Gather ’round the amazing mystical magic baseball, an all-knowing oracle providing answers to the most burning questing facing Major League Baseball today. The process is simple, ask a yes or no question, consult the magic baseball, and await answers from the baseball gods. Some have called it clairvoyance, others would rather consult their ouija board, but the magic baseball is an otherworldly and powerful force not to be ignored.
Will the 2022 NL CY Young Winner be a New York Metropolitan?
The 2022 New York Mets pitching staff is shaping up to be one of the most formidable in the league. Perennial Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer signed as a free agent joining Jacob deGrom and the Mets before the lockout was instituted. Mets owner Steve Cohen has been busy during this fragmented offseason making the Mets a better baseball team and on March 12th right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt was acquired from the Oakland A’s via trade. The remaining two spots in the Mets’ starting rotation will primarily be held by Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. According to FanGraphs, the rotation as a whole is projected to lead the way in WAR at 16.8, the highest among all starting rotations in MLB.
Health is a big concern for this group of pitchers, Walker likely will start the season on the IL after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. DeGrom and Scherzer have both been workhorses for their teams in the past and it seems to have caught up with both players as they both dealt with injuries during the 2021 season. Injury prevention will be a huge job for the Mets training staff as this rotation has an average age of 33.8, but with that age comes a wealth of experience. Four of the five Mets starters have received Cy Young votes during their careers and there are a collective 5 Cy Young awards amongst the staff (Scherzer – 3, DeGrom – 2). Carrasco finished fourth in the AL vote as recently as 2017 and Bassitt received votes in both 2020 and 2021, good enough for an eighth and tenth place finish, respectively.
The experience and winning pedigree are both present with this group of players, durability is the biggest question mark. Even if the Mets stay healthy, competition for the NL Cy Young will be stiff. Newly signed San Fransisco Giant Carlos Rodón is a popular pre-season pick after finishing 5th for the award in the AL last year. Zack Wheeler had a deserving 2021 effort but was ultimately beat out by the Brewers Corbin Burnes, both of whom should contend for the title again this season. Let us not forget Walker Buehler or Brandon Woodruff who put up incredible numbers a season ago both finishing in the top 5.
The depth of quality contenders and the fragility of the Mets starters make this a longshot, even with their wealth of experience. That’s not to say these players won’t perform and deliver during the season, but in order for them to contribute in the post-season, they’ll need to avoid the injury bug and that likely will translate to a more conservative in-season approach concerning their usage.
The Magic Baseball Says: Very Doubtful
Will Adley Rutschman be the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year?
Adley Rutschman was drafted by the Orioles after leading the Oregon State Beavers to a College World Series Championship in 2019. By all metrics, Rutschman is a plus defender and game-caller behind the plate, with plus power as a switch-hitter in the batter’s box. Since entering the minor leagues in 2019, Rutschman has climbed the ranks and is knocking on the door of the big leagues for the 2022 season at 24 years old. Though a triceps injury suffered earlier in the week may keep him from the Opening Day roster.
During Rutschman’s time in the minor leagues, he has consistently produced recording a WRC+ of 166 during his time with the Aberdeen Ironbirds (A-), a 145 WRC+ with the Bowie Baysox (AA), and 142 WRC+ with the Norfolk Tides (AAA). His career slash line in minors reads .278/.386/.485 and in 1089.2 innings behind the dish he has been charged with only four passed balls.
ZiPs projects Rutschman to finish the 2022 season with the 3rd highest WAR among catchers with 4.2, behind only Will Smith and Yasmani Grandal and just ahead of J.T. Realmuto and Salvador Perez. The ROY race could be more competitive and compelling than years past with the new CBA providing players and organizations more incentive to put their young stars on the field.
Rutschman will be one of many in the running for the post-season honor as he highlights a group of rookies expected to make their major league debuts this season. Other highly touted prospects expected in the majors this year among AL teams include Bobby Witt Jr. for the Royals, Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene for the Tigers, Shane Baz for the Rays, and Julio Rodríguez for the Mariners.
The Magic Baseball Says: Signs point to yes
Will Atlanta Repeat as World Series Champions?
After a magical 2021 postseason, the Atlanta Braves will look very different when they first take the field in 2022. Freddie Freeman is no longer at first, that job now belongs to Matt Olson, who was acquired via trade from the firesale in Oakland, and was subsequently extended by the Braves front office. Of last season’s trade deadline pickups (Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall) only Duvall and Rosario remain for the upcoming season.
On the mound, the pitching staff remains largely intact from their championship run last year. Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, and Huascar Ynoa anchor the starting rotation, and the arm barn that performed heroically in the playoffs added Collin McHugh and Kirby Yates this offseason to pair alongside Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, and Luke Jackson.
Atlanta fans are anxiously awaiting the return of Ronald Acuña Jr. who suffered an ACL tear in early July last year derailing his MVP-caliber start to the season. Also making his much-anticipated return to the Braves rotation is Mike Soroka, the 24-year-old is coming back from a ruptured (and re-ruptured) Achilles. In 2019, Soroka’s first and only full season, the right-hander finished the season 6th in NL Cy Young voting with a 2.68 ERA and a 13-4 record.
With Olson a near statistical facsimile of Freeman and the return of several key team members that missed the Braves playoff run, Atlanta has as good a chance as any to be there in October with a chance to win it all again. Keep in mind though, no team has repeated as World Series Champions since the 1998-2000 Yankees. The baseball season is a long one and anything can happen, but betting on back-to-back World Series titles is a longshot.
The Magic Baseball Says: Ask again later
If you have questions you’d like answered by the magic baseball, leave them in the comment section below and you could see them answered by the oracle in next week’s edition of Ask the Magic Baseball.
Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)