This past offseason was long and arduous, and at times, it felt like the odds of getting Opening Day in April — if at all in 2022 — were approaching slim-to-none. The season got delayed by a week and rain has pushed the Yankees’ scheduled opener back to Friday, but nonetheless, we are indeed going to get a 162-game season! Somehow, it’s still MLB’s most normal campaign since 2019, given the attendance restrictions and weird rules and road travel of the past couple seasons.
In anticipation of the season finally getting underway, I polled the PSA staff for our standard predictions, which range from sorting out each division to guessing which managers are most likely to get the boot in midseason (interestingly, the answer to the latter was “none” in 2021, as no one was fired until after Game 162). I was lucky enough to win the staff prediction contest last year, but firsts are first for a reason. It’s anyone’s game, and we also have multiple other previous back-to-back winners on staff in Jake and Josh.
So let’s sit back and see who comes out on top in 2022. Please feel free to make your own predictions in the comments!
2022 AL Standings
The Yankees’ underwhelming 2021 and 2021-22 offseason really did a number on us, huh? The staff consensus has New York in third place in the AL East behind the ascendant Blue Jays and perennial pest Rays. To partially spoil a later prediction, a Wild Card berth is still in the offing, but man, how things have changed from unanimously picking the Yankees to win the pennant a year ago. Rough.
Over in the other divisions, the White Sox are a slam dunk pick to win the AL Central, and the Astros edge out the Mariners in the AL West. Meanwhile, the A’s were so well-thought of a year ago that six of us picked them to win the division in 2021, and now after selling off basically everyone not named Frankie Montas or Sean Murphy, they’re a near-unanimous pick to finish dead last (much like the Orioles). Embarrassing.
2022 NL Standings
Speaking of the A’s, the Braves might not be the NL East pick had they not made up for letting Freddie Freeman walk by trading for former Oakland slugger Matt Olson. That plus a few other savvy moves (and the May return of MVP contender Ronald Acuña Jr.) have the defending champions in line to win their fifth straight NL East crown by our predictions. There are five Mets picks in there though, so the Amazins — and maybe even the all-bat/no-glove/just-vibes Phillies — could give the Braves a run for their money.
NL Central is Brewers, Brewers, Brewers unless you think the Cardinals’ Cardinalness can overcome Milwaukee’s pitching. It’s certainly possible given how little that Brewers team will likely hit. Out west, the Giants’ 108-win surprise season in 2021 wasn’t enough to earn a single NL West pick in 2022. It’ll be tough though, particularly with L.A. gaining Freeman and San Francisco losing the retiring Buster Posey. Shout-out to Kunj for still believing in the Padres. They are desperately trying to contend but will miss Fernando Tatis Jr. for awhile.
Yankees leaders: AVG, HR, ERA, and WAR
DJ LeMahieu: BACK!
Or maybe this Yankees team is just not particularly geared toward high-batting average hitters. Either way, DJ’s leading this classic stat again for us (though I salute John’s Oswald Peraza adoration), and as for the home run leader? Pick your preferred beefy boy. Any of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, or Joey Gallo could do it, though Judge seems likeliest to lead in WAR. Out on the mound, Clay Holmes’ second half after coming over from Pittsburgh really impressed us — he tied for lowest ERA votes alongside the 2021 bullpen ace, Jonathan Loáisiga.
Misc. Yankees predictions
We believe that Judge, Stanton, and Josh Donaldson will stay healthy and slug! Call us optimists if you want (and call Kunj whatever for his annual “Judge breaks the home run record” pick). As for Luis Severino? Well ... the jury’s still out.
On the topic of ace Gerrit Cole, 12 of us have him setting a new franchise single-season strikeout record, passing 1978 Ron Guidry’s mark of 248. It’s not absurd by any stretch, as Cole fanned 326 back in 2019 and finished just five strikeouts shy of Guidry last year despite missing three-to-four starts. Is this the year?
MLB leaders: AVG, HR, ERA, and WAR
Now for the league-wide edition! Guess what? We think that Juan Soto, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Corbin Burnes, and Shohei Ohtani are good at baseball. Who knew?? Yes, these are chalky picks, but these guys are also really good. Sue us.
Most team wins & losses, first manager fired
Also good at baseball: the Los Angeles Dodgers. John even had them a win shy of the 2001 Mariners’ modern-day wins record, too. (No, I did not include Kunj’s 161-win Yankees prediction in the average). On the other end of the spectrum, John has the Orioles passing the 1962 Mets with 121 losses. The Pirates and A’s also got a lot of “worst team” votes, but either way, it’s going to be a rough year in Baltimore (and Phoenix, where the D-backs’ Torey Lovullo got several votes for “first manager fired”).
There is an impressive rookie crop in the AL this year, but the Bobby Witt Jr. gets the nod from us. The No. 2 pick from the 2019 draft should have a special year in Kansas City, as should the No. 1 pick from the 2020 draft, Detroit’s Spencer Torkelson.
Cole is our Cy Young pick, and Guerrero is our choice to ascend from runner-up MVP in 2021 to taking home the prize in 2022. I kind of went out there with the very young Wander Franco, and there were some votes for the reigning Ohtani and the not-so-distantly-dominant Mike Trout. But Vlad’s our consensus guy.
Oneil Cruz of the Pirates is going to have to battle not only former NPB star Seiya Suzuki for Rookie of the Year; he’s going to have to battle service time manipulation, too. We’ll see how long the Pirates keep down their obviously-ready 6-foot-7 slugger. For NL Cy Young, flip a coin. If it’s heads, say Walker Buehler! If tails, call a Corbin Burnes repeat. Don’t look at John’s pick, he’s just being mean.
And rounding out the picks, Soto might be the best player in baseball. No shock there; the question will be if he can get the MVP from the BBWAA on a team going nowhere if there’s a more compelling narrative pick out there, like Bryce Harper in 2021.
The addition of a third Wild Card team this year made listing our picks more cluttered than ever, but we got it done! We’re going Rays/Yankees/Mariners in the AL and Giants/Padres/Cardinals in the NL (the Mets fell short of St. Louis by the slimmest of margins in a tiebreaker based on standings predictions). Seattle could break its 21-year playoff drought this year! Or it could just be sad again. Maybe it’s all up to rookie uber-talent Julio Rodriguez. Wouldn’t that be something?
Despite our general Yankee skepticism, we do have them in the ALCS, but most have Toronto winning its first pennant since the Joe Carter 1993 year. They got a few World Series champion picks, too! The expectations are high; we’ll see if the Blue Jays can meet them. Even if they get to the Fall Classic though, we’re with Dave Roberts — the Dodgers are the team to beat. Again.
Regardless, let’s just hope that John, Dan K., Esteban, Kevin, and Kunj are right after all. The rest of us would like nothing more than to be wrong! We want No. 28. Get it done, Yanks.