2013 Major League Baseball Predictions

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

In which I go out on the usual limb to pick this year's order of finish and playoff results.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season. If you have been here for the last eight years, you'll find this prediction format familiar -- and yes, you'll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.

I started this format more than 20 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you're here I don't need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs' best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you'll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the thirty contenders for October glory.

I'm also not going to "predict" award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Mike Trout is a top choice for AL MVP or that Justin Verlander will be among the top candidates for AL Cy Young? Just before the 2012 season started, would you have said that Gio Gonzalez would be the majors' top winner (21 wins with a 2.89 ERA)? Anyone out there think, a year ago, that Edwin Encarnacion would hit 42 homers and drive in 110 runs in 2012? Maybe a handful, but not many.

And in any case, anyone using the search function here can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was. Further, looking back at the six years of predictions here from 2004-2009, I note that I picked the Cubs to make the playoffs every year and to win the World Series every one of those years except 2006. Obviously, that was the optimist in me, not the realist, and although they did make the postseason in two of those years, those predictions were... well, not so smart. I didn't make that choice the last three seasons, and I'm not going to do that again this year.

I didn't do too well last year, but I did at least pick the right teams to make the 2012 World Series, even if I didn't get the winner right (and please ignore the fact that I had the 93-loss Marlins and Red Sox winning wild card spots in 2012, while picking the Orioles and Athletics to finish last; I think a lot of others probably missed those, too.) We also have 15-team leagues for the first time, with the Astros moving from the National League Central to the American League West. It won't change their finish, at least not for this year: they'll still be last.

Without further ado, here are my choices for 2013. You are all welcome to leave your own picks in the comments. Also, join everyone here later today for a game thread for the Rangers/Astros opening game; it will post at 6:30 p.m. CT.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1) WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Hitting: Outstanding
Pitching: Now have three closers!
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Got to get past last year's choke

2) ATLANTA BRAVES (2nd Wild Card)
Hitting: The Uptons, together at last
Pitching: Very good
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: The Uptons, together at last

3) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Hitting: Old
Pitching: Old
Defense: Old
Intangibles: Time to retool; not happening this year

4) NEW YORK METS
Hitting: Don't ask
Pitching: Hope it's healthy
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Yet another rebuilding year

5) MIAMI MARLINS
Hitting: Giancarlo Stanton and... no one
Pitching: Who are these guys?
Defense: Who knows?
Intangibles: Worst ownership in baseball


NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CINCINNATI REDS
Hitting: Dangerous
Pitching: Deep, in both rotation and bullpen
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Dusty, as usual. Good or bad? You make the call.

2) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Hitting: Getting older
Pitching: Will it hold together?
Defense: Remember the infield-fly rule!
Intangibles: Always find a way to contend

3) MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Hitting: Injured
Pitching: Revamped
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: What will happen to Ryan Braun?

4) CHICAGO CUBS
Hitting: Crossing fingers
Pitching: Improved
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Better depth, hope for the future

5) PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Hitting: Not improved
Pitching: Not improved
Defense: Not improved
Intangibles: Last place is what you get if you're not improved

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Solid top-to-bottom
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Top-notch manager who knows how to win

2) LOS ANGELES DODGERS (1st Wild Card)
Hitting: Expensive
Pitching: Even more expensive
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Strong pressure to win after the spending spree

3) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Hitting: Coming into its own
Pitching: Renovated
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: A manager who pushes his players hard

4) SAN DIEGO PADRES
Hitting: Next question?
Pitching: Bullpen = good. Rotation = not so much.
Defense: Solid
Intangibles: Can't think of any

5) COLORADO ROCKIES
Hitting: Tulo's back! (After that, don't ask.)
Pitching: REALLY don't ask.
Defense: In that park?
Intangibles: Worst team in the National League

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1) TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Hitting: New!
Pitching: Improved!
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: If they win, they will draw

2) TAMPA BAY RAYS (1st Wild Card)
Hitting: Parts good. Other parts, not so much.
Pitching: Excellent
Defense: New
Intangibles: Always find a way to contend

3) BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Hitting: Better than you might expect
Pitching: Worse than you might expect
Defense: About what you'd expect
Intangibles: Freak 2O12 season probably not repeatable

4) NEW YORK YANKEES
Hitting: Old
Pitching: Old
Defense: Seriously?
Intangibles: This is the year the dynasty finally crumbles.

5) BOSTON RED SOX
Hitting: You have got to be kidding
Pitching: Recovering
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: None, really. They need to start over.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) DETROIT TIGERS
Hitting: Strong, with V-Mart back
Pitching: Six starters deep (Bullpen? Don't ask.)
Defense: Iffy
Intangibles: Two straight division titles

2) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Hitting: Always looks good on paper, but...
Pitching: Much improved
Defense: Frenchy!
Intangibles: One of these years...

3) CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Hitting: Very good
Pitching: Injury issues, again
Defense: Acceptable
Intangibles: Three straight September collapses

4) CLEVELAND INDIANS
Hitting: Much improved
Pitching: Not improved
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Must get past that second-half-decline thing

5) MINNESOTA TWINS
Hitting: Who are these guys?
Pitching: Who are these guys?
Defense: Who are... well, you get the idea
Intangibles: Good manager, but has nothing to work with

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1) LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Hitting: Powerful
Pitching: Improved
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Pressure to win even stronger this year

2) OAKLAND ATHLETICS (2nd Wild Card)
Hitting: Better than you'd expect
Pitching: Deep
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Billy Beane seems to find ways to win

3) TEXAS RANGERS
Hitting: Questionable
Pitching: Okay
Defense: Good
Intangibles: The Nolan Ryan fiasco

4) SEATTLE MARINERS
Hitting: Improved
Pitching: King Felix and... ?
Defense: Solid
Intangibles: Tough division, 4th place could be over .5OO

5) HOUSTON ASTROS
Hitting: One competent MLB player (Jose Altuve)
Pitching: Good luck with that
Defense: OK, I guess
Intangibles: Snazzy new uniforms

NL: Braves get their revenge for 2012 by winning the wild-card game, but then lose to the Nats in the division series. The other division series is a 2012 rematch; the Giants beat the Reds again. The Nats overcome Giants pitching in an epic seven-game series to win their first NL pennant.

AL: Rays over A's in the wild-card game. They then lose to the top-ranked Angels in a division series, while the Tigers dispatch the upstart Blue Jays. Detroit wins their second straight pennant in six over the Angels.

World Series: Some of the game's best pitchers match up in the World Series, but it's Detroit's who get the upper hand, and they defeat the Nationals in six games to win their first title since 1984.

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