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Bold Predictions for 2023

March 27, 2023
To mix things up, this year I thought I’d rattle off a quick bold prediction for each team in baseball. To be perfectly honest, I’m astonished I haven’t tried this gambit before. First time’s a charm.
I’ll run through the teams alphabetically. Please feel free to make your own bold predictions in the comments below, and we can check back and see who was right at season’s end.  
·       Angels – The only bold predictions I’ve gotten right over the past two years have been about Ohtani: I lucked into guessing his AL MVP in 2021, and followed it up by guessing a top-five finish in the Cy Young Award last year. Might as well aim for a trifecta: this is the year Shohei throws a no-hitter. He’s so spectacular that this doesn’t feel all that bold, so I’ll add that the Angels will actually cobble together enough offense to win the game.
·       Astros – Is it bold to predict that Houston won’t win the AL West? Probably, but I think they’re going to win it anyway: behind the persistent handwringing about cheating, this is an organization that seems to spin prospects into whatever gold you get when you wind up with Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, or the trio of Garcia, Javier, and Valdez. Star gold, I guess. While I’m tempted to slot Yordan to knock 60 homers this year, I’ll go a different route and say that Kyle Tucker becomes the first 40-40 player since since Alfonso Soriano. 
·       Athletics – No team has a boom/bust pattern as sharp as the Athletics, who have followed up dynastic runs with some utter dredge squads. The bottom fell out last year, and nothing exciting looms on the horizon for 2023. Sean Murphy was their best player last year, and he’s in Atlanta now, so the number of players on the roster that I’m even slightly familiar with is one: Jed Lowrie. Who…I am just learning this…anoucned his retirement three days ago. This is sad. I’ll go with the Oakland A’s manage to avoid losing 100 games, which seems like a drastic stretch for this club.
·       Blue Jays – Ah, from tedium to talent! I’ve renounced my brief protest sojourn into Blue Jays fandom, but I still like this team a lot, and expect to see a Canada World Series run before their window closes. This is a very small ledge to go out on, but I think Bo Bichette will either come in second the AL MVP race, or win it outright. The ‘win outright’ depends on whether or not a certain two-way star can remain healthy, so second is a reasonable hedge. I think Bichette, who had a strong close to the season last year, is going to have a big campaign.
·       Braves – Speaking of stacked, this team is absolutely loaded with front-end, talented players. For most teams, someone like Matt Olson would be the centerpiece, but for the Braves, he’s just the corner infielder who isn’t Austin Riley. I’d love to make a positive prediction for perennial favorite Ozzie Albies, but I’ll go for pitching instead, and predict that Spencer Strider will eclipse the single-season mark for K/9. Shane Bieber currently holds the record, but it’s kind of a cheat, as the Bieber’s 14.2 K/9 mark in 2020 was stretched over 77 innings. I think Strider will best him.
·       Brewers – Team prediction now: the Brewers finish under .500. I have a bad feeling about this team. Milwaukee started off like gangbuster last year (15-7 in April, 17-12 in May), but they sort of floated through the rest of the season, going 54-57 from June onwards. They’re the second-favorites in the butter-soft NL East right now, but this feels like a squad going in the wrong direction.
·       Cardinals – If the A’s get the title for the most boom-and-bust franchise in sports, the Cardinals have to be the most reliably excellent. With uber-prospect Jordan Walker joining a deep squad on Opening Day, and with two teams in the division approaching year nine of a four-year rebuilding strategy, the Cardinals likely have the best chance of seeing October baseball this year. I’ll go for a retro-stat and predict that Miles Mikolas will be baseball’s only 20 game winner this year.
·       Cubs – As I stated elsewhere, I’m very optimistic about the Cubbies. Let’s go with new shortstop Dansby Swanson outpacing all NL shortstops in at least one version of WAR in 2023.
·       Diamondbacks – Is it bold to predict that they will merely tread water this year? I suppose I can be more exacting with my language: I think Arizona will finish with the exact same record in 2023 that they had in 2022. That’s 74-88. A treading water season for a team that is probably on the upswing, but not quite ready for contending.
·       Dodgers – Have you looking at the Dodgers pitching staff from last season? The team…the whole team, had a 2.80 ERA, good enough for a 150 ERA+. Only nine starting pitchers in baseball did better than the Dodgers team: they rank right between Zac Gallen and Shane McClanahan. And that happened with Walker Buehler hitting the IL after a less-than-stellar 12 starts. Bottom line: this is still an excellent baseball team. Even after losing Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Tina Turner, Ted Turner, and British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, this is still an elite squad. That said, they’ve lost a lot of depth in the lineup, and their rivals in the south are in a win-now mode. So what can you do? I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Shohei Ohtani is wearing a Dodgers uniform by the end of the season. The Dodgers have arms to trade and the coffers to extend Shohei while making him a winner: if the Angels can’t contend in 2023, this is the escape hatch.
·       Giants – It must be hard to be the Giants, who feel like the forgotten middle sibling in the emerging rivalry between the (elder) Dodgers and the (baby) Padres. Hey mom and dad, we won the division in 2021. Remember that? Want to see the cool banner I made? The fortunes of this team might be different if they managed to sign Aaron Judge (confession: I had a vivid dream during the offseason where Aaron Judge told me he was signing with San Francisco, and also we were friends somehow), but right now this team feels like half-of-a-contender (pitching staff) and half…not (the lineup). They missed out on Judge and Correa, but I think Michael Conforto will have a terrific comeback year, smoking forty dingers.
·       Guardians – If the Cardinals have the best chance of winning a division, Cleveland has to be a close second. This team isn’t super elite, but it’s certainly the class of the AL Central coming into 2023. I think Shane Bieber will win the AL Cy Young Award, but that isn’t a bold selection, so I’ll project that contact-pro Steven Kwan will have an on-base percentage above .400.
·       Mariners – Talk about a team on the upswing: if you’re a Mariners fan, this has to be a fun moment. I am very tempted to say something about Jarred Kelenic finally getting his head straight (and perhaps out-performing Julio Rodriguez), but instead I’m going with George Kirby netting some Cy Young Award votes in 2023. Kirby was just terrific last year: a polished young pitcher who is going to be one of the best starters in the league for the next five or six years.
·       Marlins – Are they on the upswing? I honestly can’t tell, but at least they’re going to be fun to watch this year. While Sandy Alcantra and Jazz Chisholm draw the spotlight, I’m one of the many people really excited to see what Jesus Luzardo – awful in the first half and terrific in the second - can do in 2023. Let’s give the former Oakland starter 200 strikeouts in 2023.
·       Mets – With all the attention centered around how much the dynamic duo of Verlander and Scherzer can continue turning back the clock, I’d like to give a bold prediction to Carlos Carrasco. I have always thought he’d have a big year, but the cards never really aligned for him. He’s old, now, but let’s throw him some love and guess that he outperforms both Verlander and Scherzer in 2023.
·       Orioles – Bold time: Adley Rutschman will have a 10.0 WAR season in 2023. He might not win the MVP because Baltimore doesn’t win the division or because Shohei plays like Shohei, but I think he’s going to have a Buster Posey-ish season this year.
·       Padres – It’s probably not fair, but I’m starting to sour on the Padres. I don’t understand why they’re throwing so many massive contracts around, and while it’s not my money, they’re taking an approach that hasn’t really worked in baseball before, and I can’t imagine it working now. That said, there is just so much talent on this team that it’s impossible not to stands in awe. For another team, the ascendency of Ha-Seong Kim would be a central story, but it went kind of unnoticed, and then the Padres signed another shortstop to cover him. Anyway, I’m going to recycle a pick from last year, and project that Juan Soto bounces back to win the NL MVP. He’s not a terrible candidate, so to make this bold, I’ll say it ends up a unanimous decision.
·       Pirates – It has to be about Oneil Cruz, the Pirates 6’-7 shortstop who is about as distinctive a player as we’ll see this side of Anaheim zip code. I love Cruz, but his 126-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio from last season leaves room for improvement. Nevertheless, he’s the kind of player who justifies paying a few bucks to sit in one of the nicest ballparks in baseball. I want to be optimistic, but let’s give him a negative prediction: Cruz will break Mark Reynolds’ single-season record for strikeouts by a hitter.
·       Phillies – Another pessimistic note: I think the Phillies finish under .500 this season. The NL East is too strong, and the absence of Harper and Rhys Hoskins is too much to overcome for a team that is long in the tooth and short on depth players.
·       Rangers – I am just as pessimistic about the Rangers as I am about the Phillies, but I root for Marcus Semien, a player who is having a Jekyll and Hyde type of career. Last year, his bat was dead-cold for two months, and then he found his swing again, hitting 25 of his 26 homers after the calendar turned over to June. I don’t know which Semien turns up in 2023: will it be the 2019 and 2021 version that finished 3rd in the AL MVP vote each year, or the version that boasts a slightly-above-league average bat, albeit with excellent defense and tolerable baserunning? I’m betting on the first version: Semien wil be the best Ranger in 2023, and one of the top-ten players in the league.
·       Rays – Keep this brief: Wander Franco wins the batting title.
·       Reds – Joey Votto deserved better than to go out with this kind of team, so I’ll go ahead and predict that the Reds trade him to the Blue Jays so he can be a bench option for the playoffs.
·       Red Sox – I absolutely think Chris Sale is going to come back and perform like an elite pitcher, just because his whole personality screams that he will do everything in his power to do that. But I’ll go a different route and predict that Adam Duvall leads the AL in homeruns this year. He’s going to love Fenway.
·       Rockies – And continuing on optimistic dinger thread, let’s give the NL dinger crown to Kris Bryant, who plays for the Rockies. Who are a team in the major leagues, apparently.
·       Royals – While Joey Votto deserves a better ending, I think Zack Greinke’s ending is absolutely in line with Zack Greinke’s career: he gets to wrap it up on the same mound where his career took off. That’s a nice full circle, and while I wish Greinke’s best years had coincided with the Royals World Series appearances, it’s still nice to see him tossing slower-than-slow eephus pitches in the blue and white. No bold prediction for Greinke, but I think M.J. Melendez is going to have a terrific year, leading the team in homeruns and RBI.
·       Tigers – Can I make two picks? Sure, it’s my column. First, I’ll guess that Spencer Torkelson hits 40 homers this year. He’s too good a hitter to not break out, and I think this is the year it happens. Second, I think that Eduardo Rodriguez has a terrific comeback, pitching at least 180 innings with 200 strikeouts and a robust ERA.
·       Twins – Byron Buxton’s reputation is over-inflated by the WAR metric. I look at him and see a player who can’t stay healthy (585 games played over 8 seasons) and who makes a lot of outs (.301 on-base percentage). When he does play, he’s a terrific defensive centerfielder and a good baserunner, but his power (.576 slugging percentage since 2020) comes at a cost (214 strikeouts in 705 at-bats). He’s not a great player, but if you glance at his WAR tallies and then pro-rate them to a season of full health, he looks like Mike Trout. I think this is the season we get a full Buxton, and this is the season we realize he’s not actually that special. He stays healthy, and pitchers figure out how to get him out, and he’s not the superstar we’ve been waiting for since 2015.
·       White Sox – On the other hand, I think that Luis Roberts, Jr. does have a breakout campaign, posting a 30-30 season for the White Sox. I haven’t talked about the White Sox much this year, but they certainly have a chance to outpace the Guardians and Twins for the Central division. It should be a good baseball season in the Windy City.
·       Yankees – I’ll go with Nestor Cortes out-performing Gerrit Cole in the Bronx this summer. Cortes is a fun pitcher to watch, and while I think Gerrit Cole has the best claim as the game’s premier pitcher, I’m a big believer in the Cuban Cortes, who is a lot easier to root for than the Yankees ace. Cole seems cut from the same cloth as Roger Clemens: terrific pitcher, but someone who seems to be battling himself when the stakes are elevated. Nestor seems to take things in stride, a useful trait in the pressure cooker of playing in pinstripes.
What are your bold predictions for 2023? Post them below and have a great 2023!
David Fleming is a writer living in western Virginia. He welcomes comments, questions, and suggestions here and at 

COMMENTS (13 Comments, most recent shown first)

Umm.. Brewers are in the NL Central
11:55 AM Apr 2nd
Umm.. Brewers are in the NL Central
11:54 AM Apr 2nd
Dave -- Always enjoy these, and I know internal logic isn't the point at all, but: if Shohei wins the Cy (and, as you point out) and that gives him the MVP by default, and if Rutschman has a 10.0 WAR season, which I don't think a modern-day catcher's ever gotten close to (maybe even any catcher ever), Bo Bichette of my hometown Jays won't be top 2 in MVP voting.
6:16 PM Apr 1st
Twins will make the playoffs this year - keeping Correa will help stimulate the whole team.

This is the year the Angels actually either make the playoffs or at least the Angels will be in contention during their end of season series with the A's (and the A's will not be fighting for playoff spot during these games).

The Yankees, Astros, Braves, Mets and Dodgers will all win fewer games in 2023 than they won in 2022 (regression to the mean).

It will be interesting how the balanced schedule will affect teams: will the AL East get even more wins? So here are my playoff teams:

Red Sox


don't bet the farm on these predictions

7:03 PM Mar 29th
It usually is ... I think one year I was 0-fer.
2:21 PM Mar 29th
Thanks, Terry! I'll check back at the end of the year and score our predictions. I'm thinking it will be a low-scoring affair.

10:36 AM Mar 29th
I predict that it is going to be a LONG season here in DC.

That wasn’t so bold, was it.​
11:17 PM Mar 28th
Why do I think the boldest prediction is Kris Bryant will play enough games to lead the National League in dingers, much less actually do it?
7:16 PM Mar 28th
I went off your list, lol ...

Natties: James Wood pops up late in the season and becomes the favorite for 2024 rookie of the year. And Joey Meneses hits exactly .229 with exactly 8 home runs and exactly 36 runs batted in.
2:04 PM Mar 28th
My other favorite article of the year, Dave. Here’s mine:

Angels: Their opening day starting infield hit 24 home runs in 2022. I’m predicting a hundred in 2023 between Jared Walsh, Brandon Drury, Luis Rengifo and Anthony Rendon.
Astros: One of my favorite sneaky little stats is that Hunter Brown currently holds the all-time major league record for lowest career era, minimum 20 innings. I could predict that he will lose that record the next time he pitches, which might be the least-bold prediction ever. But how about this? That he keeps the record through his first 25 innings. That means he has to get 14 outs before he gives up a run.
Athletics: Esteury Ruiz leads the American League in runs scored for a team that finishes last in runs scored.
Blue Jays: Alejandro Kirk hits .300 with 30 home runs.
Braves: Spencer Strider wins the NL Cy Young award.
Brewers: Sal Frelick leads NL rookies in batting average for 300+ plate appearances.
Cardinals: Ten different Cardinals hit at least ten home runs.
Cubs: A player not on the opening day roster leads the Cubs in ops+ (Matt Mervis).
D’Backs: Gabriel Moreno leads all NL catchers in batting average.
Dodgers: Alex Vesia saves 20 games.
Giants: Sean Manaea wins 15, posts a sub-3.5 era and strikes out 200. He’s never done any of those things before.
Guardians: Win it all.
Mariners: Ty France leads the AL in hit by pitches and finishes in the top ten in AL MVP voting.
Marlins: Luis Arraez leads the NL in hits with at least 200.
Mets: Edwin Diaz’s brother leads the Mets in saves.
O’s: There will be more rookies than non-rookies in the O’s regular lineup by the end of the season.
Padres: Every single trade and signing by the Padres in preparation for the 2023 season looks like a mistake by the end of the year.
Pirates: At least one prominent writer on ESPN or MLB’s website dedicates an entire column to the concept of kicking the Pirates out of the league. To win, a search on those sites for “pirates contracted” should find it.
Phillies: Darik Hall beats Rhys Hoskins’ career highs in all three triple crown categories.
Rangers: Jon Gray strikes out 200 and wins 15 games.
Rays: Brandon Lowe finishes in the top 10 in the MVP voting.
Reds: Alexis Diaz leads two different teams in saves in 2023 (Reds and Mets).
Red Sox: Tristan Casas leads the AL in walks drawn.
Rockies: Elehuris Montero hits 30 home runs and announcers all over the country scramble to figure out how to pronounce his name because the Rockies suck and nobody bothers to check the roster ahead of time.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. becomes the first-ever 30-60 guy (30 hr, 60 sb).
Tigers: Justyn Henry-Malloy will come up mid- or late-season and post a .400 onbase percentage.
Twins: Bailey Ober will lead the Twins in wins despite being sent down at the start of the season.
White Sox: Liam Hendricks comes back from cancer treatment to lead the team in saves.
Yankees: Gerrit Cole gets hosed out of another Cy Young award because somebody nobody is even thinking about has a monster season. Oh wait, you said bold, didn’t you? Ok, Yankees miss the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

2:01 PM Mar 28th
My bold prediction for 2023 is an all-Chicago World Series. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.​
12:33 PM Mar 28th
Nationals - Do I have it in me to go one more round of expecting a Victor Robles breakout, or can I finally just let him go? He's having a strong spring, but I think the only player who has a chance to be a big impact this year are Josiah Gray and CJ Abrams. I suppose I'll go with the pitcher: Josiah Gray pitches 200 innings, nets 200 strikeouts. I feel like that's sufficiently bold.

Sorry, Nats fans.
9:30 AM Mar 28th
I predict that Dave Fleming will realize he forgot the Nationals.
8:37 PM Mar 27th
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