Happy holidays, everyone! Just because there isn’t any baseball happening during this holiday week doesn't mean that we're not always -- constantly -- thinking about baseball. Thus, as sugar plum fairies dance around your head, today we make a holiday wish for every team in Major League Baseball.
C’mon, Santa, all these teams have been good. Don’t give them lumps of coal!
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: A postseason victory
For all the talent and fun involved with this Blue Jays team, well, it probably has to be pointed out that the Jays haven’t won a single postseason game since … 2016? Can that be right? Their best hitters were Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki during that era. It's probably time, right?
Orioles: More more more!
Orioles fans may be grateful for finally having a winning team last year, one with a ton of potential and phenoms everywhere, no less. But this is a proud franchise that shouldn’t stop there. The Orioles have been the team of the future for a while now. It’s time to be the team of the present.
Rays: The return of a healthy Wander
Wander Franco sure looked like he was going to be an MVP candidate heading into last year, and for many years to come. It did not turn out that way. Injuries waylaid him for most of the year, and the centerpiece of the Rays roster never quite got it going. This is still top-shelf talent when healthy. So let’s see him healthy.
Red Sox: An extension for Rafael Devers
Red Sox fans are particularly demoralized right now, and having another homegrown star leave would be perhaps the unkindest cut at all. Extending Devers would be a sign that the Red Sox are who we have always thought the Red Sox to be.
Yankees: A repeat Aaron Judge performance
After last year, you can almost forget Judge’s injury issues throughout his career. But he has had them, and for a big guy, that’s going to remain a concern moving forward. The least Yankees fans can hope for is for the first year of that contract to be part of the boom times.
Guardians: Another full year of Shane Bieber
Can you believe Shane Bieber is only 27? Doesn’t it seem like he has been around longer than that? He made 31 starts last year for the second time in his career, and, perhaps not coincidentally, he made the All-Star Game and the Guardians won the division. If he repeats that feat, both those things may well happen again.
Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. makes the ascension
Witt is a fantastic player, the guy the Royals are building everything around. He just hasn’t become that guy yet, that superstar that we all thought he might be as a prospect. He’s still got plenty of time to do it -- and the Royals really need him to do it.
Tigers: A memory eraser from last season
The Tigers are not as bad as they were last season: They have talent around these parts. There’s a reason we were all excited about them heading into 2022. Expectations are tempered now, as they should be, but they’re not going to go through 2022 again. Promise.
Twins: The old Joey Gallo
The way his Yankees career turned out soured a lot of people on Gallo, but this was, not very long ago, an MVP candidate. If he can be that guy again, the Twins very well could surprise a lot of people.
White Sox: All that young talent to be together at once
There’s so much here, all primed to peak at the same time, that you’d think the White Sox would have to stay healthy enough to explode at some point. It hasn’t happened yet. But maybe this is the year.
Angels: A playoff game
Let’s not overcomplicate this.
Astros: Another World Series title
What would firmly classify the Astros as the dynasty of this last decade? One World Series -- post-scandal, no less -- gets them close. But another one would lock it in. They could absolutely do it.
Athletics: Ken Waldichuk and Shea Langeliers to form the battery of the future
The A’s are in a bit of a period of stasis right now, but this could be a pitcher-catcher combination that could grow into the franchise’s signature duo over the next couple of years.
Mariners: More home playoff games
They waited so long for one before finally getting one -- and only one -- last year. This fanbase has earned some more.
Rangers: 150 innings from Jacob deGrom
All right, so he hasn’t thrown that many since 2019. But it has been a while since the Rangers were a must-see baseball team. Getting 150 innings out of deGrom would make them that very thing.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr. to be the MVP candidate we all know he is
So much has gone right for the Braves the last couple of years that you can almost forget how Acuña hasn’t really been the superstar he was building up to be since … May 2021? This team has so much talent already that it's wild to imagine what might happen if Acuña is the Acuña we have seen in the past.
Marlins: A healthy Jazz
For the first part of 2022, Jazz Chisholm Jr. was healthy and looked like one of the game’s next great superstars. Then he got hurt, and other than when Sandy Alcantara was pitching, people stopped paying attention to the Marlins. It’s impossible not to pay attention to a healthy and productive Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Mets: Old guys to keep playing like young guys
It is great that the Mets are spending; this is what we should want our teams to do! The only issue is that, generally speaking, when you pay for guys, you pay for guys over 30. The Mets have a ton of these guys: Their entire rotation, for one thing, though it helps that Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Carlos Correa (pending physical results) are still in their 20s.
Nationals: All that Padres booty to start paying off
The Juan Soto trade hurt, but it did build up the young talent on this team. We should start seeing that all over the place soon, from CJ Abrams to Robert Hassell III to James Wood (OK, Wood is probably a couple of years away). This is the foundation of the next great Nats team. It’ll be nice to see them in an actual Nats uniform.
Phillies: The beginning of a beautiful friendship
Trea Turner and Bryce Harper are logical companions and former teammates in Washington. They really do seem like a perfect fit -- which is good, because they’re going to be spending the next decade-plus together.
Brewers: A Christian Yelich revival
Waiting for Yelich to return to his MVP form is probably a fool’s errand. But it sure would help this lineup, this recently fortified lineup, actually, for him to take one more step back toward who he once was.
Cardinals: A Pujols-esque goodbye for Waino
The Cardinals are having one more farewell tour this year, with Adam Wainwright pitching his last season. If it’s anything close to what Albert Pujols just had, it will be historic and unforgettable.
Cubs: At last, a step forward
Cubs fans have been understandably frustrated by the teardown of their 2016 championship team. But their team has been aggressive this offseason, and, with any luck, we’ll finally see Wrigley Field electric again.
Pirates: Oneil Cruz starting to put it together
Cruz has physical tools that might just be unmatched in baseball. The results have not come yet. But wow, if they do …
Reds: A happy Joey Votto year
This could be Votto’s last year as a Red: The team has a $20 million option on him for 2024. There are few players as connected to their team as Votto is. Can he be their icon once more?
D-backs: Corbin Carroll to keep it coming
The D-backs are better than you think they are, and Carroll has the skills to be the centerpiece of everything they are trying to build and an early Rookie of the Year favorite.
Dodgers: A World Series trophy won in front of a full Dodger Stadium
Honestly, after so many postseason disappointments and having your lone title in that span come at a quarter-full neutral site, nothing else really matters.
Giants: The bad feelings after the Correa deal to fade fast
San Francisco ended up losing a superstar, in circumstances that are surely a bit confusing still for Giants fans. This is still a smart front office capable of making smart moves, and it would behoove the club to start making a lot of them soon.
Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr. to be Fernando Tatis Jr.
Last season could not have possibly gone worse for Tatis in every possible way. They don’t need him to be the team’s primary superstar; they already have three of those. But they need him to play. And maybe just be himself.
Rockies: A healthy Kris Bryant
Hey, they’re paying for him … they might as well get him on the field.