Opening Day of the 2022 MLB season is just a day away. With rosters nearly finalized and Spring Training wrapping up after a wild offseason, here are eight bold, or perhaps not-so-bold, predictions for teams or players for 2022.
- Giancarlo Stanton will lead the American League in home runs
With lots of mashers in the American League, the 2017 NL MVP still remains one of the best. Stanton hit 35 home runs last season, despite playing only 13 games in May and batting under .220 in July. If he can find the middle ground between those struggles and his unstoppable play from August and September, and if he stays healthy, Stanton can play in 150 games for the Yankees, and that can lead to a 40-plus home run season which could lead the whole American League.
- Jacob deGrom will not make 15 starts this season
Staying in the “Big Apple,” the Mets’ superstar hurler is unhittable when he pitches. However, availability is the best ability in sports and that area of his game has been deGrom’s worst in recent years. deGrom only made 15 starts last year, and what made matters worse was once he got hurt, he never pitched again in 2021. He will start 2022 missing at least one month, and unfortunately, that time on the shelf could easily go up given his age, 33, and recent history.
- The Tigers will win at least 84 games
Detroit dominated the AL Central in the first half of the 2010s. That quickly devolved into becoming a consistent 95-loss team for a short time. Now, with players like Austin Meadows, Javier Baez and top prospect Spencer Torkelson leading the lineup, and hurlers like Eduardo Rodriguez and Casey Mize leading the pitching staff, the Tigers are set up to keep the bounceback going. Since the Royals are still far away from success, the Twins’ pitching is so shaky and the Cleveland Guardians are regressing, it is the Tigers’ time to step back into the spotlight.
- The Phillies’ outfielders will hit 120 combined home runs
Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper now has Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber joining him in the outfield for 2022. Those three players combined for 101 home runs in 2021. Castellanos missed 24 games last season, Schwarber missed 49 and Harper missed 21 despite his stellar campaign. If all of these players keep up the All-Star-level play in 2022, while also cutting their missed games in half, they can easily surpass the 120 home run mark next season.
- The Padres will win less than 81 games in 2022
San Diego might have an elite rotation led by Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, the newly acquired Sean Manaea and metric tons of additional depth. However, the team’s best player, Fernando Tatis Jr., will miss significant time in 2022, and its bullpen is very suspect. Mark Melancon led the pen last year and he is gone with no closer brought in to replace him. Meanwhile, The Dodgers remain incredibly loaded and the Giants still have lots of their core coming back for 2022. San Diego will only go so far without a key asset and a depleted bullpen.
- The Blue Jays will hit over 300 home runs in 2022
Toronto’s lineup for 2022 is terrifying. Led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and Matt Chapman and others, this core can slug its way past any pitcher or any team. If all four of these star players stay healthy, they can combine for over 120 home runs. Add on the potential production from Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Cavan Biggio and Alejandro Kirk and this lineup will get well over 200. While every other AL East pitching staff will tremble at this squad, the Blue Jays can slug their way to a division title and much more in 2022.
- Luis Robert will finish no lower than third for AL MVP in 2022
Health was a big problem for the 24-year-old in 2021 as he played just 68 games. However, a positive is that he showed the superstar talent the White Sox knew he had in that time. Robert disappointed with his collapse at the end of 2020, and now he looks like a top-ten caliber player. If he stays healthy in 2022, Robert can be good for 200 hits, 30 home runs and superb defense and baserunning. No player has a greater chance to break out than Robert leading the White Sox next season.
- Albert Pujols will reach 700 home runs
The ageless wonder returns to St. Louis, where he spent 11 seasons and won three MVPs and two World Series, and will retire after 2022. He needs 21 homers to become just the fourth player to reach 700 for a career. He would join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in that uber-exclusive club. With the National League adding the designated hitter in 2022, Pujols will have a chance to get 400 or more at-bats, and that could be enough for him to reach the ultimate milestone. The future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer has one more milestone to reach and one season to do it.