Dutch Lion’s 2022 MLB Preview
Baseball is back and we couldn’t be more excited. 2022 is gonna be a big year. Last year in our 2021 Preview, we predicted the Los Angeles Dodgers would win the World Series. It was not to be. 2021 was the year of the Atlanta Braves. So who are we picking to win in ’22? Once again, it’s gonna be hard to go against the Dodgers. But guess what?…
PARTY LIKE IT’S 2005!
The Chicago White Sox will be your 2022 World Series Champions!
Before we get to the 2022 Predictions, let’s recap what we were right about in ’21 along with what we were wrong about and other strange things that happened.
Plus, we should mention our ideas for big changes to Baseball, including our well-renowned plan known as the “DLP”. One time I wrote about my ideas in a column titled, “If I Were Commissioner of Baseball”. The basic premise was to revamp Major League Baseball to make it the National Pastime once again. The basics are:
- Shorten the regular season by decreasing the amount of games from 162 to 140.
- Move the schedule up to include using Spring Training facilities for regular season games that count in the standings (in great weather in Arizona and Florida, rather than waiting for rain-outs and snow-outs and cold-outs up North).
- Schedule doubleheaders on weekends like they did in the old days.
- Move the Playoffs and World Series to August, when there is no real sports competition. Baseball will OWN the sports world in August.
- This will increase the revenues from TV rights as the networks will fight for the HUGE ratings that will accompany a Baseball Playoffs and World Series without any sports competition.
- The National Pastime will regain it’s footing with more games that “count” and played in Summer (rather than Autumn) when people are in baseball mode. The owners will worry about the lost revenues from having less regular season games to sell tickets for, but trust me, the revenue sharing pool will increase drastically. That money will be made up and then some with increased revenues from TV, plus more interest from the less interested fans (you know, the generic sports fans) that watch other things in October – such as football, basketball, hockey, new TV season premieres, Halloween programming, etc. In August, those people will become baseball fans because the only other programming is the NFL’s preseason (which stinks), golf, and tennis. NO COMPETITION FROM FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, OR HOCKEY. Think about it. This is an untapped market. Why wait until October when fans have other stuff to do and other things to take away from baseball? You need to get away from October. I know it’s tradition but football barely existed when this October tradition started. Nowadays, people are in “football mode” in October. Scrap October! Need proof? Do you remember the “Field of Dreams” game last Summer that entranced a nation? It took place on August 12.
- This is an open letter to the people that should be coming up with these ideas. Commissioner Manfred, I’m talking to you and your people. The DLP will work. This is a Hall of Fame idea. Long after the Dutch Lion is gone in one hundred years, he’ll be in Cooperstown, inducted for changing the game, some might say saving the game. Trust in the Dutch Lion here.
Recap of last year’s predictions
- We called for the White Sox to win the A.L. Central division for the first time since 2008. They indeed won the Central with a 93-69 record (our prediction was 96-66, just 3 games off), despite many injuries to star players such as Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.
- New York Yankees. Prediction: 95-67. Actual record: 92-70 (3 games off)
- Toronto Blue Jays. Prediction: 88-74. Actual record: 91-71 (3 games off)
- Texas Rangers. Prediction: 62-100. Actual record: 60-102 (2 games off)
- Philadelphia Phillies. Prediction: 81-81. Actual record: 82-80 (1 game off)
- Miami Marlins. Prediction: 68-94. Actual record: 67-95 (1 game off)
- St. Louis Cardinals. Prediction: 92-70. Actual record: 90-72 (2 games off)
- Cincinnati Reds. Prediction: 82-80. Actual record: 83-79 (1 game off)
- Chicago Cubs. Prediction: 74-88. Actual record: 71-91 (3 games off). I’m kicking myself for hyping up the Cubs that much. They stunk then. They still stink now. They’re back at the bottom of the barrel. “Anyone can have a bad century”… or two.
- Los Angeles Dodgers. Prediction: 104-58. Actual record: 106-56 (2 games off). I’m proud of this pick because whenever you believe in a team to the extent where you pick them to win almost two-thirds of their games, and then they come through and even out-project you, that’s a solid prediction. Funny thing was… the Giants beat them for the NL West title by winning 107.
- We predicted 3 of 5 American League Playoff teams. We were right about the White Sox, Astros, and Yankees. However, we were wrong about the Twins and the Angels. Instead, the Rays and the Red Sox earned spots.
- Likewise, we correctly predicted 3 of 5 National League Playoff teams. That makes 6 of 10 Playoff teams. We thought the Mets and Padres would make it but instead those spots were had by the Giants and Brewers.
- Houston Astros. Prediction: 91-71. Actual record: 95-67 (4 games off)
- Atlanta Braves. Prediction: 93-69. Actual record: 88-73 (4.5 games off) – We had them winning the NL East, which they did. We had them pegged to lose in the NLCS to the Dodgers. From last year’s Preview, “The Braves are one of the best teams in baseball” and … “The Braves will be tomahawk chopping once again, if allowed.”
- Seattle Mariners. Prediction: 83-79. Actual record: 90-72 (7 games off) * From last year’s prediction:
- “For some reason, I don’t think they’re so bad. There’s some good young talent there, maybe even a couple of All-Stars. Kyle Seager is always reliable. Kyle Lewis is a stud. Mitch Haniger was pretty good once upon a time. How about Dylan Moore and Evan White on the infield? How about Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi on the bump? I know the M’s have holes, but some of these prognosticators are going with 69 or 70 wins for Seattle. I think they’re better than that.” – I actually underestimated how good they would become.
- For at least the second year in a row, we predicted Tampa Bay to be a bad team, winning just 75 games. Instead, they made Dutch Lion look like a fool, winning 100 games to capture the A.L. East title by 8 games.
- Minnesota Twins. Prediction: 92-70. Actual record: 73-89. We were so wrong.
- Los Angeles Angels. Prediction: 90-72. Actual record: 77-85. We overinflated the Angels but then again, Mike Trout played only 36 games. Would Trout be worth 13 games? No, his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was only 0.5 but is usually about 8 to 10 (8.0 in his last full season of 2019) so actually…. the Angels should have won about 84 or 85 games if he were healthy for the full ’22 campaign.
- Washington Nationals. Prediction: 88-74. Actual record: 65-97. Ugh! I was only 23 games off on this Nats prediction. It didn’t help that Strasburg pitched only 21.2 innings, GM Rizzo traded Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Kyle Schwarber, and Brad Hand at the trade deadline, and young prospects such as Carter Kieboom provided less than replacement player numbers. Other than that, Washington had a great year.
- Milwaukee Brewers. Prediction: 81-81. Actual record: 95-67. I thought the Brewers would take a step backward. They didn’t. Their pitching was awesome (3rd best in Runs Allowed per game at 3.85). Christian Yelich didn’t even rebound but instead posted a second consecutive poor season (.248, 9, 51, 1.5 WAR) yet the Brew Crew rolled to the NL Central title. It almost doesn’t add up. The hitting was average to poor. It was simply the pitching. It was just that good with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader.
- San Francisco Giants. Prediction: 76-86. Actual record: 107-55. Uhh, where did that come from? We were only 31 games off on our projection. It almost doesn’t seem possible. That’s baseball – and that’s why we love baseball.
- Award Predictions: My eight Award predictions for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year for both leagues went poorly again for at least the second Preview in a row. The only correct selection was AL Rookie of the Year going to Randy Arozarena for Tampa. That’s 1 for 8, but at least it’s better than the previous year’s 0 for 8.
2022 Favorite Players
- Mike Trout
- Bryce Harper
- Shohei Ohtani
- Max Scherzer
- Luis Robert
- Trea Turner
- Francisco Lindor
- Tim Anderson
- Vladimir Guerrero
- Michael Kopech
- Dylan Cease
- Liam Hendricks
- Justin Turner
- Stephen Strasburg
- Nick Madrigal
- Corey Seager
- Jose Abreu
- Josh Donaldson
Dutch Lion’s 2022 MLB Predictions
American League East
- * Toronto Blue Jays (95-67) – Toronto looks fantastic on paper. Can they live up to the hype? Vlad Guerrero Jr, “Boba Fett” Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, Hyun Jin Ryu, Jose Berrios… that’s a solid looking group. They might not be ready yet, think Cubs of ’15, or White Sox of ’20 and ’21, or Braves of ’19 and ’20. But it’s gonna happen, and soon.
- * New York Yankees (93-69) – The Yankees just keep doing most of the same strategy since their last World Series in 2009. They pay well-regarded players a ton of money and then something always happens to derail their season. An injury here, a miscalculation there. They finally moved on from catcher Gary Sanchez, who just can’t catch. They guy would always sit down behind the plate and then miss “wild pitches” (they were really all passed balls) and not be able to throw out baserunners. His pitch framing sucked too. He hit a few bombs but he’s no Salvador Perez. In fact, he’s the exact opposite of Sal. He can’t lead a pitching staff much less a team. He’s not a winner like Perez. New York shipped Sanchez off to Minnesota. Good for them. Now the Twins have to deal with his body language, but as we read in the article we just highlighted, the Twins are going to use Sanchez as a DH and a backup catcher. Probably a good idea. Meanwhile, the Yankees will move on to Kyle Higashioka behind the plate. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, “Like a good Gleyber, Torres is there”, DJ Lemahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, and Aaron Hicks will provide punch. Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, and Luis Severino will be the main rotation. Can Severino come back from his injury(ies)?
- * Boston Red Sox (85-77) – Boston has been really hard to prognosticate for a decade now. They seem to go up and down more than any other franchise. In their good years, they are fantastic. They are true contenders to win the World Series. In their off years, it looks like garbage, like they’re trying to tank for a higher draft pick. Last year they went 92-70. So this year, what do you think? I think they’ll be above average but with increased competition from the Blue Jays, I believe the Carmines will take a small step back. Their starting rotation doesn’t inspire confidence. Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale (always injured), Nick Pivetta?, 42 year-old Rich “Over The” Hill, and Michael Wacha. I don’t love this group. It wasn’t great before when they had Eduardo Rodriguez and now he’s gone.
- Tampa Bay Rays (81-81) – Every year I rip on the Rays and every year I’m wrong. I just don’t understand why they’re good. Their lineup is always so average. Their pitching is boring. Could it be the dumpy Tropicana Dome? It’s probably their manager, Kevin Cash. He gets them to play like a hungry college baseball team, or even a high school team. They outperform their roster on paper. They hustle. People overlook them. Will Dutch Lion ever learn? No. They just traded one of their best players, Austin Meadows, to Detroit for virtually nothing in return. They always seem to win, even though management isn’t trying. For the most part, I hate them.
- Baltimore Orioles (67-95) – Someone clipped the wings of the Orioles years ago and they can’t remember how to fly. Another year in the basement of the East. Will they ever turn it around? The O’s will be hoggin’ losses in the American League. Can they “earn” the #1 overall pick in ’23?
American League Central
- * Chicago White Sox (101-61) – The Sox will break the franchise record for most wins in a season, which is held by the 1917 World Champions (100-54-2). Of course, that .649 winning percentage will likely never be duplicated or broken. Nowadays, to get to .649 a team would need to go 106-56 in a 162 game season (.654). This is the year it all comes together for the Sox. They have a deep roster. The lineup is filled with young players that are in their primes. The pitching staff is deep. The bullpen is dominant. Ever since the rebuild started in 2016, this is what GM Rick Hahn was building towards. “The Decade of Dominance” (as coined by Dutch Lion a few years ago) started with two straight playoff appearances in ’20 and ’21. Now the “Dominance” continues with their first World Championship since 2005. Will there be mo’? As Snoop Dogg would say, “Fo’ Sho”!
- Minnesota Twins (82-80) – Last year they were supposed to win the Central. We knew better, but we still pegged them for 2nd place. Instead, they fell to the basement, going 73-89. Will they rebound? I think they will, at least to around the .500 mark.
- Detroit Tigers (80-82) – I’m excited to see Spencer Torkelson, the Tigers new young bopper that made the opening day roster. He’ll be playing 1B while Miguel “Miggy” Cabrera hits at DH from now on. The Tigers are working on improvement and should see the fruits of their labor, at least to an extent.
- Kansas City Royals (75-87) – Most exciting thing about the Royals this year? The debut of uber-prospect Bobby Witt Jr. He was named their starting 3B for Opening Day. He’ll be the favorite player for most Royals fans by the end of the year.
- Cleveland Indians/Guardians (69-93) – If there are any Indians out there that get mad at me for using their name, that’s fine. I’m not trying to offend any Indians. That goes for the Native Americans too.
American League West
- * Houston Astros (93-69) – One of these years the Angels and the other West rivals will oust the ‘Stros, but probably not yet. Will the 39-year-old Justin Verlander rebound from his Tommy John surgery?
- * Los Angeles Angels (87-75) – Shohei Ohtani put up one of the greatest individual seasons in baseball history last year and where did it get the Angels? They finished 77-85, in 4th place. Of course, one man does not make a team, as Mike Trout can attest with a decade’s worth of proof. Trout was injured last year after just 36 games. That’s a big reason why L.A. couldn’t live up to the hype. If Trout has a healthy season, along with a resurgence from 3B Anthony Rendon, we could see the Angels quickly rise up the standings. Yeah Dutch, but what about pitching!?! The Angels went out and signed Noah Syndergaard, but he’s only pitched 2 innings since 2019. Along with another outrageous, inhuman effort from Ohtani on the bump, and maybe we’re finally putting something together. Those two guys better, or else they might be headed back to the basement.
- Seattle Mariners (84-78) – As glad as I was to see the Mariners outperform their projections from last year, they somewhat accomplished it with smoke and mirrors. Baseball Prospectus calculated the M’s “Pythag” as 18th overall in MLB. Also, their “deserved winning %” was 23rd out of baseball’s 30 teams. Basically what that means is Seattle outperformed themselves, winning way more games than they actually deserved to win. How did they do it? Manager Scott Servais pulled all the right tricks. That, and luck. Nonetheless, we expect a “return to the mean” this season. The luck has run out.
- Texas Rangers (70-92) – The Rangers might not be that good, but at least they’re trying. Texas signed Corey Seager to a ginormous contract along with Marcus Semien. That’s two major players to fill the Rangers middle infield. Semien hit 45 bombs for Toronto last year. Can you believe this guy was once a White Sox farmhand, drafted in the 6th round in 2011? He played in only 85 games for the ChiSox in ’13 and ’14 before becoming a real player with Oakland from ’15-’20. Somehow he broke out last year with the Jays after never having more than 33 homers in a season (’19). I know what you’re thinking… does Texas have any arms? Not really. That’s why we are predicting only 70 wins.
- Oakland Athletics (58-104) – The A’s gave away all their players again. Matt Olson and Matt Chapman are gone. Who’s left? Ramon Laureano and Elvis Andrus are on Oakland’s roster, as of Opening Day. If you look at this team on paper, it’s garbage. The paper would be on fire and we don’t have a fire extinguisher. It’s a race to the bottom of the American League with Baltimore. Like Tampa, it feels like Oakland’s management always tries to lose yet the players find a way to win. I’m imagining the clubhouse feeling like the Indians in the movie “Major League”… “With each win, we’ll tear off a piece of the owner’s skirt on this weird piece-by-piece photo board thingy.”
AL MVP: Luis Robert/OF/Chicago White Sox – The smart pick would be reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani, but here’s betting that the best player on the 100 win division champ would beat out the guy who both hits and pitches for a 2nd place team. Plus, Ohtani is due for a letdown, right? Right?
* (see story below) “The Uncle Glen” AL Cy Young Award: Lucas Giolito/SP/Chicago White Sox
AL Rookie of the Year: Spencer Torkelson/1B/Detroit Tigers
AL Manager of the Year: Tony LaRussa/Chicago White Sox
American League Postseason
- 1. Chicago White Sox (101-61) (bye)
- 2. Toronto Blue Jays (95-67) (bye)
- 3. Houston Astros (93-69) (Division Winner – will host #6 in best-of-3 game series)
- 4. New York Yankees (93-69) (Wild Card – will host#5 in best-of-3 game series)
- 5. Los Angeles Angels (87-75) (Wild Card)
- 6. Boston Red Sox (85-77) (Wild Card)
AL Wild Card Opening Round (ALWC) (best of 3, higher/better seed gets all 3 home games)
#3 Houston over #6 Boston
#4 New York over #5 Los Angeles
AL Divisional Series (ALDS) (best of 5)
#1 Chicago over #4 New York – The White Sox and Yankees have never played each other in the postseason. This would be a hugely hyped series in the Big Apple and the Second City alike. I know some Sox fans who hate the Yankees with a passion. They will never get over the idea that the Yanks prevented the Sox from winning the pennant and getting to the World Series virtually every year back in the 1950’s and ’60’s era. From 1957-’65, the Sox finished in 2nd Place behind the Yankees five times over nine years, while beating them for the pennant only once, in the magical ’59 season. As my buddy Jon says, “Suck it Yankees!”
#2 Toronto over #3 Houston – This sounds like an exciting series. Think about Justin Verlander pitching to Vlad Guerrero with it all on the line. Two “dome” teams going head to head would be apropos. I’ve been to both stadiums and I would give the slight edge to Toronto’s Sky Dome/Rogers Centre over Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
AL Championship Series (ALCS) (best of 7)
#1 Chicago over #2 Toronto – The last time these foes met in the Postseason was in 1993. Michael Jordan’s shocking retirement announcement during one of the games overshadowed the Sox home game at New Comiskey Park. The Jays went on to win in 6 games on their way to repeating as back-to-back World Series Champions in 1992 (over Atlanta) and ’93 (over Philadelphia).
National League East
- * New York Mets (93-69) – One of the most improved teams this season should be the New York Mets. Last year they really started grabbing talent such as Francisco Lindor, James McCann, and Carlos Carrasco. Now they added Max Scherzer, Eduardo Escobar, and Starling Marte while getting rid of overhyped clubhouse cancers such as Javy Baez and Marcus Stroman. I expect big improvement from last year’s 77-85 mark. Will it be enough to beat the Braves?
- * Atlanta Braves (90-72) – The Braves did it all last year. Now they lost Freddie Freeman to the rival Dodgers and the holdovers such as Ronald Acuna are already bashing Freeman. When Acuna tore his ACL last year, didn’t you think it might be over for Atlanta’s chances in ’21? Yeah, me too. Then they won with Freeman, not with Acuna. Think about that. Who was more valuable? To me, the best story of last year was old man Brian Snitker winning the World Series in his 45th season with the Braves organization. He’s managed and coached at all levels over the years. Management’s loyalty toward him was rewarded as Snitker’s managing helped Atlanta climb the mountain for the first time since 1995. Great job Braves! Nonetheless, you’re not repeating. Nobody repeats. Last franchise to repeat was the New York Yankees under Joe Torre in 2000 when they finished off a three-peat and a 4-titles-in-5 years dynastic run.
- Philadelphia Phillies (87-75) – The Phillies are getting better year by year since signing Bryce Harper. However, this NL East division is tough to conquer. Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler provide strength in the rotation and Harp, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, and Jean Segura provide pop to the lineup. In fact, this might be one of the best lineups in baseball. Nonetheless, there are too many question marks including a notoriously lousy bullpen. I’d guess the Phils are a year or two away from becoming serious contenders.
- Washington Nationals (72-90) – Since finally winning it all to close out the 2010’s, the Nationals have fallen on hard times. They’ve gotten old and traded away all their young players for prospects. For a franchise that kicked butt for a decade, they now look up at the rest of their division. They are basically building around Juan Soto. Strasburg is always hurt and their young players haven’t lived up to the hype (Kieboom, Victor Robles).
- Miami Marlins (69-93) – Marlins…. they’re not good. I don’t feel like writing about them.
National League Central
- * St. Louis Cardinals (94-68) – The Cardinals have the best defense in baseball. They had five gold glove winners last year in Nolan Arenado, Harrison Bader, Tommy Edman, Tyler O’Neill, and Paul Goldschmidt. Has a team ever had more? Probably not, but maybe they could this year. Catcher Yadier Molina wasn’t one of those five. The Cards need a healthy Jack Flaherty (shoulder) but he might be out for awhile. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright just keeps plugging along. This Cardinals team could go all the way.
- * Milwaukee Brewers (88-74) – The Brewers are so lopsided on pitching over hitting that it’s reminiscent of a teeter-totter. Remember those things out on the playground? If the Brewers pitchers were on a teeter-totter, they’d be the fat kid that never lets the skinny kid (the Brewers hitters) down. Does that make sense? Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader are the fat kids. The skinny kids are Christian Yelich, Rowdy Tellez, Kolton Wong, Willy Adames, Luis Urias, and Keston Hiura. But fat kids and skinny kids often become the best of friends, and they can even make a good team when they band together and work toward a common goal. Could they make a championship team? (Stay with me here) It’s unlikely, unless some of those skinny kids start eating and become fat kids too. “Then we might really have something, like a winning team of kids that cleans up after themselves!”, said the lunchlady, and part-time cafeteria custodian who isn’t being paid enough yet gets treated like dirt by the bad-behaving kids that should be in the principal’s office, or at least in a meeting with their dean/counselor/social worker because hey, they have BD (behavior disorder). Meanwhile, the lunchlady is hoping her favorite kid becomes the star player on the star team that she used to serve lunch to, even though she didn’t appreciate the pocket lint they included with their coins during payment for said lunch. Meanwhile, Principal Craig Counsell has plenty of work to do.
- Cincinnati Reds (76-86) – I hate the Reds baseball guy logo/mascot/thing. It’s scary and kinda weird looking, like a kid’s cartoon character. It’s almost clownish to me,
like John Wayne Gacy. Nonetheless, I love watching experienced players such as Joey Votto. * PS I saw he popped out on Opening Day to the pitcher. They claimed this was his first career popout to the pitcher in his 8000+ career plate appearances. How could that be true? I don’t know but I love those stats. I’m like Tim Kurkjian. Tim Kurkjian is goofy sometimes, like a clown, but not like John Wayne Gacy, we think (and hope).
- Pittsburgh Pirates (67-95) – Perhaps the most boring franchise/team in baseball, the Pirates don’t have much going for them other than PNC Park, which everyone seems to love. I haven’t been there yet.
- Chicago Cubs (65-97) – Anyone can have a bad century (the 1900s after 1908)… or two (the 2000s after 2016). The Cubs are back on the bottom. As Sammy Sosa used to say, “We stinks”.
National League West
- * Los Angeles Dodgers (103-59) – I love L.A.! I could pick the Dodgers to win the division, the league, and the World Series each and every year. They spend money. They try to be the best. They make wise moves. They have a great home field advantage. They have an excellent manager in Dave Roberts. They simply do it the right way. If you’re a fan of any other team, this is what you want your team to model itself after. I’m picking the Sox to beat the Dodgers in the 2022 World Series, but there is no good reason other than I think it’s the White Sox year.
- * San Diego Padres (91-71) – San Diego is pushing all the right buttons to compete with Los Angeles. Remember all the hype last year’s squad received? People expected the Pads to compete with L.A. They didn’t. However, they just might’ve been a year premature. Fernando Tatis is injured for now, so don’t expect 100 wins or a Giants level of unexpected victories. A Wild Card would be nice.
- San Francisco Giants (85-77) – The Giants came out of nowhere to win the NL West last year. How did they win 107 ballgames last year? The world may never know. Sure, Brandon Crawford had a career year. So did maybe Brandon Belt and Yaz. But San Fran got contributions from no-namers like Wilmer Flores, LaMonte Wade, Darin Ruf, and Steven Duggar. Don’t forget about Buster Posey in ’21, although in ’22 you’ll forget about him because he retired. A new catcher is in town, and his name is Joey Bart. Kevin Gausman is gone too. Sorry Giants, but Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood can’t repeat what they did last year. Right?
- Colorado Rockies (65-97) – The Rockies signed Kris Bryant to a big contract. Nolan Arenado (now in St. Louis) was like, “What?” Do the Rockies know what they’re doing? They let Trevor Story go too. Why didn’t they trade Story at last year’s trade deadline? Same for their best starting pitcher Jon Gray? Instead, they let them walk in free agency this offseason. Strange stuff going on in Denver. Maybe a little too much marijuana smoking? Don’t use that excuse with your non-state-resident fans though. Only weed-smokers would accept that explanation. The Rockies seem lost in the abyss,
or the CBD store. From my view, they have poor management. It’s hard to put them above last place but with the Diamondbacks, it’s a toss-up.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (65-97) – Who wants to be the bigger cellar-dweller? The Rocks and the D’Backs are like the kids that stand off to the side when teams are being picked in gym class. They don’t want anyone to pick them and they don’t really care. They just wait their turn and hope nobody notices how non-competitive they are. QUICK TRIVIA: Name a player on the Diamondbacks. ANSWER: If you said Seth Beer, go get yourself a cold one, pronto. PS They also have “Mad Bum” Madison Bumgarner.
NL MVP – Nolan Arenado/3B/St. Louis
NL Cy Young Award – Max Scherzer/SP/N.Y. Mets
NL Rookie of the Year – C.J. Abrams/SS/San Diego
NL Manager of the Year – Buck Showalter/N.Y. Mets
National League Postseason – As of today, I see 7 contenders for 6 playoff spots. I had to leave Philly out but I’m starting to second guess myself. But when you look at my 6 selections, who do you leave out in exchange for the Phillies? I guess it’s impossible to predict based on injuries. For now, we’ll stick with Milwaukee beating out Philadelphia by one game for that last wild card spot.
- 1. Los Angeles Dodgers (103-59) (bye)
- 2. St. Louis Cardinals (94-68) (bye)
- 3. New York Mets (93-69) (Division Winner – will host #6 in best-of-3 game series)
- 4. San Diego Padres (91-71) (Wild Card – will host#5 in best-of-3 game series)
- 5. Atlanta Braves (90-72) (Wild Card)
- 6. Milwaukee Brewers (88-74) (Wild Card)
NL Wild Card Opening Round (NLWC) (best of 3, higher/better seed gets all 3 home games)
#3 New York over #6 Milwaukee
#4 San Diego over #5 Atlanta
NL Divisional Series (NLDS) (best of 5) – These National League playoff matchups are intriguing, especially when you look at the history of these franchises. To start, the budding Dodgers/Padres rivalry was forecast last year but then San Diego underperformed. The Los Angeles and San Diego natives love traveling to each other’s parks in Southern California and it would be awesome to see a playoff matchup in October. For our other NLDS matchup, we have a rivalry from days gone by. In the 1980’s, the Cardinals and Mets simply hated each other. Both squads had tons of success with the teams rotating for dominance in the old NL East division. St. Louis won the division in 1982, ’85, and ’87 while the Mets won in ’86 and ’88. With only one playoff spot available between the two teams back in those days, it was always a death match. Plus, you had one-time Cardinals leader Keith “Mex” Hernandez leaving St. Louis and becoming the leader of the Mets in Shea Stadium. Remember the “Kings of Queens”? (the ’86 World Champion Mets) Those guys were special. Anyway, if the Mets and Cards were to meet in the NLDS, that would be ultra cool.
#1 Los Angeles over #4 San Diego
#2 St. Louis over #3 New York
NL Championship Series (NLCS (best of 7)
#1 Los Angeles over #2 St. Louis – Speaking of rivalries, how about the Dodgers and Cardinals? Arguably the two greatest National League franchises in history, the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers and the “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals both have illustrious histories. Who would win this time? I have to pick the “Trolley Dodgers.”
2022 World Series
Chicago White Sox over Los Angeles Dodgers
In a rematch of the 1959 World Series, the White Sox will finally get revenge over the Dodgers. This is the Sox year! Despite the early season injuries, Chicago will overcome the odds to defeat the dynasty known as the Dodgers. GM Rick Hahn has dreamt of this since he first convinced Owner Jerry Reinsdorf to break it all down and rebuild in 2016. It’s time for all the moves to pay off. This White Sox team is loaded. They have pitching, hitting, experience, and youth. They have depth and a hunger to win. They have a three-time World Champion manager in Tony LaRussa. What was the key move throughout the rebuild? There were many, but at this moment I’m going to say it was signing a young Cuban prospect named Luis Robert (signed May 27, 2017) to join his fellow Cuban countrymen Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada as young cornerstones on the South Side. The Sox history with Cubans is strong. Way back in the 1950’s, a Cuban named Orestes “Minnie” Minoso became the first Sox hitter to tally 100 career franchise home runs. The 2005 World Champs featured Jose Contreras and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Now we see the South Siders featuring four Cubans in the starting lineup, including Catcher Yasmani Grandal. #88 Luis Robert might be the greatest of them all and his future is now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Robert win the regular season and/or World Series MVP Awards. He’s a phenom with power, speed, and defensive skills. If he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. He’s a Mike Trout type athlete who will start becoming the face of baseball this year. 2022 is here! Now is the time for the South Siders!
* And now it’s story time. Think of this as the “Back Page” in a magazine.
As mentioned above, my AL Cy Young Award winner is now named for my Uncle Glen Wiersema, a huge sports fan. Uncle Glen is my dad’s youngest brother. Ever since I can remember, he’s been one of the biggest sports fans I know. Over the years, we’ve had many, many interesting discussions about our teams (Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, etc.) Nobody was a bigger fan of the ’85 Bears than Uncle Glen. Also, nobody has such extreme opinions as Uncle Glen. Often, he surprises me with his ideas and opinions. They’re not always as you’d guess. Anyway, last summer (August 7) we attended a family wedding (ironically, the wedding was just down the street from Sox Park on 35th Street) and had the pleasure of talking about our favorite team, the White Sox. He asked me a really interesting question. The topic was MLB pitchers’ “sticky stuff”. It was a huge issue last summer (and still is). Should they be allowed to use the sticky stuff? He asked me if I thought they should be allowed to use it or should it be outlawed. I didn’t have an answer at the time. (For the record, I’m still not sure.)
The concern was Major League Baseball had just outlawed the sticky stuff on June 21. Pitchers had been using it to get a better grip on the baseball, which would increase their spin rates. By outlawing the sticky stuff, Baseball drastically reduced spin rates for many pitchers, at least the ones that had been using the sticky stuff. Many pitchers felt the effects, whether it was physical or just mental.
Sox starter Lucas Giolito was struggling at the time which prompted Uncle Glen to declare, “Giolito is done. Gio is done! He can’t pitch without the sticky stuff. Mark it down. Giolito’s career is over. He’s done.” After plenty of laughter, we got on with the wedding.
Nonetheless, it got me thinking. I needed to see data and wait for some time to pass to fully analyze what this new rule would mean. Two months later, it was easy to see that Giolito got over the “sticky stuff” ban. From the Wedding (August 7, 2021) on, Giolito started nine regular season games. He went 3-1 with only 13 earned runs allowed in 49.2 innings for an outstanding 2.36 ERA. He only walked 13 batters while striking out 56. He finished 2021 with an 11-9 record and 3.53 ERA, 11th in the Cy Young voting. Clearly, the sticky stuff (or lack thereof) didn’t negatively affect Lucas Giolito. Uncle Glen might have been wrong about this one, but he’s always worth listening to. His ideas are provocative, and he’s a down-home Chicago fan through and through. Therefore, from this point forward, we shall nickname the American League Cy Young Award as the “Uncle Glen” AL Cy Young Award.
That’s it for this year’s Preview. I can’t wait to see what happens and how it all plays out in the “Year of the Sox”.