2022 MLB expert picks: World Series predictions, sleepers teams, best rookies and more

2022 MLB expert picks: World Series predictions, sleepers teams, best rookies and more

We filed one by one into a dimly lit, cigarette smoke-filled backroom of the FanSided office. It was late, we were all tired from the MLB Lockout wearing everyone down and the ensuing free agency frenzy that followed, but we had made it.

Opening Day was almost here. The light at the end of a long winter tunnel.

Mark Powell was already there because he’s early for everything, and Thomas Carannante arrived not long after already cursing the Yankees. Joel Wagler showed up next and was somehow accidentally on mute even though he wasn’t on a video call. Aaron Somers and Kurt Mensching were next, and were mid-Simpsons reference.

Stains of our previous predictions tattooed the walls around us, but this year will be different. The sun is setting on our bad takes from last season and the sun is rising on a new baseball season.

This year we will be correct on the internet.

Among the things we will be correct about predicting:

  • Who will win baseball?
  • Who will be the most exciting rookie?
  • What sleeper should everyone buy stock in now?
  • 1 team guaranteed to disappoint their fans in 2022
  • Biggest free agent regret
  • Our biggest fear about our favorite team
  • What has us excited to watch our favorite team this season?

We probably won’t be right, but that’s most of the fun in making these preseason predictions. Everything is fresh and just about anything is possible. Just look at how things played out last year.

Heading into last season the Giants were supposed to be among the league’s worst teams but ended up with the best record in baseball, dethroning the Dodgers as NL West champs. Mike Trout was everyone’s AL MVP pick but it was his teammate Shohei Ohtani who ran away with the award as he dominated the league. The Padres, a sexy World Series pick, failed to even make the postseason.

Who Wins Baseball This Year?

Robert MurrayFanSided.com MLB Insider: Everyone. There weren’t many people who thought that the regular season would be 162 games or even start (somewhat close) to on time, but here we are. I thought it would start at some point in June and be a scramble to get as many games in as possible. Give me the Dodgers in 6 games.

Kurt Mensching, MLB Director: The Seattle Mariners. It’s kind of hard to dislike a team from Seattle anyway, right? Easy to root for. They had a great season last year and they’re adding another big prospect, Julio Rodriguez, to the mix. It could be the team everyone wants to see win.

Thomas Carannante, Content Director: New York Yankees

Adam Weinrib, Content Director: Steve Cohen, the only owner willing to go above and beyond to better his team — and the most Trending Man in the sport. Cohen’s like a vintage internet spam ad: MLB Owners Hate Him Because of This One Weird Trick.

Mark Powell, FanSided.com Senior Editor: Us? It’s a lame answer, but considering a group of billionaires tried to extort the game itself, I’ll settle for Opening Day at a semi-reasonable date. You’re all winners (insert Oprah gif)

Joel Wagler, FanSided Senior Sports Director: Toronto Blue Jays

Aaron Somers, Senior Director of Operations: Wander Franco. Wandermania is going to be in full effect this year.

Certified Correct Stone Cold Lock World Series Prediction

Robert: Dodgers-Blue Jays

Kurt: Braves vs. White Sox. Let’s be honest, I’m wrong about these more often than not. It’ll probably just end up like Marlins vs. Orioles or something.

Thomas: New York Yankees vs Milwaukee Brewers

Adam: Blue Jays-Dodgers, and we’ll all learn who isn’t vaccinated!

Mark: Dodgers defeat White Sox, 6 games: As much as I try to convince myself otherwise, the Dodgers look like the class of the NL barring injuries. As for the White Sox, fighting through an improved AL Central could actually benefit them. The South Siders looked asleep at the wheel at times late last regular season, and it clearly impacted them in the playoffs. Can’t get away with that in 2022.

Joel: Blue Jays vs Dodgers

Aaron: Dodgers vs. Blue Jays

Who Will Be The Most Exciting Rookie in 2022?

Robert: Bobby Witt Jr. is the most obvious answer here, so I’ll go in a different direction: Julio Rodriguez. This kid is going to be really, really good and pairs with Jarred Kelenic in Seattle for one of baseball’s most exciting young duos.

Kurt: I really want to say one of my hometown Tigers, but I’d be lying if I chose one of them over Bobby Witt Jr., this year. The Royals have a real future superstar on their hands, he should be fun.

Thomas: Bobby Witt Jr.

Adam:  Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins

Mark: Seiya Suzuki, for good or bad reasons, will be the most exciting rookie in 2022. We have no idea how his NPB numbers will project to MLB, or if there will be a learning curve. ZiPS projects his slash-line at .287/.351/.480 with moderate power. In one of the best baseball markets in the world, the uncertainty alone is enough to fuel the news cycle for months.

Joel: Bobby Witt, Jr, Kansas City Royals

Aaron: This is going to be a fun one to watch, with a rookie class that could be of epic proportions.

 

Sleeper Player or Team to Buy Stock In Now

Robert: Tyler O’Neill. Does he count as a sleeper? If he cuts down on his strikeout rate, he’ll be in the conversation of being baseball’s next star. In fact, he’s my sleeper pick to win National League MVP.

Kurt: Is it too early to mention by own team, the Tigers? And are they even a sleeper now? Every move they make, social media lights up in praise of what a good team they’re becoming. But they’re not there yet. Things still need to go right to be a playoff contender. So I’m going to call them my sleeper.

Thomas: Seattle Mariners

Adam: Bryson Stott, Philadelphia Phillies

Mark: Jeremy Peña, Astros. He slashed .350/.381/.700 this spring and has 20/20 potential out the gate.

Joel: Kansas City Royals

[Ed. Note: Well, not really a note but I want everyone to know the eye roll that just happened at the extreme hometown bias Joel is displaying. I’ll allow it, however, and dub this the Going Down With The Ship Like The Captain Of Titanic Award. I respect the blind faith.]

Aaron: Seattle. This is the year the playoff drought ends.

 

1 Team Guaranteed to Embarrass Its Fans in 2022

Robert: It’s a toss up between the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland A’s. Both teams aggressively sold off this offseason, with evaluators lauding what the A’s landed for Matt Olson and others, while heavily critiquing the Reds. One executive recently commented that it seemed like the Reds had “no plan,” highlighting how they let Wade Miley go for nothing while trading Amir Garrett for a big contract in Mike Minor. Both teams figure to be really bad in 2022. Alternate option: Baltimore Orioles.

Kurt: 

Next question.

Thomas: San Diego Padres

Adam: New York Mets, handling a Jacob deGrom injury like it’s their first time

Mark: The A’s, sadly (sorry, Matt Verderame). Even should they overachieve, their ownership group is hellbent on shedding payroll. How many times can this franchise flirt with a Las Vegas move? This isn’t a bachelor party. Oakland traded every player with an ounce of potential away before the start of the season. Frankie Montas could be next.

Joel: Boston Red Sox

Aaron: Oakland is too easy an answer, so this honor will fall to the Guardians. It’s going to be a long, disappointing year in Cleveland.

 

Biggest Free Agent Regret

Robert: Marcus Semien. I don’t dislike giving him $25 million per year, I just don’t like doing it over seven seasons. I have a feeling there will be buyers remorse there and could be a situation similar to how the San Diego Padres have been trying to shed Eric Hosmer’s contract to no avail the last 12 months.

Kurt: Max Scherzer to the Mets. I’m not hating — Max is one of my favorite players in the game. But $130 million for three years for a 37-year-old starting pitcher just seems like a team feeling desperate to win immediately overpaying. It’s already showing signs that it might not end up well for them.

Thomas: Max Scherzer

Adam: Yankees letting Red Sox grab Trevor Story

Mark: Kris Bryant, and it has nothing to do with Bryant himself. He’ll put up big numbers at Coors. The man got his money. But what are the Rockies doing? There’s a reason very few in the industry understood this move from the outset. Colorado will be bad and eventually — perhaps a few years from now — we’ll have the Nolan Arenado situation play out all over again.

Joel: Kris Bryant, Colorado Rockies

Aaron: Texas. Bold moves are one thing and it’s nice seeing them taking steps forward but that Corey Seager contract will not age well.

Biggest Fear About Your Favorite Team

Robert: I don’t have a favorite team, so here’s a thought about all 30: injuries. There is a fear that we will see a LOT of injuries, especially early on in the season.

Kurt, Tigers fan: Last year the Tigers took a step forward that was a little unexpected.

Thomas, Yankees fan: The Yankees will choke…again.

Adam, Yankees fan: Sudden Injury Onslaught ruining all the good vibes

Mark, Tigers fan: I’ve been having Detroit Tigers bullpen nightmares since 2004. But this year, the realistic fear is a step back despite the amount of young talent on the roster. It’s not something the Tigers can afford at this stage in their development.

Joel, Royals fan: Royals young pitchers not developing

Aaron, Yankees fan: Brian Cashman has his contract extended.

Why Are You Excited About Your Favorite Team in 2022?

Robert: Baseball is back, there has never been this much talent, and teams are actually putting their top prospects on their Opening Day rosters. Let’s get weird.

Kurt: The Tigers are finally coming out of the five-year slumber they’ve been in! They’ve been aggressive this offseason, have some great young pitchers continuing to advance forward, and have the debut of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene to look forward to.

Thomas: That the Yankees saved up their farm system for a potential huge trade deadline deal that will make them true juggernauts.

Adam: Improved defense! Gary Sánchez’s departure and upgrades literally everywhere.

Mark: Young talent/finally putting the pieces together. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Matt Manning…the list goes on. He’ll be just the seventh player to have 3,000 hits along with 500 home runs. What a player.

Joel: I like the Royals old-school style offense, which should be lots of fun to watch

Aaron: After the owners locked everyone out for no reason I’m just happy to have the game back again.

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