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On-Deck Circle: Predicting winners of each MLB division

The next edition of On-Deck Circle won’t be released for two weeks. 

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

With MLB Opening Day coming up in about three weeks, there’s no better time to give my predictions on who will win each of the six divisions, along with the three Wild Card teams on each side that will advance to the playoffs come October. 

AL East: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles traded for former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes during the offseason, boosting an already strong rotation. The young talent the organization has developed in Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson will continue to improve as they gain more experience in the majors. 

They may even be joined by recent No. 1 overall draft pick Jackson Holliday. Baltimore has found the perfect combination of star power and youth development, putting them in a great position to repeat as division champs. 

AL Central: Minnesota Twins

Last year, the AL Central had just one team with a record above .500, the Twins. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that happened again. While the team will need to fend off the injury bug again, keeping their stars like Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis healthy, I think that will be enough to get them over the finish line in first place. 

AL West: Houston Astros

Last season, the Astros snuck by the Rangers on the final day of the regular season and claimed the division title. I think not only do they repeat, but it won’t be as close. 

After losing to the Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS, Houston comes back with a vengeance and dominates their division schedule. Similar to the Twins, if the team’s stars, Yordan Alvarez and José Altuve, can stay healthy, winning the division should be no problem. 

AL Wild Card: New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays

Here’s where things get interesting. 

After the division winners, there will be a slew of teams fighting for two Wild Card spots. While I think these three teams get in, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners or even the Cleveland Guardians find a spot in the postseason. The star power of the Yankees is enough to win the division, but I think they find themselves in the Wild Card. 

Coming off a World Series win, the Rangers will start slow but eventually find their footing and reach the postseason. The Rays, who have won at least 95 games per season in three out of the last four seasons, have another strong chance to do the same. 

NL East: Atlanta Braves

While the Braves have been eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies in the last two postseasons, they have won six straight division titles. Atlanta still has an elite team, headlined by reigning MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. 

Matt Olson and Austin Riley should provide strong secondary offense and with a healthy pitching staff, the team will be right back in the thick of things come the second or third round of the playoffs. 

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

Before the Milwaukee Brewers traded Corbin Burnes to Baltimore, I might have picked them to win. Instead, the division is wide open. Similar to the AL Central, this division might only have one team with a winning record. After finishing last in the division last season, the team added three starting pitchers, solving a major need. St. Louis had an active offseason, and it should be enough to win the division. 

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

This feels like the safest bet of any division winner. 

After signing international stars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the team is a clear favorite to win the World Series, let alone the division. It will be a tall order to take down the Dodgers after they made the top signings of the offseason to add to an already championship-caliber lineup headlined by Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

NL Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks

The Phillies have just as an elite team as the Braves, but I think they fall just short of the division title. 

Still, I think they get into the playoffs via the Wild Card. From there, anything is possible. After re-signing starting pitcher Aaron Nola, their rotation is as strong as ever. For the Giants, the signing of Jung Hoo Lee and Jorge Soler should prove beneficial. 

This team won’t take down the Dodgers, but should find themselves in the hunt for a Wild Card Spot. Similar to the Rangers, I think the Diamondbacks stay on a high from their Cinderella World Series run last year and make the postseason again. Don’t count out teams like the San Diego Padres or Chicago Cubs, though.

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