MLB Season Win Total Picks and Analysis. The Major League Baseball Hot Stove has finally run out of gas this offseason. With the Players Association making multiple concessions in recent years on domestic and international spending limits, in exchange for virtually nothing, teams are now balking at the price-tags for free agents and are instead acquiring younger and cheaper talent from abroad.
by Sean Zerillo – Wannamakeabet Staff Writer
Many top free agents remain unsigned (although it should be said that many of the premium players are Scott Boras clients), and the MLBPA has been forced to prepare an unaffiliated spring training for unsigned players to get them ready for the season with the teams who do sign them.
Some of that unsigned talent includes pitchers Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Greg Holland; and hitters J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Carlos Gomez, Neil Walker, Eduardo Nunez, and Logan Morrison; amongst others.
It’s fair to say, then, that Projected 2018 MLB Standings as of now will certainly change as these players sign with clubs. But with some Sportsbooks recently releasing their 2018 MLB Win Totals, we can preview some outliers when comparing those numbers against composite projected win totals from Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs.
Kansas City Royals
Composite Projected Wins: 67.5
The Royals brought back Alcides Escobar (who is not good, by the way), but have already lost one member of their championship core in Lorenzo Cain (to Milwaukee) and stand to lose their two other best hitters in Hosmer and Moustakas.
This is a Royals team with absolutely no power – Salvador Perez is expected to lead the team in home runs with 22 (though I suspect it’ll be one of the Jorges in the Outfield – Soler or Bonifacio). And outside of Whit Merrifield and prospect Raul Mondesi Jr., this team is also devoid of speed, defense and the base-running skills that brought them to two straight World Series. They will be starting AAA quality players in the 7-9 spots in their lineup, have an injury ravaged rotation, and also seem likely to trade closer Kelvin Herrera this year as they begin to rebuild.
The Royals might be one of the worst teams in baseball this season. This win total is WAY too high – I’d play the UNDER to the limit.
Composite Projected Wins: 70.5
As you’ll see below, the projection systems like Tampa to finish well ahead of Baltimore in the AL East this year, while the Vegas totals have Baltimore one win better. The Orioles haven’t added anything of note this offseason, but did lose starting catcher Wellington Castillo to the White Sox. There have also been a lot of rumors about a potential Manny Machado trade happening. The Orioles have a solid bullpen but continue to trot out one of the worst (and most shallow) starting rotations in baseball. It caught up to them last year and led to only 75 wins. In an even stronger AL East, I don’t see them getting to 78 this season. UNDER
Tampa Bay Rays
Composite Projected Wins: 82
The Rays would have hit the OVER on this number for nine of the past ten seasons. Although they recently offloaded Evan Longoria, he has been showing declining skills. They may also offload star pitcher Chris Archer but the Rays are extremely deep with pitching prospects, including future stud Brent Honeywell. They are building their club around pitching and defense, and they have a lot of depth and young talent ready to plug in this season. Tampa finished 80-82 last year; I think they go OVER, and could even get to .500 this year.
Composite Projected Wins: 77.5
I actually don’t love this one, as the Rangers have a lot of talent that underachieved last season. They also won 95 and 88 games in 2015 and 2016, and aren’t much less talented on paper than those teams. They made some moves to sure up their leaky bullpen, and I think Willie Calhoun will take rookie of the year home in the AL. They’re also still trying to add pieces. I think this Texas team could contend for a wild card spot. Stay away.
Composite Projected Wins: 79
The Rockies are bringing back Jake McGee, and also signed Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw to complete what should be a stacked relief corps. They also have some young starting pitching coming up, although you never know how pitchers will take to Coors (typically terribly). I’d shy away from this Under, and think this could they also could go over like Texas – the Rockies are ready to win now. Stay away.
Composite Projected Wins: 74
The Red Stockings have won 68 games each of the past two seasons, but signs of promise are on the way, and Joey Votto remains great. Nick Senzel is one of the top prospects in baseball, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker are major league outfielders, and young pitchers Luis Catillo and Tyler Mahle looked promising. The Reds also got more into shifting and changing bullpen usage philosophy last season. They’re slowly adding pieces to their next good team, and figuring out how to maximize their talent. I’ll take a slight OVER here.
San Diego Padres
Composite Projected Wins: 72
Another team lacking quality starting pitching at the Major League level, the Padres are loaded with tons of talent and depth in the minors and feature an already solid major league lineup for the NL. This team won 71 games last season and is likely to be better with more major league exposure for their young hitters. Freddy Galvis was a nice add. I really like the OVER here.
Composite Projected Wins: 77
The A’s won 75 games last season and graduated Matt Olson and Matt Chapman to the majors. They also bought low on Stephen Piscotty from the Cardinals, and have some nice young pitching. Their bullpen should be the biggest issue holding them back. The number feels about right.
Composite Projected Wins: 98.5
The best team in baseball last year may only get better. Full seasons from Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are the biggest addition to their patched together rotation from last regular season. Maybe a full season from Carlos Correa? A terrifying lineup? A scary deep bullpen? Multiple stud prospects knocking on the door that could also be flipped for whatever they need? It’s rare to win 100+ games in back to back seasons, but I think Houston has the goods to pull it off. Give me the OVER
7 plays from the 9 teams above
**Kansas City – UNDER 76.5
Houston – OVER 96.5
San Diego – OVER 69.5
Tampa Bay – OVER 76.5
Baltimore – UNDER 77.5
Cincinnati — OVER 71.5
Oakland — OVER 74.5