We are four games into the season for most every team, so technically we have some information on how the season is going to go, but we all know it is very early days in the 2022 MLB campaign, and most of our feelings about teams and players are based on previous seasons rather than the tiny samples we’ve seen from them this year. That is to say, it’s not too late for season predictions! That was the theme of the latest round of SB Nation Reacts voting, the results of which are below as well as my thought for each prediction. (As a note, I was not given the percentage received by teams in the division polls except for the winners.)
AL East Winner
It’s hard to argue that the Blue Jays are favorites in the division, though I think it’s still closer with the other three contending teams there and it’s not at all a foregone conclusion. That said, Toronto’s lineup is terrifying, and as a big believer in Alek Manoah I think their rotation is going to be more than good enough to win 95-plus games.
Again, I agree with the fans, but again I don’t think it’s as big of a gap as this voting would suggest, or I think how most people feel. The general consensus is the White Sox will have an easy road here, but Minnesota can hit, Detroit’s got interesting young talent on both sides with key veteran pick ups to help take that next step, and even Cleveland has some interesting high-end talent in the lineup, in the rotation, and in the bullpen. They won’t all be in contention to the end, but I think there’s enough there — and I didn’t even mention Kansas City, who also has some young talent coming up — that one team will hang around and make this interesting all year.
Here, I think my perception on the gap in this division from first to second is wider than the general consensus. I know Houston has lost some key players in recent years, but in Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker they have a new core in the lineup, and the pitching can shut down lineups, as we saw in the ALCS last year at times. Seattle and Los Angeles shouldn’t be discounted, but also as organizations I kind of need to see it from them before I buy in.
This is a fascinating division and I could easily see any of Atlanta, New York, or Philadelphia winning. I actually think this is the one place I’ll deviate from the fan vote and go with the Phillies. Their defense is really bad, yes, but I like their pitching and they should score a ton of runs. World Series hangovers are real, and with Jacob deGrom’s health in question I have trouble picking the Mets.
This division is just so... unappealing. Milwaukee has to be the pick here because of the pitching, but it’s valid to wonder if the bats will do enough to keep them up top all year. I think the Cubs are maybe sneaky interesting here, as are the Cardinals, but this is just a boring division if I’m being honest.
The Dodgers pitching staff hasn’t been what it’s been at other points in this run, and there are very good teams here in San Francisco and San Diego to challenge L.A., but there’s no way I can pick against this lineup, not to mention a rotation that is still headed by a Cy Young candidate.
AL Pennant Pick
I picked the Astros and I’ll stick with it, but really playoff picks are sort of toss ups. Anything can happen there. I just think, while Toronto may be best on paper, they also have a gauntlet of a division that could lead them to the Wild Card round, and any extra games are a negative.
I know crazy things happen, and the Dodgers do have a tough division too, but I can’t look at this roster on paper and pick anyone else. I just can’t.
I think you know what I’m going to say, right? My pick before the season was Dodgers over Astros. I’ll stick with it.