FanGraphs 2023 Staff Predictions

Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

After an offseason marked by big free-agent contracts, big bases, and the introduction of the pitch clock, the 2023 season is almost upon us; we made it. And on this, the morning of Opening Day, we engage in our annual tradition of asking our staff to open themselves up to public ridicule and predict the year in baseball. Some of these predictions will prove to be prescient; others will make their forecaster feel a little silly. Last year’s Mariners? Our staff thought they’d finally bring an end to the franchise’s playoff drought, and wouldn’t you know it, they did just that. The division-winning Cleveland Guardians? We fared less well. Such is the prognostication business.

We asked the staff to predict the playoff field, pennant and World Series winners, and the individual award recipients. Folks from FanGraphs and RotoGraphs weighed in; here are the results.

American League

Our playoff predictions for the Junior Circuit closely resemble those from last year. We think the Astros will once again take the West, and we have the Mariners set to make a return trip to postseason play via one of the Wild Card spots. The presence of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, coupled with a reinforced rotation and the return of Anthony Rendon, netted the Angels a few votes. And while signing Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, and Andrew Heaney wasn’t enough to catapult the Rangers past Houston, Seattle, or Los Angeles, it did get them out of the division’s basement; last year, they received no support from our staff despite having added Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.

The Guardians and Twins each garnered 12 votes for the division crown, though Cleveland edged Minnesota in Wild Card support. The White Sox, who last season received 21 of the 23 division votes, received just three this year to go along with scant Wild Card support. What a difference 12 months and at least as many injuries make.

Meanwhile, we expect the AL East to send three teams to the postseason once again. And despite our playoff odds giving the Yankees the best chance of winning the division as well as the highest odds of winning the World Series of any team in the AL, the staff thinks the Blue Jays will take the East. That said, New York still matches Toronto in total votes. The Rays also show well, though primarily in the race for the second and third Wild Card spot.

Staff Predictions: AL West
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Wild Card 3 Playoffs
Houston Astros 24 1 1 0 26
Seattle Mariners 2 3 7 7 19
Los Angeles Angels 1 0 2 2 5
Texas Rangers 0 0 3 1 4
Oakland A’s 0 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: AL Central
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Wild Card 3 Playoffs
Cleveland Guardians 12 0 2 5 19
Minnesota Twins 12 0 0 2 14
Chicago White Sox 3 0 0 1 4
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Kansas City Royals 0 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: AL East
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Wild Card 3 Playoffs
Toronto Blue Jays 19 5 2 0 26
New York Yankees 6 15 3 2 26
Tampa Bay Rays 1 3 7 7 18
Baltimore Orioles 1 0 0 0 1
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 0 0

American League: One Seed
Team Votes
Houston Astros 19
Toronto Blue Jays 6
New York Yankees 2

American League: Two Seed
Team Votes
Toronto Blue Jays 12
Houston Astros 5
Minnesota Twins 4
New York Yankees 3
Seattle Mariners 1
Baltimore Orioles 1
Tampa Bay Rays 1

National League

Last year, the Dodgers were the only unanimous division winner our staff selected in either league. This year, they’re a unanimous playoff selection, but in keeping with their diminished playoff odds, we like the Padres to win the West. San Diego is also a unanimous playoff selection, making the NL West the only division with two such teams. The Diamondbacks also garnered five Wild Card votes. It’s not enough to make them a postseason team, but it’s a definite boost from last year’s shutout.

We expect the Cardinals to repeat as NL Central champs, though the Brewers don’t show terribly. Still, the Central is the only division to have only two teams receive playoff votes; we see the Cubs as being more than a Dansby Swanson away. Lastly, the NL East is as stacked as it’s geographic counterpart in the AL; the Braves receive unanimous support, with the Mets not far behind and the defending NL pennant winners also expected to play October baseball. We expect Atlanta to repeat as division champs, but it’s much closer than either the West or Central, a testament to the strength of the Mets.

Staff Predictions: NL West
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Wild Card 3 Playoffs
San Diego Padres 24 0 3 0 27
Los Angeles Dodgers 3 6 16 2 27
Arizona Diamondbacks 0 0 0 5 5
San Francisco Giants 0 0 0 1 1
Colorado Rockies 0 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: NL Central
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Wild Card 3 Playoffs
St. Louis Cardinals 23 0 0 1 24
Milwaukee Brewers 4 0 1 6 11
Chicago Cubs 0 0 0 0 0
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 0 0 0 0
Cincinnati Reds 0 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: NL East
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Wild Card 3 Playoffs
Atlanta Braves 17 10 0 0 27
New York Mets 10 10 3 1 24
Philadelphia Phillies 0 1 4 11 16
Miami Marlins 0 0 0 0 0
Washington Nationals 0 0 0 0 0

National League: One Seed
Team Votes
San Diego Padres 10
Atlanta Braves 8
St. Louis Cardinals 4
New York Mets 4
Los Angeles Dodgers 1

National League: Two Seed
Team Votes
San Diego Padres 11
Atlanta Braves 5
New York Mets 5
St. Louis Cardinals 4
Los Angeles Dodgers 2

Pennant and World Series Winners

Given their anticipated division dominance, it isn’t surprising to see the Astros and Padres well represented in their respective pennant races, nor is it a shock to see the Blue Jays and Mets get votes. I am a little surprised the Braves didn’t fare better in that regard. As for the eventual winner of the Fall Classic? If we’re right, the denizens of Petco Park will claim their first World Series victory in franchise history.

American League Pennant Winner
Team Votes
Houston Astros 11
Toronto Blue Jays 10
New York Yankees 4
Los Angeles Angels 1
Minnesota Twins 1

National League Pennant Winner
Team Votes
San Diego Padres 13
New York Mets 7
Atlanta Braves 3
St. Louis Cardinals 3
Los Angeles Dodgers 1

World Series Matchups
Matchup Votes
Toronto Blue Jays vs. San Diego Padres 6
Houston Astros vs. San Diego Padres 4
Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves 3
Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Mets 3
New York Yankees vs. San Diego Padres 3
Houston Astros vs. New York Mets 2
Los Angeles Angels vs. New York Mets 1
Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals 1
Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers 1
Toronto Blue Jays vs. St. Louis Cardinals 1
Minnesota Twins vs. St. Louis Cardinals 1
New York Yankees vs. New York Mets 1

World Series Winner
Team Votes
San Diego Padres 11
Toronto Blue Jays 5
Atlanta Braves 3
St. Louis Cardinals 2
New York Mets 2
Los Angeles Angels 1
Houston Astros 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
New York Yankees 1

Individual Awards

Last year, 10 different players received AL MVP votes from our staff, with no player garnering more than seven votes (out of 23). Well, after witnessing another year of Ohtani’s two-way magic, there’s a good deal more consensus, with the Angel (or is he a unicorn?) netting 18 of 27 votes.

Staff Predictions: AL MVP
Player Votes
Shohei Ohtani 18
Mike Trout 3
Yordan Alvarez 2
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1
Aaron Judge 1
José Ramírez 1
Adley Rutschman 1

When Jacob deGrom pitches, he’s the best pitcher on the planet. Whether he’ll do so often enough to win his third Cy Young award, and his first in the AL, is the question. He leads the way here, just as he does on our Depth Chart projections — his forecast of 5.3 WAR in just 163 innings of work is tops in baseball. Gerrit Cole and Ohtani offer compelling alternatives.

Staff Predictions: AL Cy Young
Player Votes
Jacob deGrom 7
Gerrit Cole 5
Shohei Ohtani 4
Kevin Gausman 2
George Kirby 2
Shane McClanahan 2
Framber Valdez 2
Shane Bieber 1
Luis Castillo 1
Dylan Cease 1

AL East rookies received 24 of the 27 votes for AL Rookie of the Year, with Gunnar Henderson leading the way. The no. 1 overall prospect in baseball was just 14 at-bats shy of graduating from rookie eligibility last year, which coincidentally is how many votes he received from our staff.

Staff Predictions: AL RoY

Juan Soto is projected for 6.6 WAR and a 168 wRC+. Both marks lead NL hitters, though the reality of his down 2022 — a .242/.401/.452 line, 145 wRC+, and 3.8 WAR — perhaps helps to explain the presence of other hitters here. Not that any of them would be unworthy. Indeed, with the exception of Alonso, all of the remaining vote-getters are in the top 10 of projected WAR among NL hitters, and Alonso checks in at no. 19.

Staff Predictions: NL MVP

The NL Cy Young race is an exciting mix of veteran stars and intriguing young hurlers. Burnes, the top vote-getter here, won in 2021 on the back of a 7.5 WAR season that saw him post a 2.43 ERA and a 1.63 FIP, though the fact that he only threw 167.0 innings raised some eyebrows. His 2022 wasn’t quite as strong, though he answered the durability question in the affirmative — his 202.0 innings were fourth in the majors behind only eventual unanimous Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, Aaron Nola, and Miles Mikolas.

Staff Predictions: NL Cy Young

And you thought we liked Gunnar Henderson. Corbin Carroll, the no. 2 prospect in baseball, runs away with it here, pun strongly intended. Carroll’s 32-game debut resulted in a .260/.330/.500 line (130 wRC+), 1.4 WAR, and an eight-year, $111 million extension this offseason.

Staff Predictions: NL RoY
Player Votes
Corbin Carroll 22
Jordan Walker 3
Brandon Pfaadt 1
Kodai Senga 1

That’s the whole shebang. Each voter’s full ballot for each league is below; these tables are sortable. We’ll check in on how close to right we were when the season wraps up and look forward to writing about all of the ways we end up being surprised in the meantime. We hope you’ll tag along. Happy Opening Day, everyone!

Full Staff Predictions

2023 Staff Predictions: American League
Author West Central East WC1 WC2 WC3 1 Seed 2 Seed
Alex Eisert HOU MIN NYY TBR TOR CLE HOU NYY
Alex Sonty HOU CHW TOR NYY TEX SEA TOR HOU
Ariel Cohen HOU CLE TOR TBR SEA NYY HOU TOR
Ben Clemens HOU MIN BAL NYY SEA TBR HOU BAL
Birchwood Bros. HOU CLE TOR NYY LAA CHW HOU TOR
Chad Young HOU MIN TOR NYY CLE SEA HOU MIN
Chris Gilligan HOU MIN NYY TOR SEA CLE NYY HOU
Dan Szymborski HOU CLE TOR NYY TBR SEA HOU TOR
David Laurila SEA MIN TOR NYY HOU CLE TOR MIN
Davy Andrews HOU CLE TOR NYY TBR LAA HOU TOR
Eric Longenhagen HOU MIN NYY TOR TEX CLE HOU MIN
Esteban Rivera HOU CHW NYY TOR TBR SEA NYY HOU
Jake Mailhot HOU MIN TOR NYY SEA TBR HOU TOR
Jason Martinez LAA MIN TOR NYY TEX TBR TOR MIN
Jay Jaffe HOU CLE TOR NYY TBR SEA HOU TOR
Jon Becker HOU CLE TOR NYY SEA MIN HOU TOR
Jon Tayler HOU MIN TOR NYY CLE TBR TOR HOU
Justin Mason HOU CLE TOR SEA NYY TBR HOU TOR
Kiri Oler HOU CLE TOR SEA NYY MIN HOU TOR
Kyle Kishimoto HOU CLE NYY TBR TOR LAA HOU NYY
Leo Morgenstern HOU CLE TOR NYY TBR TEX HOU TOR
Meg Rowley HOU MIN TOR NYY SEA TBR TOR HOU
Michael Baumann HOU MIN TOR SEA TBR NYY HOU TOR
Mike Podhorzer HOU CLE TOR NYY TBR SEA HOU TOR
Nicklaus Gaut SEA CLE TOR HOU NYY TBR TOR SEA
Paul Sporer HOU CHW TBR TOR LAA SEA HOU TBR
Tess Taruskin HOU MIN NYY TOR SEA CLE HOU NYY

2023 Staff Predictions: AL Individual Awards
Author MVP Cy Young RoY
Alex Eisert Ohtani deGrom Yoshida
Alex Sonty Trout deGrom Yoshida
Ariel Cohen Judge Gausman Henderson
Ben Clemens Y. Alvarez deGrom Henderson
Birchwood Bros. Ohtani Kirby Rodriguez
Chad Young Ohtani deGrom Volpe
Chris Gilligan Y. Alvarez Cease Casas
Dan Szymborski Ohtani Bieber Henderson
David Laurila Trout Kirby Casas
Davy Andrews Trout Ohtani Henderson
Eric Longenhagen J. Ramírez deGrom Henderson
Esteban Rivera Ohtani Cole Henderson
Jake Mailhot Ohtani McClanahan Henderson
Jason Martinez Guerrero Ohtani Colás
Jay Jaffe Ohtani Cole Volpe
Jon Becker Ohtani F. Valdez Henderson
Jon Tayler Ohtani Ohtani Yoshida
Justin Mason Ohtani Cole Brown
Kiri Oler Ohtani deGrom Henderson
Kyle Kishimoto Ohtani Ohtani Henderson
Leo Morgenstern Rutschman Gausman Henderson
Meg Rowley Ohtani deGrom Henderson
Michael Baumann Ohtani F. Valdez Brown
Mike Podhorzer Ohtani Cole Henderson
Nicklaus Gaut Ohtani McClanahan Yoshida
Paul Sporer Ohtani Castillo Casas
Tess Taruskin Ohtani Cole Henderson

2023 Staff Predictions: National League
Author West Central East WC1 WC2 WC3 1 Seed 2 Seed
Alex Eisert SDP STL ATL NYM LAD MIL ATL SDP
Alex Sonty SDP STL ATL NYM LAD PHI ATL SDP
Ariel Cohen SDP STL NYM ATL LAD PHI SDP NYM
Ben Clemens LAD STL NYM ATL SDP SFG LAD NYM
Birchwood Bros. SDP STL ATL NYM LAD MIL SDP STL
Chad Young SDP MIL NYM ATL PHI LAD NYM SDP
Chris Gilligan SDP MIL ATL LAD NYM STL ATL SDP
Dan Szymborski SDP STL ATL NYM LAD MIL ATL SDP
David Laurila SDP STL ATL LAD MIL ARI STL SDP
Davy Andrews SDP STL NYM ATL LAD PHI SDP STL
Eric Longenhagen SDP STL ATL PHI LAD ARI STL ATL
Esteban Rivera SDP STL NYM ATL PHI LAD SDP NYM
Jake Mailhot SDP STL ATL LAD NYM PHI ATL SDP
Jason Martinez SDP STL NYM ATL LAD PHI SDP NYM
Jay Jaffe SDP STL ATL NYM LAD PHI ATL SDP
Jon Becker SDP STL ATL NYM LAD PHI SDP ATL
Jon Tayler SDP STL ATL NYM LAD PHI SDP ATL
Justin Mason SDP STL ATL LAD PHI ARI STL SDP
Kiri Oler SDP STL ATL LAD PHI NYM ATL STL
Kyle Kishimoto SDP STL ATL LAD NYM MIL SDP STL
Leo Morgenstern SDP STL NYM ATL LAD PHI SDP NYM
Meg Rowley SDP STL ATL NYM LAD ARI SDP ATL
Michael Baumann LAD MIL NYM ATL SDP PHI NYM LAD
Mike Podhorzer SDP STL ATL NYM LAD MIL ATL SDP
Nicklaus Gaut SDP STL NYM ATL LAD MIL NYM SDP
Paul Sporer LAD MIL NYM ATL SDP ARI NYM LAD
Tess Taruskin SDP STL ATL NYM LAD PHI STL ATL

2023 Staff Predictions: NL Individual Awards
Author MVP Cy Young RoY
Alex Eisert Soto Nola Carroll
Alex Sonty Acuña Strider Carroll
Ariel Cohen Machado Scherzer Carroll
Ben Clemens Lindor Burnes Carroll
Birchwood Bros. Machado Scherzer Pfaadt
Chad Young Soto Woodruff Carroll
Chris Gilligan Soto Fried Carroll
Dan Szymborski T. Turner Burnes Carroll
David Laurila Machado Webb Walker
Davy Andrews T. Turner Strider Carroll
Eric Longenhagen Betts Gallen Carroll
Esteban Rivera Soto Burnes Carroll
Jake Mailhot Soto Strider Carroll
Jason Martinez Acuña Urías Walker
Jay Jaffe Machado Burnes Carroll
Jon Becker Soto Greene Carroll
Jon Tayler Betts Burnes Carroll
Justin Mason Acuña Gallen Carroll
Kiri Oler Arenado Strider Carroll
Kyle Kishimoto Betts Nola Carroll
Leo Morgenstern Machado Nola Carroll
Meg Rowley Machado Gallen Carroll
Michael Baumann T. Turner Burnes Senga
Mike Podhorzer Betts Burnes Carroll
Nicklaus Gaut Acuña Verlander Walker
Paul Sporer Alonso Woodruff Carroll
Tess Taruskin Soto Alcantara Carroll

2023 Staff Predictions: Pennant and World Series Winners
Author AL Pennant Winner NL Pennant Winner World Series Winner
Alex Eisert Houston Astros Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
Alex Sonty Houston Astros New York Mets New York Mets
Ariel Cohen Toronto Blue Jays New York Mets Toronto Blue Jays
Ben Clemens Houston Astros Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
Birchwood Bros. Toronto Blue Jays San Diego Padres Toronto Blue Jays
Chad Young Houston Astros San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Chris Gilligan New York Yankees San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Dan Szymborski Houston Astros Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
David Laurila Minnesota Twins St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
Davy Andrews Toronto Blue Jays New York Mets Toronto Blue Jays
Eric Longenhagen Houston Astros St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
Esteban Rivera New York Yankees New York Mets New York Yankees
Jake Mailhot Toronto Blue Jays San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Jason Martinez Toronto Blue Jays San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Jay Jaffe Houston Astros San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Jon Becker Toronto Blue Jays San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Jon Tayler Toronto Blue Jays San Diego Padres Toronto Blue Jays
Justin Mason Toronto Blue Jays St. Louis Cardinals Toronto Blue Jays
Kiri Oler New York Yankees San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Kyle Kishimoto New York Yankees San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Leo Morgenstern Houston Astros San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Meg Rowley Toronto Blue Jays San Diego Padres San Diego Padres
Michael Baumann Houston Astros New York Mets Houston Astros
Mike Podhorzer Houston Astros Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
Nicklaus Gaut Toronto Blue Jays New York Mets New York Mets
Paul Sporer Los Angeles Angels New York Mets Los Angeles Angels
Tess Taruskin Houston Astros San Diego Padres San Diego Padres





Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs and the co-host of Effectively Wild. Prior to joining FanGraphs, her work appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside. You can follow her on twitter @megrowler.

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soddingjunkmailmember
1 year ago

Look forward to this feature every year.

Can’t wait for the games to start!