Louis Cardinals: 86-76

    The starting rotation took a serious hit with the news that Chris Carpenter likely won't pitch in 2013. Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller will be asked to pick up the slack. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted on Tuesday that the Cards don't have much interest in bringing back Kyle Lohse.

    Offensively, the Cardinals will be hoping that Rafael Furcal's health can hold out for another year and that Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig can provide sparks as well.

    Without Carpenter, it's not a rotation that can keep up with the Reds in the NL Central.


    3. Pittsburgh Pirates: 83-79

    I like the Pirates' chances of ending their 20-year streak of losing seasons, but not enough to predict that they will compete for a division title.

    A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez should be solid at the top of the rotation. James McDonald was horrible in the second half last season (3-5, 7.52 ERA in 12 starts) and Jeff Karstens has had trouble staying healthy for the past two seasons.

    The bullpen has undergone transition as well. Jason Grilli will replace Joel Hanrahan as closer and Mark Melancon will compete for the setup role. Yes, the same Melancon who posted a 6.20 ERA in 41 games last season for the Boston Red Sox.


    4. Milwaukee Brewers: 75-87

    Beyond Yovani Gallardo in the starting rotation, the Brewers will feature only one other starter (Marco Estrada) who threw more than 130 innings last season.

    The Brewers have the offense, but it may be way too much to expect an inexperienced rotation to deliver the Brewers a postseason berth.


    5. Chicago Cubs: 68-94

    The Cubs will continue to take baby steps in their improvement. A seven-win jump likely won't offer much hope to long-suffering Cubs fans, however.

National League West

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    1. San Francisco Giants: 92-70

    The above prediction doesn't suggest regression by the Giants. It simply suggests stiffer competition.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers will be breathing down their necks all season. The Giants return a team largely intact. Considering the results last season, that's hardly a bad thing.


    2. Los Angeles Dodgers: 90-72

    The Dodgers and Giants will fight it out in a way reminiscent of the 1950s and early 1960s when the teams were regularly perched atop the National League standings.

    After spending somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-billion dollars since last July, the Dodgers will see the postseason, but as a wild-card entry.


    3. Arizona Diamondbacks: 78-84

    The NL West will likely see three teams finish as also-rans. The Diamondbacks made a bevy of moves this offseason. But I'm not convinced they made them better at all.

    Cliff Pennington and the unproven Didi Gregorius are the options at shortstop. Pennington's bat is impotent and Gregorius has yet to show he can hit at the major-league level. The loss of Chris Young and Justin Upton from the offense will hurt as well. Newcomer Cody Ross will take up some of the slack.

    If Brandon McCarthy can avoid the shoulder issues that have plagued him in recent years, he'll provide stability to the rotation. Heath Bell was added to serve as a setup man  for closer J.J. Putz. If  the 2012 version of Bell appears, the Diamondbacks' bullpen will have issues.


    4. San Diego Padres: 75-87

    With new ownership in place, the Padres set out to make improvements on a team that was 10 games above .500 in its final 100 games last season.

    Wait a minute. They made no upgrades whatsoever, unless you consider signing aging veteran pitchers Freddy Garcia and Jason Marquis such a move.

    Padres starters posted a 4.44 ERA in 2012, fourth worst in the National League. Now that the fences have been brought in at Petco Park, don't expect their ERA to take a precipitous jump.


    5. Colorado Rockies: 60-102

    Much like the Padres, Rockies' management sat on their hands this offseason.

    Reliever Wilton Lopez represented the biggest acquisition of the winter. The Rockies return a pitching staff that was by far the worst in baseball last season. They're hoping that Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin can return to full health. But considering their track records, that's a lot to ask.

    Todd Helton underwent hip surgery in August and knee surgery in November. He'll be asked to return to form at age 39. Oh yeah, and his DUI arrest won't be a distraction, either.

    Hey, Rockies fans—at least Jeff Francis is back.


    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.