Saturday, January 29 2022

With the World Series in the books and the Atlanta Braves crowned Major League Baseball’s champions, it’s officially fair game to prognosticate on who’s going to win next year.

The baseball landscape will look a bit different in 2022 with the league expected to institute a universal designated hitter and tweak some rules, including the controversial extra-innings format instituted in 2020.

A number of baseball’s top teams have important players up for free agency and the offseason will be hugely consequential as all parties jockey to be in the best situation heading into spring training come February.

Here’s a look at some of the teams that (right now) could be favored to win the World Series, some teams with work to do and others that could surprise:

The favorites

Atlanta Braves: Say what you will about how the 88-win Braves got here, but the World Series champions will add Ronald Acuña Jr. back to the lineup in 2022.

Los Angeles Dodgers: There are a few variables this winter with shortstop Corey Seager a free agent, but this group should be expected to be among the league’s elite teams and make a 10th consecutive postseason appearance in 2022.

Houston Astros: This team got back to the World Series without Gerrit Cole, George Springer and Justin Verlander (injured), but they’re likely to lose Carlos Correa to free agency this winter. Even without their longtime shortstop, the offense should be among baseball’s best in 2022.

Tampa Bay Rays: There may be some turnover for this 100-win team, but Tyler Glasnow should return from injury and Wander Franco will continue his development after an impressive rookie campaign.

Mookie Betts' Dodgers and Ozzie Albies' Braves have won the last two World Series titles.Mookie Betts' Dodgers and Ozzie Albies' Braves have won the last two World Series titles.

Mookie Betts’ Dodgers and Ozzie Albies’ Braves have won the last two World Series titles.

The next tier

San Francisco Giants: For a team that just won 107 games, there’s a lot of uncertainty for next year. But with a ton of money coming off the books, the Giants should be able retain some of their pitchers and add a bat (bring back Kris Bryant), they should be in the hunt for a postseason spot.

Chicago White Sox: The core is in place, they’ve made the playoffs two years in a row and with a few improvements (second base, back end of the rotation), the White Sox will be a trendy pick to win the World Series in 2022.

Milwaukee Brewers: They’ve got one of the best staffs in baseball with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta and the defending NL Central champions will have to be the division favorite heading into 2022.

They’ll be back(?)

New York Yankees: Hard to imagine the Yankees won’t sign one of the top free agent shortstops this winter in Carlos Correa, Corey Seager or Trevor Story.

Boston Red Sox: Certainly some things to iron out this winter, but they have one of the best lineups in baseball and are expecting a full season from Chris Sale.

St. Louis Cardinals: They made the postseason with a 17-game winning streak in September but have holes to fill all over the roster heading into the winter.

Work to do

Toronto Blue Jays: Even if they can’t bring back left-hander Robbie Ray or second baseman Marcus Semien, Toronto will have an elite lineup, with Jose Berrios and Hyun-jin Ryu leading the rotation.

San Diego Padres: They expect right-hander Mike Clevinger (2.96 ERA from 2017-2020) to be ready for spring after missing 2021 following Tommy John surgery.

Philadelphia Phillies: They haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 and (still) need a closer and a center fielder.

New York Mets: They have big decisions to make this winter with Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard all free agents.

Oakland Athletics: Wouldn’t be surprising to see Matt Chapman and/or Matt Olson traded this winter.

On the rise

Detroit Tigers: They went 68-61 after May 8, have some promising young pitchers already making an impact and should welcome top prospect Spencer Torkelson to the majors at some point in 2022.

Miami Marlins: Their rotation ranked in the top half of baseball with a 4.08 ERA this year and the young staff will get back Sixto Sanchez, who missed all of 2021.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB 2022 contenders: Who are World Series favorites?

Source: Yahoo Sports

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