2023 MLB Preview


The 2023 MLB season is right around the corner. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On Thursday, a new Major League Baseball (MLB) season will begin. After a historic $3.36 billion was given to free agents, there will be some old faces in new places.

The AL East is coming off a year where four teams finished above .500 and only got better. The New York Yankees fanbase is getting restless, having not won a World Series since 2009, but 2023 could provide the Yankees with their best chance yet. After re-signing AL MVP Aaron Judge and adding top-tier starter Carlos Rodon, the Yankees lineup along with one of the best starting rotations in the MLB will look to maintain control of the division. One of their main competitors will be the Toronto Blue Jays. The core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer and Bo Bichette will look to push them back into the playoffs with eyes on their first playoff win since 2016. The Tampa Bay Rays made few additions to the 86-win playoff team from last year. However, with a healthy Brandon Lowe along with a pitching staff never lacking talent, it’s hard to count the Rays out any year. The Baltimore Orioles will look to continue its trend up with their main priority developing young stars like catcher Adley Rutschman, infielder Gunnar Henderson and pitcher Grayson Rodriguez. Lastly, the Boston Red Sox are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2022 season. Extending star Rafael Devers and adding Masataka Yoshida from Japan are steps in the right direction. However, a lack of pitching may hold them back. 

Without spending big this offseason and relying on player development and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez instead, the Cleveland Guardians will look to repeat as AL Central champs. The Minnesota Twins were able to re-sign Carlos Correa after an eventful week in which he was poised to sign with the San Francisco Giants and then the New York Mets, but failed physicals at both teams. Along with the addition of pitcher Pablo Lopez and a full season of all-star outfielder Byron Buxton, they have set themselves up nicely to compete for the division title. The Chicago White Sox were regarded as a huge disappointment last year and could be again this year if injuries prevent them from reaching their ceiling yet again. The loss of Jose Abreu could be costly, but bringing in contact hitter Andrew Benintendi should soften that wound. The bottom of the division consists of the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers who both will be focusing on progressing young talent. 

The AL West is home to the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros, but there will be lots of competition for them after others in the division added this offseason. The Astros will be without Jose Altuve for the first 8-10 weeks after an injury in the World Baseball Classic, and reigning Cy Young Justin Verlander who the Mets signed. However, they always have the talent to replace stars. With a dominant young starting rotation along with one of the deepest lineups in baseball, look for the Astros to be on the hunt for the first back-to-back World Championship since the 1998-2000 Yankees. The Mariners, led by last year’s Rookie of the Year and this year’s MVP candidate, Julio Rodriguez, along with a deep pitching staff, are in a good position to return to the playoffs after snapping a 21-year drought. The Angels have two of the best players in the game, Mike Trout and generational two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, with the hope to get Trout into the playoffs for only the second time in his historic career. If the Angels find themselves outside of the playoffs by the trade deadline, look for them to-be shopping Ohtani who is set to sign a record-breaking deal next offseason. Another aggressive offseason for the Rangers saw them reshape their starting rotation into one of the best in baseball, headlined by Jacob Degrom. The staff, along with one of the better middle infield duos of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, make them a threat for a Wild Card spot. The tanking Oakland Athletics round out the AL West, as the focus this season will be if their future is in Oakland or Las Vegas. 

The NL East will yet again be one of the juggernauts of baseball. The Atlanta Braves are set to be a World Series contender for years to come with their core pieces locked up on long-term deals. MVP candidate Ronald Acuna leads the way for others such as Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris and new addition Sean Murphy, not to mention the elite pitching staff, giving Atlanta one of the best teams in baseball. The other two contenders, the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, have no lack of talent either. The Mets replaced Jacob Degrom with Verlander alongside Max Scherzer, giving them one of the best one-two punches in baseball history. The loss of Edwin Diaz due to a World Baseball Classic injury could be detrimental as other pieces in the bullpen. Their potent offense led by Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso will have to step up. The Phillies were only two wins away from a World Series Championship last year and only got better with the addition of Trea Turner. MVP Bryce Harper is out for the beginning of the year, but once he is back the Phillies will be a dangerous team. The Miami Marlins and their elite pitching staff will look to play spoiler in the strong division, while the Washington Nationals hope to avoid another 100-loss season. 

It will be the St. Louis Cardinals division to lose in the NL Central with last year’s NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and star third baseman Nolan Arenado leading the way for a group of young players. A 16th consecutive winning season and the possibility of a deep playoff run are in the cards for the Cards. The Milwaukee Brewers will be St. Louis’ main competition with dominant pitching and a consistent offense. The Chicago Cubs added Dansby Swanson and pitchers to its starting rotation, but are still a couple of steps away from contention. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds round out the division as the bottom dwellers looking to see what they have in their youth. 

The NL West is very top-heavy with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres leading the way. The Dodgers come into 2023 looking like a very different team from years past, but still with stars Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts along with one of the best pitching staffs in the league, they will remain in contention. The Padres beat the Dodgers on their way to the NLCS last year and only improved with the addition of Xander Bogaerts and getting Fernando Tatis Jr. back from suspension later this season. After extensions to Yu Darvish and Manny Machado, along with Juan Soto for a full year, don’t be surprised if there is a World Series parade in San Diego next fall. The San Francisco Giants missed out on Aaron Judge and decided not to sign Carlos Correa after a failed physical, meaning it could be a long season in the bay area. The Arizona Diamondbacks are seeking to improve from last year after locking up top prospect Corbin Carroll on a long deal and another year under its belt for a young and talented pitching staff. The Colorado Rockies will most likely remain at the bottom of the division with a bottom-tier starting pitching and a subpar lineup.  

A new season brings new hope for each of the thirty teams. However, there are clearly those with higher expectations and others that will look to play spoiler while developing young players. All in all, MLB should be in store for an exciting season.