2023 MLB Preview: Record, award and World Series predictions
Ahead of the 2023 Major League Baseball season, here are Audacy Sports' predictions on what record every club will finish with, who will take home every major award and what team will win the World Series.
Note: X represents division winner, Y represents Wild Card winner.
American League East
1. Toronto Blue Jays: 95-77 (X)
2. New York Yankees: 92-70 (Y)
3. Tampa Bay Rays: 85-77 (Y)
4. Baltimore Orioles: 81-81
5. Boston Red Sox: 78-84
Our initial lean on the AL East was the Yankees, but offseason signing Carlos Rodón will start the season on the injured list with a left forearm strain, and an oblique strain will likely prevent Harrison Bader from being ready on Opening Day. And while it's great both Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo were re-signed in the offseason, the Yankees went 35-35 after the All-Star Break and still have major questions at both third base and left field. With all the bad vibes around the Yankees, the Blue Jays are our AL East pick. A year ago, Toronto won 92 games and claimed the top Wild Card spot in the junior circuit. With the offseason additions of Chris Bassitt, Daulton Varsho, Brandon Belt and Kevin Kiermaier, the Blue Jays could be in line for their first division title since 2015.
American League Central
1. Cleveland Guardians: 93-69 (X)
2. Chicago White Sox: 84-78
3. Minnesota Twins: 84-78
4. Detroit Tigers: 71-91
5. Kansas City Royals: 67-95
The Guardians made a sneaky excellent pickup by signing Josh Bell to a two-year/$33 million deal, as the former All-Star slugger will join a lineup that includes perennial AL MVP candidate José Ramírez and two underrated young stars in Andrés Giménez and Steven Kwan. The White Sox will almost certainly have better luck with injuries than they did a year ago, but they didn't do enough upgrading of the roster externally in the offseason. The Twins re-signed Carlos Correa and acquired Pablo López via trade, though they did have to trade reigning AL batting champion Luis Arráez in the process. The AL Central has three teams that should be playoff contenders at the outset of September, but the Guardians are the most complete team of the trio.
American League West
1. Houston Astros: 101-61 (X)
2. Seattle Mariners: 92-70 (Y)
3. Texas Rangers: 80-82
4. Los Angeles Angels: 75-87
5. Oakland Athletics: 56-106
The Astros won their second World Series title in six years last season, and added former AL MVP José Abreu to an already deep lineup in the offseason. Losing reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander will hurt, but the Astros haven't had any problems in developing arms in recent years. Meanwhile, the Mariners will return to the playoffs as a Wild Card team for the second time in many years, while the top-heavy Rangers and Angels will see their lengthy postseason droughts get longer.
National League East
1. Atlanta Braves: 96-66 (X)
2. New York Mets: 92-70 (Y)
3. Philadelphia Phillies: 90-72 (Y)
4. Miami Marlins: 75-87
5. Washington Nationals: 50-112
For the second time in as many years, we believe that the NL East will produce three playoff teams. And there's just something about Brian Snitker's Atlanta teams -- they've won five consecutive division titles because they just know how to win when the calendar flips to August. Ronald Acuña Jr. is our pick to take home the NL MVP (more on that in a minute), Sean Murphy is one of the best catchers in baseball, Matt Olson will be an All-Star candidate in his second season in Atlanta and Ozzie Albies figures to have better luck staying healthy in 2023. The NL East has three World Series contenders, which should make the division race a fun one to follow.
National League Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals: 88-74 (X)
2. Milwaukee Brewers: 84-78
3. Chicago Cubs: 77-84
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 68-94
5. Cincinnati Reds: 58-104
The Cardinals have strong starting rotation depth, but they need at least one arm to emerge as a Game 1 postseason starter. Perhaps Jack Flaherty -- who is entering a contract year -- will re-emerge as the frontline starter that he once looked like. In any event, the Cardinals have enough to edge out the Brewers, despite their additions of Jesse Winker and William Contreras this offseason.
National League West
1. San Diego Padres: 100-62 (X)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers: 93-69 (Y)
3. San Francisco Giants: 83-79
4. Arizona Diamondbacks: 78-84
5. Colorado Rockies: 64-98
The Padres haven't won the NL West since 2006, but they will get full seasons from Juan Soto and Josh Hader, added Xander Bogaerts in free agency and will get Fernando Tatis Jr. back from a PED suspension early in the 2023 season. The Dodgers allowed Trea Turner to leave in free agency, and perhaps will take a relative step back in 2023 with their eyes on making a push for Shohei Ohtani next offseason. But Manny Machado and the Padres are our picks to win the NL West, and given the commitment that owner Peter Seidler has made to winning, we can't rule out that they'll also edge the Dodgers out in the Ohtani sweepstakes after the season.
American League MVP: Julio Rodríguez, Mariners
In his age-21 season, Rodríguez won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, a Silver Slugger and helped the Mariners to return to the postseason for the first time since 2001. Heck, even finished seventh in AL MVP Award voting. For his next act, we predict that one of baseball's most electric young stars will help the Mariners reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the time in a generation, taking home the junior circuit's top honor in the process.
Other Candidates: Shohei Ohtani - Angels; Mike Trout - Angels; Aaron Judge - Yankees; José Ramírez - Guardians; Yordan Álvarez - Astros
American League Cy Young: Shane Bieber, Guardians
Our initial pick here was Carlos Rodón, only to learn that he would begin his first season with the Yankees on the injured list with a left forearm strain. Bieber won the award in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and another win could set him up to cash in when he becomes a free agent after the 2024 season.
Other Candidates: Gerrit Cole - Yankees; Shohei Ohtani - Angels; Jacob deGrom - Rangers; Kevin Gausman - Blue Jays; Dylan Cease - White Sox
American League Rookie of the Year: Gunnar Henderson, Orioles
The Orioles may not have made enough moves this past offseason to make the postseason after a surprising 83-win season a year ago, but there's no doubt they are set up to be one of the most successful teams in the league over the next five years. Adley Rutschman is already one of the best catchers in baseball, and Henderson -- a second-round pick in 2019 -- appears to be the latest draft hit by Mike Elias and company. Henderson is the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, with MLB Pipeline suggesting that the 21-year-old infielder "has Gold Glove potential at third base."
Other Candidates: Anthony Volpe - Yankees; Masataka Yoshida - Red Sox; Logan O'Hoppe - Angels
American League Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, Astros
You're not supposed to pick favorites when you cover the sport, but off the record, there's few people more beloved in the league by baseball writers than Dusty Baker. Baker is a three-time Manager of the Year, but hasn't won the award since 2000, when he was the skipper for the Giants. If the Astros win 100 games for the second consecutive year, the future Hall of Fame manager will be at the forefront of this race.
Other Candidates: Terry Francona - Guardians; Scott Servais - Mariners; John Schneider - Blue Jays
National League MVP: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
As he continues to move further away from tearing his right ACL in July of 2021, Acuña should re-emerge as one of the most explosive talents that the sport has ever seen. In our estimation, Acuña will lead the Braves to their sixth consecutive NL East title, and finally be recognized as the top position player in the senior circuit.
Other Candidates: Juan Soto - Padres; Trea Turner - Phillies; Manny Machado - Padres; Mookie Betts - Dodgers; Nolan Arenado - Cardinals
National League Cy Young: Sandy Alcántara, Marlins
Alcántara won the NL Cy Young Award a season ago with a Roy Halladay-esque season, leading baseball in complete games, complete-game shutouts and innings pitched. In 2023, we predict that Alcántara will join Halladay as a two-time winner of the award, as he continues to cement his place as the top workhorse arm in the sport.
Other Candidates: Justin Verlander - Mets; Zack Wheeler - Phillies; Corbin Burnes - Brewers; Max Scherzer - Mets; Aaron Nola - Phillies
National League Rookie of the Year: Kodai Senga, Mets
Of any of the players that are rookie eligible in the senior circuit, Corbin Carroll will likely have the best career. However, Senga is already a veteran, and the 30-year-old will try his hand at the top league in the world for the first time in 2022, having inked a five-year/$75 million to join the Mets in the offseason. Senga went 11-6 with a 2.31 ERA across 144 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2022. In 2023, he'll slot in as the No. 3 starter for the Mets, behind future Hall of Famers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
Other Candidates: Corbin Carroll - Diamondbacks; Brett Baty - Mets; Miguel Vargas - Dodgers
National League Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Padres
Like Baker, Melvin is a three-time Manager of the Year, having won it in the NL in 2007 with the Diamondbacks and twice (2012, 2018) in the AL as the skipper of the A's. Expectations are sky-high for the loaded Padres, and Melvin is the perfect person to guide them to their first division title since 2006.
Other Candidates: Brian Snitker - Braves; Oli Marmol - Cardinals; Buck Showalter - Mets
National League Playoffs
1. Padres (first-round bye)
2. Braves (first-round bye)
NLWCS 1: Phillies over Cardinals
NLWCS 2: Mets over Dodgers
NLDS 1: Padres over Phillies
NLDS 2: Braves over Mets
NLCS: Braves over Padres
American League Playoffs
1. Astros (first-round bye)
2. Blue Jays (first-round bye)
ALWCS 1: Guardians over Rays
ALWCS 2: Mariners over Yankees
ALDS 1: Mariners over Astros
ALDS 2: Blue Jays over Guardians
ALCS: Blue Jays over Mariners
World Series: Braves over Blue Jays
Ronald Acuña Jr. missed Atlanta's 2021 World Series run after tearing his right ACL. This time around, though, we are projecting that our NL MVP pick will be healthy for a deep postseason run, with the Braves disposing of the Mets and Padres en route to a World Series matchup with the Blue Jays. We believe that for the second time in three years, the Braves will be crowned World Series Champions, this time with the face of their franchise at the forefront of a magical October.