Baseball’s back! Thank Xenu. I can not tell you how heavily the prospect of potentially missing out on a summer of angrily yelling at professional athletes messing around with a tiny ball and some sticks weighed on me during the lockout.
Here’s a quick reminder on the new rules for this year: the universal DH means we lose out on the glory of an out-of-shape pitcher jacking a big dinger, the end of seven-inning double headers means I’m not bothering with that shit, a draft lottery absolutely will not discourage tanking, a twelve-team playoff field replaces the super fun wild card games with another series slog, and we’ll get to see an even wider array of bums and scrubs thanks to the limit on the number of times a player can be optioned to the minors in season. Hooray!
- Toronto Blue Jays – That’s right, I said it. The kids are ready. The wallet’s open. Canada’s covid rules mean teams coming to Toronto might need to leave some of their dumber players at home. It’s time for the Jays to ascend to their throne.
- Boston Red Sox (playoffs) – Sure, I’m biased, but I think one of last year’s best teams might be just slightly better this season. Even though the positions are all different, I think Bobby Dalbec can provide a reasonable impersonation of Hunter Renfroe and Trevor Story’s an upgrade on Kyle Schwarber. I’m not a huge fan of Jackie Bradley Jr. in right, but I doubt he’s the starter there all year. And I’ll take Dick Mountain, Michael Wacha and whatever’s left of James Paxton over Martin Perez and Garrett Richards any day of the week. The Sox look like a playoff team to me.
- Tampa Bay Rays (playoffs) – Five bucks says I’ve got the Rays too low here. This is a very good baseball team that’s won the division each of the last three years, which immediately makes my stupid, cynical brain think they’re overdue to underachieve.
- New York Yankees – I am not impressed.
- Baltimore Orioles – At this point, what the Orioles have been doing for the last several years should be considered a war crime.
- Chicago White Sox – I mean, have you seen the rest of this dung heap division? The White Sox are the only squad here that looks like a coherent, fully-formed whole. They’re like that lump in your oatmeal, except they’re going to the playoffs.
- Minnesota Twins – You can’t say they’re not trying. The Twins have been adding players left and right, including Carlos Correa and Sonny Gray, but the depth just isn’t there.
- Detroit Tigers – Next year.
- Cleveland Guardians – They’ve got the pitching necessary to walk away with this division if only they’d spend on a few hitters.
- Kansas City Royals – Next year. For real.
- Houston Astros – Boring, but perhaps more
- Seattle Mariners (playoffs) – Less boring, and ready to take that next step.
- Texas Rangers – Oh who cares.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of USA of North America
- Oakland Athletics – Exhibit A for my case that the league needs to contract. Enough with the stadium shenanigans and selling off all the good players even when the team’s still decent. What an insult to the game.
- New York Mets – Love the spending, love the attitude, love the new owner. I think it wins them the division.
- Atlanta Braves (playoffs) – I completely forgot they’d won the World Series last year until I saw their giant championship rings on social media. Probably the third best team in the National League, even though they’re a little easy to forget about.
- Philadelphia Phillies – They’re going to hit a ton of dingers, and their pitching staff is going to give most of ’em right back. I smell a winning record, but not much more.
- Washington Nationals – Weird team, with a strange mix of overpaid veterans and young players that look like they’re twelve. They’re going to be stuck in between for a while, and it’s not going to be pretty.
- Miami Marlins – God, whatever.
- Milwaukee Brewers – The best team in the central, but they hit like me after a six-pack of beer. That’ll get you to the playoffs, but more than that feels out of reach.
- St. Louis Cardinals (playoffs) – Sneaky good. I could see them squeaking ahead of Milwaukee if everything breaks right.
- Chicago Cubs – Fine, I guess. .500-ish.
- Cincinnati Reds – Looked like they were building something last year. Now, those pieces are gone, as is my respect for this club.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – Are we sure this isn’t just a really elaborate money laundering scheme?
- Los Angeles Dodgers – The best, again, and it ain’t close. This team’s loaded. Injuries are the only thing that might slow them down.
- San Diego Padres (playoffs) – No way they’re as disappointing as last year.
- San Francisco Giants – Rays West, but not as good. Lots of fun, though.
- Colorado Rockies – I’m sure the bazillion dollars is nice, but I will never understand why Kris Bryant signed on with this mess.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – Want to watch millions and millions of dollars get literally lit on fire? Here you go!
American League Champion: Toronto Blue Jays
National League Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
World Series: Toronto Blue Jays
Whacky/dark horse/funsies picks
American League Champion: Boston Red Sox (yes, that’s how weird I think it would be to see them go this deep this year)
National League Champion: Milwaukee Brewers (same)
World Series: Milwaukee Brewers, after a seven game series in which no pitcher lasts more than an inning and a third in any appearance