One bold prediction for all 30 teams

March 30th, 2023

Beyond the purely aesthetic, on-field game, what makes baseball truly beautiful and unique is its inevitable unpredictability. Prior to the 2022 MLB season, who could have predicted that would break the single-season AL home run record or that the Phillies would reach the World Series?

Ahead of Opening Day, asked its beat reporters to make one truly bold prediction for each club.


Blue Jays: A 30-30 season for Bo Bichette
José Cruz Jr. (2001) and (’98) are the only Blue Jays to have done this, but Bichette’s game should give him a real shot in the coming years. We know that Bichette has the power to hit 30 out, and when you combine his speed with the Blue Jays’ eagerness to be more aggressive on the bases, there’s a path to him swiping 30 bags. Bichette has been one of the most impressive players in camp from Day 1, and if he can carry over his hot finish from last September -- which many coaches and teammates are expecting -- then a 30-30 season is realistic. -- Keegan Matheson

Orioles: The Orioles will win their first postseason series since 2014
Baltimore’s young nucleus will power it to an 88-74 season, enough to get it into the AL Wild Card Series. Then, the O’s will win a best-of-three set to advance to the AL Division Series, which will be where their year ends. The Orioles’ roster is more talented than it was last season, especially if the rising stars continue to rise, so a taste of postseason success is a reasonable expectation. -- Jake Rill

Rays: The pitching staff will be the best in the Majors
Let’s put a number on this and say Tampa Bay will have MLB’s lowest ERA as a team, a feat the club has accomplished only once (in 2012) despite employing so many impressive arms since their worst-to-first turnaround in 2008. It feels more realistic this season, however, considering the depth of the Rays’ rotation and the number of nasty arms in their bullpen. The Dodgers have led the Majors in ERA each of the last four years, and the Astros paced the AL on that front last season. This year, we’ll say the Rays return to the postseason for a fifth consecutive season on the strength of baseball’s best pitching staff. -- Adam Berry

Red Sox: Brayan Bello will break out
In his first full season in the majors, Bello will vault as high as No. 2 in the rotation for the Red Sox. The righty has an elite pitch mix and will put it all together. Don’t be fooled by Bello’s ordinary stat line (2-8, 4.71 ERA) from last year. The possessor of dominant stuff, Bello got into a groove in September, notching a 1.65 ERA in one five-start span. In the offseason, he received an invitation to throw off the mound at 's home in the Dominican Republic. That experience could prove to be invaluable. Due to a mild right forearm issue early in camp, Bello will start the season on the injured list. He should be in the rotation by mid-April. --Ian Browne

Yankees: New York will have a trio of top-3 finishers for MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year
While another 62 homers seems a lot to ask,  is not satisfied with his performance from last season. Judge recently worked out with the Cardinals’ to learn some of the reigning National League MVP’s secrets, particularly his no-stride stance. continues to feature overpowering swing-and-miss stuff, having just eclipsed 's single-season franchise record for strikeouts with 257. 's excellent spring accelerated his timetable, earning the 21-year-old top prospect an Opening Day roster spot. -- Bryan Hoch


Guardians: Josh Naylor will lead the team in home runs
All the attention will be on the other Josh (Bell) this year when it comes to the long ball, but maybe all signs are pointing toward Naylor having a breakout season. He’s finally healthy after spending all of the last offseason rehabbing his right leg and battling through the aches and pains that lingering injury caused him throughout the regular season. With that in the rearview mirror and a full winter of being able to focus solely on baseball activities, this could be setting up for a big year for Naylor. In the last few weeks of Spring Training, his quality of contact was off the charts. If he can settle in and be patient at the plate, Naylor could be the answer to Cleveland’s power problems. -- Mandy Bell

Royals: will emerge as a future closer option
Kansas City wants to find answers about its young starters this year, but just as important is setting up the bullpen for future success. has the track record, but he can’t carry the load all by himself. If the Royals trade in the middle of the season -- and Barlow could be a trade candidate, too -- they’ll need to find other backend options. Coleman has the velocity, the strikeout potential and the presence to close out games, but his command is wild at times. That will change in 2023 and will be a successful storyline by the end of the season. -- Anne Rogers

Tigers: The Meadows brothers will be teammates in Detroit
will join his brother in the Tigers outfield by the end of the season. It could be a tough fit in an outfield that already boasts plenty of left-handed hitters, including Austin. But Parker’s combination of power, speed, athleticism and hitting acumen is too enticing to hold down for a team that’s looking for young offensive talent. -- Jason Beck

Twins: will hit 50 home runs
The Twins’ stated goal is to get Buxton into the lineup as much as they can – and if that means they’ll need to keep taking care of him with regular games at designated hitter, so be it. Buxton hit 28 homers in 92 games last season, which would have put him on pace for 49 in 162 games. If they can get him into anything close to a full season, it’s well within reason that Buxton could threaten – or even break – Harmon Killebrew’s club record of 49. -- Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: will win AL MVP
No ? Not this year. How about Judge? Close, but no cigar. And ? Well, with Ohtani’s amazing contributions on the mound and at the plate, he is in the MVP conversation every season. But you want bold and here it is: T

he White Sox shortstop will win the AL’s top honor. It’s clear to anyone who watches the White Sox with and without Anderson how he is the driving force, the energy of this team. He is even more driven than his usual high level of focus with his ‘22 season cut short on Aug. 6 due to surgery repairing a tear on his left middle finger. The immense talent is there, but he’s having fun with the game and a challenged Anderson could be a dangerous Anderson for the opposition. -- Scott Merkin


Angels: The Angels will reach the postseason for the first time since 2014
The Angels lean on their improved depth and their rotation topped by Shohei Ohtani and a slew of lefties in , , , and . Ohtani and Mike Trout are both in the mix for the AL MVP Award and Ohtani takes it home for the second time in three years. -- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Houston will repeat as World Series champions
The Astros will win the World Series again in 2023. OK, they won it last year so maybe it’s not that daring of a prediction but considering there hasn’t been a repeat champion since the Yankees (1998-2000) that’s about as bold of a prediction as you can get. When they’re at full strength like they were most of last year, they’re the most complete team in baseball. Mark it down. Houston will win its third championship in seven seasons, cementing its dynasty status. -- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: The A’s will lead the Majors in stolen bases
Baserunning has not traditionally been their strong suit in years past, but MLB’s new rules for 2023 encourage more stolen-base attempts, and the A’s have the speed on their roster to take advantage of that development. has the potential to challenge for the stolen base title, while players like , , , and should also finish with double-digit totals. --Martín Gallegos

Mariners: Seattle will win the AL West
They’ve made it no secret that winning their first division title since 2001 is “a realistic goal” – notable commentary given that the club can be more grounded with its public goals. And maybe it’s even more plausible than when Spring Training began now that will be sidelined 8-10 weeks and has been slow-played, on top of Houston losing in free agency. The Mariners were firmly on the Astros’ radar last year; maybe 2023 is the year they finally upend the division’s established order. -- Daniel Kramer

Rangers: Marcus Semien and Adolis García have 30-30 seasons
Both Semien and García logged their first career 25-25 seasons in 2022 and are primed for big years at the plate and on the basepaths in ‘23. A 40-40 season feels a little too bold considering Semien has hit 40 or more homers only once in his career (45 in 2021 with the Blue Jays). But 30-30 or even 35-35 feels well within reach. The second baseman hit 26 homers with a career-high 25 stolen bases in his first season with Texas in ‘22, and both numbers should improve with the bigger bases and the assumption that he hits his first homer before May 28 this year. García hit 32 home runs in his 2021 rookie season. With improved plate discipline, he should be able to get on base more to make his speed a big factor. -- Kennedi Landry


Braves: 3 for 40
, and will become just the fourth trio of teammates to each hit 40 homers in the same season. They would be the first trio to pull off this feat since , , and Vinny Castilla each hit 40 home runs for the 1997 Rockies. , and became the first AL/NL trio to do this while playing for the 1973 Braves. -- Mark Bowman

Marlins: The Marlins will finish .500
That would require a 12-win turnaround from 2022, but a few factors could work in their favor. A more balanced schedule means facing division rivals Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia -- clubs expected to secure postseason spots -- 18 fewer times. Plus, nearly every regular played below their career numbers or missed time with injuries. Surely that can't happen again, right? Once the Marlins were out of the race during the second half of last season, they started a bunch of prospects to see what they had moving forward – to the detriment of their record. -- Christina De Nicola

Mets: The Mets will return to the World Series
They are battle-tested now and hungry to advance beyond the disappointment of last year, when a 101-win season evaporated over a poor 10-day stretch in September and October. It may be easy to see how things could again go wrong for the Mets, whose offseason spending spree left them reliant on the arms of 40-year-old Justin Verlander and 38-year-old . No matter. Those two are driven to add to their legacies, while New York’s position-player core remains very much in its prime. Count on the Mets to do better than last year and make it back to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2015. -- Anthony DiComo

Nationals: CJ Abrams will be a Gold Glove Award finalist
Abrams, 22, showed flashes of his defensive potential in his 44-game stint with the Nationals last season after being acquired from the Padres. He already was recognized with the Electric Play of the Week Award in September for his double-take diving stop at shortstop to nab the Phillies’ at first. The Nationals will rely on their middle-infield defense, and Abrams likely will turn heads with his play. -- Jessica Camerato

Phillies: An all-time offense
The Phillies will have one of their greatest offensive seasons in franchise history. They have scored 800-plus runs only nine times since 1930, but this feels like a team that could become the 10th. Even without , who last week suffered a season-ending ACL injury? Yes. Here is why: is primed for a rebound; Alec Bohm, and are capable of taking significant steps forward in their development; is a superstar; could be back in late May or June; the infield shift is banned; the bases are bigger and pitchers are limited in their pickoffs, which should boost the running game. -- Todd Zolecki


Brewers: Corbin Burnes will be the Brewers’ first two-time Cy Young Award winner
Is there a more motivated player in MLB? The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner and ‘22 NL strikeout king arrived in camp intent on continuing his dominance in his penultimate season before free agency. He proved his durability last year by topping 200 innings for the first time and shows no signs of slowing down in 2023. --Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: Jordan Walker will easily claim NL Rookie of the Year
Not only will Walker, the Cards' top prospect, win the NL Rookie of the Year award, but he will join the 20-home run, 20-stolen base club in his first MLB season. Walker came into camp with all eyes on him, and somehow, he still managed to exceed expectations. His stellar Spring Training performance evoked memories of 2001 when a then-21-year-old hit his way onto the roster despite never spending a day in Triple-A. Now, the 20-year-old Walker – a sensation last season in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League – could be on the verge of repeating the feat. Already he’s shown he has the patience and maturity of someone well beyond his years and he just might use his rookie season to prove that greatness is in his future. -- John Denton

Cubs: Edwin Ríos will lead the Cubs in home runs in ‘23
With apologies to and , this year's bold call is that Ríos will lead the Cubs in home runs this season. Over his limited MLB career, Ríos has launched homers at a rate of one per 13 at-bats. That is a prolific pace. For perspective, belted homers at a clip of one every 12.8 at-bats over his Cubs career. Obviously, there is a massive difference in sample size there. But, with health and opportunity, there is a chance Ríos could thrive this year for the North Siders as an option for first base, third base and designated hitter. -- Jordan Bastian

Pirates: Oneil Cruz joins the 40-40 club
Cruz is coming off a season in which he hit 17 home runs and stole 10 bases in 87 games. Across a full season, that shakes out to about 32 home runs and 19 steals, a season that just about any player would take in their first full season. But Cruz’s ambitions are as tall as him. When asked if he had any goals for ‘23, Cruz said that he’s “looking for 30-30 or 40-40.” There have been only four players in the history of Major League Baseball to accomplish a 40-homer, 40-steal season: , , and . With a one-of-one like Cruz, however, no goal feels too lofty. -- Justice delos Santos

Reds: Big bounce-back year for Jonathan India
Not only will India top all Major League leadoff hitters in home runs in the coming season, he will also be the 2023 NL winner for Comeback Player of the Year while showing he's back to the player that came on the scene as a rookie two seasons ago. The 26-year-old was roughed up by leg injuries in ‘22 that slowed him down on both sides of his game. -- Mark Sheldon


D-backs: The D-backs snag a Wild Card spot
GM Mike Hazen is no longer a seller at the Trade Deadline as the D-backs' young players continue to develop and the team gets enough from its veterans to push Arizona into the thick of the NL Wild Card race down the stretch. -- Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Will Smith will be the best catcher in baseball
Maybe this isn’t that bold, but Smith is often forgotten when people talk about the best catchers in the sport. But with Trea Turner no longer in the Dodgers’ lineup, Los Angeles will ask for more from Smith and he seems poised to deliver. Smith is still looking for his first All-Star selection and that should come this season. -- Juan Toribio

Padres: San Diego will win the NL West for the first time since 2006
You might not consider this a bold prediction -- and the sport's projection systems would agree with you. FanGraphs pegs the Padres as the top team in the division, projected for 91 wins, four games ahead of Los Angeles. Still, the Padres have finished behind the Dodgers in each of the past dozen years -- an average of 20.4 games behind their rivals in that span. That gap feels as though it has closed, and San Diego's NLDS victory last season turned the rivalry on its head. Since then, the Padres have added , welcomed back and improved the fringes of their roster. If there were ever a team capable of dethroning the Dodgers and making a deep run into October, it’s this one. -- AJ Cassavell

Giants:  earns his first All-Star selection
Doval might not be a household name, but he emerged as one of the top young closers in the league last year and appears poised to take another step forward in 2023. With a fastball that’s topped out at 104 mph and a wipeout slider, Doval’s profile should only continue to grow in the years to come. -- Maria Guardado

Rockies: Ezequiel Tovar will be a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year
Tovar, who appeared in nine games at the end of last season, entered camp with much fanfare and played like a veteran, not like someone whose head was turned by expectations. There might be some offensive struggles, simply because 21-year-olds have them, but expect Tovar to be a prime candidate for National League Rookie of the Year. -- Thomas Harding