2022 MLB Picks and Predictions

Position players, pitchers, playoffs, and more.

Today is Opening Day for the 2022 Major League Baseball season. Many thought it wouldn’t come, or wouldn’t start in the spring, or be a full 162 games.

But here we are — staring down the barrel of a full season. So here I am, giving my predictions for how this season will go. I’ll look back at this in October/November, hopefully very smug, but likely with disdain.

American League East

Jayne Kamin-Oncea | USA TODAY Sports

1. Toronto Blue Jays

Click here to see me explain all of my picks in the AL East preview episode of the Bastards of Boston Baseball.

The Blue Jays lost a few notable players, including Robbie Ray (2021 AL Cy Young winner) and Marcus Semien (played in 162 games and set the HR by a 2B record with 45).

They then went out and picked up some excellent pieces like Matt Chapman, Kevin Gausman, and Yusei Kikuchi. It would be difficult to replace the Ray and Semien outputs if I thought Ray and Semien would repeat that success. That probably wasn’t going to happen anyway, so let the other teams overpay for those resumes while you pick up cheaper options. Great moves to bolster an already good team.

They’re gonna want it real bad this year and with an added layer of home-field advantage, they’re going to be really tough to beat.

2. Boston Red Sox

All offseason, Boston has heard, “Two games from the World Series. Two games from the World Series.”

For a team that many thought would finish under .500, that was a great outing.

They’ve had a similar offseason to Toronto. Losing E-Rod, Hunter Renfroe, and Kyle Schwarber in various ways is tough. Will E-Rod lose steam now he’s gotten that big contract? Probably. Will Renfroe repeat his career-best season? There’s doubt.

Aside from the exciting Trevor Story signing, Chaim Bloom has spent this offseason filling in some gaps. They’re hoping that this caulking will seal those cracks that made them fall two games short. I think it’s possible.

Plus, Bobby Dalbec’s gonna hit 40 home runs.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay, those sneaky sneaks.

They always find a way to win. I want to say, “This’ll be the year they can’t sustain this model,” but I’ll probably be wrong.

Full season from Wander Franco? Full season from Josh Lowe?

How do they do this?

4. New York Yankees

I’m very simply not scared of this Yankees team.

Joey Gallo is a louch. Torres was not the right choice. Rizzo doesn’t seem like he wants to play there. Aaron Hicks is a nobody at this point.

This team needed to fire up last year and I don’t know if that attitude will change at all. Aaron Boone is a bump on a log who gets paid to chew gum. He’s not gonna do it. Cashman’s not gonna do it.

They’re in a low period. A low period that could still mean 90 wins. But it’ll be without any pomp or circumstance, and an early October exit.

5. Baltimore Orioles

Cedric Mullins. John Means. Ryan Mountcastle. Trey Mancini. Austin Hays.

These are really exciting baseball players. If Baltimore’s not stupid (they’re stupid), they’ll lock these guys down now so when the promising prospects join them at Camden Yards in the next year or two, they’ll have a ball club that’s a mix of solid vets and exciting rookies. Replace Brandon Hyde with a more experienced manager and you’ve got a winning team.

In the meantime, they’ll get beat up on in this extremely tough AL East. At least tickets are cheap.

American League Central

Emilee Chinn | Getty Images

1. Chicago White Sox

Tony LaRussa is a fall from grace like no other. We used to pray at the altar of this guy.

Him aside, this ball club looks like the same one from last year that pummeled a weak division. I see no reason why they can’t do that again.

Please mic up Liam Hendriks more often.

2. Minnesota Twins

Carlos Correa does not a winning team make.

They have a good number of bats, but they’re almost all inconsistent. Can Byron Buxton play in more than 100 games? Can Miguel Sanó strike out less? Can Gary Sánchez catch a baseball?

And they’re in considerably better shape than the pitching staff. The rotation would be scary if it was 2015 and the bullpen is fine. I think they’ll win a decent amount in this crap division and then that’s it. Correa opts out and they’re back to the drawing board.

3. Detroit Tigers

Now this is a team with bats. I can’t really find any weaknesses in their starting nine, which is very rare.

But the pitching is a mess. If E-Rod is your ace, you’re simply not going to win important games unless you score 12 runs. They’ll bat around a few times against subpar American League pitching, but the close games will burn them.

4. Cleveland Guardians

This is all I have to say.

5. Kansas City Royals

Excited to see a few prospects. Greinke back in a Royals uni is cool. Whatever. They could take fourth in the division and I wouldn’t notice.

American League West

Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

1. Los Angeles Angels

They’ve gotta do it this year, right?

If the Angels waste Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani for just one more year, they should be forced to relinquish their rights to both contracts and become the latest relocated franchise. I’m thinking Lewiston, Montana.

2. Houston Astros

If there’s one thing my mother taught me, it’s that karma’s a bitch.

One day I’ll have to get over the Astros cheating scandal. You will too. But I don’t know if that’ll happen until they start to suck again. Pay your dues. Repent. Make the 2011 Astros look like the ’27 Yankees.

It’ll happen one day, right?

Gargamel will finally capture Jose Altuve, right?

I can only hope. Until then, they’re gonna be good. I’m just hoping the Angels will be better.

3. Seattle Mariners

The M’s have a bunch of really exciting players to watch this year, but unfortunately I think last year was a bit of a fluke. They think they’ve bolstered the roster, but if that evens out with how last year should have gone, they’ll probably just miss the playoffs again.

4. Texas Rangers

Definitely confused by what they are doing. They have a great middle infield now thanks to the signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, but for what? Everyone else stinks. I guess they’re hoping that those long contracts will pay off in 3–4 years when they’ve made some other moves. Until then, I don’t expect much.

5. Oakland Athletics

The Orioles will win more games.

National League East

Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

1. New York Mets

Last November, I wrote about what I think the Mets should do if they want to play postseason baseball.

They didn’t do any of that shit! Instead, they just spent a lot of money! Daddy Warbucks has come in to save the orphans from poverty.

It’s gonna be so embarrassing if it doesn’t work. I think it will though.

Max Scherzer, one of my favorite ballplayers, great pickup. They bolstered that whole rotation.

I’ve got a few offensive concerns, but we’ll see how they shake out. I trust Buck Showalter to AT LEAST take them into October. Anything else might be aiming too high right now, but it’s the start that they need.

2. Atlanta Braves

Yes, I chose both teams from last year’s World Series to finish second in their division.

I just don’t see the spark that everyone else does. They had it on October, but that division was anyone’s through August.

Really hoping that Freddie Freeman is not a sign of things to come for Xander Bogaerts.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies will have the biggest biceps and the phattest phorearms in the league. They’re gonna hit the ball. Hard. And phar.

And that’s it.

If I was a pitcher for the Phillies, I would be worried about shitting my pants on the mound. With that defense behind me? Yikes. Especially if my name was anything except Zack Wheeler. Because if I’m a pitcher for the Phillies and my name isn’t Zack Wheeler, that means I’m not very good.

Very jealous of the Kyle Schwarber pickup, though.

4. Washington Nationals

2019 was a year that Nationals fans will remember for a long time. For some reason, it just feels a bit more special than your average World Series win. Maybe because it was the city’s first? Maybe because that team was clicking on all cylinders.

Maybe it was just luck.

They’ll need some luck to stay out of the basement this year. Juan Soto (and a dash of Nelson Cruz) aside, they’ll need a lot of luck. They shipped out everyone beloved in that town. It doesn’t hurt quite as bad as when the Cubs did it, but it’s just as ugly.

It’s a good thing that they built up all that goodwill in 2019, they won’t see anything like that for a while.

5. Miami Marlins

At least they’ve got this guy rooting them on.

National League Central

Ron Schwane | Getty Images

1. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis has a really sturdy base and if they’re correct that management was the problem, they might find a good rhythm this year instead of just a few hot streaks.

I’m so excited for the Pujols/Molina/maybe Wainwright retirement tour. It just feels right to have those guys together again. The 12-year-old in me is very happy.

Pujols is a very lucky man that the Universal DH started this year. It’ll give him, and us, the goodbye he deserves.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

I’m not super high on the Cards, but I don’t have any real faith in the Brew Crew.

Christian Yelich is the next Cody Bellinger.

I SAID IT.

I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. And I’m calling it now.

Their pitching staff is top-tier, but the only other offensive weapon is Hunter Renfroe and he has to prove a lot of people wrong this year, showing that his year in Boston was not a fluke.

3. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs completely disbanded their World Series core last year, only to start their rebuild off quicker than most. Stroman, Suzuki. Maybe they won’t compete too much this year, but this won’t be an Orioles-style rebuild.

4. Cincinatti Reds

I’ll be watching a few guys, but really I’ll just be watching Joey Votto’s TikTok.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Apparently they have a nice ballpark? Never been there. I’m going this summer. I’ll let you know.

National League West

Norm Hall | Getty Images

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

I don’t know, man. This success isn’t sustainable…

Mookie Betts played a career-low games last year due to various injuries. Kershaw is a shell of his former self. Gavin Lux has to prove himself as an everyday player. Will Smith is named Will Smith.

Just kidding! They’re going to be fucking awesome just like every year for the past five years!

I think the only real concern is Cody Bellinger. Last year was bad bad bad. And this spring didn’t go any better, he hit .121 with 18 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances. I don’t have much faith in him to turn it around.

Everything else is peachy. Unless you’re Freddie Freeman, then you want nothing to do with peaches or Georgia.

2. San Francisco Giants

107 wins? No.

But Gabe Kapler figured something out last year with a team that looks very similar.

It could go either way with them. Success is obviously possible, but sustainability will be their biggest question.

3. San Diego Padres

This Tatis shit of, “Which motorcycle accident?” could not better symbolize how I view this team.

Talented, but immature. Full of potential, haven’t found it yet. Capable of big things, no results.

Perhaps this year will be different. I think that Luke Voit and Sean Manaea were two great additions to a club that needs to avoid a collapse like last year’s. Stability from those two will really help. Losing Tatis to the Hells Angels definitely hurts, but if they can hold on until then — he can give them a boost.

Everyone is praising the stealing of manager Bob Melvin and it’s a great pickup, don’t get me wrong. But in San Diego, the players get in their own way. If they can avoid that, they can be serious.

4. Colorado Rockies

What the hell are the Rockies doing?

Signing Kris Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million contract.

Front office execs leaving left and right.

A consensus bottom-tier farm system.

Big Bird starting in center field.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

I literally don’t have anything to say. I can’t even think of a joke with Seth Beer’s last name. That’s how uninspiring the D-backs are.

American League Playoff Picture

First round bye division winners: Toronto, Los Angeles

Third division winner: Chicago

Wild cards: Boston, Tampa Bay, New York

In the hunt: Houston, Seattle, Minnesota

The only team I feel like is iffy on this list is the Yanks. I could easily see Houston taking their spot if they keep doing what they’re doing and LA still can’t find its true potential. Everything else I feel pretty confident about.

National League Playoff Picture

First round bye division winners: New York, Los Angeles

Third division winner: St. Louis

Wild cards: San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia

In the hunt: San Diego, Milwaukee

These NL Wild Cards could be crazy. I think the division titles here are clear, but anything can happen in these new expanded playoffs.

World Series

AL: Boston Red Sox

NL: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

Just call me Giraffe Neck Boy Who Loved Joe Kelly, but I’m betting on the Red Sox to win the whole thing. I think a rematch of the 2018 World Series is fun, and also probable. With Mookie now playing for the enemy and so many players with ties on both sides, it could be an all-timer.

The Dodgers just need to keep doing what they’re doing. The Red Sox need to avoid last year’s streakiness and put together all those pieces I think they can. The disrespect has been REAL for them this preseason, with many picking them to finish fourth in the division and middle of the pack overall.

Here’s hoping they prove me right and them wrong.

NL MVP: Juan Soto (WAS)

Katie Stratman | USA TODAY Sports

The National League MVP race is a hell of a lot more interesting than the American League, if you ask me, which you are because you’re reading this.

But no one scares me more than Juan Soto. He scares pitchers too — that’s why he walked 145 times last year. That’s insane. Those are walking numbers that would put The Pretenders to shame.

And now with the seemingly ageless Nelson Cruz hitting behind him, pitchers will have to face Soto more. Which means his already impressive numbers will just go up.

AL MVP: Shohei Ohtani (LAA)

Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

Blah blah Vladdy, blah blah Raffy — if your name isn’t Shohei Ohtani, you’re not winning the MVP. This year, maybe next year. If Shohei can keep this up.

This year he’ll get more starts, more ABs, and if he can avoid some of the slowdown he hit in the second half (Baltimore tagged him for three homers in an August start at Camden Yards)— he could have an even better season than last year. If you can believe it.

NL Cy Young: Zack Wheeler (PHI)

David J. Griffin | Icon Sportswire

Let’s be honest: this was supposed to be Jacob deGrom. I was absolutely dumbfounded by what he was doing in the first half last year, so I expected him to easily be the best pitcher in baseball with a full season of that same magic. He is probably the best pitcher in baseball, but he’s also made of q-tips and Uno cards. So I cannot predict that he will win this award, even though I think he’s hands down the tightest when he’s healthy.

Wheeler finished second in the CY voting last year, so unlike my AL pick, he’s no sleeper. Baseball nerds have distorted a lot of truth with their arithmetic mumbo jumbo, and somehow we’ve lost sight of a starting pitchers’ most important job: getting a lot of guys out. Wheeler lead the league in innings pitched, batters faces, complete games, and shutouts last year. Simply put: he gets a lot of guys out. And he does it really well, positing a WHIP of 1.008 last year. I see why Burnes won last year, but not only was Wheeler close, I think he has a better chance to keep it up.

AL Cy Young: Nick Pivetta (BOS)

Nick Wass | AP

I talked about this at length in our Hot Takes episode of the Bastards of Boston Baseball, so I’ll keep this brief. Nicky P has the fire, work ethic, and competitive streak that a team like Boston needs. If they’re in it, that will light him up to his best season ever. It’s also a pick that makes The Girl Who Loved Nick Pivetta happy, of course.

AL Rookie of the Year: Adley Rutschman (BAL)

Kenneth K. Lam | The Virginian-Pilot

I got to see Rutschman play in AA Bowie last year and I’ve gotta say: he’s the real deal. Plate discipline, power, great eye, great stroke (even his outs are almost always solid contact), and word on the street is he can call a great game as well. He’s every bit the number one overall pick, number one prospect in baseball everyone thinks he is.

There’s obviously the question about playing time. The Os stink worse than the break room when that one co-worker reheats fish in the microwave, so who knows how they will handle his call-up.

My point is: The season in which he is eligible for Rookie of the Year, he will win it.

NL Rookie of the Year: Joey Bart (SF)

Eric Risberg | AP

ROY eligibility is so weird. Whatever.

I thought some symmetry with two catchers would be nice. With the surprise retirement of Buster Posey, Bart will get the majority of the battery duties this year. He hasn’t had too much success in The Show so far, but regular playing time with help him reach that potential everyone knows is there.

Want to chat baseball? Email me: theboywholovedjoekelly@gmail.com

Or watch The Bastards of Boston Baseball on YouTube.

Want to keep updated with the column? Find it on Instagram @theboywholovedjoekelly and Twitter @boywholovedmlb

Stats, as always, are from Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and MLB.com

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Boston baseball and other teams that aren’t as fun.

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Patrick J. Regal

Patrick J. Regal

Educator. Artist. Founder and Editor of Feature Presentation. Instagram: patrickjregal

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