A dozen MLB teams will make the postseason in 2022, which gives the Cubs a chance of sneaking in and surprising folks if the chips fall in their favor.
It’s that time of year. Spring training is winding down and we start looking ahead to how the MLB standings will shake out when the dust settles after Game 162. We will go division by division, covering both the National and American Leagues – including, of course, the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago made a number of moves, including signing Japanese superstar outfielder Seiya Suzuki and All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman. There was no Carlos Correa signing, nor reunion with any of the old core members. The development of the prospects will be a big focus in 2022, as the big league club will be in transition mode. So where will the Cubs and everyone else in baseball finish? Here are the predictions.
National League East: Can the Mets ‘big offseason lead them to glory?
1: Atlanta Braves (92-70)
Can the Braves defend their World Series championship without Freddie Freeman? They gave up a haul for Matt Olson, who is still a darn good player. He can hit 30+ homers while posting a solid OBP, slug over .500 and is a Gold Glove-caliber defender. The lineup will still have a nice mix of speed and power with the likes of Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Eddie Rosario, Dansby Swanson and Adam Duvall.
Arguably the biggest factor to their success is them getting outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. back, who was having an MVP-caliber year in 2021 before suffering a season-ending injury. A pitching rotation of Charlie Morton, Max Fried, Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa is not too shabby either. They lost closer Mark Melancon to free agency but brought in former Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen on a one-year deal. Do not count out the defending champs by any means.
2: New York Mets (90-72)
Steve Cohen’s franchise sure had a busy offseason. They added Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Adam Ottavino and acquired Chris Bassitt from Oakland. Add these new faces to a core of Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Robinson Cano, and you have a really good team on paper.
One could only imagine having to face deGrom and Scherzer back-to-back in a postseason series. We cannot fail to mention they hired veteran manager Buck Showalter to captain the Mets dugout. Fans throughout Queens pray deGrom stays healthy and the team does not have another season of constant setbacks.
3: Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)
The Phillies have fought hard to get over the postseason hump the past several years, so far falling short. Bryce Harper has yet to see postseason action as a member of the Phillies as he enters the fourth year of his massive deal. They made some big additions in outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos via free agency.
With a lineup containing Harper, Castellanos, Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto, the Phils should have plenty of offensive firepower. Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius make up the middle infield, completing an overall scary-looking lineup. The pitching staff highlights ace Zack Wheeler and closer Corey Knebel; it will be crucial for Aaron Nola to return to form in 2022. The pitching and defense could pose more problems this year, so they will need that offense to win them a lot of games.
4: Washington Nationals (77-85)
On paper the Nats have some really good pieces, but as a whole, the team does seem to be much more than semi-competitive. Juan Soto is an absolute star, no question, and a healthy Stephen Strasburg is one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers. They added slugger Nelson Cruz to the mix as well as veteran second baseman Cesar Hernandez.
Soto, Cruz and Josh Bell will provide plenty of run production, but the rest of the lineup is not overly intimidating. The rotation around Strasburgh is very “meh” without Max Scherzer topping it off. It will be fun for Nats fans to get to watch Cruz crush dingers (at least until they flip him to a contender in July) and watch Soto play, but their chances at a postseason run seem very slim.
5: Miami Marlins (75-87)
The Fish have a really strong farm system, with five prospects in the top 100 according to MLB.com. They currently have a small handful of names the casual fan would recognize at this point. First baseman Jesus Aguilar is still around, and the Marlins added veteran outfielder Avisail Garcia and DH Jorge Soler.
Some of the others on the roster are young guys with potential, while others are journeymen filling a spot. Keep an eye on their rotation of Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers and Pablo Lopez. They are all in their mid-20s and coming off strong years. Even if not a contender, this team will not be as bad as one might think.