Baseball is a tough game to prognosticate. It’s a long season full of injuries, slumps, hot streaks, and surprises. Each and every season, some team that no one saw coming makes a run at a playoff spot, while a team everyone thought would be there in the end stumbles and falters.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be bombarded with predictions from the so-called experts, though. So who will this year’s surprise team be? Who will fall short? Who will be suspended for using some weird performance enhancer like deer pee? The answers are all here.
5 Some jackass will get busted for steroids.
It happens every year, without fail, and we aren’t talking about some inconsequential guy no one cares about, either. Like last year, when slugger Melky Cabrera, who was firing on all cylinders and had seemingly found his place in the Majors, tested positive. Expect the same this year: 2013 will yield yet another revelation exposing an All Star level player. Who will it be? Washington Nationals young hotshot Bryce Harper. Because chemical alteration seems like the only logical explanation for what exactly makes that guy act like such an unrelenting douche.
4 The Angels Dream Team will fall short.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Disney World look insane on paper. They have Mike Trout, arguably the best and most versatile young player in the league. They have Albert Pujols, still considered by many to be the best hitter in all of the Majors. They signed Josh Hamilton, who is one of the greatest natural hitters we’ve seen in years, when his head is right. And their pitching staff is full of winners top to bottom. But will it all come together? Baseball has proven to be a sport in which the high payroll super-team just doesn’t seem to work. Don’t be surprised to see the Halos make an early playoff exit.
3 The Reds will reach the World Series.
It’s been a long time since the Cincinnati Reds have landed in the big one, but this could be their year. Coming off an NL Central title in 2012, the Reds are chock-full of young talent, led by the guy with easily the best mafia name in all of sports, Joey Votto. If Votto can stay healthy, he and Jay Bruce will anchor a formidable offense that’s buffered by one of the best young pitching staffs in the game. Johnny Cueto’s continued improvement should have him in the conversation for the NL Cy Young, and Aroldis Chapman, whether as a starter or reliever, can still fire it in there at 100+ mph.
2 The Pirates will continue to improve.
This could be the first season in decades in which Pirates fans have a legitimate reason to feel some reserved preseason optimism. After a great start to the 2012 season, the Pirates fizzled out and wound up finishing with a record under .500. However, they finished in the middle of a tough division, and showed significant signs of improvement for the second year in a row. Led by Mr. Everything, Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates have added veteran catcher Russell Martin and have a bevy of young talent on their roster. They may not break into the playoffs just yet, but the Pirates are headed in the right direction.
1 The Yankees will show their age.
The Yanks already look old and the season hasn’t even started. Mariano Rivera, who could very well be in his late-50s for all we know, is coming off a torn ACL and announced that he’ll retire at season’s end. Derek Jeter is coming off a horrific ankle injury that he suffered in an even more horrific playoff series. Alex Rodriguez’s steroid-addled body seems to be completely betraying him, as he recovers from offseason hip surgery. Mark Texeira and Curtis Granderson are both starting the season on the DL. All this adds up to the Bombers opening day lineup being about as recognizable as the non-Timberlake members of N*Sync. Could be a long year in the Bronx.