2023 MLB predictions: From playoffs and World Series to MVPs and Cy Youngs

It is opening week, and you already know what which means — season predictions!

There are many questions going into the 2023 season: What does Yr 2 of MLB’s expanded playoffs have to supply? How will rule changes play out over the season? Is that this the yr your favourite workforce will make a run in October, or your favourite participant will win a postseason award?

Nobody can definitively know what’s in retailer for us this season, however that does not cease us from making our greatest guesses. We put 28 ESPN writers, analysts and editors on the spot to foretell what’s going to occur in baseball this yr, from the wild-card contenders all the way in which as much as the World Sequence champion, plus the MVP, Cy Younger and Rookie of the Yr in each leagues.

For every class, we have requested a contributor or two to elucidate why they selected what they selected. Did they hit the nail on the pinnacle or had been they means off their mark? Solely time can inform — and also you higher imagine we’ll be circling again to those predictions come October.

Let’s examine what our specialists needed to say.

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AL picks | NL picks | WS picks | AL awards | NL awards

AL East

Our choose: New York Yankees (16 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Toronto Blue Jays (11), Tampa Bay Rays (1)

Why will the Yankees win the AL East?

The Yankees will win the AL East by a slim margin over the Blue Jays and Rays as a result of their injured rotation will get wholesome — and when they’re, Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes can match any foursome within the recreation. The Yankees wanted a spark, a participant that may make them a greater offensive workforce in October. They could have discovered him in rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe, whose first reside batting follow of spring coaching started with a house run over the batter’s eye off Rodon. The following pitch, Volpe homered over the left subject fence. Discuss knocking the door down. — Tim Kurkjian

What’s the Blue Jays’ path to profitable the division?

The Blue Jays had been a lot harmful final season till going through the Mariners in October. That they had the lineup and the aces to advance because the Phillies did. This season, the Jays will take the AL East over the Yankees and Rays. Rotation depth issues, in addition to bullpen and lineup depth, and the Jays have all of it. They wanted offensive upgrades, notably from the left facet, and added Brandon Belt and Daulton Varsho. Getting defensive stalwart Kevin Kiermaier was vital, too. Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi will bounce again. This can be a full workforce that may signify the AL. — Eric Karabell

AL Central

Our choose: Cleveland Guardians (15 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Chicago White Sox (7), Minnesota Twins (6)

Why will the White Sox beat out the Guardians for the division title?

If we select to place inventory in exit feedback from Jose Abreu about not being a “household,” it helps body why a workforce with this a lot expertise can stall out. They’ve a potent and deep lineup that might be chomping on the bat rack. Additionally they have some stellar arms of their rotation to stability it out. Their supervisor (Pedro Grifol) has been ready an eternity for this chance, and he’ll hit the bottom operating, actually. They’ve extra offensive firepower than Cleveland however they should catch the ball and preserve the uber proficient Eloy Jiménez from operating right into a fence. Please. — Doug Glanville

AL West

Our choose: Houston Astros (26 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Seattle Mariners (2)

Why did you choose the Mariners to win the AL West?

(1) The beginning rotation is robust and deep, and so they have Luis Castillo all the season. (2) They upgraded at positions that had been offensive black holes final season (Teoscar Hernandez, Kolten Wong). (3) The bullpen is nice. (4) Jarred Kelenic is — gasp! — figuring issues out. (5) Cal Raleigh goes to hit 35 dwelling runs. (6) Julio Rodriguez is a super-duper star.

Look, the Astros are a powerhouse; Vegas has made them the betting favorite to win the World Sequence and develop into the primary repeat champ for the reason that 2000 Yankees. However Justin Verlander is a big loss, Jose Altuve is out for a few months, lack of depth is a priority, there’s some age within the lineup and, frankly, it is time a couple of issues simply occur to go fallacious. — David Schoenfield

AL wild playing cards

Our picks: Seattle Mariners (20 votes), Tampa Bay Rays (17), Toronto Blue Jays (16)

Who else obtained votes? New York Yankees (13), Los Angeles Angels (10), Texas Rangers (3), Houston Astros (2), Minnesota Twins (2), Chicago White Sox (1)

The Rays have made it to the postseason the final 4 years, and also you and 16 different voters are predicting a fifth. To what do they owe their consistency to?

The Rays have develop into a player-development behemoth that majors in run prevention in addition to virtually any workforce in baseball. From 2018-22, there have been three groups that allowed fewer than 4 runs per recreation — the Dodgers, Astros and Rays. And yearly in that span, their minor-league system ranked within the prime two in organizational profitable proportion. Their regenerative success has enabled them to thrive on the big-league stage, paying cents on the greenback in relation to a lot of their friends. — Paul Hembekides

You and 9 different voters picked the Angels as a wild-card workforce. Why do you assume they’re going to make it?

This offseason, the Angels did what they lengthy wanted to do — they stuffed their 40-man roster with extra main league-quality gamers, and thus, considerably elevated their ground. A roster that for years was extremely top-heavy with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani and little or no beneath them is now much more well-rounded, notably on the position-player facet. Their rotation, in the meantime, was sneaky good final yr and ought to be higher with the addition of Tyler Anderson. This could possibly be the yr they lastly break by. In the event that they need to preserve Ohtani, it in all probability needs to be. — Alden Gonzalez

The Rangers acquired simply three wild-card votes, and also you had been one in every of them. How do you assume they’re going to sneak into the playoffs?

The Rangers have made an all-in dedication, spending $500-plus million in the course of the 2021-22 offseason and practically $300 million on pitching this winter, whereas bringing in a three-time championship supervisor in Bruce Bochy. And, a minimum of for now, their rebuilt rotation is wholesome. If the workforce can keep that success within the harm division for lengthy sufficient, I see them mounting a aggressive sufficient begin that they’d make aggressive, in-season strikes to fill any potential holes. There usually appears to be a shock wild-card workforce, and the Rangers are atop that listing for me. — Tristan Cockcroft

AL champion

Our choose: Houston Astros (11 votes)

Who else obtained votes? New York Yankees (8), Toronto Blue Jays (6), Seattle Mariners (3)

Wait … you picked the Jays to win the AL East however the Yankees to win the AL. Clarify your self!

The Yankees are in a troublesome spot with their rotation, however that is the query for the remainder of their division rivals as properly. If Rodon can pitch for many of the season, Cortes efficiently stretches out as a starter and Severino can play his half, this rotation has essentially the most potential within the division. Moreover, Volpe could possibly be a game-changer for the offense. He impacts the sport on the bottom paths, within the subject and on the plate. Over the previous few years, shortstop has been a serious weak level for the workforce, so simply solidifying the spot with somebody who could possibly be anyplace from above common to an All-Star may change the dynamic of this offense dramatically. — Joon Lee

NL East

Our choose: Atlanta Braves (21 votes)

Who else obtained votes? New York Mets (6), Philadelphia Phillies (1)

Why did you choose the Braves to win the NL East?

Accidents are already taking part in a key function in what figured to be a high-powered, three-way chase within the division. The Mets after all lost Edwin Diaz, and Jose Quintana will miss a piece of time. The Phillies started spring not sure of when Bryce Harper might be again and now have so as to add Ranger Suarez and Rhys Hoskins to that listing, the latter a probable season-ending injury. Perhaps the Braves be a part of this unlucky celebration if Raisel Iglesias‘ irritated shoulder turns into one thing severe, however for now, Atlanta looks like the workforce that has its key components all lined up for the lengthy haul. — Brad Doolittle

Why do you assume the Mets will beat out the Braves?

The Mets, with their two growing older aces, look like constructed extra for the trials of a seven-game collection than a 162-game common season. And that is why it appears counterintuitive to choose them to win the NL East over the Braves, a youthful workforce with higher pitching depth and a deeper lineup. However here is a hunch: Max Scherzer and Verlander, two of essentially the most aggressive pitchers of this period, will shuttle all yr attempting to outdo one another, and so they’ll take the Mets alongside for the experience. — Tim Keown

NL Central

Our choose: St. Louis Cardinals (25 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Milwaukee Brewers (3)

Why will the Brewers win the NL Central?

Historical past tells us we not often see the identical groups make the playoffs, so I did not need to choose the identical six within the NL as final season, and it is laborious to choose in opposition to the Braves, Mets, Dodgers, Padres or Phillies. Selecting in opposition to the Cardinals is not rigorous evaluation, however the projection methods see this as an in depth race: PECOTA has the Brewers, whereas FanGraphs sees the Cardinals as one win higher. With Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and a wholesome Freddy Peralta, the Brewers may need three starters higher than anybody on the Cardinals. Milk in some regression from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado after which be aware that the Brewers had been second within the NL in dwelling runs. — Schoenfield

NL West

Our choose: San Diego Padres (16 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Los Angeles Dodgers (12)

Why are the Padres the favorites to win the NL West over the Dodgers?

The Padres, for the primary time in a very long time, merely have more talent than the Dodgers, who punted on the costliest free brokers to be able to create extra alternatives for his or her youthful gamers after which watched their younger shortstop, Gavin Lux, suffer a season-ending knee injury. The Dodgers in all probability have extra long-term sustainability — largely as a result of they have been extra pragmatic in regards to the long-term offers and the win-now trades which have made their NL West rivals a juggernaut — however the Padres are higher for the time being. They’re higher offensively, higher of their beginning rotation and may be a minimum of simply nearly as good within the bullpen. — Gonzalez

NL wild playing cards

Our picks: Philadelphia Phillies (22 votes), New York Mets (21), Los Angeles Dodgers (16)

Who else obtained votes? San Diego Padres (11), Atlanta Braves (7), Milwaukee Brewers (5), St. Louis Cardinals (1), San Francisco Giants (1)

Why do the Phillies discover themselves as a wild-card favourite regardless of final yr’s WS run?

This is a tortured prediction: By the top of the common season, the Phillies would be the third-best workforce within the NL East; by the top of the postseason, they’re going to be the second-best workforce within the Nationwide League, dropping to the Padres within the NLCS. The logic, or illogic, is that the defending NL champs will not be at their greatest till the second half of the season, after Harper returns to the lineup. The accidents to Harper and first baseman Hoskins have lowered expectations for the season’s first 162, however historical past reveals a wild-card berth will not be all the time a postseason hindrance. — Keown

You had been the one one to vote for the Cardinals as a wild-card workforce. Why is that?

As a result of recency bias is actual. In 2021, the Brewers gained the NL Central by 5 video games — and I might argue that with a full yr of Rowdy Tellez, William Contreras, Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang and the soon-to-arrive Sal Frelick, they seem to be a significantly better offense. St. Louis has additionally amped up its offense, with Jordan Walker, Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman — so it is a guess on pitching, and actually as a lot out of worry that the Cardinals’ employees is susceptible as something. I am going to simply take Burnes, Woodruff and a wholesome Peralta over what St. Louis presents. The NL Central ought to be an awesome race. — Jeff Passan

NL champion

Our choose: San Diego Padres (11 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Atlanta Braves (10), New York Mets (5), Los Angeles Dodgers (1), Philadelphia Phillies (1)

Why do you assume the Padres will prime the Braves because the NL champion?

We all the time go into every season questioning which groups might be aggressive on the commerce deadline — because the Braves had been in 2021, when basic supervisor Alex Anthopoulos added a small military of outfielders — and it is protected to say: The Padres are all in. Proprietor Peter Seidler will spend what is critical to plug any gap that pops up on the San Diego roster, which is strictly the best factor to do, given their investments in older gamers. Few groups have huge cash obtainable so as to add in July, however the Padres might be a type of. — Buster Olney

World Sequence champion

Our choose: San Diego Padres (7 votes), Atlanta Braves (7)

Who else obtained votes? New York Yankees (5), Houston Astros (4), New York Mets (2), Los Angeles Dodgers (1), Philadelphia Phillies (1), Toronto Blue Jays (1)

Our voters are tied between the Padres and Braves profitable all of it. Make the case for Atlanta.

The Braves merely have the very best workforce. Final season, Michael Harris II debuted on Might 28 and Spencer Strider made his first begin on Might 30. From June 1 on, Atlanta performed at a 112-win tempo and dispatched the Mets’ 10.5-game division lead within the course of. Ronald Acuña Jr. is one other yr faraway from knee surgical procedure, the Braves have a humiliation of riches behind the plate (Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud), and Mike Soroka ought to make his long-awaited return. Add all of it up, and — even with out Dansby Swanson — this Braves workforce ought to be the favourite to win all of it. — Hembekides

Make the case for San Diego.

The Padres are essentially the most intriguing, most compelling and most flamable workforce within the main leagues. By late October, they may be the very best workforce within the recreation. They’ve a terrific rotation, an elite nearer, an awesome supervisor and doubtlessly the best lineup in baseball. Their success seemingly will hinge on Fernando Tatis Jr. He’d quite play shortstop or middle subject, but when he can play proper subject successfully and be a dynamic leadoff man, 1-5 seems to be like this: Tatis, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth. Wow. — Kurkjian

You’ve got the Yankees beating the Mets in a Subway World Sequence. Clarify your reasoning.

It is a juicy storyline for positive, however I even have each of these groups as favorites in October. The Yankees can have a youth infusion with Volpe and/or Oswald Peraza, whereas the Mets’ prime 4 prospects will all play within the huge leagues this yr. That optionable depth with upside is essential for filling unexpected holes or making a key commerce down the stretch. It additionally would not harm to have an enormous monetary benefit. — Kiley McDaniel

Solely 4 individuals picked the Astros to repeat. Why had been they your vote?

We simply launched our first Power Rankings of the season and the No. 1 workforce was … the Astros. If our specialists imagine the Astros ought to begin on the prime, why cannot in addition they end it there? Perhaps we have simply grown used to the concept a workforce will not repeat, however this one continues to be loaded. The lineup ought to be even higher as soon as Altuve returns, given the addition of Abreu. And positive, dropping Verlander hurts — but it surely was the depth of the pitching employees that carried them by October, not anybody pitcher on the prime of it. — Dan Mullen


Our choose: Shohei Ohtani (25 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Yordan Alvarez (1), Julio Rodriguez (1), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1)

Why is Ohtani the overwhelming favourite to win the AL MVP?

Ohtani is the overwhelming favourite to win the MVP in any league and might be for the foreseeable future. For him, it is gone means past the two-way novelty of his act. He isn’t only a pitcher and a hitter, he is an elite pitcher and an elite hitter. There aren’t any phrases that do justice to this man. He might have a median hitting yr and nonetheless be an MVP candidate. He might have a median pitching yr and be an MVP candidate. He may not win, but it surely’s laborious to see how anybody else could possibly be favored on the outset of a season. — Doolittle

You had been the one choose for Alvarez to win AL MVP, whereas Ohtani had 25 votes. Why did you choose Alvarez over him?

Contemplating there’s been just one participant in over a decade to win the MVP award after being named the preseason favourite, it isn’t unthinkable to choose in opposition to Ohtani. After all, that participant was Trout, and he did it thrice, so it is actually doable the plain alternative wins it. However Alvarez was neck-and-neck with Aaron Judge for the award final season earlier than the latter participant pulled away within the second half. The arc Alvarez has been on factors to a different monster season so long as he is wholesome. He is executed every part else in his younger profession. An MVP is the following step. — Jesse Rogers

AL Rookie of the Yr

Our choose: Gunnar Henderson (11 votes), Masataka Yoshida (11)

Who else obtained votes? Anthony Volpe (6), Hunter Brown (1)

Henderson and Yoshida tied for 11 votes every for AL Rookie of the Yr. Why did you go together with Henderson?

Yoshida advantages on this voting from what we noticed within the WBC — the bat-to-ball expertise, the facility — to the diploma that we could all be questioning if he might always dent the Inexperienced Monster with that tremendous swing. However I picked Henderson due to the athleticism he confirmed final season, and due to how well-rounded a participant he’s. Some rival executives surprise about Yoshida’s protection, and whether or not he’ll inevitably transfer to DH. There aren’t any such questions on Henderson, who figures to have a excessive impression offensively and defensively. — Olney

Why do you assume Volpe will win it?

Henderson was the favourite in most minds getting into March, and I nonetheless assume he’ll be a great rookie and superb participant going ahead. The thrill and hype round Volpe is palpable and I feel his yr will embrace essential video games late within the season as a tiebreaker with comparable rookies. Whereas I feel Henderson is a barely higher prospect long-term, Volpe’s body and elegance of play lends itself barely extra to a direct impression. — McDaniel

AL Cy Younger

Our choose: Gerrit Cole (6 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Kevin Gausman (3), Shohei Ohtani (3), Jacob deGrom (3), Alek Manoah (3), Cristian Javier (3), Dylan Cease (2), Shane Bieber (2), Shane McClanahan (1), Framber Valdez (1), Michael King (1)

Why is Cole our voters’ choose to win?

It is the uncooked stuff that Cole brings to the mound each time he begins. Whereas he depends closely on his fastball, he is all the time been a sensible pitcher who’s in a position to maximize his skills as a consequence of his secondary stuff. He’ll have a chip on his shoulder after having a season that was beneath his requirements in 2022 — and when he is at his greatest, there are few pitchers who’re scarier to face as a hitter. Plus as prognosticators, Cole represents a reasonably protected guess at a time when the talent stage of a beginning pitcher can differ dramatically from season to season. He stays constant when it comes to his ground as a starter. — Lee

You picked Ohtani to win the AL MVP and Cy Younger. Clarify your reasoning as to why.

Ohtani is the very best participant in baseball, thriving as each a flexible offensive participant and a dominant beginning pitcher. He is already earned one AL MVP award, and now it’s time for him to take the highest pitcher award, too. Frankly, he might have gained it final season, as he compiled extra pitcher bWAR than Verlander, led the AL in strikeouts per 9 innings and was fourth in ERA. It’s a wide-open AL Cy Younger race with Verlander within the NL and so long as the voters are cool with Ohtani profitable a number of awards, he’ll deserve it. — Karabell

Why do you assume Javier will win the AL Cy Younger?

Can I simply say, “I coronary heart Cristian Javier”? He made my fantasy value picks column for 2023, after his tough-to-decipher combo of high-spin fastball and darting slider that fueled a 2019 Double-A breakthrough contributed to a pair of mixed Astros no-hitters final season. Javier has filthy stuff, and whereas the massive query about his Cy Younger candidacy ties as to whether he’ll amass the innings required to grab writers’ votes, I feel on a per-inning foundation he is nearly as good as anybody within the league. I like a great long-shot choose, and he is my man. — Cockcroft


Our choose: Ronald Acuña Jr. (8 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Juan Soto (6), Trea Turner (5), Manny Machado (4), Freddie Freeman (2), Mookie Betts (1), Nolan Arenado (1), Matt Olson (1)

Why do you assume Soto will beat out Acuña for NL MVP?

Actually Acuña is a superb all-around participant, and if he goes 30/40 … or 40/40 … or 40/50 … I’ll properly remorse this alternative. However his bat will not be like Soto’s. Nobody’s is, actually. Since Soto’s debut in 2018, he has been on base 1,130 instances — greater than anyone however Freddie Freeman. When Soto is locked in, he is among the best energy hitters on the planet. The dearth of pop with San Diego final yr bothered him, and with one thing to show and an exceptional roster surrounding him, we’re primed to see the very best of Soto this season. — Passan

You had been the one vote for Betts. Clarify why you selected him.

Since 2015, solely Trout has extra bWAR, and that is simply by a fraction. Since 2018, when Ohtani entered the majors, Betts has practically 3.0 extra bWAR than some other participant. For me, Betts has reached that rarefied house the place he’s each appreciated for elite expertise and all-around efficiency, but in addition a little bit missed as a result of he is as fixed because the Northern Star. The NL MVP race has been pretty huge open in current seasons, and I simply do not see any means that Betts would not win one other. Since he is hitting his age-30 season, it in all probability might be sooner quite than later. Lastly, there’s a likelihood that his efficiency will stand out a little bit extra on this model of the Dodgers, who may need to lean a little bit extra on their stars this season. — Doolittle

NL Rookie of the Yr

Our choose: Corbin Carroll (18 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Miguel Vargas (5), Jordan Walker (4), Kodai Senga (1)

Why do you assume Corbin Carroll will win NL Rookie of the Yr?

As a result of we have already seen him carry out on the highest stage, as evidenced by the .830 OPS he put up in 115 plate appearances final season. Carroll performed many of the 2022 season on the age of 21. It acted as his first full season {of professional} baseball, and but he surged by Double-A and Triple-A and appeared very a lot prepared for the massive leagues. Carroll can hit for common, slug, play elite protection and run with the very best of them. He is very polished for a participant his age and will solely get higher, provided that he has performed in solely 174 video games as a professional. — Gonzalez

NL Cy Younger

Our choose: Corbin Burnes (6 votes)

Who else obtained votes? Julio Urias (4), Spencer Strider (4), Sandy Alcantara (3), Max Fried (3), Justin Verlander (2), Max Scherzer (2), Joe Musgrove (1), Aaron Nola (1), Logan Webb (1)

There is no clear favourite within the NL Cy Younger race. Why is that?

The addition of Verlander to the NL added to a crowded subject of Cy Younger candidates led by the reigning 2022 winner, Alcantara. However the Marlins righty is not a positive factor to repeat. As elite groups have loaded up on beginning pitchers, a number of have a number of arms that would take dwelling the dignity in 2023. — Rogers

Why do you assume Alcantara will repeat because the NL Cy Younger winner?

Looks like each time I known as a Braves collection, Braves supervisor Brian Snitker would point out how Alcantara is the very best pitcher on Earth. He has electrical stuff on the primary pitch and psychic powers on the final pitch. He’s a legendary Pokémon on the mound. All the things he throws is an optical phantasm. Onerous to dethrone the very best pitcher on Earth until after all, you recruit on Mars. Can somebody flip a type of rovers right into a scout? Even so, it will take 9 months to get him again to Earth anyway. Oh properly. — Glanville

Why is Burnes our voters’ favourite to win?

Over the previous three seasons, Burnes has a 2.62 ERA, a 33.4% strikeout charge and a .558 OPS allowed. Amongst certified starters, these totals rank first (tied with Scherzer), first (forward of Cole) and first once more (46 factors forward of Scherzer). He wasn’t fairly as dominant in 2022 as in his Cy Younger marketing campaign of 2021, however he did pitch 202 innings — a 35-inning improve — so he additionally confirmed he can deal with a heavier workload. There are loads of good candidates, however Burnes is the very best starter in baseball getting into the season. — Schoenfield

Why is your choose Strider?

Seeing as there is no clear favourite, I went pure upside. Strider’s strikeout charge of 13.83 per 9 was the best ever for a beginning pitcher with a minimum of 100 innings. In the event you extrapolate Strider’s per-start innings common over 33 outings and he replicates the Okay charge, he’ll strike out 271 batters in 177 innings. Maybe he’ll have to up the innings complete barely to face alongside Alcantara, Burnes, Verlander and Scherzer, however Strider has taken care of the laborious half — dominating hitters — already. — Passan

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