Ruby Batcheller

Batter up! From a pitch clock to bigger bases the MLB is welcoming a number of changes this season.

Your Guide to the 2023 MLB Season

April 12, 2023

Major League Baseball’s 2023 season is shaping up to be massively important for the future of the league. Pace of play and dropping batting averages have become huge problems for the league in recent years, and MLB leadership has finally decided to make some changes to address these issues. There are three major rule changes being implemented this year. The most notable is the introduction of a pitch clock. This new addition has divided the baseball community. Essentially, the clock runs from when the pitcher receives the ball from his catcher to when the pitcher starts his delivery. The clock is 15 seconds with the bases open and 20 seconds with runners on base. Detractors say that it will ruin the suspense of the game in the playoffs, but it’s hard to argue with the results — Opening Day games were 26 minutes shorter on average than they were in 2022.

While pace of play has certainly been a huge issue for baseball, one often overlooked problem has been the death of the running game. Last year, Jon Berti led the majors with 41 stolen bases. In comparison, Jacoby Ellsbury had 70 in 2009, just 14 years ago. Nobody has cracked the 50-bag mark since 2017, when Dee Strange-Gordon stole 60 bases. In response to this, the base size on each side has been increased this year from 15 inches to 18 inches. This should encourage more teams to steal bases, but it may also increase league-wide batting averages, as bigger bases give baserunners a better chance to beat out throws on ground balls.

Finally, to increase league-wide batting averages, the MLB has implemented heavy restrictions on defensive shifts. Over the last few seasons, managers have started using extreme shifts, especially on left-handed hitters. In past years where there were no restrictions on the shift, managers could put four players in the outfield to combat fly ball hitters, or they could stack their infielders to one side of the infield if a hitter had a strong pull tendency. However, this year, defenses are required to have four players on the infield dirt and two players on either side of second base. Managers will still be able to shift players deeper or shallower, but teams can no longer overload one side of the infield or put extra guys in the outfield. Without extreme infield shifts, more ground balls will get through to the outfield, and pull hitters like Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo will find much more success on balls in play.

Terms to Know

If you’re new to professional baseball, no worries – here are some stats and terms to know that you may be unfamiliar with.

Batting Average: Batting average is just a player’s total number of hits divided by at-bats, giving the frequency at which a player records a hit. 1.000 is the highest possible batting average. Jeff McNeil led the majors last year with a batting average of .326.

ERA: Earned Run Average. The amount of runs a pitcher gives up on average over 9 innings. Justin Verlander led the majors last year with an ERA of 1.75.

OBP: On-Base Percentage. This is how frequently a player reaches base in a season. It’s very similar to batting average, but it also includes walks and hit by pitches. 1.000 is the highest possible on-base percentage. Aaron Judge led the majors last year with an OBP of .425.

Slugging Percentage: Slugging percentage is the amount of total bases divided by at bats, giving you an average of how many bases a player records per at bat. 4.000 is the highest possible slugging percentage. Aaron Judge led the majors last year, slugging .686.

OPS: On-Base Plus Slugging. This is simply a player’s slugging percentage and on-base percentage added together. OPS gives a pretty accurate estimate of how valuable a player truly is at the plate. Aaron Judge led the majors last year with an OPS of 1.111.

OPS+: A stat that compares the OPS of one player to the rest of the league, with 100 representing the league average. For example, Juan Soto had an OPS+ of 148 last year, meaning that his OPS was 48% better than the average hitter. ERA+ does the same for pitchers with ERA. 

Slash Line: A way to represent batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage in that order, as these three stats are generally the most important for hitters. For example, Kyle Schwarber had a .218/.323/.504 slash line in 2022.

20/20 season: A season where a player hits 20 home runs and steals 20 bases. There are also 30/30 seasons and 40/40 seasons, although there are only four players in MLB history who have had a 40/40 season. 

Five-Tool Player: In baseball scouting, there are five “tools” or skills used to evaluate position players: hitting, power, speed, defense, and arm strength. A five-tool player is someone who excels in all of these areas. Ken Griffey Jr. is a great example of a five-tool player.

Stuff: A scouting term used to describe how good a pitcher’s individual pitches are. For example, a pitcher with a high-velocity fastball or a curveball with a high spin rate would have good stuff. 

Bullpen: A team’s group of relief pitchers. Relief pitchers or “relievers” are pitchers that are substituted for starting pitchers, and a “closer” is a reliever designated exclusively for the 9th inning. Major league rosters require 14 pitchers, so most teams have five starting pitchers and nine pitchers in the bullpen. The Houston Astros led the MLB in 2022 with a bullpen ERA of 2.80.

Farm System: A farm system refers to a major league team’s minor league affiliates and the prospects on those minor league teams. For example, the nearby Hillsboro Hops are the high-A team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Minor league teams are often composed of young prospects that aren’t ready for the big leagues or players that just aren’t good enough for the MLB. Teams with multiple highly rated prospects in the minors have good farm systems.  

Tommy John Surgery: Elbow stabilization surgery used to repair a torn UCL. The procedure was first successfully used on Yankees pitcher Tommy John in 1974, hence its name. Tommy John is one of the most important sports surgeries due to the fact that elbow injuries for pitchers are often career-ending without the surgery. Players often take a year to two years to fully recover from Tommy John.

Division Predictions and Teams to Watch

American League East 

  1. Yankees: 98-64
  2. Blue Jays: 94-68
  3. Orioles: 91-71
  4. Rays: 90-72
  5. Red Sox: 68-94

Team to Watch: Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore’s long rebuild is finally beginning to come to fruition. They have a group of young players and prospects that will be formidable – in about three years. While the Orioles aren’t totally there yet, they still boast enough young talent to make a serious playoff push, even in a division as cutthroat as the AL East. They are headlined by prodigious catcher Adley Rutschman, who is perhaps the best talent that the position has seen since Buster Posey. The Oregon State legend was taken first overall in 2019 and he has no holes in his game. Rutschman is already on fire to start the season, going 5-5 with a home run and four RBIs on Opening Day. He could make an MVP case in only his second year in the league. He’s joined by top shortstop prospect Gunnar Henderson, who is the frontrunner for AL Rookie of the year. Henderson is already off to a decent start this year, and his excellent contact skills and defense will make him a star. Their pitching rotation is merely average, but they will get a massive boost in July when ace John Means finally recovers from Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, the Orioles will rely on solid performances from Dean Kremer and Kyle Gibson. The rotation also features Grayson Rodriguez, the number one pitching prospect in baseball, who received the call-up last week. It’s kind of crazy that a team can have three rookie of the year contenders, but that just speaks to how bright the future is in Baltimore. The bullpen is another strength for the Orioles. Flamethrowing closer Félix Bautista came on strong late last year as a rookie, recording 15 saves with a 2.19 ERA. They also have elite setup man Cionel Pérez, who had a 1.40 ERA in 66 appearances last year. Looking to the future, the Orioles have had the number one farm system in baseball for four years in a row, with an astounding six top 100 prospects still waiting in the wings. With three blue-chip youngsters and a seemingly endless stream of top prospects in their farm system, Baltimore looks like a lock to be contending for championships in the near future. But even though they’re not quite at that level yet, we still expect them to make the playoffs this year. The future is now for the baby birds.

American League Central

  1. Chicago White Sox: 93-69
  2. Cleveland Guardians: 90-72
  3. Minnesota Twins: 87-75
  4. Kansas City Royals: 76-86
  5. Detroit Tigers: 53-109

Team to Watch: Chicago White Sox

Back in 2021, the White Sox were one of the best teams in baseball, winning the AL Central thanks to an elite hitting corps and pitching staff. Last year, though, it was tough sledding on the south side, as the White Sox regressed badly and finished 11 games out of the playoffs. However, this team still has most of the core that made them contenders in 2021. Looking through this lineup and pitching staff on paper, it’s hard to believe that this team didn’t make a deep playoff run last year. Their bats include sluggers such as Luis Robert Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Eloy Jiménez, and 2019 batting champion Tim Anderson. In the rotation, there are big names such as Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito, but the staff is headlined by Dylan Cease. The lefty emerged last year as a legit Cy Young contender, employing a slider that is arguably the best pitch in the entire league. The bullpen has flamethrower Michael Kopech as well as solid relievers such as Kendall Graveman and Garrett Crochet. Chicago was dealt a huge blow last year when three-time all-star closer Liam Hendriks was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins’ Lymphoma. Hendriks announced last week that he is now cancer-free, and said he will return to the team soon. With all this talent at their disposal, the White Sox grossly underachieved last year, and there’s one reason why – Tony La Russa. While La Russa is a legendary manager, his outdated style became a massive detriment to the team in 2022. La Russa drew the ire of just about everyone in the MLB for his strict adherence to baseball’s “unwritten rules.” La Russa even went after his own players for breaking these rules, with the prime example being publicly slandering catcher Yermin Mercedes for hitting a grand slam on a 3-0 count. The White Sox finally fired him this off-season, and with a more capable manager, this team should go back to being a contender in the American League. The AL Central is a relatively weak division, so a playoff spot might just be theirs for the taking.

American League West

  1. Houston Astros: 101-61
  2. Seattle Mariners: 97-65
  3. Texas Rangers: 89-73
  4. Los Angeles Angels: 70-92
  5. Oakland Athletics: 48-114

Team to watch: Seattle Mariners

While it looks like the Houston Astros will continue their dominance into the 2023 season, the Seattle Mariners aren’t going anywhere. If anything, they are just getting started. Last year, the Mariners made the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons, and were able to win the wild card game while at it. They ultimately fell short to the Astros in round two, but the Mariners showed promise in that series. Over the off-season, they added to their already loaded lineup by trading for Teoscar Hernandez from the Toronto Blue Jays, who boasts stellar outfield defense, along with home run power. Hernandez joins former rookie of the year Julio Rodriguez in the outfield, along with another promising young outfielder Jarred Kelenic. Along with Hernandez, Seattle traded outfielder Jesse Winker to Milwaukee for second baseman Kolten Wong. Wong fills a major hole in the Mariners’ infield, as they did not have a reliable everyday second baseman in 2022. On the mound, the Mariners would be enthused for the repeat of 2022, and a repeat of last year’s pitching performance from the entire staff will be important if the Mariners want to make a run deep into October. Starting pitcher Luis Castillo will play a major role in the starting rotation, but if the Mariners can see big seasons from Logan Gilbert, Robbie Ray, and George Kirby, the entire league should be on notice. Seattle is a team to watch in 2023, and also a team to watch for years to come. 

AL Playoff Picture

East: Yankees

Central: White Sox

West: Astros

Wild Card Teams: Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles

National League East

  1. New York Mets: 110-52
  2. Atlanta Braves: 99-63
  3. Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
  4. Miami Marlins: 65-97
  5. Washington Nationals: 50-112

Team to watch: New York Mets

It’s hard to mention the NL East without mentioning the New York Mets. They came up short in their quest to win it all in 2022, and while many knew they would be active in the free agent market, nobody thought they would be as active as they were. While they lost their ace in Jacob deGrom, they replaced him well. Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander signed on to join the Mets, along with Jose Quintana and Japanese righty Kodai Senga, who will join former Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. They brought in David Robinson to join the bullpen, who may be called upon to close out games due to all-star closer Edwin Diaz’s season-ending knee injury. On the pitching front, the Mets look even more dominant than ever. On the offensive side of the ball, the Mets made sure they brought back center fielder Brandon Nimmo, who is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. They still have dominant bats on the roster, with the likes of Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, and Starling Marte, who look poised to be even better than they were last season. A late season skid coupled with a red-hot San Diego Padres squad spoiled their World Series chances last year, but expect the Mets to be a better pitching and hitting team then they were last year, and be ready for them to make a deep run in October. 

National League Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals – 101-61
  2. Chicago Cubs – 88-74
  3. Milwaukee Brewers – 87-75
  4. Cincinnati Reds – 59-103
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates – 55-107

Team to Watch: Chicago Cubs

When the Cubs broke their 106-year curse and won the World Series in 2016, a lot of fans expected a dynasty to follow. However, Chicago was never quite able to match that in the following years, and team legends that brought that championship such as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are now gone. In fact, the only player still associated with the team from that 2016 run is manager David Ross, who many remember as the 40-year-old catcher who hit a home run in game 7 of the World Series. This off-season was one of immense change for the Cubs. Star catcher Willson Contreras, the last of the players from 2016, left for arch rivals St. Louis in free agency, which had to sting for Cubs fans. However, Chicago more than made up for his loss with a few big acquisitions. Superstar shortstop Dansby Swanson arrived from Atlanta in free agency, and he already looks to be worth every penny, as he’s off to a scorching start in 2023. First baseman Trey Mancini joins him after beating cancer and enjoying a solid 2022 season. However, outfielder Cody Bellinger is by far the biggest wild card. A former MVP in 2019, Bellinger has seen his production fall off a cliff in the ensuing years. He’s still only 27 years old with top-of-the-line defense and positional versatility, and I expect him to rebound offensively in a new situation with less pressure. These three join a suddenly deep lineup that includes big bats such as Patrick Wisdom, Seiya Suzuki, and Ian Happ. Pitching-wise, the Cubs have a borderline ace in Marcus Stroman as well as veterans Kyle Hendricks and Jameson Taillon leading the rotation. However, the bullpen is a massive question mark for the team. They don’t have a proven closer. In baseball, you never truly appreciate good closers until you don’t have one, and since trading away Craig Kimbrel in 2021, the Cubs haven’t been able to consistently close out games. Look for them to address this at the trade deadline. A lot has to go right for Chicago, but if Bellinger and Swanson can deliver, the Cubs’ bats will be able to carry them into the playoffs.

National League West

  1. San Diego Padres: 99-63
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers: 97-65
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks: 81-81
  4. San Francisco Giants: 73-89
  5. Colorado Rockies: 61-101

Team to watch: Arizona Diamondbacks 

Back in 2021, the Diamondbacks were tabbed by many to be a sneaky playoff team. They got off to a mediocre start before embarking on one of the most embarrassing stretches of baseball the league has ever seen. From May 12 through June 30 of that year, the Diamondbacks went 5-41. Because of this, many people still dismiss Arizona as a punchline. But much like a real rattlesnake, the Diamondbacks have been lurking in the shadows, slowly building one of the best farm systems in the league. Now, while nobody is looking, they may finally start making noise this season, and don’t be surprised if they sneak their way into the playoffs. Arizona was helped tremendously by trading outfielder Daulton Varsho to Toronto. While Varsho fills a need for the Blue Jays, the Diamondbacks definitely won this trade, as they got back a decent bat in Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and a top catching prospect in Gabriel Moreno. These two join a lineup with plenty of underrated bats. First baseman Christian Walker was one of the majors’ preeminent power bats last year, slugging 36 home runs. Ketel Marte is one of the best swiss army knives in the league, but he’s finally moving back to second base, which is where he’s found the most success. However, the crown jewel in Arizona is left fielder Corbin Carroll, one of the best prospects in baseball. Carroll is already the fastest player in baseball as a rookie, and despite his diminutive stature, his bat has plenty of pop. He’s a true 20/20 threat and should easily challenge for NL Rookie of the Year. The top of the pitching rotation is also solid, but it’s headlined by Cy Young contender Zac Gallen, who has shown steady improvement each season he’s been in the league. While Arizona will be good this year, the D-Backs’ true potential is still far from being realized. They boast the third-best farm system in the league, with two top 15 prospects in shortstop Jordan Lawlar and outfielder Druw Jones. Don’t let their past two seasons fool you – the Diamondbacks are scary.

NL Playoff Picture:

East: Mets

Central: Cardinals

West: Padres

Wild Card Teams: Braves, Dodgers, Cubs

World Series Predictions


Brooks’ Pick: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Atlanta Braves – Atlanta Wins 4-2

This year, both leagues are wide-open. There’s no clear favorite, unlike last year, when the Astros and Dodgers were clearly the best regular season teams in their respective leagues. In the American League, Toronto has the deepest lineup in the MLB. I’m expecting a big bounce back from José Berríos, which would provide a massive boost to the rotation. While their bullpen is merely good, the bats on this team should be able to carry them to the World Series. In the NL, Atlanta is simply loaded. They have established star bats like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley as well as budding second-year superstar Michael Harris II. Atlanta also boasts an excellent rotation headlined by Max Fried and Spencer Strider, and if Mike Soroka returns to the rotation this season, Atlanta will have a deadly three-headed pitching monster. The Braves also acquired Raisel Iglesias at the deadline last year, and he should be able to consistently close out games from the bullpen. With their blend of postseason experience and star power, I expect the Braves to win the World Series in six games.

Andrew’s Pick: Seattle Mariners vs. New York Mets – Mets win 4-3

Picking the World Series winner in 2023 is hard. There are obvious powerhouse teams, but all of these teams have weaknesses. I love the lineup that the San Diego Padres will put out on a nightly basis, but I don’t see their pitching staff holding strong enough to propel them to the World Series.The Houston Astros could repeat as champions, but teams rarely repeat as world champs. Could this be the year the New York Yankees finally pull it together? I don’t think so. In the AL, the Seattle Mariners have the potential to be the toughest team to beat come playoff time. They have four starting pitchers who all can give hitters nightmares, and have a pretty deep lineup, which ultimately is needed to be a true threat at taking home the trophy. In the NL, the New York Mets will be unstoppable. The starting rotation, along with the bullpen, are just too loaded, and will blow by any team they face prior to the World Series. Francisco Lindor will make his case as the best shortstop in baseball this year, along with the rest of the team’s bats, who will come alive in October. This is the year that the stars align. Steve Cohen will get his money’s worth, and the New York Mets will be World Series champions. 

10 Players to Watch in 2023


Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners

Third time’s the charm, right? Fighting for an outfield spot on a loaded Seattle Mariners team, the former top 3 MLB prospect is poised for a big year. After a pretty disappointing rookie and sophomore campaign, Kelenic looks like he’s about to bounce back and be a contributor in the Mariners lineup. He’s off to a promising start this season, and look for him to carry that energy through the rest of 2023. 

Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

When Bryan Reynolds requested a trade this offseason, the rumors started floating around: Would Reynolds be a Yankee? Would Reynolds be a Blue Jay? Would Reynolds be a Dodger? Well, it turns out that Reynolds is still a Pirate, and it turns out, he is still really good at hitting the baseball. Reynolds had a subpar year in 2022 compared to his all-star campaign in 2021, seeing his OPS drop from .912 to .807. Players make adjustments and bounce back from down years all the time, so look for Reynolds to return to all-star form in 2023, and also look for him to be a part of a new team. 

Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

Wander Franco has been a household name for a few years now, so why would the former number one prospect be on a “players to watch” list? Well, that is because he hasn’t been the player everyone expected him to be yet. This is mainly due to injury, as he has only played a combined 153 games through his first two seasons in the majors. When he’s played, Franco has shown flashes of greatness, and assuming he plays close to a full season in 2023, he should bloom into the MVP caliber player many expect him to be. 

Daulton Varsho, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

It’s hard to not love Daulton Varsho. The former Arizona Diamondback looks poised to be a part of a deep Toronto lineup, and should benefit from being surrounded by all-star caliber hitters. The former catcher/outfielder will play mainly outfield for the Blue Jays, which is definitely his strong suit. The 26 year old flew under the radar last year, but quietly had a good season, finishing with an OPS+ of 109. Look for Varsho to build off this success and be a key bat for the Blue Jays this season. 

Amed Rosario, SS, Cleveland Guardians

At this stage in his career, Rosario is best known as the guy who got traded for Francisco Lindor in 2021. Since arriving in Cleveland, Rosario has been under the radar, while Lindor has (mostly) been successful for the Mets. However, Rosario has quietly become a 20/20 threat for the Guardians. Rosario offers sneaky pop, decent contact, great speed, and excellent defense, and he’s still only 27. The former top prospect has increased his offensive output each year he’s been in the league, batting .283 in 2022, so look for him to make a huge offensive leap this year. 

Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox

What in the world happened to Chris Sale? That is the question that just about every baseball fan has been asking over the past few years. After a 7-year run as perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the league not named Clayton Kershaw, Sale seemingly fell off the face of the earth after Boston’s 2018 title run. His underwhelming 2019 season was followed by three straight years marred by injuries. Sale made 11 starts total from 2020 to 2022, and it’s not as if Sale was known for being injury-prone earlier in his career – he led the MLB in innings pitched as recently as 2017. Now, Sale finds himself well on the wrong side of 30 with a laundry list of injuries, and 2023 might be his last chance to return to form. The talent that made him one of the greatest strikeout artists of all time is still there, but that version of Sale is fading away more and more with each injury.

Cody Bellinger, OF, Chicago Cubs

Cody Bellinger embarked on a truly dominant 2019 campaign with the Dodgers, slugging 47 home runs and 155 RBIs en route to the NL MVP at just 24 years old. With one of the prettiest swings in the game and Gold-Glove defense, the sky seemed to be the limit for Bellinger. However, ever since a shoulder injury sustained in game 7 of the 2020 NLCS, the ensuing seasons have been horrific. The aforementioned shoulder injury along with an additional foot injury caused Bellinger’s confidence to crater, leading to the statistical worst season ever by a former MVP. With a nightmarish .165/.240/.302 slash line, Bellinger went from one of baseball’s most valuable players to one of its least. 2022 wasn’t much better, and now the former MVP and Rookie of the Year will get a fresh start on a one-year “prove it” deal with Chicago. He’s still only 27 years old, his defense is as good as ever, and the talent is still there. If Bellinger can rediscover even 80% of the player he used to be, it will be a comeback story for the ages.

Hunter Greene, SP, Cincinnati Reds

The supremely talented Greene was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high schooler, dubbed the next Babe Ruth for his hitting and pitching prowess. Greene has since ditched the hitting portion of his game, focusing solely on pitching, which got him drafted second overall by Cincinnati in 2017. Greene had to have Tommy John elbow surgery during his time in the minors, but that hasn’t affected his electric stuff, which includes a 102-mph fastball and a ferocious slider. Greene had the second-highest average fastball velocity in the league among starting pitchers as a rookie last year, but the home run was his Achilles heel. Greene allowed 24 of them, which contributed to his 4.44 ERA. If he can improve his command this year, Greene’s raw talent will truly shine, and he should be a bright spot on an abysmal Reds team. -Brooks

Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Guardians

Coming in at 6’5” and a paltry 165 pounds, Triston McKenzie looks like he could be blown over by a strong gust of wind. But don’t let his frame fool you; “Sticks” is one of the most formidable young pitchers in the league. From the moment he first stepped onto the mound in the MLB, McKenzie has boasted one of the best curveballs in the business, but command and the home run were always a big issue. In the 2022 season, McKenzie was able to get his pitches under control and limit the long ball, resulting in a 2-point drop in his ERA from 4.95 to 2.96. Entering his age-25 season, look for McKenzie to contend for the AL Cy Young on a loaded Guardians pitching staff. -Brooks

Sixto Sanchez, SP, Miami Marlins

Youtube creator Jolly Olive recently asked the question every baseball fan was thinking: What happened to Sixto Sanchez? The Marlins righty had a very surprising rookie season in 2020, supporting a 3.46 ERA with 39 innings pitched in the shortened season. After that, Sanchez dealt with injury that kept him out of the first half of the 2021 season, but then, Sanchez seemingly disappeared. Sanchez is slated to be a part of the Marlins rotation again in 2023, and look for him to pick up right where he left off, with a high chase rate, and high fastball velocity. -Andrew

Award Predictions


AL MVP – This award is given to the American League’s most valuable player.

Brooks’ Pick: Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

Byron Buxton is perhaps the most talented player in baseball. His outfield defense and speed are arguably the best in the league, and he boasts huge power and an advanced approach at the plate. Buxton has every tool you could ask for in a player — except durability. Buxton’s last full season was in 2018, and he has seen back-to-back incredible campaigns derailed by knee injuries. Buxton was the MVP frontrunner through 61 games in 2021 before a season-ending injury, and last year he was on pace for 49 home runs before another surgery knocked him out for half the year. While it’s risky to bet on players as injury-prone as Buxton, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the sport’s very best when healthy. If he can stay healthy this year, the sky’s the limit.

Andrew’s Pick: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

Should Ohtani have won this award over Aaron Judge last year? Maybe. It took a historic hitting season from Judge to beat Ohtani out, but assuming Judge doesn’t leave the yard 62 times this year, Ohtani will win this award easily. Nobody out there is starting a game on the mound, while also hitting cleanup, and doing both at an elite level. The Los Angeles Angels won’t win a ton of games this year, but this isn’t the NBA where your team needs to be good for you to win MVP. As long as Ohtani performs anywhere close to how he performed last year, he walks away with this award easily, and sets himself up to sign the biggest contract in MLB history this offseason. 

NL MVP – This award is given to the National League’s most valuable player.

Brooks’ Pick: Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

After an ACL tear sustained in 2021, Acuña Jr. was subdued during the 2022 season, where he saw his prodigious power limited. Acuña Jr. admitted that his knee was still bothering him last year, but he should be at full strength now. Watch out, because a full-strength Acuña Jr. is one of the most dangerous hitters in the league. Acuña Jr. is one of the few true five-tool players in today’s league. He’s an excellent hitter in every direction, his power is incredible, he’s fast, and he plays brilliant defense in right field. With his knee healthy again, Acuña Jr.’s power and speed will go back to being near the top of the MLB. A 30/30 or even a 40/40 season is well within reach for Acuña this year.While San Diego’s Juan Soto will undoubtedly challenge for this award, I expect Acuña Jr. to bring home the MVP in 2023.

Andrew’s Pick: Juan Soto, San Diego Padres

What many baseball fans have been waiting on for years will finally happen in 2023: perennial MVP Candidate Juan Soto will finally take home the award, and he will do it convincingly. After being traded from the Washington Nationals, who were bottom feeders in the National League, Soto will benefit from being in a powerhouse lineup in San Diego. More pitchers will be forced to throw him competitive pitches, as he got walked a ton in Washington since there were no other hitters in the lineup to score him. What will Soto do with more competitive pitches? One word: Rake. Last year, Soto was in the 85th percentile or higher for numerous hitting stats, like max exit velocity, hard hit percentage, barrel percentage, strikeout percentage (which means he did not strikeout often) and walk percentage (which means he walked often). He shows no signs of slowing down, as he is only 24 years old, and is approaching a contract year, meaning he has more to play for. While his outfield defense won’t carry him to this award, his bat will do him wonders, beating out candidates such as Trea Turner, Nolan Arenado, and Paul Goldschmidt

AL Cy Young – This award is given to the best pitcher in the American League.

Brooks’ Pick: Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays

Last year, McClanahan broke out in the way most fans expected him to, posting a 2.54 ERA and displaying greatly improved command. McClanahan was actually the Cy Young frontrunner heading into the All-Star break, as he led the league with a 1.71 ERA and started the All-Star game for the American League. Unfortunately, McClanahan tailed off to end the year, lagging behind eventual winner Justin Verlander as the Rays dealt with widespread injury issues. Now, entering his age-26 season with a better defense behind him, McClanahan will dominate. McClanahan has always boasted electric stuff, with a high-90s fastball complemented by a deadly 90-mph slider, but his command over his pitches dictates how great he can be. His control has improved drastically since his rookie season, and a more consistent 2023 will see the lefty take home his first Cy Young. Luis Castillo and teammate Tyler Glasnow will definitely contend, but McClanahan is too filthy to be denied.

Andrew’s Pick: Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners

In my eyes, there is absolutely no way Castillo doesn’t win this award. Castillo was pretty dominant last year, finishing with a 2.99 ERA, and an ERA+ of 130. He was traded at the deadline last season, moving from the Cincinnati Reds to the Seattle Mariners. 2023 will be his first full season with the Mariners, who are better than the Reds in almost every aspect of the game. Castillo looked great against a talented Guardians squad on Opening Day, so watch for him to continue this dominance all season long in Seattle, and establish himself as the no-doubt ace in a loaded Mariners rotation.

NL Cy Young – This award is given to the best pitcher in the National League.

Brooks’ Pick: Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers

Corbin Burnes’ 2019 season was one of the worst pitching seasons we’ve ever seen in the MLB. Coming out of the bullpen, Burnes posted a shocking 8.82 ERA, allowing 48 runs in 49 innings pitched. After that year, Burnes went into Milwaukee’s starting rotation and morphed into one of the most devastating pitching weapons in the league. Burnes has had a sub-3.00 ERA every year since then, taking home the 2021 Cy Young in dominant fashion. Burnes led the NL in strikeouts last year, and entering his age-28 season, there’s no reason why Burnes won’t be even more dominant this year. Burnes pairs a deadly cutter with a wipeout slider and a high-90s fastball, making him one of the best strikeout artists in the league. While Milwaukee has two other starters that could win this award with Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, Burnes is far and away the best of the bunch, and he will cruise to his second Cy Young in 2023.

Andrew’s Pick: Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins

Aside from Jacob deGrom, Sandy Alcantara may be one of the best pitchers I have ever watched pitch. Alcantara put the league on notice when he won the NL Cy Young award unanimously in 2022, and now Alcantara will look to cement himself as the best pitcher in the league outright. In terms of innings pitched, Alcantara is an absolute workhorse, who pitched a MLB high 228.2 innings in 2022, and was dominant while doing it, throwing to the tune of a 2.28 ERA. Batters simply could not hit Sandy in 2022 and what’s to say they will all the sudden find barrels this season? Sandy should coast past other Cy Young candidates such as Zac Gallen and Justin Verlander to win his second consecutive Cy Young in 2023.

AL Rookie Of The Year – This award is given to the American League’s best rookie. MLB rookies are required to have been on an active roster for less than 45 days, so a player that debuted at the end of last season can technically still be a rookie. 

Brooks’ Pick: Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees

The AL Rookie of the Year race will likely come down to two shortstops: Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson vs. New York’s Anthony Volpe. I’m going to go with Volpe here, as he is the more well-rounded player. While Volpe doesn’t have a major standout trait, there aren’t really many flaws in his game either – Volpe does everything well. This should make him incredibly pro-ready as a rookie, whereas Henderson may struggle early. In a media market as massive as New York, Volpe will get a massive boost in the news, especially if he is successful out of the gate. If he can get early success for the most famous and visible team in the league, it will be hard to pick against Volpe.

Andrew’s Pick: Masataka Yoshida, Boston Red Sox

Masataka Yoshida is a name to learn, ASAP. Most of us haven’t seen Yoshida play yet, as he is just coming to the MLB from Japan, but if there is anything you need to know it’s this: Yoshida can hit. In Japan last year, he had a slash line of .336/.449/.559, and had an OPS+ of 1.007. Those numbers are crazy high, and Yoshida would’ve had the highest batting average in the MLB last year if he was in the league. Yoshida’s lowest OPS was .856, which was in 2016, and his OPS has increased every year since. Assuming Yoshida keeps up with this trend and learns how to hit American pitching, he will win the AL rookie of the year in 2023. 

NL Rookie of the Year – This award is given to the National League’s best rookie. 

Brooks’ Pick: Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks

Corbin Carroll has been one of the top prospects in baseball for a long time, and it’s easy to see why. He has excellent contact skills, adequate power, and good outfield defense. However, his calling card is his top-of-the-scale speed. Carroll is already the fastest player in the sport, as he led the MLB in sprint speed last year with a blistering 30.7 ft/sec. The increase in base size this year will make Carroll even more of a threat on the basepaths. In his 32-game audition at the end of the 2022 season, Carroll showed that he was more than ready for the show, posting a .260 batting average along with a .830 OPS (on-base plus slugging), which was 33% better than the league average. Carroll will pick up right where he left off in 2023, and his MLB-ready skillset should make him the clear Rookie of the Year and a 20-20 threat for years to come.

Andrew’s Pick: Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks

Welcome to the majors, Corbin Carroll! While hardcore fans and MLB casuals alike begin to learn Carroll’s name, Carroll will be quick to wow them. Carroll is the fastest player in the league, period. If you don’t believe the numbers, head to Baseball Savant, a website loaded with MLB stats, race the top players for yourself, and watch Carroll win. He is fast. Carroll uses this immense speed on the base paths, but he also uses it in the outfield , where he is a plus defender. While the likes of Mets pitcher Kodai Senga and Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker will challenge Carroll for this award, Carroll should take home the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year. 

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About the Writers
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Brooks Coleman, Assistant Editor

Brooks Coleman is a senior at La Salle. He has lived in the Sellwood-Moreland area of Portland his entire life.

Prior to attending La Salle, Brooks...

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Andrew Keller, Staff Reporter

Andrew Keller is a junior at La Salle. He has lived in the city of Portland his entire life, and loves the neighborhood that he lives in. He went to St....

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