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.
Are We Destined to See a Dodgers v. Blue Jays World Series?
In 2022 the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to make a deeper run into the playoffs than in 2021 when this 106-win wildcard team fell to the eventual World Series champions in the NLCS. Last season ended with a myriad of ill-timed injuries for this Dodgers squad (Max Muncy, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer) while facing an Atlanta team that had fully found their stride late in the season. This season the Dodgers’ infield will look slightly different as Corey Seager signed with the Texas Rangers via free agency shortly before the owner-imposed lockout.
Once the lockout was lifted (99 days later), the Dodgers somewhat surprisingly added Freddie Freeman to man first base after his negotiations with Atlanta broke down and Matt Olson was signed to play first for the cross country rival Braves. LA manager Dave Roberts likes his chances to win the World Series this season, going as far to say “We are winning the World Series in 2022… We will win the World Series this year, put it on record” on the Dan Patrick Show in a preseason interview.
“We are winning the World Series in 2022… We will win the World Series this year, put it on record.”
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) March 24, 2022
Looking up North, for most teams losing an All-Star second baseman and the reigning Cy Young winner to free agency would be a tremendous obstacle to overcome, but future AL MVP Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Toronto Blue Jays are projected to be a better team in 2022 than ’21. The front office filled the Robbie Ray-shaped void in the rotation with Kevin Gausman who had a career year with the Giants last season and acquired Matt Chapman from the firesale in Oakland to play third.
Toronto was heartbreakingly close to the playoffs last year, missing the postseason by a single game. This year with expanded playoffs and entering the season as the favorite to win the AL East, things would have to go seriously wrong for the Blue Jays to find themselves on the outside looking in.
The Blue Jays will also have one of the biggest home-field advantages of the 2022 season due to international travel restrictions regarding Covid-19. As long as these restrictions are in place, teams will be prevented from sending unvaccinated players to play against the Blue Jays in the Rogers Centre. It is speculated several key players from rival AL East teams will be negatively impacted by these restrictions, giving the Jays a home-field advantage unlike any other team in the league.
There is no denying the amount of talent these two teams will be rostering in 2022, but does that mean we will be seeing them mano a mano in October? According to most projection systems and oddsmakers, yes. Though the teams that are the best on paper are often not the best on the field and vice versa. By taking a look at the playoff odds from seasons past on FanGraphs, it would be naive to believe the two teams with the best odds to actually make the World Series will end up there in October.
Since 2016 the projection models have corrected picked one of the eventual World Series bound teams in four out of the six instances (66%) and neither team in the other two (33%). The Dodgers have consistently been projected to represent the National League in the Fall Classic, but have only reached the World Series three out of their five projected trips, only winning one championship during this timeframe. This fact is not an indictment of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization or an accusation of choking, but an example of just how difficult it is to predict postseason performance after a grueling 162-game season.
While a Dodgers v. Blue Jays World Series matchup is far more likely than a Pirates v. Orioles matchup, don’t hold your breath for either. On paper, these look to be the two best teams heading into the season, but it is still March and the eventual 2022 World Series Champs won’t be hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy until Late October/Early November. Both Atlanta and the NY Mets will be looking to deny the Dodgers a title in October, while the Yankees, Astros, and White Sox try to play spoiler for this exciting young Blue Jays team.
The Magic Baseball Says: Outlook not so good
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Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)