The Houston Astros will make it back to the World Series but fail to repeat as champions, MLB.com predicted days out from opening day.
The website home to Major League Baseball gave its reading of the 2023 season ahead based on a consensus of 87 voters who include writers and content contributors to MLB.com.
While it may be a little stunning for Astros fans to hear that their team won't break a 23-year drought for back-to-back world title wins, the website still believes Houston is the team to beat not only in the American League West division, but also for the entire AL.
"Until they are dethroned, the Astros remain the class of the AL West. There's no reason to think they won't be able to make it six division titles in seven years. But, like the Yankees, it's World Series championship or bust in Houston," MLB.com's Manny Randhawa and Dylan Svoboda wrote on Monday.
The Yankees and Cleveland Guardians are forecast to win their respective AL divisions, with the Rays, Blue Jays, and Mariners returning to the postseason as wild-card entrants.
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There is some consolation. The Astros are predicted to earn their third-straight AL pennant and World Series trip.
"Teams that win it all often have a mix of battle-tested veterans and young players who aren't afraid of the big stage," the MLB.com writers added. "The Astros have those ingredients in abundance, with the old guard of (Jose) Altuve and (Alex) Bregman teaming up with fearless young stars (Yordan) Alvarez, (Kyle) Tucker and (Jeremy) Peña.
So who do these MLB.com voters think will dethrone the defending kings of baseball?
They predict Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego will win their National League divisions, with the Dodgers, Phillies, and Mets entering as wild-card teams.
It's the Padres, though, whom voters sided with as the 2023 World Series champions. Why? They were big spenders in the offseason, adding Xander Bogaerts to their infield. They also hold a star-studded roster that includes Manny Machado, 2022 trade acquisition Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis Jr., who's returning from suspension.
"Our experts expect San Diego's big moves to pay off - big time. The Padres' front office has proven it will do whatever it takes to put a winning product on the field. Petco Park will be rocking this season with all the star power on the roster," MLB.com wrote.
Over at ESPN.com, the Astros and Padres are Nos. 1 and 2 to start the season on the site's MLB power rankings. The Padres edge the Astros in terms of World Series odds, 8.7% to Houston's 8.2%.
Las Vegas thinks the Astros are the most favored to win. Four top sportsbooks, including Bet MGM and Caesars Sportsbooks, give Houston the top odds to win it all, ranging from 4-1 to 6-1.
The Padres, by the way, generally hold the sixth-best odds to win the title, ranging from 9-1 to 10-1 odds.
We're getting you ready for the Astros' championship banner celebration on opening night. Watch our special - The Astros Reign - Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on ABC13.
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