It's finally that time. Opening Day is here. The first pitch is minutes away. Of course, that means predictions are in order, so here are the official Braves 101 predictions for the 2013 season.
AL East: Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays are just stacked this year. Assuming R.A. Dickey stays true to his Cy Young form from last year and Josh Jonson and Mark Buehrle keeps doing their thing, their rotation is already one of the best in the bigs. New bats Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera are sure to complement Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
When your Opening Day lineup consists of Justin Verlander on the hill backed by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Add Victor Martinez back into the mix after missing last year, and you have a ballclub that has World Series potential again. Their main question mark is who is closing games, but someone should emerge before long to take control of the ninth inning.
AL West: Oakland A's
The Angels just don't have the pitching to win a division, and the Rangers are a shell of their former selves. The division almost has to go to the Athletics by default.
AL Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals
Don't laugh at the Royals. They could already swing the bats, and they revamped their rotation over the offseason. Consider them a dark horse for the final Wildcard spot.
NL East: Atlanta Braves
Call us homers, sure, but the Braves have a young but established core that added a couple of studs in the Upton brothers. The rotation, particularly when Brandon Beachy gets back, doesn't have any weak spots. The bullpen? Even without Jonny Venters, Atlanta's relievers stand amongst the top three in the big leagues.
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds
If you sense a trend of strong bullpens in the National League, you are correct. Aroldis Chapman's name barely needs to be mentioned before a team realizes that they're in for a six-inning game with the Reds. The offseason acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo only adds to their offensive's potency alongside Joey Votto and company.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
It only makes sense for the reigning world champs and MVP to repeat in the division, particularly when Buster Posey is officially in it for the long haul. It's hard to find a team that just plays baseball together as well as the Giants in October.
NL Wild Card: Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals
There's a lot of bitterness here over the last couple seasons. That's all that needs to be said.
World Series: Blue Jays over Reds
It may look like kind of a bandwagon pick, but the Blue Jays (or Marlins North, if you like) have the pieces for a big run this year.
NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL MVP: Jason Heyward
AL MVP: Mike Trout
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