This year’s tournament features 20 national teams, an upgrade from the previous 16 teams; with all participating teams from 2017 returning alongside 4 additional teams.
Originally scheduled in 2021, 4 years after the previous tournament in 2017, the WBC was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After negotiations with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, qualifying rounds were played in September 2022 which delayed the tournament to be played now in March 2023.
Qualified teams (by regions)
Americas: Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States, Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua
Asia: China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, South Korea
Europe: Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Great Britain, Czech Republic
Pool A: Chinese Taipei (hosts), Netherlands, Cuba, Italy, Panama
Pool B: Japan (hosts), South Korea, Australia, China, Czech Republic
Pool C: United States (hosts), Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Great Britain
Pool D: Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Israel, Nicaragua
Pool A: Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan
Pool B & Quarterfinals: Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan
Pool C: Chase Field in Phoenix, United States
Pool D, Quarterfinals, Semifinals & Championship: LoanDepot Park in Miami, United States
Notable (current and former) MLB players on rosters
*Teams were required to turn in final roster no later than February 7, 2023 **Roster as current and updated through March 5, 2023 as some players have dropped out
United States:Mark DeRosa (manager), Andy Pettitte (pitching coach), Ken Griffey Jr. (hitting coach), Miles Mikolas, Adam Ottavino, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Higashioka, J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Pete Alonso, Tim Anderson, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Jeff McNeil, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Tucker & Mike Trout
México:Julio Urias, Jose Urquidy, Taijuan Walker, Austin Barnes, Rowdy Tellez, Randy Arozarena & Alex Verdugo
Colombia:Edgar Renteria (assistant), Jose Quintana, Jorge Alfaro & Gio Urshela
Canada:Larry Walker (first base coach), Russell Martin (coach), Freddie Freeman, Abraham Toro & Tyler O’Neill
Israel:Ian Kinsler (manager), Kevin Youkilis (hitting coach) & Joc Pederson
Puerto Rico: Yadier Molina (manager), Jose Molina (first base coach), Jose Berrios, Edwin Diaz, Dereck Rodriguez, Marcus Stroman, Martin Maldonado, Christian Vazquez, Javier Baez, Enrique Hernandez, Francisco Lindor & Eddie Rosario
Venezuela:Luis Garcia, Martin Perez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Salvador Perez, Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Eduardo Escobar, Andres Gimenez, Eugenio Suarez, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Acuna Jr. & David Peralta
Dominican Republic:Sandy Alcantara, Gary Sanchez, Willy Adames, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Rafael Devers, Wander Franco, Manny Machado, Ketel Marte, Jeremy Pena, Julio Rodriguez & Juan Soto
Pool A: March 8-12
Pool B: March 9-13
Pool C: March 11-15
Pool D: March 11-15
Quarterfinals: March 15-18
Semifinals: March 19-20
Final: March 21
All games will be televised on Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Tubi & Fox Deportes (Spanish). Check local listings for details.
After a dramatic and fascinating offseason, MLB’s Spring Training has finally arrived. While some familiar faces might be in new places, some faces got their expected extensions to last for many years to come.
Notable Free Agent signings
NYM Edwin Diaz: 5 years for $102 million with team option in 2028 worth $20 million
HOU Jose Abreu: 3 years for $58.5 million
TEX Jacob deGrom: 5 years for $185 million
One of the most entertaining pitchers to have watched in the past years in Queens, deGrom finds a new place in a shocking move to Arlington. If deGrom can stay healthy, as he hasn’t been able to in years, he can be a difference maker in the AL West.
PHI Trea Turner: 11 years for $300 million
CHC Cody Bellinger: 1 year for $17.5 million
NYM Justin Verlander: 2 years for $86 million (2025 vesting option worth $35 million)
As if Justin Verlander hadn’t won the World Series or AL CY Young award within the past year, he also got paid for his worth. At age 39, he shows no signs of slowing down and will continue to be performing at his very best.
BOS Kenley Jansen: 2 years for $32 million
STL Wilson Contreras: 5 years for $87.5 million
NYY Aaron Judge: 9 years for $360 million
The most sought after free agent this past offseason was none other than the reigning AL MVP. With rumors of Judge returning to his hometown San Francisco Giants as “Arson Judge,” he will stay in the Bronx with the title as captain; becoming the first Yankees captain since Derek Jeter.
SD Xander Bogaerts: 11 years for $280 million
NYY Carlos Rodon: 6 years for $162 million
CHC Dansby Swanson: 7 years for $177 million
To say Swanson is leaving his hometown Atlanta Braves, where he has won a World Series, is shocking. Although, it’s not shocking if you think about Swanson’s wife, World Cup champion and professional soccer player Mallory Swanson, who plays in Chicago for the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL.
CWS Andrew Benintendi: 5 years for $75 million
BOS Justin Turner: 2 years for $21.7 million with a opt-out after 2023
LAD JD Martinez: 1 year for $10 million
In Los Angeles, Martinez will reunite with former Red Sox teammate Mookie Betts and hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, who helped rebuild Martinez’s career in 2013 after a disappointing career in Houston from 2011 to 2013. Already an established hitter, Martinez should have no problem hitting home runs at Dodger Stadium considering that he hit 4 home runs in a single game there as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017.
TEX Nathan Eovaldi: 2 years for $34 million with a player option in 2025
MIN Christian Vazquez: 3 years for $30 million
MIN Carlos Correa: 6 years for $200 million with vesting options from 2029-2032
Originally Correa had signed with the San Francisco Giants, but when an apparent medical dispute occurred, he moved on to sign with the New York Mets. Again, the apparent medical issue came up again, he moved on to sign with the Minnesota Twins where he had recently opted out of his contract earlier in the offseason.
LAD & MIA: Dodgers receive Miguel Rojas and Marlins receive Jacob Amaya
MIL & SEA: Brewers receive Abraham Toro and Jesse Winker while Mariners receive Kolten Wong
OAK & ATL & MIL: Athletics receive Manny Pina, Braves receive Sean Murphy, and Brewers receive William Contreras
BOS Rafael Devers: 11 years for $331 million
One of the brightest young talents currently, Devers has already won a World Series in 2018 and will continue to hopefully win more. Devers will have to step up to be the leader that Boston currently needs.
After a rapid thrilling Championship Series, the World Series is finally here! This year’s “Fall Classic” features the American League pennant winner, the Houston Astros, and the National League pennant winner, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Astros appear in their fourth World Series since 2017 while the Phillies are appearing for the first time since 2009. The previous meeting of both teams occurred in the 1980 NLCS when the Phillies won 3 games over the Astros 2 games, before Houston made the switch from National League to American League in 2013.
The Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres came into the postseason as massive underdogs with little to none expectations of competing for the National League pennant. Against all odds, the Phillies defeated the fan favorite Cardinals and defending champion Braves to advance; the Padres defeated the Mets and the profound 111-win Dodgers to advance.
The Phillies defeated the Padres 4 games to 1. Game 2 marked the first time that brothers have played against each other in a postseason game as a pitcher and batter: Phillies’ pitcher Aaron Nola against his older brother, Padres’ catcher Austin Nola.
American League Championship MVP: Jeremy Peña
Jeremy Peña came into the season as a rookie with big shoes to fill in after longtime Astros shortstop, Carlos Correa, signed a 3-year-contract worth $105.3 million this past offseason.
Peña not only helped the Astros win the American League pennant, but he ended his championship series campaign with a batting average of .353, slugging percentage of .824, and an ops percentage of 1.176. He hit a then game-tying 3-run home run off of Yankees’ starter Nestor Cortes in game 4 that led the Astros in route of a 6-5 win.
Harper finished his Championship Series campaign with a batting average of .400, hitting 2 home runs, 3 doubles, 5 runs batted in, and scoring 4 runs in a span of the series. With his campaign, he helped the Phillies win their first National League pennant since 2009.
Why each team will win
The Astros had one of the best bullpens and starting rotations this year. Their pitching was good during the regular season, but when it came down to postseason, they were lights out. Their pitching needs to continue their form to win the World Series.
The Phillies had no expectations to go this far in the postseason, but they went as far as making the World Series. Their success starts with their offense led by NLCS MVP Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Alec Bohm to just name a few. Their offense needs to score runs at every chance they get to win the World Series.
Why each team won’t win
The Astros’ offense is a force to be reckoned with the many talents of Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and a rising star Jeremy Peña. But what about longtime Astros second baseman Jose Altuve? Altuve is currently in the midst of a huge slump this postseason while having a batting average of .094 and an OPS of .296. The Astros need him to start performing if they want to win with their calculated offense.
It is no surprise to anyone that the Phillies have two great starting pitchers on their pitching staff with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Starting pitching will be a determining factor if the Phillies want to win. But, the Phillies need more from their starting pitching other than the obvious 1-2 punch of Nola and Wheeler.
Steal a base, steal a taco
Since 2015 and 3 times before then, Taco Bell has created a promotion that gives fans the opportunity to win a free taco when a base is stolen during the World Series. To collect your free taco, participants must be registered with the Taco Bell Rewards program while downloading the free Taco Bell app. To download the app, please visit your app store. To sign up for the rewards and learn more information, please visit tacobell.com. Enjoy your free taco!
World Series Schedule
All games on FOX
Game 1: Friday, October 28
Game 2: Saturday, October 29
Game 3: Monday, October 31
Game 4: Tuesday, November 1
Game 5: Wednesday, November 2*
Game 6: Friday, November 4*
Game 7: Saturday, November 5*
*If necessary (Best-of-7 series)
World Series Predictions
Who will win the World Series: the favored Astros or the postseason underdog Phillies?
NL: #1 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. #5 San Diego Padres
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers Winner: San Diego Padres
The Dodgers won 111 regular season games and had a huge advantage when it came to playing their NL West rival, the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers won the season series 14 games to San Diego’s 5 games and had a divisional lead of 22 games between the first place Dodgers and second place Padres in the NL West. The Padres and their lucky goose won the series causing an upset over the favored Dodgers.
In game 1, Dodgers’ starter Julio Urias made his first career game 1 postseason start, allowing 3 runs in 5 innings pitched while striking out 6 batters. The Dodgers started their scoring with a Trea Turner home run in the bottom of the first inning. The Dodgers added 3 more runs in the bottom of the third inning chasing Padres’ starter Mike Clevinger out, having only pitched 2.2 innings while allowing 4 runs on 6 hits. The Padres’ Wil Myers tried to start a comeback in the top of the fifth inning hitting a solo home run. The comeback wasn’t enough as the Dodgers won the game, 5-3.
In game 2, Padres’ Manny Machado started the scoring with a solo home run in the top of the first inning. Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning and Max Muncy hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. The Padres regained the lead in the top of the third inning with a Manny Machado double and Jake Cronenworth groundout. The Dodgers soon tied in the bottom of the third inning with a Trea Turner solo home run. What should’ve been an inning double play in the top of the second inning, Dodger’s Trea Turner made an error allowing 2 San Diego runners on base that eventually scored a run from Padres’ Jurickson Profar RBI single. Jake Cronenworth added on a solo home run to seal a Padres win 5-3.
In game 3, Padres’ Jake Cronenworth hit an RBI single driving in Juan Soto that gave the Padres a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Dodgers’ starter Tony Gonsolin was shaky and left the game after pitching only 1.1 innings allowing reliever Andrew Heaney to give up a solo home run to Padres’ Trent Grisham. A Mookie Betts’ sac fly in the top of the fifth inning cut the Padres lead to 2-1. The Dodgers offense had many opportunities to score more runs, including a bases loaded jam in the top of the third inning, but failed to capitalize as they went 0 for 9 in runners on scoring position. The Padres eventually won the game 2-1, their first postseason win at home since 2006.
In game 4, after a 31-minute rain delay, San Diego native and Padres’ pitcher Joe Musgrove gave up a 2-run double to the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman in the top of the third inning to put the Dodgers up 2-0 in their elimination game. The Dodgers then added another run in the top of the seventh inning hoping that they could get 9 more outs and force a game 5 in Los Angeles. Other plans happened as the Padres’ Austin Nola started a 5 run comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning that completed the comeback and upset as the Padres defeated the Dodgers 5-3; The Padres earned a championship berth, their first since 1998. With the Dodgers defeat, they became the second team to lose a playoff series to an opponent with 22 less wins as the first was the Chicago White Sox over the Chicago Cubs in the 1906 World Series.
NL: #2 Atlanta Braves vs. #6 Philadelphia Phillies
Prediction: Atlanta Braves Winner: Philadelphia Phillies
The defending 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves, have the highest expectations to repeat as champions once again. The last repeat champions were the ‘98-’00 New York Yankees and the Braves hoped to return back to the World Series starting off with a divisional series against their NL East rival, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves look to have had an easy series win but the Phillies got hot at the right time when it mattered and caused an upset as the Braves would not be looking to repeat as champions.
In game 1, the Phillies’ offense got off to a hot start when Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm hit RBI singles in the top of the first inning to put the Phillies up 2-0. Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Phillies added 4 more runs between the top of the third inning to the top of the fifth inning to extend their lead to 7-1. In a last hope of sparking a ninth inning comeback, Braves’ Matt Olson hit a 3-run home run to put the Braves within a run but ultimately fell short 7-6.
In game 2, a rain delay of 2 hours and 55 minutes didn’t stop Braves’ starter Kyle Wright from pitching 6 scoreless innings allowing 2 hits and walking 1 while striking out 6 batters. A struggling Braves offense came to life during the bottom of the sixth inning as they scored 3 runs. The Braves 3 runs was enough to win the game and tie the series a game apart heading back to Philadelphia.
In game 3, the game remained scoreless until the Phillies’ offense exploded for 6 runs in the bottom of the third inning that started with a Bryson Stott RBI double, a Rhys Hoskins bat slam for a 3-run home run and ended with a solo home run from Bryce Harper. The Phillies’ offense wasn’t done scoring as they scored 3 more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning that led them to a 9-1 victory.
In game 4, Phillies’ Brandon Marsh hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of the second inning followed by an inside-the-park home run by J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto’s home run made him the first catcher ever to hit an inside-the-park home run in the postseason. The Phillies’ opened the scoring with a 3 run bottom of the sixth inning. The Braves’ solo home run efforts weren’t enough to tie as the Phillies added another run with a Bryce Harper solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning that propelled them to a 8-3 win earning a championship series berth, their first since 2010.
AL: #1 Houston Astros vs. #5 Seattle Mariners
Prediction: Houston Astros Winner: Houston Astros
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that the Houston Astros are a force to be reckoned with. Their offense is explosive and their pitching is fantastic. Arguably one of the favorites to win the World Series, the Astros will do anything to win and forget about the troubled sign stealing scandal.
In game 1, in his first postseason game since 2019, Astros’ starter Justin Verlander pitched a disappointing 4 innings allowing 6 runs on 10 hits. The Mariners had a substantial lead coming into the bottom of the ninth inning 7-5. Instead of Astros’ Yordan Alvarez being walked with 2 outs, Mariners’ Robbie Ray allowed a walk-off 3-run home run hit by Alvarez as the Astros won 8-7.
In game 2, Astros’ Kyle Tucker started the scoring with a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning. The Mariners quickly tied and regained a 1 run lead in the top of the fourth inning. As if Yordan Alvarez already hadn’t saved the Astros before in the prior game, he did it again. Yordan Alvarez hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning and it was enough to help the Astros win, again, 4-2.
In game 3, a new postseason record was set as this was the first postseason game in Seattle in 21 years. For seventeen innings, the game remained scoreless surpassing the previous record of fifteen innings between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Guardians in the 2022 American League Wild Card Series game 2. Astros’ rookie Jeremy Pena hits a solo home run in the top of the eighteenth inning to give the Astros a much needed 1-0 lead. The Mariners couldn’t come back to tie and walk-off the game, sending the Astros to the championship series in six consecutive seasons with their win.
AL: #2 New York Yankees vs. #3 Cleveland Guardians
Prediction: New York Yankees Winner: New York Yankees
The Yankees are one of the best franchises, not only in baseball, but in other sports from around the world. Their 27 championships are a record within the MLB, but the team always strives for greatness and a 28th championship. Their last championship came in 2009, and have struggled to meet the expectations since then. This year, slugger Aaron Judge had a phenomenal season to remember with 62 home runs, 131 RBI’s and a .311 avg. that could possibly win him the MVP and a championship back to New York.
In game 1, Gerrit Cole made his first postseason start at Yankee Stadium since becoming a member of the team in 2020. He gave up a solo home run to the Guardians’ Steven Kwan in the third inning to put the Yankees down 1-0. The Yankees’ offense came back to score runs in the bottom of the third inning, fifth inning, and sixth inning to give them the lead 4-1. Other than allowing a single run, Gerrit Cole pitched 6.1 innings while walking 1 batter, hitting a batter and striking out 8 batters. The Yankees won 4-1 and marked their sixth straight postseason win over Cleveland since the 2017 American League Division Series game 3.
In game 2, Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton started the Yankees scoring with a 2-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. The Guardians came within a run from an Andres Gimenez RBI single in the top of the fourth inning and tied the game 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run from Amed Rosario. Guardians’ Oscar Gonzalez hit an RBI single to break the tie and pull ahead 3-2 in the top of the tenth inning. Josh Naylor hit an RBI double to add an insurance run to propel the Guardians 4-2 as that was enough to win the game.
In game 3, the Guardians scored 2 runs between the bottom of the first and second inning but not before Aaron Judge hit a game tying 2-run homerun in the top of the third inning. The Yankees kept on adding on to their lead 5-3 hoping to win. In the bottom of the ninth inning down 2 runs, the Guardians came back to win 6-5.
In game 4, facing elimination, Yankees’ Gerrit Cole pitched 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 8 batters. Anthony Rizzo started the Yankees’ scoring with an RBI single in the top of the first inning. Harrison Bader hit a 2-run home run totaling the Yankee runs to 3. The Guardians came up with an RBI single from Jose Ramirez in the bottom of the third inning and a solo home run from Josh Naylor in the bottom of the fourth inning to pull within a run, 3-2. The Yankees added their final run from a Giancarlo Stanton sac fly and forced a game 5 in New York as they won 4-2.
In game 5, Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton hits a 2-run home run to quickly put the Yankees up 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Aaron Judge adds a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to extend the Yankees’ lead 3-0. Guardians’ Jose Ramirez hits a sac fly in the top of the third inning to put Cleveland in the scoring column but wasn’t enough as Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo hits an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Yankees ultimately won the game 5-1 and the series.
Championship Series predictions
NL: #5 San Diego Padres vs. #6 Philadelphia Phillies
Prediction: San Diego Padres (series is currently 1-1)
If you were to tell me earlier this year that the Padres and Phillies were competing for the NL pennant with a World Series berth on the line, I would have laughed because the Dodgers and Braves are arguably the best teams in the National League right now. That is nowhere near today’s case as the Padres and Phillies caused their respective upsets and are now looking to compete against each other. Both of these two teams are neck and neck with each other in every category but the Padres have the slightest advantage in offense and starting pitching. The Padres can win, but don’t doubt the Phillies ever.
AL: #1 Houston Astros vs. #2 New York Yankees
Prediction: Houston Astros (Astros currently lead 1-0)
This is a highly anticipated series for numerous reasons. It’s a rematch of the very controversial 2017 and 2019 ALCS. The tension between these two teams building up from the past 5 years will most definitely make this series a must watch with intense moments and a potential winner takes all game 7. Both teams have high scoring offenses, dominating pitching staffs, and skilled defense. But to win the AL pennant, would be the Houston Astros because of their recent domination against the Yankees and how well they can perform in games as they are the better team between the two.
Championship Series Schedule
(Separate schedule for NL and AL)
*If necessary (Best-of-7 series)
NL games will be on Fox/FS1
Game 1: Tuesday, October 18 | (Phillies 2-Padres 1)
Game 2: Wednesday, October 19 | (Padres 8-Phillies 5)
Game 3: Friday, October 21
Game 4: Saturday, October 22
Game 5: Sunday, October 23
Game 6: Monday, October 24*
Game 7: Tuesday, October 25*
AL games will be on TBS
Game 1: Wednesday, October 19 | (Astros 4-Yankees 2)
NL: #3 St. Louis Cardinals vs. #6 Philadelphia Phillies
Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals | Winner: Philadelphia Phillies
During the 162-game season, the Cardinals were a workforce with the offense, defense, and pitching. On paper, the Cardinals had the series sweep; however, the Phillies surprised MLB fans by doing the sweeping instead.
In game 1, the Cardinals had a 2-0 lead going into the top of the 9th, but the Phillies rallied to score 6 runs to win the game 6-3.
In game 2, the Phillies starter Aaron Nola silenced the Cardinals’ offense allowing 4 hits and 1 walk throughout 6.2 innings while striking out 6 batters. The Phillies won 2-0 due to a Bryce Harper solo home run and a Kyle Schwarber sacrifice fly.
NL: #4 New York Mets vs. #5 San Diego Padres
Prediction: New York Mets | Winner: San Diego Padres
Going into the season, the Mets were considered the favorite to win their division. The final series against their arch-rival, the Atlanta Braves, saw the Mets get swept and lose out on the division and securing a wild card spot despite winning 101 games.
In game 1, Mets starter Max Scherzer pitched a disappointing 4.2 innings allowing 7 runs on 4 home runs as the Padres beat the Mets 7-1.
In game 2, the Mets turned to star pitcher Jacob DeGrom in hopes of forcing a game 3. He casually pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 runs and 2 walks as he struck out 8 batters. Meanwhile the Mets’ offense finally came to life in the 7-3 win, forcing a third and final game.
In Game 3, Padres starter Joe Musgrove pitched 7 innings only allowing 1 hit as Austin Nola started the Padres scoring with a 2 RBI double in the top of the 2nd inning. It was all San Diego would need as the Padres shut out the Mets 6-0.
AL: #3 Cleveland Guardians vs. #6 Tampa Bay Rays
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays | Winner: Cleveland Guardians
To say that the Rays’ team strength is their pitching is an understatement. Led by primary starters and sometimes relievers Corey Kluber, Shane McClanahan, and Drew Rasmussen, their pitching led the Rays to a team 3.41 ERA.
In game 1, the Cleveland Guardians’ Jose Ramirez hit a 2-run home run to give the Guardians a 2-1 edge in the bottom of the 6th inning in what turned out to be the final score in a game that only spanned for 2 hours and 17 minutes.
In game 2, pitchers from both sides pitched in a scoreless game that spanned 15 innings until the Guardians’ Oscar Gonzalez walked off with a solo home run to secure a spot in the ALDS with a 1-0 win over the Rays.
AL: #4 Toronto Blue Jays vs. #5 Seattle Mariners
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays | Winner: Seattle Mariners
It had been 21 years since the Mariners last made the playoffs following an incredible 2001 116-win season. They were the underdogs going up against a young sensational Blue Jays team.
In game 1, the Mariners’ Cal Raleigh hit a 3-run home run in the top of the 1st inning. Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah pitched 5.2 innings but the Mariners beat the Blue Jays 4-0.
In game 2, the Blue Jays led the Mariners with an 8-1 lead after 6 innings but that lead soon collapsed as the Mariners used their rally shoes in the 8th inning to a tie to eventually score the winning run in the 9th inning. It was the second-largest comeback in MLB postseason history.
Division Series Predictions
After an exhilarating Wild Card Series, the Division Series is finally here. The top 2 seeds from each league will begin playing and are ready to compete against the winners from the previous round. The winners will be looking to compete for a spot in the Championship Series.
NL: #2 Atlanta Braves vs. #6 Philadelphia Phillies
Prediction: Atlanta Braves
The defending 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves are looking to repeat as champions; before they can get there, they need to beat their division rival Phillies in the division series to advance. The Braves are led by a great offense featuring Austin Riley, the great defense of Dansby Swanson, and the starting pitching of Max Fried. The Braves have already beaten the Phillies many times during the season. Winning the season series by 11 games to 8.
Will play the winner of LAD/SD in the NLCS
NL: #1 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. #5 San Diego Padres
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have won a franchise record 111 games during the regular season and held an NL West division lead over the Padres by 22 games. The last time the 2 rivals met in the postseason was coincidentally in the division series in 2020. The Dodgers came on top then and will most likely come on top now, led by MVP candidates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman and NL CY Young candidate Julio Urias.
Will play the winner of ATL/PHI in the NLCS
AL: #2 New York Yankees vs. #6 Cleveland Guardians
Prediction: New York Yankees
The unanimous MVP of the Yankees, and presumably the AL, is undoubtedly Aaron Judge. Aaron Judge had a remarkable season, not only for a Yankee but for his professional career; he is hoping to continue his fantastic season in the division series against the Guardians. The Yankees have All-Star pitchers Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes to back him up. The Yankees are ready to win at any cost.
Will play the winner of HOU/SEA in the ALCS
AL: #1 Houston Astros vs. #5 Seattle Mariners
Prediction: Houston Astros
The Astros keep winning, and with their starting pitching or offense, they will find a way to win again. AL Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander is pitching with a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts in just 175 innings pitched alongside his 18 wins of the season. His experience in must-win games is what the Astros need to beat the Mariners.
For the first time under a new format, this year’s playoff bracket includes a total of 12 teams (6 teams each from the AL and NL), an upgrade from the previous 10 teams in the most recent years. The 6 teams from each league include the 3 division winners (West, Central, and East) along with 3 wild card winners.
The 6 teams from each league will be seeded according to their respective division wins and/or records among fellow wild card teams.
The top 2 seeds get a bye straight into the division series (best-of-5 games) while the #3 seed is hosting the #6 seed and the #4 seed is hosting the #5 seed in the wild card series (best-of-3 games). Winner of the #3 seed/#6 seed play the #2 seed in the division series while winner of the #4 seed/#5 seed play the #1 seed in the division series.
#1 seed: Best League record
#2 seed: 2nd best division winner
#3 seed: 3rd best division winner
#4 seed: Best record among wild card teams
#5 seed: 2nd best record among wild card teams
#6 seed: 3rd best record among wild card teams
2022 Postseason Field
Now that the playoff field is officially all set, let’s take a look at the teams competing for the title in 2022.
#1 seed:Houston Astros
Players to watch: Yordan Alvarez (37 home runs) and Justin Verlander (1.75 ERA)
#2 seed:New York Yankees
Players to watch: Aaron Judge (record breaking 62 home runs, .311 avg. and 131 RBI) and Gerrit Cole (record breaking 257 strikeouts)
AL #3 seed: Cleveland Guardians
Players to watch: Jose Ramirez (126 RBI), Steven Kwan (.298 avg.) and Emmanuel Clase (42 saves and 1.36 ERA)
AL #4 seed: Toronto Blue Jays
Players to watch: Vlad Guerrero Jr. (32 home runs) and Alek Manoah (16 wins)
AL #5 seed: Seattle Mariners
Players to watch: Julio Rodriguez (28 home runs and 25 stolen bases) and Ty France (low 15.3% strikeout rate)
AL #6 seed: Tampa Bay Rays
Players to watch: Shane McClanahan (2.54 ERA) and Drew Rasmussen (125 strikeouts)
NL #1 seed: Los Angeles Dodgers
Players to watch: Mookie Betts (35 home runs) and Freddie Freeman (.325 avg. and 100 RBI)
NL #2 seed: Atlanta Braves
Players to watch: Austin Riley (38 home runs) and Spencer Strider (202 strikeouts)
NL #3 seed: St. Louis Cardinals
Players to watch: Nolan Arenado (30 home runs and 103 RBI) and Paul Goldschmidt (.317 avg., 35 HR and 115 RBI)
NL #4 seed: New York Mets
Players to watch: Pete Alonso (40 home runs and 131 RBI), Max Scherzer (2.29 ERA), Jeff McNeil (.326 avg.) and Edwin Diaz (32 saves and 1.31 ERA)
NL #5 seed: San Diego Padres
Players to watch: Manny Machado (.298 avg., 32 home runs and 102 RBI) and Yu Darvish (16 wins)
NL #6 seed: Philadelphia Phillies
Players to watch: Kyle Schwarber (46 home runs) and Aaron Nola (235 strikeouts)
Schedule & Predictions for Wild Card Series
Friday, October 7 – Sunday, October 9*
*If necessary (Best-of-3 Series) | All wild card games will be streaming on ESPN, ESPN 2 and/or ABC.
#3 St. Louis Cardinals vs. #6 Philadelphia Phillies
Winner: St. Louis Cardinals | Will play #2 Atlanta Braves in the NLDS
#4 New York Mets vs. #5 San Diego Padres
Winner: New York Mets | Will play #1 Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS
#3 Cleveland Guardians vs. #6 Tampa Bay Rays
Winner: Tampa Bay Rays | Will play #2 New York Yankees in the ALDS
#4 Toronto Blue Jays vs. #5 Seattle Mariners
Winner: Toronto Blue Jays | Will play #1 Houston Astros in the ALDS
It’s that time again: Baseball season is back. “Let’s go, batter up, we’re taking the afternoon off… It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame!”
Let’s see how my 2022 predictions shake out. Last year, my predictions were a mixed bag, but this time I’m sure to be 100% correct, right? (Probably not…)
Is it a World Championship or bust for the Dodgers? Are the Angels going to finally get Mike Trout back to the postseason? Are the Giants going to surprise everybody again with another 107-win season? Are the Rays going to keep coming out on top in a very competitive AL East? Are the poor Orioles capable of winning more than 60 games? Come back in October to check and see how I did!
Los Angeles Dodgers
Before I get to my overall MLB predictions, let’s take a long look at our home team.
The 2021 Dodgers ran off a historic 106-win season, finishing a game behind the surprising Giants in the division before walking off against the Cardinals in a do-or-die Wild Card game and then beating San Francisco in a thrilling 5-game NLDS. Ultimately, however, the Dodgers were beaten up by injuries and fell short against the eventual World Champion Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.
Re-tooling for 2022, the Dodgers made several key roster changes, but are still the consensus pick to win the World Series this year. Let’s check in on the offseason moves:
•Future-hall-of-famer Clayton Kershaw re-signed with the Dodgers the day after the lockout ended for 1 year and $17M. If healthy, Kershaw can still be a top 3 starter. He had a great spring training and appears ready to continue his winning path.
•Super utility man Chris Taylor signed a four-year, $60 million deal to stay with the Dodgers. He will continue to fill his role all over the field, most likely in LF, as well as taking some at-bats at DH.
•Freddie Freeman (1B): It took $162M and a 6-year deal to get Freeman out of Atlanta, the place where he spent the first 15 years of career. He comes back to his SoCal roots to add his All-Star, Gold-Glove, and MVP skills to first base for the Dodgers through the year 2027. Indisputably one of the best hitters in baseball, Freeman also has an excellent track record of being healthy and consistent.
•Craig Kimbrel (RHP): Speaking of former Braves… The Dodgers pulled off another surprising trade, acquiring eight-time all-star closer Craig Kimbrel for AJ Pollock on April 1. The trade filled a need for both teams, with the Sox adding a much-needed OF bat and the Dodgers adding to their strong bullpen with a proven veteran closer. He has one year and $16M remaining on a deal he signed with the Cubs 3 years ago.
•Daniel Hudson (RHP): The Dodgers added the experienced Hudson to fill valuable bullpen innings. He returns to the Dodgers on a 1-year deal for $7M (he pitched in 40 effective games for the Dodgers in 2018)
•Andrew Heaney (LHP): The starter signed a 1-year deal for $8.5M, looking to revive his stuff in the back-end of the rotation after an up-and-down 2021.
•Tyler Anderson (LHP): Signing a 1-year, $8M contract, the 32-year-old lefty starter will be expected to eat some innings in the rotation until reinforcements arrive mid-season in the form of Dustin May and/or pitchers acquired via trade.
•Hanser Alberto (IF): The Dodgers gave the versatile defender a 1-year, $1.6M deal (with an option for the 2023 season). Alberto can fill in all over the infield and is one of the toughest players to strike out in baseball.
•Corey Seager: signed a mega-deal with the Texas Rangers ($324M/10 years)
•Kenley Jansen: signed a 1-year, $16M deal with the Atlanta Braves
•Max Scherzer: signed for 3 years and $134M with the New York Mets
•AJ Pollock: traded to the White Sox for Craig Kimbrel on April 1
•Joe Kelly signed a 2-year deal with the White Sox for $17M.
•Albert Pujols signed one final contract, reuniting with the Cardinals for one last season on a $2.5M deal.
•Reliever Corey Knebel signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Phillies
•Bench players Matt Beaty, Billy McKinney, Zach Reks, Luke Raley, and Sheldon Neuse were traded away or DFA.
You would think that a team that lost Seager, Jansen, Scherzer, Pujols, Pollock, and Kelly were having a fire sale, but the Dodgers are so loaded that they will pick right up where they left off thanks to major additions like Freeman and Kimbrel. With this mixture of new and old faces, the Dodgers are very determined and talented. The sky is the limit for this team, and they have the depth to withstand any prolonged slumps or injuries.
With MLB getting a late start due to the offseason’s labor issues, the league is allowing 28-man rosters through May 1 (after that, rosters go back down to 26 players, including a 13-pitcher limit). Many pitchers are simply not built up or on track to begin the season, so the Dodgers will go with an enormous 16-man pitching staff and a 12-man position player roster (opening the season against the Rockies with a 3-game series in offense-heavy Coors Field helped with that decision, too).
Keep in mind that this is just the Dodgers’ roster to start the season; they will send many players up & down from the minors to build a championship roster as the year goes on.
1) Mookie Betts – RF
2) Freddie Freeman -1B
3) Trea Turner – SS
4) Justin Turner – 3B/DH
5) Max Muncy – 2B/DH
6) Will Smith – C
7) Chris Taylor – LF/Util
8) Cody Bellinger – CF
9) Gavin Lux – 2B/Util
Austin Barnes (C), Edwin Rios (IF), Hanser Alberto (IF)
*Minor League Depth:
Jake Lamb (OF), Kevin Pillar (OF), Zach McKinstry (IF/OF), Andy Burns (IF), Eddy Alvarez (IF)
*Position Player Prospects to Watch:
Jacob Amaya (IF), Eddys Leonard (IF), Andy Pages (OF), Miguel Vargas (IF)
LHP: Alex Vesia, David Price, Tyler Anderson, Garrett Cleavinger, Justin Bruhil
*On the injured list, but ready soon:
Victor Gonzalez, Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle, Danny Duffy, Jimmy Nelson, Dustin May
*Pitching Prospects to Watch:
Michael Grove, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot
*Now it’s time for my predictions for the 2022 MLB season. Last year, I predicted a Dodgers vs Yankees World Series (which was wrong on both ends), and my division winners included the Astros, White Sox, and Yankees in the AL, and the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Braves in the NL (not too shabby). My wildcard teams were the Padres and Mets (I was dead wrong); and my AL wildcard teams were the Twins and Blue Jays (even deader wrong).
Here are my predictions for the 2022 standings:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2. San Diego Padres* 3. San Francisco Giants 4. Arizona Diamondbacks 5. Colorado Rockies
1. Milwaukee Brewers 2. St. Louis Cardinals 3. Chicago Cubs 4. Cincinnati Reds 5. Pittsburgh Pirates
1. Atlanta Braves 2. New York Mets* 3. Philadelphia Phillies* 4. Miami Marlins 5. Washington Nationals
* = Wild Card Team
1. Houston Astros 2. Los Angeles Angels* 3. Seattle Mariners 4. Texas Rangers 5. Oakland A’s
1. Chicago White Sox 2. Minnesota Twins 3. Cleveland Guardians 4. Detroit Tigers 5. Kansas City Royals
1. Toronto Blue Jays 2. Tampa Bay Rays* 3. Boston Red Sox* 4. New York Yankees 5. Baltimore Orioles
* = Wild Card Team
(Note: Starting this season, the MLB postseason will feature 12 teams–the three division winners and three wild card teams. The teams will be seeded, with the top two division winners receiving a first-round bye, and the remaining four teams locked into a best-of-three Wild Card Playoff round. After that, the Division Series and Championship Series will commence as they have been for years.)
In the American League, the Blue Jays are a hot pick this year thanks to a young and powerful lineup. The Astros keep plugging along and filling holes after several key departures like Carlos Correa (MIN) and George Springer (TOR) last season, and you can never count them out. Still, I think the White Sox will win the American League pennant due to a balanced veteran lineup, solid rotation, and a shutdown bullpen.
Ultimately however, this is the Dodgers’ year. Anything short of a championship would be a disappointment. As a lifelong fan, I am, of course, rooting for the Dodgers, too. But it’s not just a homer pick–the players, fans, and experts all around MLB feel the same way. Barring a disastrous injury to a key player like Trea Turner, or Betts, Freeman, or Buehler, everything is lining up for a fun & memorable season. They are the class of the National League and should win their fourth pennant in the last six seasons, as well as a championship.
So… no jinxes, no fooling around, I’ll call it out loud — the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the 2022 World Champions, defeating the Chicago White Sox in a rematch of the 1959 World Series.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The 2020 World Series Champs kicked-off the 2021 season pretty strong, beginning with a 13-3 record. But they have slowed down significantly, dropping 14 of 19, including just two wins in their last ten games. As a result, the Dodgers currently sit in 3rd place at 18-17, 2.5 games behind the surprising San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers are part of the most attractive rivalry in MLB alongside Fernando Tatis’s San Diego Padres. Dodger’s star Justin Turner said of playing the Padres, “We are getting 18 World Series Games this year.” The Padres and the Dodgers have faced each other seven times with the Dodgers winning 3 games. The rivalry is only heating up and will have more exciting moments throughout the season.
Anaheim Angels: The Angels have started the new season with a record of 15-18. They are currently in last place of the AL West, even after taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers this past weekend.
One of the most exciting players to watch–not only on Angels but all of baseball–is Shohei “Sho Time” Ohtani (photos by Getty Images). Ohtani had recently become the first pitcher since Babe Ruth to start a game while leading the MLB in home runs. Ohtani is batting .276/.326/.626 with 10 HR, 26 RBI, and 6 SB. On the mound, he is 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA, and has only allowed 1 HR and 5 earned runs in the 2021 season. There is no doubt that he is an electrifying player that will get the attention of many baseball fans.
So, in what are sure to be guesses that look completely foolish in six months, it’s prediction time!
2021 Standings Prediction
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2. San Diego Padres 3. San Francisco Giants 4. Arizona Diamondbacks 5. Colorado Rockies
1. St. Louis Cardinals 2. Milwaukee Brewers 3. Chicago Cubs 4. Cincinnati Reds 5. Pittsburgh Pirates
1. Atlanta Braves 2. New York Mets 3. Washington Nationals 4. Philadelphia Phillies 5. Miami Marlins
1. Houston Astros 2. Los Angeles Angels 3. Oakland Athletics 4. Seattle Mariners 5. Texas Rangers
1. Chicago White Sox 2. Minnesota Twins 3. Cleveland Indians 4. Kansas City Royals 5. Detroit Tigers
1. New York Yankees 2. Toronto Blue Jays 3. Tampa Bay Rays 4. Boston Red Sox 5. Baltimore Orioles
NL MVP: Mookie Betts (Dodgers)
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom (Mets)
NL ROY: Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates)
AL MVP: Mike Trout (Angels)
AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole (Yankees)
AL ROY: Casey Mize (Tigers)
NL Wild Card Teams: Padres and Mets
NL Pennant Winner: L.A. Dodgers
AL Wild Card Teams: Twins and Blue Jays
AL Pennant Winner: Yankees
World Champion: Dodgers
The Dodgers and Yankees will meet in the World Series for the 12th time overall, and for the first time since 1981. Throughout their storied rivalry, the Yankees have beaten the Dodgers in 8 of 11 contests between 1941 and 1981, with the only Dodger victories coming in 1955 (Brooklyn’s only championship), a Koufaxian sweep in 1963, and a 1981 title led by Fernandomania. This time, exactly 40 years since they last met in October, the Dodgers will prevail again, becoming the first MLB champs to repeat since the Yankees did it from 1998-2000.
There are my fearless predictions. I’ll be sure to check back in with you in October to let you know how wrong I was; but, in the meantime, enjoy the return of baseball!
It’s that time of year again, baseball fans, where we hear those four beautiful words that officially signal the arrival of spring: “Pitchers and catchers report.” Yes, spring training camps in Arizona and Florida are open, and Major League Baseball is set to return for the 2021 season.
Let’s check in on the offseason moves for our local teams, and preview the 2021 season.
The 2020 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers (did I ever mention they are the World Champions?!) spent much of the offseason quietly celebrating and saying goodbye to several free agents. But just before spring training camp opened, they made a February splash by signing ace Trevor Bauer and bringing back third baseman and clubhouse leader Justin Turner.
All winter long, Turner and the Dodgers were at a stalemate, with Turner reportedly seeking a 4-year deal and the Dodgers not willing to go that long for the 36-year-old. Teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays were rumored to have shown interest, but Turner finally signed a two-year, $34 million contract to stay in L.A. (with a $16M club option for 2023).
With just days left in the offseason, Turner decided to stay home, where he has steadily played the hot corner and provided a clutch veteran bat since 2014. At a press conference on February 19 Turner shared his relief, saying, “At the end of the day it all worked out like it was supposed to, and I’m back in Dodger blue like I was supposed to be.” He figures to continue to slot into the #3 spot in the lineup and play steady defense.
The lack of clarity on the universal DH throughout MLB was casting doubts on Turner staying with the Dodgers in the National League, but in the end, they decided his veteran leadership was too valuable. His .886 OPS as a Dodger puts him in the franchise’s all-time top 10, next to Hall of Famers like Mike Piazza and Duke Snider. Turner is also a clutch postseason player–he ranks first in Dodgers postseason history in hits (79), home runs (12), runs (40), and RBI (41).
Before bringing back Turner, the Dodgers said goodbye to several key pieces. Most notably, utility man Kiké Hernandez signed with the Red Sox, and outfielder Joc Pederson moved on to Chicago to play for the Cubs. Relievers Pedro Baez (Astros), Alex Wood and Jake McGee (both now on the Giants) also departed.
Speaking of “goodbye,” the Dodgers also mourned the loss of two Hall of Famers — manager Tommy Lasorda and pitcher Don Sutton. The team will wear #2 and #20 patches to honor both legends throughout the 2021 season.
Despite those notable losses, the Dodgers are still one of the best teams in baseball and didn’t need to re-tool the roster too much. While the San Diego Padres vastly improved by adding starting pitching galore (trading for two aces in Yu Darvish and Blake Snell), the Dodgers locked up reigning Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer to a unique short-term deal that makes him the highest paid player in baseball. Despite several often-controversial tweets and social media blunders, the polarizing Bauer remained the top pitcher on the market. The Dodgers came out ahead, beating out the New York Mets at the last minute by giving the L.A. native a deal for three years and $102 million, which includes opt-outs after each of the first two seasons.
By adding Bauer, along with the return of veteran David Price (acquired in last year’s trade with Boston that brought in Mookie Betts), the Dodgers have a rotation that is at least seven-deep in quality arms, probably lining up in this way in 2021:
Julio Urias/Dustin May/Tony Gonsolin
Because of their depth, at least two of Urias, May, and Gonsolin will move to the bullpen, which allowed the Dodgers to trade two veteran relievers in Adam Kolarek and Dylan Floro for minor league depth on February 12.
In addition to the excess starters, the bullpen should line up with mostly familiar faces:
Scott Alexander (LHP)
Victor Gonzalez (LHP)
*Acquired via trade from MIL on 12/2/20
On the position player side, the Dodgers return a strong core led by Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger (who is coming off winter shoulder surgery). While their depth took a hit by losing Pederson and Hernandez, the starting lineup remains about the same as their Championship team from 2020:
Mookie Betts – RF
Corey Seager – SS
Justin Turner – 3B
Max Muncy – 1B
Cody Bellinger – CF
Will Smith – C
AJ Pollock – LF
Gavin Lux – 2B
Bench pieces and platoon players include Edwin Rios, Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes, Matt Beaty, and Zach McKinstry (who hopes to take the role as the new super-utility player following the departure of Hernandez).
The future looks bright for the Dodgers, too, as top prospects like Keibert Ruiz (C), Josiah Gray (RHP), and Mitch White (RHP), join DJ Peters (OF), and the recently acquired Sheldon Neuse (IF) waiting in the wings.
It’s a two-team race in the division as the Giants and Diamondbacks are still rebuilding and the Rockies are basically tanking after trading star 3B Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals. Despite a strong offseason from the Padres, manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers should find themselves winning the NL West for the 9th consecutive season in 2021 and competing for back-to-back championships.
After another disappointing season, the Angels had an opportunity to take advantage of a weakened AL West, where the trashcan-banging Houston Astros are lessened by the departures of George Springer and Josh Reddick, as well as several key bullpen arms. Furthermore, ace Justin Verlander will be out the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. The Oakland A’s lost both Marcus Semien and former Angel Tommy LaStella to free agency, as well as star closer Liam Hendricks. The Rangers and Mariners did not make any notable moves to improve and will likely struggle to be .500 ball clubs.
They never appeared to really be in the Trevor Bauer sweepstakes, and they also do not have the prospect depth to make a trade for the starting pitching they still desperately need (if you’ve heard this before, it’s because this has been the problem for the Angels for several years, now).
The Angels added veteran starters Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb to join Andrew Heaney and last year’s standout Dylan Bundy. Still, the Angels lack a front-line starter, and they may have to constantly try and out-slug their opponents in order to help the pitching staff. Angels starting pitchers combined to post the second-worst ERA in the Majors in 2020.
The 2021 rotation will likely line up this way:
Ohtani, the sensational two-way player from Japan, may be limited on the mound, again, as injuries caused him to throw just 1.2 innings in 2020. The Angels may not be expecting much from Ohtani, but they could go to a 6-man rotation if he is healthy.
They are hoping that these key additions will help stabilize a bullpen that blew an MLB-worst 14 saves in the shortened 2020 season.
The 2021 Angels bullpen looks to feature:
Alex Claudio (LHP)
On the other side, the Angels return a very powerful lineup, led by two of the top players in baseball: Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.
Albert Pujols will likely play the final season of his Hall-of-Fame career, and the last season of his massive 10-year/$240 million deal with the Angels. However, they have lost Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Minnesota Twins in free agency and their depth and farm system remains thin.
Replacing Simmons is veteran SS Jose Iglesias, acquired in a trade with Baltimore in December. The 31-year-old hit an eye-popping .373/.400/.556 in 2020, albeit in limited action at just 39 games. The Angels also added to their bench with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki and outfielders John Jay and Juan Legares, while trading for Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler. The 2021 lineup is expected to look like this from manager Joe Maddon:
David Fletcher – 2B
Jared Walsh – 1B
Mike Trout – CF
Anthony Rendon – 3B
Justin Upton – LF
Shohei Ohtani – DH
Dexter Fowler – RF
Jose Iglesias – SS
Max Stassi – C
Bench players and depth pieces include Jo Adell, Taylor Ward, Franklin Barreto, & Luis Rengifo, along with Pujols, Suzuki, Legares, and Jay.
Overall, the Angels may not have made any big splashes over the winter, but in a weakened AL West and a top tandem of Trout and Rendon, who knows? They could stay in contention and become a fringe playoff team, hoping to play meaningful October games for the first time since 2014.
That wraps up our local MLB offseason review, as we look forward to a full 162-game season in 2021. With spring training opening and allowing a limited number of fans in Arizona’s Cactus League stadiums during exhibition season, here’s hoping baseball fans can also sit in Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium for regular season games very soon.