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MLB Opening Day is Today

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

After last night’s season opener, all of baseball joins in as the 2013 season kicks off.

MLB Opening Day is Today

Even though the first game was officially played last night, MLB's opening day is really today. The Houston Astros have the best record in baseball, and that's no April Fool's joke. The season kicks off a little after 1 PM, and that's also no April Fool's Joke. Baseball is finally back, but it always seems to creep up on me. With all the excitement surrounding March Madness and the NBA playoffs approaching, MLB can sometimes get swept under the rug. But once baseball really gets going, we will all appreciate that it has returned.

In lieu of a season preview, I will instead share one prediction for each division (with playoff predictions at the bottom of the post).

AL East

The Blue Jays won't win the division. On paper, the Blue Jays had the best offseason of maybe any team in baseball. They pillaged the Miami Marlins, trading for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. They signed Melky Cabrera. They still have Jose Bautista striking fear in the hearts of pitchers. But even with all of those moves, I still think the Jays will fall short in the division. 

My pick in the East is the Tampa Bay Rays. Even though their bullpen probably won't be as solid as last year, they still have David Price, Matt Moore and a healthy Evan Longoria to start the year. I think the Jays have a great shot to end their playoff drought, but all of their big moves won't lead to a division title.

AL Central

The Royals will finish above .500 this year. Kansas City hasn't had a winning season since 2003, and they only went 83-79 that year. The Royals still have a lot of work to do, but they have a solid foundation in place with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. James Shields and Ervin Santana have the potential to solidify the starting rotation, and if the supporting cast can contribute, this team could easily improve by 10+ wins and get that elusive winning record.

Unfortunately, that won't be enough to compete in the AL Central with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and even the improved Cleveland Indians. KC will be good enough to shake things off, but I don't think they will compete for a playoff spot.

AL West

The A's will repeat as division champs. The Oakland A's kind of came out of nowhere last year to win the AL West. It also took a heck of a collapse by the Texas Rangers and an underwhelming season from the LA Angels, but the A's won it just as much as those other teams lost it. 

Oakland returns the same core from last year, and even though the Angels are stronger with the addition of Josh Hamilton, the Rangers are weaker and the addition of the Astros to the division means more opportunities for Oakland wins against opponents they should beat. I believe that both the A's and Angels will make the post season this year, but Oakland has the chemistry to bring home the division title again.

NL East

The Braves will miss the playoffs. The Braves made a splash this offseason when they got not one, but both Upton brothers. Putting them in the same outfield as Jason Heyward makes for an imposing group, but the rest of the lineup certainly needs work. While they have solid pitching in the rotation and in the pen, this isn't Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine we're talking about.

The Braves will fall short to the Nationals, who will build off last season's big campaign by adding Denard Span and Dan Haren to their roster. Combine that with full seasons from Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, and the Nationals seem primed to make a deep playoff run.

NL Central

St. Louis will win the division. The popular pick in the NL Central is the Cincinnati Reds, and why wouldn't they be? They won the division last year by nine games over the second-place Cardinals. They return basically the same team from last year, so why should things be any different?

Even though the lineup is still a fairly rag-tag group, I like St. Louis' pitching to be the great equalizer. There's enough juice in the lineup from Holliday and Beltran to produce offense, and that will be enough to dethrone the Reds from atop the division.

NL West

The Dodgers will win the Wild Card, not the division. The LA Dodgers overtook the Yankees this year for highest payroll in the league, but they will soon figure out that all that spending doesn't always translate to success on the field. Things pop up, like Hanley Ramirez already going on the disabled list. Even without Ramirez, the Dodgers still boast an All-Star assortment of talent with Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier patrolling the outfield and Adrian Gonzalez at first base. The rotation isn't too shabby either.

But it still won't be enough to compete with the San Francisco Giants, who have one of the best teams from top to bottom in all of baseball. The rotation is solid (and could be outstanding if Tim Lincecum has a bounce-back year), the lineup is potent and they are coming off a magical World Series run. It's tough to pick anyone but them to bring home the crown.

Playoff Predictions

AL Division Winners: Rays, Tigers, Athletics. AL Wild Cards: Angels, Red Sox

NL Division Winners: Nationals, Cardinals, Giants. NL Wild Cards: Dodgers, Reds

World Series: Nationals over Rays in 6 games.

Based on my March Madness predictions, these forecasts should be immediately dismissed.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see your favorite MLB action all season long.

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