Spring training is set to get underway and baseball fans everywhere are looking forward to another exciting season. With the start of spring training comes the hope of winning a World Series as every team in baseball has an equal shot at the title. This is what makes spring training so special for many fans as it gives them a chance to make predictions about the upcoming season and assess their minor league talent for the future. Below are a few MLB spring training predictions for the upcoming baseball season.
One of the best parts of spring training is getting a glimpse of players on their new teams and trying to figure out just how good every team is going to be. Just about every division in baseball this year is up for grabs as no single division has a clear cut favorite that is surely going to run away with the division title.
AL East – Toronto Blue Jays – The Toronto Blue Jays made the biggest changes to their every day line in all of baseball, acquiring Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Melky Cabrera, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. With a much improved lineup and pitching staff, the Blue Jays should find themselves in contention for the AL East crown all season long.
AL Central – Detroit Tigers – While the Detroit Tigers got off to somewhat of a slow start last year, the Tigers figured things out after the all-star break and won the AL Central division in the last few weeks of the year. The signings of Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez fills two major voids in the Tigers’ roster this season while designated hitter Victor Martinez is set to return to the team after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Martinez’s return to the lineup should help improve Detroit’s offense, which was already pretty good last season.
AL West – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – The Anaheim Angels once again signed the marquee free agent this offseason when they inked slugger Josh Hamilton to a five-year deal worth $125 million. Hamilton gives the Angels another bonafide slugger in their lineup to join Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. One area where the Angels need to improve is their bullpen. New closer Ryan Madson hopes to shore up that position while Scott Downs, Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri will work the 7th and 8th innings.
NL East – Atlanta Braves – The Atlanta Braves finished with a 94-68 record a season ago and failed to win the NL East because the Washington Nationals were so consistently good all season long. With the Nationals poised to return to earth a bit this year, the Atlanta Braves will look to win the division on the strength of their starting rotation and outstanding bullpen. The Braves have some of the best arms in all of baseball, and will use those players to lead them to the postseason once again. B.J. Upton and Justin Upton were also brought in to the Atlanta Braves this offseason with the hopes of improving the team’s offense, which will be without retired star Chipper Jones. If the Upton brothers are able to improve their offensive skills in their new surroundings, the Braves could be one of the scariest teams for other National League teams this season.
NL Central – Cincinnati Reds – The Cincinnati Reds are the class of the NL Central once again this year. While the St. Louis Cardinals are a talented team, the Reds boast the most complete lineup and pitching staff in the division. If Cincinnati’s star players can stay healthy this season, the Reds should have no problem once again winning the NL Central by a comfortable margin. One issue that may need to be resolved with this Reds team early in the season is the closer position. Aroldis Chapman is slated to move into the starting rotation with Jonathan Broxton taking over the closer duties. However, should Broxton struggle early in the year, it will be interesting to see how the Reds will handle this situation, especially after Chapman was so dominant a year ago as the team’s closer.
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers – The Los Angeles Dodgers have been printing money and spending it like mad ever since the trade deadline last season. This new trend did not change in the offseason when the Dodgers signed prized free agent pitcher Zach Greinke to a long-term deal. Greinke will join other big name acquisitions Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Brandon League for their first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. As all of these players should be healthy heading into the 2013 season, the Dodgers certainly have the most talented roster in the NL West, and should be able to pull away in the standings at the end of the year.