Way-Too-Early MLB Hot Takes

Andrew Bialek, Contributing Writer

April is here, and the 2023 baseball season has begun. After a stunning World Baseball Classic where two superstar MLB teammates (the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout) went face-to-face in the championship game — along with a spring training filled with new rule changes and trades — the regular season has officially begun.

Even though the season is not yet a week old as I write this, the question has to be asked: what will happen at the end? Here are my admittedly way-too-early predictions for the remainder of the season. Beware, some of these may be hot takes.

The New York Yankees will advance to the World Series

There is evidence that the Yankees are a different team from last year. The team’s offense is performing astronomically better than it performed in 2022: in its first six games, the team has scored 30 runs and has won four, despite having an injury-depleted pitching rotation. The offensive prowess of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton has returned, and unlike last season, it is not just one or two players pulling their weight.

The Yankees as a whole have improved offensively. If they can keep up this offensive pace, the Yanks will be a dangerous team in the American League (once their pitching rotation is in full force) and will overcome last year’s humiliation against the Houston Astros. 

The Los Angeles Angels will make the playoffs 

Having Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on your roster should imply a dynasty; however, that has yet to happen for the Angels. The team has only made the playoffs once (in 2014) across Mike Trout’s 13-season tenure, but this year seems like the year it changes. It has to be the year. Ohtani’s contract is up after this season, and a playoff appearance may be the only thing to keep him in an Angels uniform.

The Angels might be able to break through this year, as Trout and Ohtani are poised to have great seasons after their stellar performances in the World Baseball Classic. The team has also made new additions in Gio Ursehla, Brandon Drury and Hunter Renfroe, who are all capable of adding more offense to this Angels team. The key factor in the Angels being able to compete for a playoff spot will be the team’s ability to stay healthy for an entire season. If they are able to stay healthy, then they should finally be able to make the playoffs.

The Philadelphia Phillies will win the NL East 

The Philadelphia Phillies are still recovering from their Pennant-winning hangover, no question about that. But, they have started to play good baseball again. Since starting the season winless, their record has improved to 3-5. The offseason acquisition of star Trea Turner — one of the best infielders in the game, posting a .298 batting average and 21 home runs last year with the Dodgers — should also help Philadelphia this season.

The Phillies will have a tough test in front of them in the dominant Atlanta Braves, who beat the Mets out for the division last year. But with Turner joining Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, the NL East crown could be returning to Philly this season. 

The Chicago White Sox will win the AL Central 

After missing the 2022 playoffs, the White Sox greatly disappointed their fans. Now, the Sox look to make a return to October baseball. Taking over for former manager Tony LaRussa is Pedro Girfol, a longtime bench coach for the Kansas City Royals who was on staff for their 2015 World Series win. The new look manager will hope to rejuvenate this team that has some key players like Elvis Andrus, who signed a nine-year deal with the Sox after joining the team last season, along with young first basemen Andrew Vaughn, who was the third overall pick in 2019 and has blossomed into a star.

Another young gun who made the opening-day roster is Oscar Colas, who had a .895 on-base percentage in the minors and previously played in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. The key factor for the Sox will be health – if this team is able to stay healthy, then they definitely will be able to take home a division crown at the end of the season.

With new rules, fans are watching the sport change and evolve with each game, making predictions an even tougher challenge than usual.