Forecasting the 2022 Major League Baseball season

Cabot Butts, Staff Writer

After an offseason that saw the Texas Rangers spend more than $500 million on their infield, Albert Pujols return to the Cardinals, some of the biggest names in Major League Baseball (MLB) sign with new teams and so much more, baseball is back better than ever. Following a 99 day lockout where the MLB and Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) failed to reach an agreement over their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the season finally began last Thursday, albeit one week later than scheduled. 

To summarize some of the biggest offseason moves, we must first look no further than the $500 million infield that the Texas Rangers bought before the lockout started. Starting with all-star shortstop Marcus Semien, the Rangers began their offseason spending by offering a seven year, $175 million contract, a move that Rangers fans are hopeful will pick them up off the floor of the American League (AL) West. In addition, a few days later, the Rangers inked a 10-year, $325 million deal with Corey Seager. Seager is also a shortstop, meaning that Semien will most likely be seeing much of his playing time at second base. 

First thing first, however, the Los Angeles Angels began the offseason with a surprise move, which saw Noah Syndergaard, widely regarded as “Thor,” sign a one year, $21 million contract with the team. Although shocking, Syndergaard may be the missing piece that the Angels were looking for, in order to back up a team led by, arguably, the greatest player to ever play in the MLB in Mike Trout, and defending AL MVP Shohei Ohtani. 

Staying on the west coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers likely won free agency with their signing of former National League (NL) MVP first baseman, Freddie Freeman. Even with their loss of Corey Seager, it is easy to see that the Dodgers are an even better ball club than the 106-win team last year. Along with the signing of Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers were able to keep valuable assets to their pitching staff and lineup. For example, the Dodgers re-signed star pitcher Clayton Kershaw, as well as a terrific all around player and UVA product Chris Taylor. 

The number one rated free agent, shortstop Carlos Correa, signed a three year, $105.3 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. With Correa, as well as superb center fielder Byron Buxton, who the Twins were able to re-sign, give the Minnesota team a very real shot to win the AL Central this year. 

Moving to the east coast, free agency moves were aplenty. The New York Mets signed three time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Max Scherzer to a three year, $130 million deal. The Boston Red Sox signed infielder Trevor Story to a six-year, $140 million contract. Up north, the Blue Jays signed pitcher Kevin Gausman, and third baseman Matt Chapman; moves that make the Blue Jays real favorites to win the AL East. The last major AL East move came by the New York Yankees about a month before Opening Day. The Yankees took the opportunity to trade young third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Gary Sanchez to the Minnesota Twins for all-star third baseman Josh Donaldson; a move that proved to be a major shock to the Yankee fan base. 

Perhaps the most important move made during the offseason, one that forced Freddie Freeman to sign with the Dodgers, was the blockbuster trade between the Oakland Athletics and the Atlanta Braves that sent replacement first baseman, Matt Olson, to the Braves. 

Less than a month before Opening Day, star third baseman Kris Bryant inked a seven-year, $182 million contract with the Colorado Rockies. Although surprising, this move is very unlikely to make the Rockies contenders for the NL West crown this year.

Lastly, days before Opening Day, future Hall of Fame first baseman, Albert Pujols, announced that he would retire after the 2022 season. In a bittersweet move, Pujols signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, the same team that drafted him back in 1999. During his first stint with the Cardinals, Pujols hit 445 home runs in 11 seasons. He then went to the Los Angeles Angels in 2011 before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021. Pujols’ 679 career home runs with the three aforementioned teams puts him fifth on a list consisting of all-time greats like Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. With 18 home runs this season, Pujols will overtake Yankee and Mariner great, Alex Rodriguez, for fourth all-time in home runs for a career. 

All in all, the 2021 offseason will go down in history as one of the most expensive offseasons around the MLB. With the Rangers spending $500 million on their infield, and other star players signing monster contracts with new teams, we are bound to see some new ball clubs at the top of the MLB in the coming years.




AL East

Toronto Blue Jays: 99-63

New York Yankees: 94-68

Boston Red Sox: 93-69

Tampa Bay Rays: 87-75

Baltimore Orioles: 62-100


AL Central

Chicago White Sox: 90-72

Minnesota Twins: 85-77

Cleveland Guardians: 72-90

Detroit Tigers: 70-92

Kansas City Royals: 66-96


AL West

Houston Astros: 96-66

Los Angeles Angels: 88-74

Seattle Mariners: 80-82

Texas Rangers: 76-86

Oakland Athletics: 64-98


AL Playoff Picture

Toronto Blue Jays — via AL East win

Chicago White Sox — via AL Central win

Houston Astros — via AL West win

New York Yankees — via AL Wildcard 1 

Boston Red Sox — via AL Wildcard 2 

Los Angeles Angels — via AL Wildcard 3 


AL Champion

Toronto Blue Jays: 99-63

The Blue Jays are loaded with talent this year. Not only do they have the AL MVP runner-up from last season in Vlad Guerrero Jr., but they also have contact specialists that are bound to get on base many times this year, in Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette. Speaking of Bo Bichette, his shortstop play is like no other. He is one of the most agile shortstops in the league, making diving stops and almost impossible throws left and right. Don’t forget about new addition Matt Chapman at third base, who will work wonders, not only in the offense, but at the hot corner as well. Furthermore, the Blue Jays have a very deep pitching staff, especially starting pitching, with the addition of Kevin Gausman this offseason. A stellar earned run average at 2.81 last season, Kevin Gausman is primed for a terrific 2022 campaign that might even make him a Cy Young Award contender. 


NL East

Atlanta Braves: 97-65

New York Mets: 90-72

Philadelphia Phillies: 86-76

Washington Nationals: 75-87

Miami Marlins: 68-94


NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals: 90-72

Chicago Cubs: 85-77

Milwaukee Brewers: 79-83

Cincinnati Reds: 72-90

Pittsburgh Pirates: 58-104


NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers: 112-50

San Diego Padres: 94-68

San Francisco Giants: 86-76

Arizona Diamondbacks: 78-84

Colorado Rockies: 70-92


NL Playoff Picture

Los Angeles Dodgers — via NL West win

Atlanta Braves — via NL East win

St. Louis Cardinals — via NL Central win

San Diego Padres — via NL Wildcard 1

New York Mets — via NL Wildcard 2

San Francisco Giants — via NL Wildcard 3 (Tiebreaker over Philadelphia Phillies) 


NL Champion

Los Angeles Dodgers: 112-50

Flat out, the Dodgers are the likely best team, not only in the National League, but in the MLB. After a 106-win campaign last season, the Dodgers somehow got even better. Their addition of first baseman Freddie Freeman already makes them World Series contenders. Paired with Freeman is another star infielder in Trea Turner, who in my opinion should have won the NL MVP last season over Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies. The defense of this Dodgers team is likely to turn heads all season long. Not to mention their addition of Craig Kimbrel to the back end of their bullpen, the Dodgers are stacked with talent. I believe that this year is World Series or bust for the Dodgers, especially since they were able to retain UVA star Chris Taylor and all-star pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Simply, this team is almost unbeatable. They still have a young stud in pitcher Julio Urías, as well as a star outfielder in Mookie Betts who they signed to a long-term deal a few years back. This team is fantastic, and I have them winning the NL Pennant this year, and spoiler alert: they’re going to win the World Series too. 


World Series Matchup

Toronto Blue Jays (99-63) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (112-50)

Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers (112-50)  in 6