As we do every year, the LL staff got together and voted on how we see the baseball year unfolding in 2022: who makes it to the playoffs, who brings home the season’s biggest awards, and who we see hoisting that treasured piece of metal that is the Commissioner’s Trophy this year. We also threw in a few Mariners-specific prop bets. Read on to find out what player-themed eats at T-Mobile we suggest the Mariners introduce this year.
AL West: Houston (10)
Big bullies gonna big bully, although maybe not as much as in previous years; seven staffers picked Seattle to win the division this year, which definitely doesn’t overlap at all with us bringing in a crew of fresh new faces excited and optimistic about the team.
Kate: I know I say this every year, but I really think this is the Angels’ year. They can’t possibly have the same lousy injury luck they had last year, Ohtani will benefit from the rule they literally named after him, and while they didn’t fix their pitching necessarily, they did improve the margins. I would love to be wrong, again, and I will eat crow with glee.
Bren: It’s easy to be optimistic about the Mariners taking the division, and indeed I was one of the seven who picked them, but it is less about the Mariners’ strength and more about where the Astros currently are. Baseball America currently has their farm system ranked 28th, the older core of players like Verlander have to start regressing sometime (right..?), and there inability to bring back Correa or alternatively one of the other big FA shortstops might be telling. They will not be toppled easily, they have a way of seeming infallible and making legitimate major leaguers out of thin air, but I think toppled they will be.
AL Central: Chicago White Sox (17)
This was the most dominant win in the AL; the four who didn’t pick Chicago all picked Minnesota.
Kate: I feel like the White Sox cheaped out where they should have gotten better, and Minnesota actively worked to get better by landing Correa, so even if this isn’t the right answer I feel like it’s the morally right answer.
Grant: While I didn’t pick them to win the division (and thus should get no credit for the following), watch out for the Tigers. If rookies like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene can play up to their potential, and if Austin Meadows can hit closer to his 2019 form, Detroit could be a fun sleeper team.
AL East: Toronto (14)
Another dramatic showing, as even the loss of Robbie Ray, who is now a Mariner in case you forgot, didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the Blue Jays to run roughshod over the AL East. The Rays and Yankees did receive three votes each, and staff Northeasterner Shay was physically compelled to vote for Boston, we assume.
Eric: (/jots down Shay’s name on a certain list) Mm-hmmm.
Jake Parr: Kind of surprised the Rays aren’t going here. After the past couple seasons I’m looking for them to spend about 40 dollars and a half-eaten hot dog on players and still win about 192 games.
Zach Mason: The Jays have more depth than New York or Boston, and more stars than Tampa Bay. Every time I have some doubt, I remember that they have George Springer now too, who should play a full season. They’ll also get my favorite advantage ever to accrue to a team from opponents having to bench their unvaccinated players at least to start the year and maybe for all 81 home games. But if the Mariners finally make the playoffs and Canadians take over T-Mobile Park, I’m going to lose it.
Shay: If I’ve learned one thing about living in New England it’s that you can never count a Boston team out. Ever. Plus, former Mariner James Paxton (ily) is with the Sox now and we love a James Paxton redemption story.
AL Wild Card 1: Houston Astros (6)
The Wild Cards are where things start splintering. This one was neck-and-neck with the Astros and Rays getting the lion’s share of votes, although the Yankees and Toronto got four each. Basically, every staffer who picked Seattle to win the division felt compelled to put the Astros here, and after that the AL East received a total of 13 votes split among the non-Baltimore teams.
AL Wild Card 2: Yankees (7)
Because the Yankees have to be in there somewhere, right? Especially once they part with one of their top-5 prospects and acquire Montas?
Zach Mason: Josh Donaldson is old, not dead. Just because they didn’t grab Correa doesn’t mean this team is bad. I also picked them for a WC because it’s important to me that the Yankees continue to make the playoffs so they don’t get to be perceived as an underdog.
AL Wild Card 3: Mariners (9)
Those of us (most of us) too cowardly to pick the Mariners to win the division were nonetheless glad to slot them in here, all hail expanded playoffs.
Eric: It me, a coward.
Jake Parr: I just thought the M’s squeaking in thanks to an expanded format would be entirely on brand for them.
Zach Gottschalk: Now, Skip. You KNOW that I love the Seattle Mariners. I truly cherish the opportunity to watch them play, and they will forever hold a special place in my heart. BUT.
The sad fact of the matter is that they are more likely than not to miss the playoffs again. They find themselves, yet again, in the unenviable position of needing most things (if not everything) to go right in order to make it. Several of the group of Julio Rodríguez, Jarred Kelenic, Mitch Haniger, Marco Gonzales, and others, will need to surpass their median projections for the Mariners to be successful. It’s possible. It isn’t likely.
NL West: Dodgers (20)
Only Kate thinks the Giants still have the Dodgers’ number.
Grant: Yes, it’s the most boring pick ever. But how can you bet against the Dodgers when they got better (see: Freeman, Freddie) and their rivals have suffered huge hits due to retirement (Buster Posey) and/or foolhardy motorcycle driving that jeopardizes a $300m+ contract (Fernando Tatís Jr.)?
Shay: Barring a sudden plague of injuries that could sweep through the clubhouse like my mom before relatives come over, the Dodgers are stacked with talent again this year and the team chemistry seems to be as strong as ever. This is their division to lose despite their frenemies up in San Francisco. I just don’t believe the Giants can recreate their 2021 success, the Padres are a team full of “me” and not “we,” the Rockies are too busy staring at Kris Bryant’s pretty eyes to make an impact, and the Diamondbacks are...*waves at the basement.*
NL Central: Milwaukee (14)
Another one of the largest majorities among the staff. The Cardinals pulled in six votes, making it clear this is seen as a two-team race...except by Shay, who picked the Cubs.
Zach Gottschalk: The Brewers are a team whose success hinges on their incredible rotation, led by Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. Ever since the late 2000’s Phillies (miss you, Cliff Lee), I’ve loved teams built this way. If the Mariners can’t win it all, I’m rooting for the Brew Crew.
NL East: Da Mets, Baby, Love Da Mets (11)
Consider us Mets-pilled by a combination of a pair of former Mariners in Taijuan Walker and dearly departed staffer and current Mets beat writer Matthew Roberson. Also receiving votes: Atlanta (9). Addie, always an agent of chaos, was the lone voice for Philly.
Jake Parr: Did I put the Mets here just because of the meme? Yes. Do I have Jacob DeGrom on my fantasy team? Also yes. What’s the best way to make beef ribs? Not a baseball question, but I like to put mustard on both sides and add some kind of dry rub on top of that. Any rub with garlic, onion, and not too much sugar will do fine. Then I put it in a smoker for 4-6 hours flipping every two. Do you even pay attention to the NL? No, not at all.
Zach Mason: Jacob DeGrom could pitch just 5 games and still be more valuable than any pitcher in the AL West. Finally surrounded by both rotation depth and a competent lineup at the same time, it should be enough.
NL Wild Card 1: Padres (6), Atlanta (5), Giants (4)
Again with the splintering. If Kate had put the Dodgers where they belonged, the Giants would probably be tied with Atlanta for votes.
Eric: Justice for the Padres! Let them have something nice.
NL Wild Card 2: Atlanta (5), Giants (5)
The Padres and Mets also got votes here.
NL Wild Card 3: Padres (7)
Here’s what everyone who didn’t pick the Padres higher felt was the floor for San Diego’s squad this year. Shout-out to Connor, who time-traveled back to the early ‘00s and picked “Florida” (we assume he meant Miami).
Jake Parr: San Diego can have a playoff appearance. As a treat.
Zach Gottschalk: TRUE. TO. THE. BROWN. It’s going to be an uphill battle for the San Diego Dads, but I have faith in Fernando Tatís’ ability to return strong from injury and obliterate the baseball on his way to a playoff birth.
Connor: I often pick the Marlins as a team that can surprise people, but I think this year they have a legit chance given their stable of young, talented pitching. If they can figure out how to hit even a little bit, they could be a quietly dangerous team to face.
AL Sleeper team: Detroit Tigers (10)
A sleeper team might not be good enough to make the playoffs, but they’re gonna wreck a lot of would-be contenders on their way; see, the 2021 Mariners. The Tigers had a commanding lead over the next-closest teams, the Royals and the Rangers, with four each.
NL Sleeper team: Miami Marlins (8), Chicago Cubs (7)
This one is a virtual tie, with Colorado and Pittsburgh getting a couple of pity votes (and John voting for Arizona because he likes their prospects, and Isabelle for Washington because she likes Nelson Cruz and Juan Soto).
Jake Parr: I’ve chosen the Pirates, not because I think that they’ll be good, but because I think they’ll cause problems for teams on the cusp of the wild card race at the end of the year. My bet is that they’ll sink (heh) either the Reds or Cardinals at the end of the year.
Isabelle: Like the Princess Bride taught us, never go in against a team when Cruz and Soto are in the lineup.
John: Arizona is a bit of a mess of a franchise, but they have a rash of prospects at or near the majors who should give them something worth following, particularly in the second half. Their horrific start last year buried them in the standings, but they were at least just traditionally bad after the first couple months of the year in 2021. Alek Thomas and Drey Jameson, maybe even Corbin Carroll this year should make for some fun.
Eric: I should have chosen the Pirates, but I had no idea they were going to run out an utter shitpost/troll job of a lineup. I’m all in, baby.
"Leadoff hitter Dan Vogelbach" doing more to get me excited for baseball than anything in the past week https://t.co/3IAhsqWI21— Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri) April 7, 2022
AL Champions: Toronto Blue Jays (15)
Another dominant showing for our noisy neighbors to the North. [Side note: if the Blue Jays do hit all these lofty projections and the Mariners fall flat, beware the homestand July 7-10, it’s going to be...unpleasant]. In other votes, Eric and Zach Milkis picked Houston because they like pain, and Shay showed some true U-Haul energy, sticking with the Sox all the way through, along with Addie.
Eric: I picked Houston because I believe evil is real and the Astros haven’t gotten all their evil out yet, so we just need to let them exhaust their evil energy so we can move on with our lives. This is all very scientific.
NL Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers (15)
Same thing over here in the senior league. Kate, who has made her Logan Webb bed and must lie in it, stuck with the Giants, along with Becca; there were two votes for Milwaukee from Brew Crewers Zach G. and Connor, and Ders and Isabelle can’t resist the
Isabelle: I do truly believe that this is the year the vicious toddler who came into possession of the Mets voodoo doll finally outgrows his toy.
World Series Champions: Dodgers (10), Blue Jays (8)
The LL staff proves to be embarrassingly basic, picking the overwhelming Vegas faves Dodgers to win it all, again, although a good portion of us see the Blue Jays shaking things up. Connor and Gotty can’t quit the Brew Crew, and Shay admirably sticks it through as #TrueToTheDirtyWater, but the vast majority of the staff see the Fall Classic coming down to some permutation of these two teams.
Bren: Let it be stated for the record I picked the Dodgers for this because, duh, but I am also protesting against myself for my pick and should have chosen my beloved NL team the
Zach Gottschalk: I’ll say it again: in the playoffs, pitching is king. I don’t love the rotations of either the Blue Jays or the Dodgers. Frankly, next to the Brewers’ rotation, everyone’s rotation looks suspect. Whoever beats the Brewers is going to have to beat Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta.
AL MVP: Shohei Ohtani (8)
The Blue Jays believers see Vlad Guerrero Jr. capturing this trophy; the rest of us are realists. John picked Correa and Addie picked Buxton so by site rules they must now fight. José Ramírez was the next-highest vote getter, over even Michael C. Trout, with three votes.
Zach Mason: All your Shohei Ohtani facts are the same fact. Just stop. José Ramírez, meanwhile, is always the bridesmaid despite having excellent defense at the hot corner, an elite bat, and the best baserunning in the league year after year. It’s finally his time.
Jake Parr: ZAM, you’re the best, but here you are simply wrong. I love speedy guys as much as anyone, but for MVP? The award is for the person you want most on your team, and someone who rakes and also strikes out a billion batters is always gonna be that guy.
Bren: I, much like ZAM, picked José Ramírez. I’m only slightly biased by the fact that he’s also on my fantasy team. Also though, I take Ohtani’s health with a grain of salt despite that not being an issue of concern last season.
NL MVP: Juan Soto (11)
Again some hopelessly basic behavior from the LL staff, who side with the overwhelming favorite for the award despite the fact that he’s stuck on a team that’s likely going nowhere, all apologies to Sir Nelson Cruz. Acuña Jr. also got 5 votes here, Zach G voted for Mookie Betts, and John time traveled and picked 2015 Manny Machado.
Eric: I laughed really hard when I saw the Manny Machado pick, but also that would bode well for the Padres so I guess I’m into it?
Isabelle: How do you not vote for one of the game’s most precocious generational talents, now with bonus mentorship? Hollywood keeps cranking out heartwarming father-son stories for a reason.
John: This flows into my Padres belief pick. With Tatis out for at least a couple months, the 29-year-old Machado will make his 11th year in the majors his best. The picture of consistency and reliability over the past decade, Machado has played in 844 of 870 possible games since the start of 2015, that’s 97% of games. He will take the lead for an incredibly potent club and hit 40+ home runs, walk >10%, and electrify Petco Park until and after his electric young teammate returns.
AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber (6)
Bieber only gets 5 votes if Bren’s vote for “Birber” was not a typo but instead a pick for a bird pitcher, in which case we would all like to change our votes. Gerrit Cole, Nathan Eovaldi, Lucas Giolito, and Alek Manoah all got multiple votes; only Nick, doing his best Carraway impression, sees Robbie Ray repeating.
Nick: I didn't get to make ONE silly homer pick so far - LET ME HAVE THIS. Plus, what if the tweaks he made are the real deal? If we get the 2021 edition of Robbie Ray, why couldn't he repeat?
Zach Mason: I think people underappreciate what a difference it will make for Eduardo Rodríguez to switch from Fenway to Comerica. He was fifth in the AL in K%-BB% last year after bouncing back from life-threatening illness in 2020. Give him a full workload to build on his counting stats plus a better park, and that’s a recipe for a Cy.
Bren: Tweet tweet. Angry Birds sponsored uniforms when?
Zach Gottschalk: At the front of a surprisingly strong Rays squad, I’ve got young ace Shane McClanahan completely breaking out and winning a Cy Young.
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer (5)
What can we say, we love Mad Max around these parts. The next highest vote-getters were Zach Wheeler and Walker Buehler with 4 each, although the top of Milwaukee’s rotation (Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff) totaled 5 together.
AL ROY: JULIOOOOOOOOOO (20)
Obviously, everyone voted for Julio, except...Anders. Who voted for [checks notes] Astros rookie Jeremy Peña? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, SIR.
Eric: The decade of daily links posting has broken his brain. It’s the only answer.
Shay: Can I get a JULIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO in the chat?
NL ROY: Seiya Suzuki (14)
Clearly we as a staff would have a soft spot for a rookie named Suzuki making his stateside debut. Also getting votes, 3 each: Reds pitcher Hunter Greene and Pirates “la girafa” Oneil Cruz. Kate voted for Bryson Stott and swears it’s not because he’s on her fantasy team.
Kate: I actually saw Bryson Stott play this year in the AFL and there wasn’t a game where he wasn’t the best player on the field, easily. I think he deposes Sir Didi quickly and is Philly’s starting shortstop by June.
Fun With Prop Bets:
Number of Mariners Wins:
- <87: 6
- 88-89: 3
- 90-91: 7
- 92+: 5
- 2.9 or below: 4
- 3.0 - 3.5: 9
- 3.6 - 4.0: 5
- 4.1- 5.0: 4
- 5 or above: 1
Kate: Personally I feel like this is a strong either/or; either Julio isn’t up to play enough to rack up a ton of WAR, or he just crushes everything put in his path. Ultimately though I think it’s a tale of two halves, where he struggles to adjust initially and then goes on a rampage, which is why my vote lands in the middle there.
- <3.0: 10
- 3.0+: 11
Zach Mason: We all saw his September, right?
Isabelle: There is a home video, deep in our family archives, where I, age seven, am performing a carefully rehearsed recitation of Shel Silverstein’s “Nobody.” Midway through, my younger sister - who has been hopping around desperately in the background - drops all pretense and begins to shriek whilst somersaulting off to the left. The camera cannot help but focus on her, and shuts off mid-way through my second verse. Following all the Julio hubbub, Jarred will play this season with the fervor of someone determined to have the attention returned to them.
Number of trades Dipoto makes in-season:
- 2: 3
- 3: 5
- 4: 6
- 5: 5
- 6-7: 2
Eric: I’m kinda done with holding out hope that Dipoto can make any deadline deals that will push this team into the playoffs if they are struggling (and they will be struggling for that last WC spot). No one will be willing to give the Mariners what they need without Dipoto having to give up a nearly-ready top prospect.
Robbie Ray strikeouts:
- <200: 4
- 201 - 220: 8
- 221 - 240: 7
- 241 - 260: 2
Biggest prospect success in 2022:
2021 first-rounder Harry Ford got the lion’s share of votes here, with 7, as the headliner of the next wave of Mariners prospects, although don’t sleep on Edwin Arroyo, 2021’s second-rounder, either.
Biggest prospect disappointment in 2022:
Sadly, Emerson Hancock got over half the votes here, just because of concerns around his health. Here’s hoping we all see Emerson have a huge rebound year in 2022, and all of us have to eat significant amounts of crow. If only everyone had answered like Kate:
Mariners prospects in the Baseball America Top 100 this fall:
- 2 or fewer: 4
- 3: 5
- 4: 7
- 5 or more: 5
Nick: Maybe it's just part of my duties as one of the Minors Guys to be a little optimistic about the farm, but...the three or less crowd? Come onnnnn. Noelvi and Ford are non-starters, and I think a healthy Hancock belongs there as well - despite his injury woes, let us not forget why we drafted him in the first round. From there, I see at least two of my beloved Berto (Alberto Rodríguez), Gabriel Gonzalez, Edwin Arroyo, Levi Stoudt and Jonatan Clase cracking it with a good season, in that order. Plenty of young sleeper picks to like, too (Starlin Aguilar, beefcake Lazaro Montes).
Zach Mason: Nick, get me the name of your hopium dealer. I agree Noelvi and Ford will be on the list, and I buy one (but only one) of Berto, Arroyo, Stoudt, or a popup, but I also expect one of them to get traded.
Next stadium food named after a player:
We mostly agreed that Ty France and Robbie Ray seem like obvious choices, but here are some specific ideas:
- JuliOhBoyOhBerto Beef (Grant)
- Brashed potatoes (Zach Mason)
- Kelenic State Fair Burger - fried cheese curds & a fried egg on a massive burger (Eric)
- Logan GilBurrito (Shay)
- Raleigh Fries (Bren)
Our hottest Mariners takes:
- Mariners’ closer at the end of the year is not on the Opening Day roster (Anders)
- Evan White ends the year on the Mariners’ active roster (Zach Milkis, Becca)
- The Mariners trade for a Padres pitcher (Darvish, Snell or Musgrove) on August 1 (Nick)
- The Mariners trade away a member of the starting lineup in July (Grant, everyone throw things at Grant)
- Mariners send three players to the All-Stars Game (Shay)
- Mariners beat Yankees in ALDS in 5 (Jake P); Mariners make ALCS (Connor);
- Three different Mariners get votes for three different end-of-year awards (Addie); Julio finishes top-10 in MVP voting (Bren)
- Jon Heyman says something nice about the Mariners (Kate)
- Marco Gonzales falls off a cliff, making at least 20 starts but recording <1.0 fWAR. (Zach G)
Shay: Ray, LoGi, and Julio will represent the Mariners at this year’s Mid-Summer Classic. I’m really high on Julio, if you couldn’t tell.
Jake Parr: 1995, anyone?
Our hottest MLB takes:
- Trout and Ohtani both miss 2+ months; Angels have worst record in AL West (Lou); Trout and Ohtani combine for 120 home runs. The Angels miss the playoffs by one game (Kyle)
- There are no 100-win teams (Zach Mason); there is a record number of 100-win teams (Becca); the Brewers win 105 games (Zach G)
- Mitch Keller (PIT) finishes top-three in NL Cy Young voting (Mikey); Jon Gray gets Cy Young votes (Isabelle)
- A’s lose 112 games (Eric); Pirates lose 120 games (Connor)
- Tatís Jr. plays in under 50 games, Padres miss playoffs again (Jake M)
- All the controversial MLB rule changes get implemented and are mostly...fine (Evan)