The 2013 MLB season is finally here and spring training is underway. This past offseason provided some exciting moves with some top story lines. The offseason also gave reason to believe there will be some new teams stepping up and winning their respected divisions. With the regular season slated to start in just over a month, it’s time to take a look at who will be on top of each division and why.
American League East
1. Toronto Blue Jays (93-69) – The new look Blue Jays have tremendous talent all around the clubhouse thanks to some hard work by the front office in the offseason. With the addition of National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey this already solid rotation has become even better. Other keys to success: Jose Bautisa, Jose Reyes, and Edwin Encarnacion. The all around depth of this team will be enough to clinch the division.
2. New York Yankees (88-74) – Even though they were quiet in the past few months, the Yankees still have the solid team they’ve had in the past. Look for the offense to keep the team competitive throughout the season. Keys to success: Mark Texiera, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano.
3. Baltimore Orioles (85-77) – The Cinderella Story won’t continue this season thanks to their lack of overall pitching. The offense will keep them afloat, but the upgraded Blue Jays knock them out of the playoff picture.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (81-81) – You can’t expect to lose 3 good players and still compete the following season, especially without getting any impact players in return.
5. Boston Red Sox (75-87) – Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster aren’t enough. I’m sorry Red Sox fans.
American League Central
1. Detroit Tigers (95-67) – The returning American League champions shouldn’t have a problem clinching the division. Also, they should hold one of the best overall records in the majors thanks to the decline of competition within the division. Keys to success: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander.
2. Kansas City Royals (85-77) – The Royals will also benefit from the lack of quality competition throughout the rest of the division. With the addition of Wade Davis, James Shield, and Ervin Santana the rotation will be looking solid day in and day out. However, they are still short of making the playoffs without more quality bats in the lineup. Keys to success: Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar, and Alex Gordon.
3. Cleveland Indians (84-78) – They’re not very far from success, but not having enough pitching will ultimately doom them in 2013.
4. Chicago White Sox (83-79) – Not enough offense to compete, despite quality pitching.
5. Minnesota Twins (74-88) – Not quite sure what they’re thinking at this point. They don’t have a whole lot to be confident about.
American League West
1. Los Angeles Angels (101-61) – With the most powerful lineup in the majors expect nothing less then success. Adding Josh Hamilton, and addressing some pitching issues in the offseason, the Angels did what they needed to be the best team in baseball. And I’m still in shock… Keys to success: Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, and Mike Trout.
2. Oakland Atheltics (86-76) – They should continue the success they found last season. However, with the upgraded Angels, don’t expect Oakland to win the division again. Keys to success: Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Yoenis Cespedes.
3. Texas Rangers (83-79) – The loss of Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, and Mike Napoli will be to much to overcome. While the pitching could keep them in the mix, the offense won’t be enough.
4. Seattle Mariners (75-87) – King Felix is the only thing solid for the Mariners.
5. Houston Astros (62-100) – Their first year in the American League will be as bad as the last in the National League.
National League East
1. Atlanta Braves (96-66) – The Braves have added enough in the offseason to knock off the Nationals. Their outfield might be the best in the majors with Heyward and both Upton brothers. If Brian McCann comes back in full, the offense might be at the top in the National League. The pitching is young and very solid. Keys to success: Jason Heyward, Mike Minor, and Kris Medlen.
2. Washington Nationals (95-67) – Expect them to continue the dominance on the mound. If the pitching staff stays healthy the Nationals and Braves will go down to the wire. The Nationals offense must play as well as last year to have a chance at the division. Keys to success: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Jayson Werth.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (88-74) – The Phillies aren’t as bad as they played last year. With the dominant pitching staff they still possess, it’s possible for this team to compete with anyone. However, with the better Braves and very talented Nationals don’t expect them to win the division anytime soon.
4. New York Mets (75-87) – They may have extended David Wright, but they haven’t added much help. With an inconsistent pitching staff they can’t compete.
5. Miami Marlins (69-93) – You can’t sell your whole team and win.
National League Central
1. Cincinnati Reds (94-68) – Expect Joey Votto to carry the Reds to another division title. I don’t see Ryan Ludwick having another stellar year, but this team scores runs and will continue winning. In addition, they have pitching and have converted Aroldis Chapman to a starter. This already good rotation just got better. Keys to success: Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Mat Latos.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74) – Having played great half of each of the last two seasons, expect the Pirates to put a whole season together for once. With Andrew McCutchen as the leader, he must continue to carry his team to victory. The addition of Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano will definitely help this up and coming team.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) – This team always seems to catch fire at the right time every year. However, the lack of improvements made in the offseason will lead to them missing the playoffs.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (84-78) – The Brewers have put enough weight on Ryan Braun already, and if his production declines at all, they’re doomed. A solid pitching staff won’t be enough in 2013 to be in the race.
5. Chicago Cubs (78-84) – They’ll be a much better team this season, but it’s going to take a few more years until the Cubs have a shot.
National League West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (97-65) – The blockbuster trade last season will ultimately lead to a division title this year, well that trade, and the fact they added Zack Greinke. With a great lineup from top to bottom and a respected pitching staff, they are going to be hard to beat. Keys to success: Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Kemp.
2. San Francisco Giants (93-69) – The defending World Series Champions are going to have a very hard time repeating with the Dodgers standing in their way. Although, they have one of the best pitching staffs in the game, the offense won’t have enough to win the big games against the division rivals. Keys to success: Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Madison Bumgarner.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (83-79) – Having as much young talent as the D-Backs do is certainly a good thing, but it won’t benefit them enough in 2013. Look for them to compete in a couple more years.
4. Colorado Rockies (76-86) – Troy Tulowitzki is finally healthy, but when you have no pitching it doesn’t really matter.
5. San Diego Padres (76-86) – The Padres don’t have enough impact players to make a splash. Look at them to repeat from 2012.