The 10 MLB Teams to Watch Out for This Year and Why

The 10 MLB Teams to Watch Out for This Year and Why

Ever since the Atlanta Braves defeated the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series on November 2nd, MLB teams have focused their efforts on preparing for the upcoming season. Trades, free agent signings, call-ups, call-downs – teams have a lot of decisions to make.

Unfortunately, those decisions are going to have to be put on hold for the time being. MLB teams and their players are currently in a lockout as the league negotiates an updated collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA). 

That seems easy enough, but disagreements between the two sides have halted any progress and it’s delaying the start of the 2022 MLB season – which was originally scheduled to begin on March 31 and end on October 2nd. It’s a massive disappointment for baseball fans everywhere. 

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Which MLB Teams Are Poised for a Successful Season?

The 10 MLB Teams to Watch Out for This Year and Why
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Although MLB teams aren’t allowed to talk to free agents, sign free agents, or swing any trades, they can still start to plan and prepare for the season ahead. The lockout isn’t going to last forever and the regular season will start eventually – at which point MLB teams must be ready. 

With all this uncertainty in the MLB community, there’s no better time to start speculating about the season ahead than right now. After all, it’s not like we’re going to see any exciting news until the lockout ends – so we may as well discuss what we do know about MLB teams this season.

If you’re looking for your daily fix of baseball talk, we’ve got it right here! Despite not having a full idea of what rosters will look like next season, we’re going to detail 10 MLB teams that are poised to have successful seasons in 2022. Who knows, maybe one of them will win it all!

10. New York Yankees

The New York Yankees, managed by Aaron Boone, finished the 2021 season with a 92-70 record – good enough for third in the American League East. They had a rough first half of the year and were 41-41 at one point, but they won 51 of their last 80 games to finish the season.

The Yankees entered the postseason as the No. 5 seed in the American League, but didn’t make it past the AL Wild Card Game after losing 6-2 to the rival No. 4 seed Boston Red Sox. It was the 12th straight season the Yankees failed to make it to the coveted World Series.

If the Yankees want to improve this season, they have several decisions to make once things kick back up. Perhaps their biggest question will be their starting rotation, more specifically their No. 2 pitcher alongside Gerrit Cole. They’ll also want to upgrade at shortstop and center field.

Of course, a majority of their success depends on the health of Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton. If any three of those players go down with the team they have right now, their season could quickly turn to a disaster. Consistency in other areas will be mandatory. 

9. Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays, managed by Charlie Montoyo, finished the 2021 season with a 91-71 record – good enough for fourth in the American League East (one game behind the Yankees). It was the team’s best season since 2015, though they failed to make it to the postseason. 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had another impressive season, leading the team in batting average (.311), home runs (48), and runs scored (123). Hyun-jin Ryu led the team in wins with 14 on the year, while Robbie Ray led the team in ERA (2.84), WHIP (1.04), and strikeouts (248). 

Losing Robbie Ray to the Seattle Mariners will hurt their starting rotation, but they can easily build another quality rotation around Ryu, Jose Berrios, and Alek Manoah. Berrios was a trade acquisition by the team and Manoah just completed his rookie season in the major leagues. 

At the plate, the Toronto Blue Jays boast one of the most exciting and promising young cores in baseball. Behind Guerrero Jr., the team has Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and George Springer. Hernandez led the team in RBIs (116) and Bichette led the team in stolen bases (25).

8. San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants, managed by Gabe Kapler, finished the 2021 season with a 107-55 record – good enough for first place in the National League West. The team was known for its young coaching staff, using a lot of pinch hitters, and going through a lot of pitchers each game.

Brandon Crawford led the team in at-bats, runs scored, hits, doubles, runs batted in, batting average, walks, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He was also one of three players to hit at least 20 home runs, alongside Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt.

Although they won 107 games a season ago, the Giants are bound to take a step back this season. With that said, they should remain in contention. They lost Kevin Gausman to the Toronto Blue Jays, but managed to re-sign Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani this winter.

At the plate, they relied heavily on veteran players that, while they played exceptional, will likely regress this upcoming season. With Buster Posey retiring, they’ll have some big shoes to fill at catcher. Still, I think this team is a top-ten team and will likely make a run for another title.

7. Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox, managed by Alex Cora, finished the 2021 season with a 92-70 record – good enough for second place in the American League East. They’re the third team from that division to make our list, joining the Yankees and Blue Jays, but they won’t be our last. 

The Red Sox defeated the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game and later defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Divisional Series. Unfortunately, they couldn’t move past the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, effectively ending their season.

The team should be in good shape heading into the 2022 season, especially with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Alex Verdugo, and Bobby Dalbec to lean on at the plate. At their best, the Boston Red Sox are one of the most lethal teams on offense. 

With that said, they could use some reinforcements to their pitching rotation. It’ll be nice to have Chris Sale back for a full season (hopefully) and Nathan Eovaldi led the team last season, but losing Eduardo Rodriguez will hurt their pitching depth and they could use better relievers. 

6. Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers, managed by Craig Counsell, finished the 2021 season with a 95-67 record – good enough for first place in the National League Central division. They boasted one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball and made the postseason for the fourth straight year.

They were matched up against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Divisional Series, but didn’t perform as well as they would’ve liked. They won Game 1, but dropped the next three games to the eventual World Series Champions, which must’ve left a bitter taste in their mouth.

The good news is the Brewers are in line to have yet another successful season with all five of their starting pitchers from a year ago returning in 2022. That’s not a good sign for opposing batters, who struggled against the rotation all year long. It’ll be the team’s strength yet again.

With that said, the Brewers need to do something about their batting, which was mediocre at best. They finished in the middle of the pack in most team batting statistics, which isn’t going to get it done in this league – evidenced by the two straight shutouts they suffered in the playoffs.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers, managed by Dave Roberts, finished the 2021 season with a 106-56 record – good enough for second place in the National League West division. They started the year 13-2 and matched that momentum throughout the regular season, just as they always do.

As the defending champions from 2020, the Dodgers had high expectations heading into their ninth straight postseason appearance. They beat the Cardinals in the Wild Card Game and beat the Giants in the NLDS, but couldn’t get the job done against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

The Dodgers will be one of the best teams in the league again next season, but don’t expect to see the same roster take the field. They have a laundry list of free agents and while Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor have re-signed with the team, several other key players haven’t.

Trevor Bauer is likely gone, Max Scherzer signed with the Mets, Clayton Kershaw is still a free agent, and Corey Seager declined his qualifying offer. Don’t worry, they still have the likes of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Max Muncy, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Will Smith.

4. Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox, managed by Tony La Russa, finished the 2021 season with a 93-69 record – good enough for first place in the American League Central division. It was their first season under La Russa and he led the franchise to their best record since the 2005 season.

With the White Sox clinching their spot in the postseason, it marked the first time in franchise history that the team went to the postseason in back-to-back years. They were matched up against the Houston Astros and ended up losing the American League Divisional Series 3-1.

Despite a disappointing end to the season, the White Sox have one of the most promising rosters in the MLB. It’ll be interesting to see if Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and Yasmani Grandal stay healthy. It would also be nice to see some improvement out of Andrew Vaughn

On the pitching side, the White Sox have one of the best bullpens in the league. They still have the option of trading Craig Kimbrel and though Carlos Rodon remains a free agent, they have Michael Kopech waiting to take his spot in the rotation. The future is bright for this young team.

3. Houston Astros

The Houston Astros, managed by Dusty Baker, finished the 2021 season with a 95-67 record – good enough for first place in the American League West division. It was their fourth division win in the past five years and the sixth time they’ve made the postseason in the past seven years. 

The team cruised through the Chicago White Sox 3-1 in the ALDS and defeated the Boston Red Sox in six games in the ALCS, but couldn’t get past the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. The Astros led that series 2-1 after three games, but were outscored 23-3 in the next three games.

Although the Astros are set to lose Carlos Correa this offseason, they have a replacement in Jeremy Pena if they can’t find anyone better. They also have plenty of talent returning in 2022, including Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Michael Brantley.

On the pitching side of things, they’ll be pleased to have Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, and Luis Garcia returning to the team. McCullers Jr. led the team in wins (13), ERA (3.16), and strikeouts (185) last year. Valdez and Garcia combined for 22 wins with room for improvement.

2. Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves, managed by Brian Snitker, finished the 2021 season with an 88-73 record – good enough for first place in the National League Eastern division. Although their record wasn’t the best, they managed to win their first World Series title since 1995. It was a storybook ending.

The team had three players hit at least 30 home runs – Austin Riley (33), Freddie Freeman (31), and Ozzie Albies (30) – and that’s not including Ronald Acuna Jr., who hit 24 home runs in just 82 games (the other three players played nearly double that. All four could return in 2022. 

The biggest offseason question for the Braves is whether or not they’ll see Freeman back in uniform. It has to be their No. 1 priority and it’s something that will likely get done once they can resume talks. If he returns and Acuna Jr. stays healthy, this team is going to be dynamite. 

On the mound, having a healthy Charlie Morton would be nice following his injury in the World Series. They could improve with their bullpen, but it’s not necessarily a weakness either. Expect them to make a run for 100 wins this year, something the franchise has only done eight times.

1. Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays, managed by Kevin Cash, finished the 2021 season with a 100-62 record – good enough for first place in the American League East. They’re the fourth team from that division on this list and each for good reason – they all finished the season with at least 90 wins.

The Rays finished atop the division for the second straight year and after winning Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox, they lost the next three games and saw their season come to a screeching halt. It was a disappointing end to a season they easily could’ve gone all the way. 

It’s crazy to think that the Rays managed to score more runs than the Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays. With Wander Franco returning and the eventual emergence of Josh Lowe and Vidal Brujan, this team is in good hands moving forward. Expect their offense to be on-point.

It’s also crazy to think that while the Rays won 100 games last season, the two pitchers they used the most finished the season with ERAs above 5.00. They can improve that rotation by leaning on  Shane McClanahan, Luis Patino, Drew Rasmussen and Shane Baz in 2022. 

Which MLB Teams Have a Long Way to Go?

Predicting how the MLB season is going to go is always extremely difficult. Not only do you have to get over the fact that anything can happen – even the unthinkable or improbable – but you have to factor in the long, 162-game season ahead of us (though it’ll likely be shortened). 

With so much uncertainty, it’s very likely that one, multiple, or all of the 10 teams we listed above have disappointing seasons. Likewise, we could see some weaker teams impress us as the season goes on. You never truly know what might happen, which is what makes it so exciting. 

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While the teams listed above are set up for success, some of the teams that have an uphill battle include Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, and the Colorado Rockies. 

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