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Batter Up! Maxim’s 2013 Baseball Preview

The Nationals are favorites, the Red Sox are rebuilding and the Astros are in the American League. What the hell is going on with baseball? To help wrap our heads around the madness we tapped an MLB Network brain trust of analysts - Sean Casey and Eric Byrnes, and the co-host of “Intentional Talk” Kevin Millar. So who will prevail this year? Read on and find out.

AL East
Sean Casey - Tampa Bay Rays: They still have unbelievable pitching led by David Price, who will take his arsenal to another level this year. 
Eric Byrnes - Toronto Blue Jays:  I am drinking the blue Kool-Aid like everybody else. 
Kevin Millar - Toronto Blue Jays: They have strong starting pitching and a healthy bopper in Jose Bautista. What’s not to like?
Maxim – Tampa Bay Rays: With the Yankees and Red Sox no longer in evil empire mode, the Rays have what it takes to climb to the top. Having the best manager in the game will do that.

AL Central
Sean Casey - Detroit Tigers: Even with only Cabrera and Fielder, they had a solid lineup last year. Now, they’ve added Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez is back. Look out!
Eric Byrnes - Detroit Tigers: World Series losers a year ago get even better with the return of Victor Martinez and the addition of Torii Hunter.
Kevin Millar - Detroit Tigers: Not only did they add Torii Hunter, but their rotation after Verlander is flying under the radar.
Maxim – Detroit Tigers: Cabrera, Fielder, Hunter and Martinez in the middle of the order is just nasty. Having the best pitcher in the game is gravy.

AL West
Sean Casey - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Mike Trout will avoid the sophomore slump and put up ridiculous numbers with Josh Hamilton now part of the lineup.
Eric Byrnes - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels landed the top free agents in last two off seasons with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and they have the best player in the game in Mike Trout. 
Kevin Millar - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: I know people say that Fielder and Cabrera are the best three-four combination in the game, but I’ll take Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. Oh, and I forgot, they have Mike Trout as well.
Maxim – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: We’re tempted to penalize them because of the annoying name (is it LA or Anaheim?!? Make up your minds!) but you can’t argue with a team that has three legitimate MVP candidates in Pujols, Hamilton and Trout.

AL Wild Card
Sean Casey - Boston Red Sox: I like how Boston added grinders in Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes. These guys are not only good ballplayers, but they’ll create good chemistry in the clubhouse.  
Eric Byrnes - Kansas City Royals:  This is not a joke. I strongly believe Kansas City gets into the Postseason for the first time in 28 years.
Kevin Millar - Texas Rangers: Before last year, they went to the World Series for two straight seasons. I think Yu Darvish has an even better year and gets Texas into the Postseason.
Maxim – New York Yankees: Sure, the team is starting the season with $80 million on the disabled list, but once everyone’s healthy they’ll be back.

NL East
Sean Casey - Washington Nationals: People forget how good their rotation is after Stephen Strasburg. This team is loaded.
Eric Byrnes - Washington Nationals: The Nationals are the most complete team in baseball, led by Stephen Strasburg. 
Kevin Millar - Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg has no limits this season and they have the best bullpen in the bigs.
Maxim - Washington Nationals: The prospect of full seasons from Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper should have the rest of the league shaking in their cleats.