MLB Predictions 2023

Opening day! The start of the major league season is upon us, and RotoValue has predictions for how it may go. These standings are derived from the individual RotoValue statistical projections for the players in each organization.

While there has been plenty of player movement, overall RotoValue thinks the six division winners from 2022 are each the most likely to win their respective divisions this year.

AL EastWonLostPctRSRA
Blue Jays86.975.10.536998935
Red Sox82.080.00.506892881

RotoValue projects the AL East as baseball’s strongest division, and also its tightest race. Less than one game separates the top three teams in the division, with the defending champion Yankees the slightest of favorites.

Aaron Judge is coming of a record-breaking season, and signed a record-breaking deal to return to lead the Yankees. Gerrit Cole headlines a rotation that has been hit with injuries, with Frankie Montas out for at least the first half, Carlos Rodón out until May, and Luis Severino also starting the year on the injured list.

Tampa Bay is led by young stars Randy Arozarena and sjortstop Wander Franco, who just turned 22. Shane McClanahan is poised to compete for the Cy Young award, while Pete Fairbanks is set to  close for the Rays.

1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and SS Bo Bichette lead the Toronto infield, with Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah the team’s top starters. RF George Springer is joined in the outfield by Daulton Varsho in left and former Ray Kevin Kiermaier in center.

The Red Sox will be a blend of young and old, with 3B Rafael Devers and RF Alex Verdugo still just 26, and 23 year old Triston Casas the likely new starter at 1B. Meanwhile the team added several players in their mid, or even late, 30s. New closer Kenley Jansen is 35, CF Adam Duvall is 34, starter Corey Kluber is 37, and DH Justin Turner is 38.

Baltimore’s strength is its young offense, with CF Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle likely to be the most productive stars. 25 year old C Adley Rutschman was runner-up for the AL rookie of the year last year, while 21 year old infielder Gunnar Henderson is among the favorites this year. Félix Bautista will close, while Kyle Gibson is projected to be the #1 starter.

While the Orioles are the only AL East team projected to be under .500 (and that just barely), they project to be better than all the AL central teams.

AL CentralWonLostPctRSRA
White Sox76.385.70.471788839

Cleveland should be the best – or is it least bad? – of the AL Central again this year. 3B José Ramírez will be in the mix for MVP, while Emmanuel Clase may be the league’s best closer. Shane Bieber headlines the rotation, while 2B Andrés Giménez and LF Steven Kwan are exciting young stars for the Guardians.

SS Carlos Correa ultimately returned to Minnesota, after seemingly signing first with San Francisco, and then the New York Mets. The Twins brought in Pablo López to lead the rotation. Byron Buxton has long been viewed as an MVP caliber talent, but the injury prone CF has had just one season with more than 100 games, back in 2017.

Last year’s White Sox team finished exactly .500, despite giving up 31 more runs than they scored. Ace Dylan Cease was runner-up for the Cy Young award last year, while if the Sox can get full seasons from SS Tim Anderson and CF Luis Robert Jr., they could easily beat this season’s projection and vie for the division crown. Lucas Giolito looks to bounce back from a down year, but the team will miss star closer Liam Hendriks for at least the start of the year due to a cancer diagnosis.

Kansas City looks to improve on last season’s last place finish, and RotoValue expects them to move up a step this year.  SP Zack Greinke returns to his original club for the end of his career. Their other biggest names are all-star C Salvador Perez, RF Nate Eaton, and SS Bobby Witt Jr., whose father was a big league pitcher, and who had a stellar rookie year. Scott Barlow is the team’s closer, and 1B Vinnie Pasquantino showed promise in  his rookie half season last year.

There likely won’t be so much to cheer about in Detroit this year, as the Tigers project to be the weakest team in the league. DH Miguel Cabrera joined the 3000 hit and 500 HR clubs last season, and at 39 is returning for one last year in the majors, but unless he has a comeback like Albert Pujols did last year, he seems unlikely to be a fantasy contributor. SS Javier Báez and RF Austin Meadows will likely be the team’s best players, while Eduardo Rodriguez will head the rotation.

AL WestWonLostPctRSRA

World Champion Houston seems well positioned to defend their title,  as they project to be the best team in their division, and tie the Yankees for the best record in the league. RF Kyle Tucker and DH lead the offense, while workhorse Framber Valdez, who led the league in IP last year, headlines the rotation. The Astros brought in José Abreu from Chicago to play first, while Ryan Pressly will close. Jeremy Peña was a good replacement for SS Carlos Correa, who left as a free agent for Minnesota.

Seattle boasts last year’s biggest new star, rookie of the year Julio Rodríguez, in CF. They also brought in RF Teoscar Hernández from Toronto. 1B Ty France and 3B Eugenio Suárez provide power at the corners, while C Cal Raleigh added 27 HR in just 370 AB. They will have SP Luis Castillo for a full season this year, with Logan Gilbert also in the rotation. Paul Sewald will close.

The Angels have probably the game’s two biggest stars in DH/SP Shohei Ohtani and CF Mike Trout. SP Tyler Anderson moved from Chavez Ravine as a free agent and will strengthen the rotation. LF Taylor Ward and RF Hunter Renfroe will give the Angels a strong outfield, but it is doubtful that the team’s biggest stars will play a bigger game than the World Baseball Classic final, where Ohtani struck out Trout to save Japan’s one run victory over the United States.

Texas made perhaps the biggest free agent signing, landing former Mets ace Jacob deGrom. deGrom has been outstanding when healthy, but injuries kept him to 15 starts in 2021, and just 11 last season. He won’t be Texas’s lone star, as 2B Marcus Semien and Adolis García could post 20-20 seasons, and SS Corey Seager and 1B should add plenty of power.

Oakland was the only AL team to lose 100 games last year, so even though RotoValue expects them again to finish last in their division, it does see them improving to just 91.4 losses, slightly fewer than Detroit. 1B Seth Brown had the team’s best fantasy season last year, while RF Ramón Laureano projects to be their best player in 2023. 3B Jace Peterson and DH Jesús Aguilar also should be fantasy relevant. The Athletics’ most intriguing pitcher is likely starter Shintaro Fujinami, a 29 year old rookie from Japan who ended his spring with 6 no-hit innings against Milwaukee.

NL EastWonLostPctRSRA

RotoValue thinks Atlanta is loaded this year, and projects them for the best record in baseball Led by RF Ronald Acuña Jr., who is still just 25, Atlanta boasts a powerful, young lineup with 3B Austin Riley, NL Rookie of the Year CF Michael Harris II, 1B Matt Olson, and 2B Ozzie Albies, all of whom are under 30. 29 year old Max Fried is their #1 starter, but Spencer Strider, who placed 2nd to teammate Harris in Rookie of the Year voting, could be even better. A.J. Minter should get lots of saves closing for a strong team.

The Mets are in win-now mode, as all but 2 of their best players are 30 or older. While they lost perhaps the best starter in baseball when Jacob deGrom left via free agency, they signed 40 year old Justin Verlander, fresh off the AL Cy Young award for world champion Houston. He joins Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation. Slugging 1B Pete Alonso at 28 is the youngest of the Mets’ stars, and 2B Francisco Lindor is still just 29. But NL batting champ Jeff McNeil is 31, RF Starling Marte is 34, and SP Carlos Carrasco is 36. 

Philadelphia made it to the World Series last year, but with star RF Bryce Harper recovering from Tommy John surgery and possibly missing at least the first half, the Phillies will have a big hole in their lineup to fill. SS Trea Turner projects to be the best fantasy player in the National League, and the Phillies’ rotation has a strong 1-2 punch in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. C J.T. Realmuto, LF Kyle Schwarber, and RF Nick Castellanos should provide plenty of offense, but overall RotoValue projects the team to finish about .500.

Miami boasts the reigning NL Cy Young award winner in Sandy Alcantara, while the exciting young star Jazz Chisholm Jr. is moving from 2B to CF. The Marlins added 2B Luis Arraez and 3B Jean Segura to their infield, but the team lacks the talent to compete with the Braves, Mets, or likely even Phillies.

Bringing up the rear in the NL East will likely be the Washington Nationals, a team with a relative dearth of fantasy talent. SS CJ Abrams and 2B Luis García are just 22, giving the team a young double play combination. 24 year old C Keibert Ruiz could show some power behind the plate. So the team does at least have youth.

NL CentralWonLostPctRSRA

St. Louis looks to be the safest bet to win its division, with an 11.5 game edge over Milwaukee. Corners Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are both well into their 30s, but also among, if not the very, best at their respective positions. SS Tommy Edman and CF Tyler O’Neill give the redbirds a pair of 28 year olds at their prime, while the Cardinals replaced retiring perennial all-star catcher Yadier Molina by signing Willson Contreras away from the Cubs. The team resigned ace Miles Mikolas, who along with Jordan Montgomery, acquired from the Yankees in the Harrison Bader trade at last year’s deadline, lead the rotation. Adam Wainwright‘s likely final season will be delayed until May because of a groin injury this spring.

The Brewers boast a strong top of the rotation in Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. Devin Williams excelled as closer after Milwaukee traded Josh Hader at last year’s deadline. SS Willy Adames should lead the offense, while CF Garrett Mitchell should be in the mix for Rookie of the Year. The Brew Crew added C William Contreras in a trade from Atlanta, while former MVP Christian Yelich looks to regain his former dominance. It figures to be a better than .500 year, but not by much, in Milwaukee.

Just to the south the Chicago Cubs signed free agent SS Dansby Swanson, who joins 2B Nico Hoerner to anchor the infield at Wrigley Field. Marcus Stroman returns as the club’s top starter, while rookie Hayden Wesneski earned a rotation spot with a stellar spring. LF Ian Happ and 3B Patrick Wisdom should provide most of the power, while RF Seiya Suzuki will begin the year on the injured list.

Cincinnatti is led by C Tyler Stephenson and closer Alexis Díaz. Hunter Greene should be the top starter, while the team is also counting on Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft in their rotation. 1B Joey Votto, coming of a down year at age 38, will start the year on the injured list after shoulder surgery, so former Padre Wil Myers will likely start the year at 1B, moving to the outfield when Votto returns. Jonathan India is a top 2B, while the team hopes rookie Spencer Steer will provide power at 3B.

Pirates’ top fantasy player may be their closer David Bednar, although SS Oneil Cruz and LF Bryan Reynolds also belong in that discussion. RF Andrew McCutchen returns to Pittsburgh, where he was an MVP a decade ago. The team is counting on 43 year old Rich Hill to be a top starter. This is not a strong team, either for fantasy purposes or on the field.

NL WestWonLostPctRSRA

Los Angeles dominated the regular season last year with 111 wins before being upset by division rival San Diego in the playoffs. The Dodgers again should be the division’s top team, and are loaded with fantasy talent. 1B Freddie Freeman should contend for MVP honors, while the Dodgers rotation features Julio Urías and 3-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. RF Mookie Betts and C Will Smith provide plenty more offense, and the Dodgers signed J.D. Martinez in the off-season to DH. Evan Phillips was stellar in a setup role last year, and will get the first chance to close.

San Francisco may lack the star power of their southern California rivals, but they may give the Dodgers the biggest fight for the division. Logan Webb anchors the rotation backed by Alex Cobb, Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea and Alex Wood, while 2B Thairo Estrada and SS Brandon Crawford provide a mix of power and speed in the middle infield. The team is counting on Michael Conforto, who missed all of 2022, in LF and Joc Pederson in RF.

San Diego  is trying to go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers, as they signed SS Xander Bogaerts, the biggest free agent splash in the division. That signing moves Fernando Tatis Jr. from short to CF, although Tatis remains on the suspended list until April 20th. MVP runner-up Manny Machado covers 3B, while LF Juan Soto might be the team’s best player. Yu Darvish and Blake Snell headline the rotation, and Josh Hader will close. This is a team with higher expectations than the 3rd place RotoValue projects.

Arizona should be around .500,  but has some interesting young talent. 25 year old RF Jake McCarthy could be their best fantasy player, combining solid power with lots of SBs. LF Corbin Carroll, 22, may be less experienced, but could also be a 20-20 threat. The young OFs presence mean former Blue Jay Lourdes Gurriel Jr. may see lots of time at DH, or occasionally 1B, to get his bat in the lineup. Gabriel Moreno, also acquired in the trade that sent Daulton Varsho to Toronto, should start behind the plate. Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly should be the top starters. Ketel Marte returns at 2B, while 3B Evan Longoria signed as a free agent from San Francisco.

Somebody has to project to have the worst record in baseball, and this year that dubious distinction belongs to the Colorado Rockies. The extreme altitude of their home park has long made Rockies hitters fantasy stars, while their pitchers are often best avoided. This year 1B C.J. Cron should be the top bat, with 2B Ryan McMahon and rookie SS Ezequiel Tovar also likely to provide fantasy value. Closer Daniel Bard had an excellent 2022, while SP Germán Márquez will be more valuable to the real team than fantasy teams.

Projections are fun speculation, but as of this morning every team is in first place, and can hope for a magical season.