Found March 31, 2013 on isportsweb.com:
Opening Day 2013 for the Major League Baseball season is tonight when the Houston Astros, playing their first game in the American League, will face off against their in-state rival, the Texas Rangers.  There was true surprises in the major leagues last season as the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles came out of nowhere to land playoff spots in the loaded American League.  It’s prediction season and fresh off my NCAA Basketball Tournament picks (no, I didn’t have Wichita St. going to the Final Four or winning a game, for that matter), it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball.  I’m looking at three teams that were under .500 last season that will go over .500 in 2013, and three teams that will take a step back in 2013. ON THE RISE: The first team that I think is going to go over .500 is a team with a long suffering fan base, the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It looked like 2012 was going to be the year but another cool finish left the Pirates at 79-83.  The Pirates have possible Triple Crown candidate Andrew McCutchen anchoring the offense, and they will benefit from a full season of Wandy Rodriguez as the No. 2 starter.  They also fortified the C position by bringing in Russell Martin, from the New York Yankees.  The second team is also in the National League, the San Diego Padres.  A young team, the Padres got stronger as the season went on finishing 47-36 after July 1st.  All the offseason talk is about the heavily favored Dodgers and Giants, but the Padres come out of Spring looking like the third best team in the N.L. West.  They were quiet in the offseason, but the Padres have put together a solid core of players in Chase Headley, Cameron Maybin, Edinson Volquez, and Clayton Richard. In 2013, led by Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to go over the .500 mark and are one of my sleepers for the 2013 MLB season. The third team is obvious, driven by a lot of surrounding media hype, the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Blue Jays, realizing they were the best division in baseball, pushed all their chips into the middle of the table for 2013.  They acquired Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle.  Their upgrade in the rotation alone will put them in prime position to make their first postseason since 1993.  Since that season, the Blue Jays highest finish was 2nd in 2006, and that 2006 finish was their only one in the top 2 of the A.L. East over that time span.  Toronto will finish over .500 but it’ll be a grueling march to the playoffs in a division with the Orioles, Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. A STEP BACK: Or, will it?  The first team that I think will take a step back in 2013 is the New York Yankees.  The Yankees lost Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, and Raul Ibanez, yet they were, by their standards, relatively quiet in the offseason adding Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis.  After CC Sabathia, the starting rotation is either old (Kuroda and Pettitte) or inexperienced (Ivan Nova and David Phelps).  Plus, the Yankees will need a full season from Mariano Rivera in his final season, with Soriano signing with the Nationals.  And, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter won’t be available Opening Day due to injury.  A playoff trip for the Yankees, right now, seems like a stretch. Already hurting at other positions, the New York Yankees will need a full season from future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera Another playoff team from last year who I think will fall back is the Texas Rangers.  Besides losing Josh Hamilton from last season, the team that lost the A.L. West on the last day of the season also lost clubhouse leader Michael Young, Ryan Dempster, and Scott Feldman.  The Rangers got older in their lineup adding veterans Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski.  Like the Yankees, the Rangers are untested in the back of their rotation with Alexi Ogando, coming back from the bullpen, and Nick Tepesch.  My third team came from nowhere in 2013, but they have a tough division to keep their spot: the Baltimore Orioles.  I have the Blue Jays as one of my three teams to plunge over .500, and the Red Sox seem destined to improve upon a down 2012.  The Orioles have a lot of youth in their rotation, and they need them to pitch just as well as they did last season to keep near 2012’s finish (93-69).  Baltimore had a quiet offseason losing Mark Reynolds and adding Jair Jurrjens, hoping he could rebound from a miserable 2012 (3-4, 6.89 with Atlanta) but he’ll start the season in the minors.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Bryce Harper's new "rockabilly" haircut?

On Wednesday night, Bryce Harper Tweeted that he was looking for a "Rockabilly" barbershop in DC: Apparently he gave up on that idea and on Thursday settled on the haircut above from Headz Up Barbershop (official barber of the Marlins) before leaving Viera (photo above via @BHarper3407). So is that the "Rockabilly" haircut you were looking for, Bryce...

Bryce Harper Made History and his Fantasy Owners Very Happy on Opening Day

Bryce Harper knew he had talent when he got his GED so that he could enter junior college earlier in life and hence speed up his ascension to MLB glory. So far it looks like the young slugger's plan is working out pretty good. After a solid rookie campaign last season he got his sophomore year off to a strong start with a pair of home runs in his first two at-bats of the...

With two homers in the Nationals 2-0 win, Washington superstar Bryce Harper is poised to become the youngest MVP in MLB history

With fans at Nationals Park loudly chanting “M-V-P,” Washington wunderkind Bryce Harper became the youngest major leaguer to homer twice in the opening game of a season during a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday afternoon. “They really were loud and crazy,” said Harper, 20, who Washington selected out of the College of Southern Nevada with the first overall pick...

Rapid React (4/2): Bryce Harper Is Good At Baseball

This just in: Bryce Harper is pretty damn good. For those that didn’t believe his last season was for real he didn’t waste any time trying to persuade you to his side with his 2 HR performance yesterday. He will still be prone to his slumps given that he is still only 20 years old (it’s easy to forget), but he already has 30/20 potential and is a top-3 player in keeper leagues...

Bryce Harper wants people to see him as a baseball player and a fashion model

Bryce Harper appears poised for a breakout season with the Washington Nationals in 2013, but he wants more than that. Becoming the face of one of the best young teams in baseball would be nice, but Harper wants to become the Tom Brady of the MLB. During an interview with the Washington Times on Sunday, Harper expressed a desire to be featured on magazine covers and be seen as more...

Bryce Harper Homers in First Two At-Bats of Season

Not too shabby

Harper, Strasburg fuel Nationals

For Bryce Harper, two homers in his first two at-bats, and even some ''M-V-P!'' chants. For Stephen Strasburg, 19 consecutive outs during one stretch of seven scoreless innings. And for the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals, a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday in Game 1 of a season lame-duck manager Davey Johnson declared months ago should...

Harper, Strasburg already making an impact

Bryce Harper homered twice during the Nationals’ first game. Memo to the National League: After one game, Bryce Harper already has two home runs, and Stephen Strasburg is in mid-season form. Uh-oh. Strasburg was vintage Strasburg (if a guy can be vintage in only his 47th career start).  He threw seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out three as the Nationals...

Opening Day 2013: The Bryce Harper And Stephen Strasburg Show

  All of the excitement during the pomp and circumstance from the pre-game festivities didn’t take long to materialize into real excitement. The Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 2-0, though the game seemed more lopsided than the box score showed with the help of some dominant individual performances. In his first at-bat of the season, Bryce Harper mashed a...

Legends don’t just homer on Opening Day; they homer twice

When I saw that Ricky Nolasco was named the Marlins’ Opening Day starting pitcher, immediately a light went on that I was probably going to see a Bryce Harper home run in his first Opening Day game. As he usually does, he did one better. He hit two, with the second being a towering shot to right field. In case you were in your cubicle this afternoon went Bryce Harper gave the Nationals...

Can 2012 Top National League Rookies Build On Their Success?

Article via Fantasy Baseball If you are getting ready for fantasy baseball season, here are some tips about last year’s top fantasy baseball rookies in the National League. Bryce Harper was the big National League rookie name going into the 2012 season and he ended up winning NL Rookie of the Year, but the four

National Deficit

Ricky Nolasco pitched great outside of two pitches to Bryce Harper but that was enough as the Miami Marlins fell to the Washington Nationals 2-0 on Opening Day in Washington D.C..  The first of the longballs came in the first inning on a hanging curveball and the Nationals never looked back.   Stephen Strasburg and the Nats bullpen quieted Miami’s offense and kept them from even...
Nationals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.