MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 02/27/2008
Baseball season is just around the corner. Players are in camp, and the preseason starts soon. That means it is time to start thinking about the season and getting a sense on how you feel things are going to turn out. With college basketball and the NBA in full force, hockey getting interesting, and draft and college signing action in full force I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about the boys of summer yet. Instead of worrying about that, though, I like to turn it into a positive. I like to look at the MLB season win totals for every team before I have studied the minutiae of teams. I have found, over the years, that the first gut instinct look at those totals usually aren't too bad, and that they provide some good insights into the coming season. It's far from a final opinion, but it's a good place to start. I'm aware that I tend to be overly optimistic at this time of year, but that's part of the fun of spring time as a baseball fan. With that in mind, then, here is my first reaction to the win totals of all 30 teams in the league (all odds from Bodog):
Arizona (87.5) - The number is fairly high, but I would still have to lean over. They won 90 last year, they finished very strong, and they have upgraded their rotation. I don't think that what they did last year was a fluke, so there is not a ton of reasons to believe that they can't do it again.
Atlanta (85.5) - This is a tough one. I like the starting rotation, or rather I would like it if it was 2002. They could be good, but there are a lot of questions. There are also questions with Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur, and they have to lean to get along without Andruw Jones. I'll take the under, but I never feel good about completely disregarding Bobby Cox.
Baltimore (66) - The number is low, but not low enough. They have thrown away their lineup and done little to replace the gaping holes. I think it could get really, really ugly in Baltimore, especially since the rest of their division is looking as good or better than usual.
Boston (94.5) - I don't trust the bottom end of the rotation, but I still think you have to go over. They won 96 last year, and on paper they certainly aren't worse than they were. I am intrigued by the signing of Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract.
Chicago Cubs (87.5) - People are bullish on the Cubs, but I don't necessarily buy it. They seem fragile, and the pitching isn't as deep as I would like. They won 85 last year, and I see them doing about the same this year. That means that this number is tight, but I would slightly favor the under.
Chicago White Sox (77.5) - The White Sox only won 72 last year, but I think that they have room to grow this year. I like the pitching more than some, and the lineup has its solid points, too. I'd take the over.
Cincinnati (78.5) - Another tough one. The addition of Dusty Baker at the helm has people excited. I think that this number could be a bit high, though. I like some of their prospects (most notably Homer Bailey), but I think that it will take Baker a while to get this organization turned around. I would take the under, but I wouldn't bet the house on it.
Cleveland (90.5) - I'll take the under just to make it interesting. Their division is tougher this year than last, and as much as I wish I didn't, I have little faith in Fausto Carmona's ability to replicate his spectacular year last year. If pitching takes a step back and their roster can't capture the magic that much of it did last year, they could drop six or more games that they won last year.
Colorado (83.5) - I have to go with the over. They won 90 last year. I don't expect them to be quite as good this year, but they should be able to do enough to stay within six of their total last year. It all comes down to how they bounce back from the embarrassment of how their season ended. I am optimistic.
Detroit (94.5) - The Tigers are the most hyped team out there, but I can't justify taking the under no matter how much I would like to. They have decent pitching, and they should be able to score about a million runs. I will be very curious to see how Dontrelle Willis does in the real league.
Florida (68.5) - Brutal. I know that the Marlins are the masters of making something from nothing, but this is even beyond them. They have little to be excited about, they have little morale, and there is little reason to have any hope. They may win more than this, but they only won 71 with a better roster last year, so I am willing to be proved wrong.
Houston (74.5) - According to this number, the Astros are expected to make little improvement from their 73 wins last year. I am a bit more optimistic than that. They have pitching with potential, they have upgraded their bats (albeit with huge risk of controversy around Tejada), and they have some promising young talent like Hunter Pence. I see this season as a gradual step forward. That makes me favor the over.
Kansas City (72.5) - I hate to say it because people will laugh, but I am a little bit optimistic about the Royals. I love the hire of new manager Trey Hillman out of Japan. He's feisty and relentless and will change the attitude of the team immediately. He has a couple of good pitchers, some decent talent in the field, and I love the addition of Jose Guillen. I'm not suggesting that they will compete in the AL Central, but they only need to add four wins to go over this total, and I think that that is realistic.
Los Angeles Angels (92.5) - I can't get too excited about this team. They have been solid for a while, and they will be solid again. I just don't believe that this team has what it takes to win it all. That being said, they are an over here. They won 94 last year, and they have upgraded their batting order, so they should be in the same ballpark in terms of wins this year as last.
Los Angeles Dodgers (87) - Apparently we are supposed to believe, based on this number, that Joe Torre is good for an extra six wins for this team. I don't buy it. Outside of a new, though antiquated, manager the biggest change this team has made is adding Andruw Jones. I'd be more excited about that if his production hadn't been falling off in recent years. I'll take the under.
Milwaukee Brewers (84) - This number is one win better than last season. I think the team has it in them. After a solid start last year they faded badly. They are a year older and wiser, and I have faith that they learned from that and won't let it happen again. One thing really stands out about this team - the team lost Chris Capuano's last 22 starts. That's so ridiculous that it can't possibly happen again, and that alone should add to their win total.
Minnesota (73) - There has been a whole lot of subtracting from this team, and not nearly as much addition. Boof Bonser is not nearly as impressive as the second half of a one-two punch at the top of a roster as Johan Santana. They won 79 last year, but they are clearly in a rebuilding mode, and probably won't come near that. I'd lean to the under.
New York Mets (93.5) - The expectations for this team are obviously inflated by the addition of Santana. If he can stay healthy, though, and he always has, then there is every reason to believe that he will be very successful in the NL. He'll provide an obvious boost, and the team can hope to stay healthier than last year, so it's hard not to like the over even if the number is high.
New York Yankees (93.5) - I'll take the under. They won 94 last year, and they haven't done enough to improve since then. Their pitching is still short of proven depth, and the lineup is just getting older. A management shakeup isn't enough in my eyes to make them attractive as an over.
Oakland Athletics (73.5) - It's sad that the A's have to worry about their pitching after that has been their strength for so long. Unfortunately, they also have to worry about their bats, and their fielding could be better, too. They won 76 last year, and I expect that to look good compared to this year. I'll take the under.
Philadelphia (88.5) - A lot of guys were at their very best last year, and they only won 89. Even a small step back and they will go under. I anticipate that happening. Howard and Rollins may not be at quite the same level, and behind Hamels the roster isn't as strong as it could be. I expect a solid year, but closer to 85 wins than 90.
Pittsburgh (68.5) - It would be easy to forget that this team is even in the league any more. It's incredible how long they have been irrelevant. They won 68 last year, they have done little to improve, and morale seems to be suffering. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them lose 100 games. That makes the under attractive. Or at least more attractive than the over - nothing about this team is particularly attractive.
San Diego (84) - I like the over here quite a bit. Peavy and Young are still among the best one-two punches in the league, and I love the low-cost gamble on Mark Prior. Jim Edmonds is on the downhill, but his experience and bat will still lift this team significantly. They won 89 games this year, and I am fairly confident that they will win at least 85 this year.
San Francisco (71.5) - I'm going to go against conventional wisdom here and take the over. I think the loss of Bonds is a case of serious addition by subtraction. I don't hate the lineup, I expect more from Zito than they got last year, and the rest of the rotation is unproven but promising. I don't think they will contend, but I could definitely see a nice improvement.
Seattle (84.5) - I love this team. I loved them last year and they did very well for me. I think that they are better. Bedard and Hernandez are so nasty at the top of the rotation that it is almost unfair. The bullpen is solid and the lineup can score. They won 88 last year, and they are better this year. I am enthusiastically on the over.
St. Louis (77) - The Cards aren't very exciting, and they really lack depth, but I don't think that they are any worse than last year. I like the addition of Troy Glaus, and I expect Albert Pujols to rebound from a sub-standard year (for someone superhuman like him). They won 78 last year, and I like their chances of improving better than their chances of getting worse.
Tampa Bay (72) - I'll enthusiastically take the over. They have ridiculous amounts of young talent, and that has to pay off at some point. The rotation isn't a disaster, and in places it is actually very good. They are still a couple of years away from contending, but I expect solid improvement.
Texas (74.5) - I am not as pessimistic about this team as some. I like the outfield since it has been rebuilt - Bradley and Hamilton are both gambles, but I like the upside. The infield is solid, and the rotation could be worse. Their trades last year made them younger, but they don't lack talent. They won 75 last year, and I'm willing to bet that they do at least as well again.
Toronto (85) - I'm torn here. I think that the Jays have the ingredients to improve, but I've been saying that for three years now. I think Rolen is a downgrade at this point in his career, and Frank Thomas is not getting younger. If Roy Halladay can stay healthy, though, he can overcome that age. Same goes for A.J. Burnett. B.J. Ryan is back, and he will make it easier to hold a lead. I guess that means that I believe that they will improve from their 83 wins. That makes them an over, though not an enthusiastic one.
Washington (71.5) - I couldn't care about a team less than I do the Nationals. They are young, and I guess they have some upside in different places, but they still have no proven talent in their prime, and they still have no pitching. I'll take the under and then I'll never think of them again.