2018 MLB Season Preview: PECOTA Over/Unders

Teams ordered by win total.  Thanks to Baseball Prospectus for the PECOTA projections.  Enjoy Opening Day!

AL East

New York Yankees: PECOTA Prediction: 97 wins  Verdict: UNDER

Even with the lack of free agent signings, plenty of teams threw up middle fingers to the rest of the MLB this offseason.  The Astros got Gerrit Cole (More on that later) and the Padres signed Eric Hosmer (Oh, wait, that’s more like putting your middle finger up your own butt).  Anyways, like Houston, the Yankees made a middle finger move in getting Giancarlo Stanton for absolutely nothing.

I never wrote about the trade, and it’s not worth it doing it now.  For now, we should focus on how good this Yankees team can be.

Stanton won’t play in the outfield.  He’s not amazing defensively, and Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks provides better defensive production than substituting one for Stanton.

The Yankees have a ton of depth out there with Stanton, prospect Clint Frazier, and Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s on the DL already and probably has the Yankees front office hoping he stays there.  That contract might be the worst one in the majors.

The injuries have already hit the infield as well.  On Monday it was announced that Greg Bird will be out 6-8 weeks with surgery coming on his foot.  I’m starting to get worried about him.  He missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury, and wasn’t great in a limited amount of games last year.  Sure, the slash line in the playoffs was promising, but none of it matters if he can’t contribute in large volumes.

This is where Neil Walker’s versatility helps.  He has a sneaky good bat, and can play anywhere in the infield.  He’ll play first base for now.

But due to regression and age (This is his age 33 season), Walker may not replicate the offensive production from last year.  For now, the Bronx Bombers may not be bombing as much as we want them to.

The 2nd base situation isn’t great; it’s directly impacted by Bird’s injury.  The Yankees would love to get Gleyber Torres in the mix, but neither he or Didi Gregarious is able to play 2nd.  That slides in Tyler Wade, who has high upside at 23 years old, but can’t be expected to contribute majorily at the plate.  That’s not saying Ronald Torreyes is a better option.  It’s just…  the Yankees may not get off to the hot start we expect them too.

I love Brandon Drury at 3rd base though.  Even with some bats being a little concerning early on, they have enough to probably make up for it.

The main reason I am going under on the Yankees though?  Once again, it’s the rotation.  Fangraphs had the Yankees rotation ranked 7th in WAR last season thanks to CC Sabathia not being a complete disaster (At age 37 now, do you really think that’s gonna happen again?), Luis Severino finally breaking out (Regression should be expected), Jordan Montgomery providing solid innings and a late season trade for Sonny Gray.

Looking at the 1-5 depth chart and scanning the names, you just can’t feel good.  Luis Severino?  Okay, fine, you got me.  Masahiro Tanaka?  He’s going into his age 29 season and wasn’t exactly great last year.  CC Sabathia? Bwahahahahaha.  Sonny Gray?  Alright, alright, you got me again.  Jordan Montgomery?  Can he repeat last year?  We’ll see.

This is a slight under.  The bullpen is still ridiculous, and once everyone is healthy, this is one of the most dangerous lineups in the MLB.  Plus, if we learned anything last year, it’s that pitching may not matter as much as we think it does.  The Yankees have the formula down.

Boston Red Sox: PECOTA Prediction: 89 wins  Verdict: OVER

The always impossible-to-predict, chaos driven AL East having two 90 win teams is a daunting forecast.  But considering that we’re looking at two teams who will probably be terrible (Baltimore and Tampa Bay), that leaves more wins for the rest.

89 wins seems low for the Red Sox.  Here’s what PECOTA probably doesn’t like:

  • Hanley Ramirez’s streaky hitting and inconsistency in health, offense and defense.
  • Injuries to a rotation that leaves us frustrated and feeling disappointed every year.
  • Did it account for Dustin Pedoria’s injury?  It should like Eduardo Nunez a little more due to youth.

The Red Sox, like the Yankees, are kinda ridiculous.  The outfield is stacked.  Mookie Betts is awesome; so is Andrew Beinentendi.  Jackie Bradley Jr. still needs to improve his bat, but is awesome defensively (He made the best throw I’ve ever seen in that Cardinals-Red Sox game I attended last August).  JD Martinez can play out there as well, and Brock Holt isn’t a disaster for limited innings.

The concerns are the same ones we’ve had for years: Postseason meltdowns and an underwhelming rotation.  It could be especially bad this year.  Chris Sale is awesome, but David Price is coming off injury and was delegated to the bullpen last season (Yikes!).  Rick Porcello is someone who you never know what you’re gonna get out of him.  The back end is banged up or in trouble; Steven Wright was suspended 15 games for domestic violence (That seems a little light) and is coming off injury from last year.  Drew Pomeranz is on the DL (That trade might be one of the worst trades in MLB history for both sides involved).  Eduardo Rodriguez is also banged up, and is another “What are we getting?” guy; at this point, he may never figure it out.

Plus, the bullpen isn’t as good.  They’ve still got dudes like Heath Hembree pitching out of that thing.

I’m still going over.  It feels risky, but the bats of guys like Betts, Beintendi, Martinez, Hanley(?), and Devers should be able to power them through.  Maybe the rotation can be better than expected, and they can add some extra guys to the bullpen at the deadline.

Tampa Bay Rays: PECOTA Prediction: 83 wins  Verdict: UNDER.  DEFINITELY UNDER.

83 wins?!?!?


I’m gonna go take a walk.  Hold on.

It’s high.  Very high.

First of all, Denard Span and Carlos Gomez are 2/3 of the outfield.  I don’t remember where I was when that happened, but I do know that’s probably not where you want to be.  Span is not great defensively (I guess that’s okay when you have Kevin Kiermaier) and is entering his age 34 season.  Gomez hasn’t been productive in years as well.

Moving in, I’m not sure I know who Joey Wendle is.  CJ Cron is your answer when you have no idea what to do at first base.  The left side is better with Matt Duffy and Adeiny Hechavarria, but by the time this team is ready to contend they could be exiting their prime.  

They blew up the rotation over the offseason.  Everyone is gone besides Chris Archer; he could be a nice piece at the deadline for someone.

This isn’t the NBA, but this feels like a team that’s not trying to win.

Toronto Blue Jays: PECOTA Prediction: 79 wins.  Verdict: OVER

I don’t think this team is terrible!

Let me lay out the case.  The outfield is decent.  Randall Grichick is a good bat but can’t defend well, but that’s made up for by Kevin Pillar.  Curtis Granderson platoons with Steve Pearce since he can’t hit.  Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitski stay healthy and have one last glory year(s).  Justin Smoak mashes the ball again, and this rotation strings together enough good, solid outings to push this team to an upper 80 win total.

Sounds goods?

Eh.  They have no ace, and the starters, as much as I have loved everyone of them, can’t put together solid outings.  They’re either a disaster or are throwing for no-hit bids.

The defense and possibility of age catching up could sink them.  Smoak won’t hit that well again, and Deon Travis and Kendrys Morales just aren’t moving the needle.  Plus, besides Roberto Osuna, the bullpen won’t be able to save the rotation.

I’m still going over.  I think they can win around 85 games.  But PECOTA is weary, and with good reason.

Baltimore Orioles: PECOTA Prediction: 71 wins  Verdict: UNDER

Dylan Bundy is the ace on this team.  Please don’t watch them.

The Manny Machado question will be hovering over all year.  The front office has no idea what it’s doing.

The bats are kinda interesting, but the rotation will probably be bad enough to suppress it.

Again, please don’t watch this team.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians: PECOTA Prediction: 96 wins  Verdict: PUSH

Sounds just about right.  This team is still very good.  They can mash the baseball, and shut you down with their rotation and bullpen.  The Yonder Alonso contract felt like a steal at $8 million per year; a much better value than Carlos Santana.

Bradley Zimmer in a bigger, everyday role should be fun until Michael Brantley comes back (Which, may be never given his history).  Francisco Lindor is a delight.  Tyler Naquin is one of my dudes.

I see no real concerns here.  I wish Brantley and Danny Salazar would stay healthy, but the Indians have been able to overcome those over the past three years.  A World Series appearance should be the goal.

Minnesota Twins: PECOTA Prediction: 82 wins  Verdict: OVER

Early on, it seemed like Minnesota, like most teams, was gonna do nothing to upgrade their rotation or overall team.  They signed Fernando Rodney and Michael Pineda with their first moves of the offseason.

Turns out, the market just took a little longer to stimulate.  Minnesota signed Lance Lynn and traded nothing for Jake Odorozzi, boosting their rotation to an at least competent level.

The rotation has been the biggest downfall to this team’s success the past three years.  It’s okay if Kyle Gibson is your 5th starter (Like he is now), but it’s not okay if he’s your 3rd (That’s the way it’s been the past three years).

Now Minnesota is trotting out Ervin Santana (Who can be expected to regress after posting a 3.28 ERA last season and is entering the season injured), youngin Jose Berrios who is promising, Odorozzi, Lynn and Gibson.

Again, it’s competent.  That might be all that matters.

The Twins are young and talented.  Byron Buxton might have figured it out at the plate, while Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler are solid bats.  Brian Dozer is still cranking.  Joe Mauer is not (There’s no way he’s batting .305/.384/.417 with a 3.4 WAR again at 35.  That was one of the most surprising slash lines of last season).  Miguel Sano dodged a suspension for a suspected domestic violence incident, which is big since Jorge Polanco is now suspended 80 games for PEDs.

PECOTA came in low due to the rotation being still average and the reliance on young guys to produce.  If last year taught us anything, it’s that these guys are just hitting their primes.

Chicago White Sox: PECOTA Prediction: 72 wins  Verdict: OVER

Holy crap.  This could be the worst division in the league.  PECOTA has 3rd place with only 72 wins.

The White Sox are young, with their minor league talent better than their major league roster.

The rotation is interesting though.  James Shields isn’t great anymore, but Lucas Giolito is one of the young prospects who have potential, and Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez are only 24.  If they have solid seasons, this team could be better than PECOTA thinks.

72 seems low.  Yoan Moncada should energize this lineup, and injuries shouldn’t hit as hard.  Jose Abreu probably won’t hit .302 again, but his power will be nice to have.  Matt Davidson should rebound, and Avisail Garcia is one of the league’s most underrated outfielders.

The White Sox won’t be good, but they’re not as bad as PECOTA thinks.

Detroit Tigers: PECOTA Prediction: 68 wins  Verdict: OVER

We are entering brutal territory with this division.  68 wins, let alone 65 for Kansas City, is an unusually low projection from PECOTA.

Then again, they did only win 64 last year.

For Detroit, it is low though.  Sure, the Tigers have been completely purged of what they possessed just four years ago: An AL favorite.  But this team isn’t THAT bad.  They’re not the Padres (Sorry Padres).

I think it’s the pitching that can keep this team afloat.  Michael Fulmer and Matt Boyd are young, talented arms.  Same with Daniel Norris; he should improve given that he’s just 24.  That’s three competent arms.  There’s teams with worse situations!

Jordan Zimmerman is washed though.  Lock down a 5.00 ERA+ out of him.  He won’t be their No.1 by the end of the year.

Around the diamond, it’s a lot of questions marks.  Age, reliability and competence is an issue.  I’m not sure who Dixon Machado is.  Miguel Cabrera slugged .399 last season and is gonna be 35; his early 30s run might be over.  Jeimer Candelario is young, but he batted well in limited appearances last year.

The outfield is another weird mix.  I’m still in on Leoyns Martin, even though he’s some how gonna be 30 (What?) this season.  Remember when he was a young, exciting prospect for Texas?

Anyways, he never turned out.  Martin is fine if he’s your 4th outfielder.  He’s starting for the Tigers in center.

Maybe 68 wins sounds about right for Detroit.

Kansas City Royals: PECOTA Prediction: 65 wins  Verdict: OVER

This another brutally low projection from PECOTA.  This one is a little more justifiable.

The Royals are full of guys who are non-starters on the playoff rosters.  They’re pinch-runners, pinch-hitters, or defensive specialists.  And then there’s Lucas Duda.

One of the few reliable bats Kansas City has is Mike Moustakasas, who is desperately seeking a big year after being one of the few guys to get absolutely shafted this offseason (That contract was despicable.  That’s not how I felt about the lack of spending, either.  But that deal was criminally low).  He should one of the few bright spots for this Royals team.

The outfield isn’t pretty.  It seems like Jorge Soler just isn’t ever gonna figure it out; that trade looks worse and worse every day (Imagine what they could have gotten for Wade Davis from someone else!!).  Alex Gordon was horrible last year and is 35. John Jay is a backup at this point in his career.

Like the Tigers, the rotation might actually be able to get them some more wins.  Danny Duffy is still good, and Jason Hammel is competent.  Besides that, it’s rough.  I’m just trying to be nice.

65 is too low, but their win total won’t be far above that.

AL West

Houston Astros: PECOTA Prediction: 99 wins  Verdict: OVER

We led off with the Yankees, who were able to add Giancarlo Stanton to a roster that made the ALCS and already had Aaron Judge.  They got him for nothing.  They stuck their middle finger to the league.

Since last July, the Astros have been doing just that.  They made the Justin Verlander trade, turning their rotation from great to “No one is beating this.”  That proved true when they won the World Series, thanks to clutch hitting and great performances from guys like Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock.  Then, they went out and got Gerrit Cole for nothing, who’s only 27 and was easily one of the top aces in the league just three years ago.

If the Yankees put their middle finger to the league, the Astros put both middle fingers and their middle toes to the league.

This is probably the most unfair team in the league.

99 wins is a lot for PECOTA to spit out.  100 games is a lot of wins.

At the same time, the World Series Champions lost nobody and got better.

Seattle Mariners: PECOTA Prediction: 82 wins  Verdict: PUSH

This is another rough division, and it’s not helped by the fact that the best team in the MLB is at the top.

Seattle’s been pissing me off the past few years.  Every year we go “This is the year.  The Mariners are gonna win 90 games, make the playoffs, and contend.”

Nope.  Hasn’t happened once.  And now, they might have missed their window.  This roster is not the one we’ve been hyped up about in the past.

Left field seems like it will be some type of platoon.  Guillermo Heredia has never been an everyday guy at age 27.  Ichiro’s a legend, but it’s hard to assume he’ll really contribute.  Kirk Newhuisnes is a 4th outfielder.  Yeah, it’s not great out there.  They did sign Jayson Werth to a minor league deal, which could be interesting if we get to June and there’s still no production coming out of left.  He just has to stay healthy.

The rest of the lineup isn’t actually bad at all.  Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger are good hitters, and they have some power in Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.  Kyle Seager has been overshadowed by his brother. Mike Zunino is one of the league’s most underrated catches.

It’s just… I don’t want to hop on this team yet again and be let down.  And that rotation…

That rotation… yikes.  This was a good tweet.

That’s the Mariners rotation in a nutshell right now.

King Felix Hernandez is still awesome in our hearts, but he put up a 4.36 ERA last season and will be 32.  Can he still be King?

If he’s not, then there’s really no chance.  James Paxton should regress back to a No.3 or No.4 starter rather than a No.2 after a suspiciously good year.  Yovani Gallardo is just not good.  Mike Leake is fine, but he’s not moving the needle.

Fangraphs WAR had the Mariners rotation ranked 25th last year.  If it’s in that range, then Seattle is going nowhere.  If it’s better, a Wild Card push can’t be ruled out.  The question is whether the rotation is bad enough to hold them back.  Given my luck with Seattle since I’ve launched this site, the answer to that question is “Yes.”

Los Angeles Angels: PECOTA Prediction: 79 wins  Verdict: OVER

Remember at last season’s deadlines and early into the offseason when I was freaking out about how the Angels thought they were good?

Well, Los Angeles capped all that off with Shohei Otani.  And now this roster isn’t all that bad!

OK, it’s a little worrisome.  They’re old; Ian Kinsler is 35, and they’re counting on him big time after that December trade, which was like the 3rd most exciting thing that happened this Winter.  Luis Valbeuna is also old and didn’t even bat .200 last season.

Yet, a guy like Zach Cosart was worth the money; he gives them a solid bat and another good defensive presence to an already stacked team.  Andrelton Simmons is awesome.  Justin Upton was paid a little too much, but you’re hopeful to get 2-3 good years out of that contract.  Mike Trout is Mike freaking Trout, and I’ve always been on the Kole Calhoun bandwagon.

And then there’s Ohtani, who left everyone stunned when he decided to join the Angels.  “The Angels?  Really?  That’s where you want to go?”  That was the reaction we all had.  The Angels didn’t deserve Ohtani.  What had they done the past four years?

Perhaps the action of doing by LA starts now.  But if they want to go anywhere, Ohtani is gonna have to contribute largely, specifically with his arm.

LA’s rotation is (still) a disaster.  It’s worse than their division foes, Seattle’s.  It’s bad.  And it could be bad enough to hold them back significantly once again.  The funniest part is that they completely overhauled it, and it’s still just as bad.

Garrett Richards’ elbow acted up last season, forcing him to only start six games like he did in 2016.  Essentially, it’s been two years since he really pitched.  That’s not what you want from your ace!

Tyler Skaggs isn’t good and shouldn’t be counted on.  Matt Shoemaker seems washed.  Andrew Heany is hurt.  Yeah, it’s not great.

The Angels need Ohtani to be their ace.

I’m not evaluating Spring Training performance.  It means nothing; they’re not real games and no one’s really trying that hard.

Signing guys from the Chinese, Japanese and Korean leagues has been hit or miss over the years, but if we’ve learned anything, the pitchers turn out better than the hitters do.  Byung Ho Park just couldn’t figure it out.  Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka did.  It turns out that if you throw fast, you throw fast, and no one can hit you.

For now, the Angels don’t really need Ohtani to hit well.  It’d be nice, sure, for baseball itself, for fantasy baseball players, and for entertainment and history’s sake. But Ohtani mowing down batters with that fastball and whatever the nuts that forkball is much more impactful.  Ohtani’s 23.  He’s not like most guys who come over, who are mid-to-late 20s and already developed fully.  He’s gonna have adjustments to make.

I’m going over on the Angels.  This team is way too fun to be that bad.  I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs, but for Trout and Ohtani’s sake, I’ll be watching.

Oakland A’s: PECOTA Prediction: 76 wins  Verdict: UNDER

We’re gonna make this as quick as possible.  A couple notes:

  • Shoutout to Tri-Valley native Stephen Piscotty for coming home.
  • (Is that it?)
  • Yup

Texas Rangers: PECOTA Prediction: 75 wins  Verdict: UNDER

This is another team whose fall from grace has been astonishing.

The roster is purged and still old.  The rotation is in rough shape.  They have a decent bullpen, but not good enough to save the roster.

Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields cannot be relied on for production.  Nomar Mazara is the one bright spot in the outfield.

Moving in, we don’t really know what we’re getting.  Rougned Odor is coming off a rough year and should bounce back, but a good season out of him won’t make up for the lack of hitting elsewhere.  Adrian Beltre was still unbelievable last year, but he’s gonna be 39 this season.  Can he squeeze out one more year?  Joey Gallo, like Mazara, is a bright spot.  I expect a breakout season from him; he’s too talented to hit this poorly.

Behind Cole Hamels, the pitching staff is weak.  Every guy is one spot higher in the rotation than they should be.  PECOTA projects the Rangers to be horrific defensively as well, which won’t help.  The bullpen has some arms: Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, and Keone Kula.  That could help them down the stretch, but even if they’re in the playoff hunt they’ll need to add.

The Rangers are a team waiting to tear it down.  They’re not there yet due to some guys lingering around.  But Mazara and Gallo are names to watch.  They’ll take them into the future.

NL East

Washington Nationals: PECOTA Prediction: 88 wins  Verdict: OVER. DEFINITELY OVER.

Lets try and figure out how PECOTA came in with this low of a projection for the Nationals, who were my pick to win the World Series coming into last October.

  • Anthony Rendon regression season?  He stayed surprisingly healthy and had an on-base percentage over .400 last year.
  • Maybe that age is catching up to guys like Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman?  Zimmerman, like Rendon, turned it around last year at 32.  Will he do that again?  Murphy may not be back until May, did PECOTA account for that?  When he’s healthy, I’m not betting against him though.
  • This rotation isn’t exactly the dominant force we’ve thought it was the past three years.  Houston blows this staff away.  Max Scherzer and Stephen Strausburg is quite a 1-2 punch, but despite that, it’s not all flowery.  Despite a good year in 2017, Gio Gonzalez is still the type of pitcher who can be flawless one day and give up seven runs in three innings the next (That’s in a regular season game.  Once he hits the playoffs, him and this whole team implodes).  Tanner Roark gets somewhat unlucky by putting the ball in play too much, but was also abominable last season.  PECOTA must think he’s on the wrong side of 30.

Other than those reasons, I can’t figure out why PECOTA came in so low at 88 wins.   The Nationals have Bryce freaking Harper and Trea Turner, who’s an absolute delight.  Oh, and traded smart at the deadline last year, keeping intact a ferocious bullpen.

I thought Washington was the best team heading into last October.  That was obviously incorrect, as the MLB postseason never spits out the right winner.  But they lost practically no one.  88 wins is way too low.

Philadelphia Phillies: PECOTA Prediction: 81 wins  Verdict: OVER

This is the type of projection where you see it, smirk and start laughing uncontrollably until you look at the roster and go “Oh, I see I see.”

The Phillies aren’t guaranteed to win less than 80 games this year!  It’s unbelievable!

This is a franchise that’s had no idea where it’s been going the past few years.  Now, they have a young core and added some veterans to put together what’s looking like a pretty nice team.  It makes more sense now why they were in the Giancarlo Stanton talks.

Philadelphia is ready to throw what they have to the dogs.  Five of their eight full-time position guys are in that 23-25 age range.  They’ve got a massive 5-7 year window wide open!  We’re only in year one!

And that’s the problem.  We’re only in year one.

For guys like Nick Williams, JP Crawford, and Jorge Alfaro, this is their first real playing time.  They have no experience, and some struggles can be encountered with that.

Plus, the rotation and the bullpen aren’t there yet.  And the Phillies could be horrific defensively.

Getting Jake Arrieta for this haul couldn’t have been a better signing.  The annual money is a little high, but overall it will be worth it.  There’s your starter for Game 1 of a playoff series, and there’s your mentor for Vincent Velasquez, Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta.

The Phillies are gonna be super entertaining, and could emerge as a Wild Card team if everything goes right.  PECOTA might be on to something here.

New York Mets: PECOTA Prediction: 80 wins  Verdict: OVER

When writing about the Nationals above, I had assumed that the NL East would just be terrible again, and I used that as another “WTF?” counter against their projection.

Now I understand why that was wrong.

I loved what the Mets did this offseason.  It wasn’t that I forgot about them completely while writing about Washington, it was just that the Nationals had owned (Like, so owned) this division forever.  It wasn’t even close.  Now, those other teams are catching up.

New York went out and got Todd Frazier to play 3rd base, instead of rotating a cast of shortstops, 2nd basemen and Jose Reyes’ who hit .220.  They got Adrian Gonzalez to replace Lucas Duda or whatever scraps they were getting away with over there (Though, Gonzalez may hit like Duda this year.  We’ll see).  They brought back Jay Bruce to make sure no weak spots existed in the outfield (Michael Conforto needs to be back ASAP, though, for that statement to be true).

The Mets went out and attacked their holes aggressively.  They knew they were wasting a once-in-a-lifetime rotation, and had to put guys around it.   About time!

The middle infield is still concerning.  Asdrubal Cabrera is a classic example of a guy who plays 3rd base for them last season and is a part of that rotating cast of skinny guys who can’t hit.  Amed Rosario could be awesome, but he’s only 22 and was called up at the end of last year for meaningless games.

That being said, the Mets have a nice mix of young guys and veterans, which is usually the right formula in October.

But the veterans are gonna have to contribute.  Jay Bruce can’t age, especially with the money they’re paying him.  Gonzalez can’t bat like Lucas Duda; even at age 36, I still have hope.  He’s two years off from batting .285/.349/.435.  Staying healthy will be huge.

I like this team, but I’m stuck feeling like PECOTA right now.  Since there’s questions about age and production, it doesn’t know what to do.  PECOTA projects teams for right around .500 when it doesn’t have any idea.  That’s me right now.

I’m gonna go over because I like this team, but it’s slight.  The NL Wild Card race will be too good for them.

Atlanta Braves: PECOTA Prediction: 76 wins  Verdict: PUSH

This feels about right.  The Braves are becoming more encouraging, but still have too glaring of holes to take them seriously.

They have a couple career backups starting, like Ryan Flaherty at 3rd base and Preston Tucker in the outfield.  The rotation is iffy; I’m not really a Mike Foltynewicz fan and Anibal Sanchez is washed.  That said, I do like Sean Newcomb, and Julio Tehran feels like he should be 30, not 25; I can’t tell if that’s a good or a bad thing.

The Braves are gonna have some fun guys to watch.  Ozzie Abiles will be playing (And maybe Ronald Ocuna!), and we can try and figure out once and for all who won the Dansby Swanson-Shelby Miller (Can you believe that’s actually a debate?).  They also have Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte, who are underrated stars stuck on a bad team.

The Braves are getting closer, but they’re just not there yet.

Miami Marlins: PECOTA Prediction: 65 wins  Verdict: Under

This is a low projection you can’t harp on PECOTA for.  The Marlins deserve this.

The blowup this Winter made no sense.  The Marlins were closer to contending then they were to having to blow it up.  Stanton+Christian Yelich+Marcel Ozuna??  Slap some pitching on that and maybe not trade Dee Gordon and now we’re talking.  It’s not a contender, but it’s closer than they are now.

Jose Fernandez’s death still stings deep.  He was the type of guy who could save a rotation.  Save this one, potentially.

Now, the Marlins are stuck in no man’s land, with Derek Jeter doing all he can to help out other teams.

It’s a slight under.  They could be the worst team in the league.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: PECOTA Prediction: 91 wins  Verdict: OVER

They’re loaded, once again, which makes PECOTA’s 91 wins odd.  Why so low?

I’m not huge on Ian Happ (Even though he just hit a home run on the VERY FIRST PITCH OF THE MLB SEASON), and the bullpen goes through weird, two weeks imploding cycles, but besides that, Chicago will be ready to contend for the World Series once again.

St. Louis Cardinals: PECOTA Prediction: 85 wins  Verdict: UNDER

Once again, PECOTA comes in a little confused.  And again, it makes sense.  There’s a lot to like, and a lot to not.  The outfield is great, with new addition Marcel Ozuna ready to make a big impact.  I like the middle infield, even though there’s some durability concerns.  Matt Carpenter struggled last year, but still got on base at a .384 rate.  And…

Yeah, that’s about it.  The rotation is old, and already banged up.  There’s probably regression coming for Jedd Gyroko, who had a great year last season.  The bullpen isn’t gonna save the starters.

The outfield bats, Alex Reyes and Adam Wainwright are gonna have to do quite a bit.  That’s a lot to ask from Reyes and Wainwright; Reyes hasn’t been in a rotation before and Wainwright struggled last year at 35.

It seems improbable, but a lot could potentially go wrong here.  They could be in store for a Giants-like season from hell.  My under isn’t that extreme, but 85 is too much.

Milwaukee Brewers: PECOTA Prediction: 84 wins  Verdict: PUSH

The Brewers projection seemed low considering the overhauling they did this offseason.  They have one of the league’s best outfields (Thanks, Marlins!) and will be better than PECOTA thinks defensively.

But it’s also easy to see why PECOTA came in low.  The rotation is a disaster (The Twins’ is better.  Seriously.).  Yeah, Chase Anderson put up 4.1 WAR last season and  two other starters posted top 5 WAR within the team.  But they all had really good years, and the Brewers still couldn’t make the playoffs.  With regression a guarantee, how far could Milwaukee sink?

The Brewers also got really lucky.  ClusterLuck had them in the top three of all MLB teams last season.  Will that happen again?  Probably not, as luck doesn’t really carry over season to season.

It’s still a pretty good team.  Travis Shaw is a solid 3rd baseman, and Orlando Arcia is one of the most underrated young guys in baseball.  Eric Sogard is fine.

But the drawbacks, a bad stash of starting pitchers, luck probably not helping them out, and an Eric Thames regression season keeps me back from really believing in this team.

Pittsburgh Pirates: PECOTA Prediction: 78 wins  Verdict: UNDER

Aside from some good infield depth, this team is terrible.  Ivan Nova is your ace, congratulations.

The Andrew McCutchen trade propels them into a rebuild, yet they don’t have anyone who’s really, really good.  Austin Meadows could get called up eventually, and Colin Moran will start at 3rd.  But for now, the Pirates are waiting for that guy.

Cincinnati Reds: PECOTA Prediction: 75 wins  Verdict: OVER

I like this team.  The outfield is solid; Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall are great hitters.  Billy Hamilton is a delight.  They might be horrific defensively besides Hamilton, but it’s at least fun!

I like the middle infield; Scooter Gennett and Jose Pereaza are solid hitters, and Peraza is a huge part of their future.  Joey Votto probably won’t bat .320 again (Man, reflecting on the fact that he didn’t win NL MVP feels strange), but after last season I won’t dare project regression.

The downfall with the Reds is their rotation, which wouldn’t be horrible if not for injuries already taking their toll.  Anthony DeSclafani is coming back from a UCL injury, and Brandon Finnegan, a young 24 year old who has a ton of experience from his Kansas City days, may be out for two weeks.

The rest is actually pretty intriguing.  Homer Bailey is washed, but Luis Castillo is a young pitcher who just needed a team to keep him around.  He pitched well last year and should again this season.  Sal Romano wasn’t great last year, but is also only 24.

The Reds might be kinda fun!  It’s a talented, young team.  But a lot things are gonna have to come together for it to work out.  They might surprise some people.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers: PECOTA Prediction: 97 wins  Verdict: UNDER

I was ready to make this Dodgers preview quick until I saw Matt Kemp starting in left field.

The classic little league joke is that typically the worst player on the team plays left field.  That’s not the case once you hit high school, but for the Dodgers, it’s most certainly the case.

Kemp’s numbers aren’t that bad at first glance.  He batted .276/.318/.463 with Atlanta last year, and had an OPS over .800 the year before that.  He’s not totally washed.

But some other stats say otherwise.  Kemp grounded into 25 double plays last season, the most in the Majors.  And he only played 115 games!  How can you be that unclutch?

WAR also hated him last season; it calculated to -1.3.

Kemp might be okay this year.  But the fact that he’s on an MLB roster, let alone starting for the Dodgers, is just too funny.

The Dodgers have a couple other concerns.  Justin Turner is gonna be out for awhile with a broken wrist.  Logan Forsythe will play 3rd base until he returns, which is fine.  The trade for him isn’t a loss yet, with the Rays not getting Jose De Leon’s service due to Tommy John Surgery (That trade might be a lose-lose for both at this point).  Forsythe had a rough year last season, which fits his career trajectory quite well.  He should rebound this season.

Once again, I’m ready to doubt this rotation.  Clayton Kershaw is amazing, but the rest, like usual, is a little leaky.  Alex Wood was way too good last year; so was 37 year old Rich Hill (Hill has that curveball though.  It’ll probably keep working).  I like Kenta Maeda, and Hyun-Jin Ryu is good when healthy.

The Dodgers are gonna be fine, but the regression in the rotation and Kemp’s presence in the outfield tells me that 97 wins is a little too high.

Arizona Diamondbacks: PECOTA Prediction: 87 wins  Verdict: UNDER

Arizona only got better this offseason.  They added Steven Souza Jr., Brad Boxberger, Jarrod Dyson and Alex Avila.

They lost practically no one.  Paul Goldschmidt should be an NL MVP candidate once again, and the outfield has AJ Pollack and David Peralta mashing baseballs.  Jarrod Dyson will provide some needed defense, and can get on base.  Jake Lamb is a slugging machine at 3rd, and Alex Avila is a much better hitter than Jeff Mathis.

To fight some possible regressions, Arizona added even more hitting over the offseason.  They’re loaded at the plate.

They’re also deep in the outfield, which is good since Peralta and Pollack tend to miss games.  Souza Jr. is hurt, but his presence coupled with the versatility of Chris Owings and Daniel Descalso provides some insurance.

My concern with Arizona is once again the pitching (That’s a common trend in the NL West).  The Diamondbacks pitched phenomenally well last season; breakout years from Robbie Ray and Zach Godley occurred, and Zach Greinke threw like an ace.

That probably won’t be the case this season.  Greinke said some concerning things over the offseason, like this below:

Wonderful.  I have to worry about this along with Robbie Ray returning to pitch like Robbie Ray.  Oh, and Shelby Miller is gonna pitch in some innings this year!  You can feel the ERA rising.

87 wins feels about right.  They somehow won 93 last year, which was overshadowed by the Dodgers winning an insane amount as well.  Arizona is super talented, but last year might have been the year to really make an impact.

San Francisco Giants: PECOTA Prediction: 83 wins  Verdict: UNDER

I think PECOTA saw the Giants’ and Rockies’ pitching staffs and went “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

I have no idea how the Giants got projected six wins better than Colorado.  San Francisco’s depth chart has them possessing only eight pitchers right now.  Eight!  There’s two I’ve never heard of!

And guess who’s starting Opening Day?  Ty Blach!  Oh yeah!  Here’s Your 2018 San Francisco Giants Everybody!

They’re really banged up.  Madison Bumgarner broke his hand and can’t pitch for at least two months.  Jeff Samardzjia is also on the DL, which depletes them of innings.  The bullpen is also feeling those effects.  Will Smith is out for the year after TJ surgery and Mark Melancon is also recovering from an arm surgery.

They’re a mess to start the season, and the bats are old.  Brandon Crawford is 30, Hunter Pence will be 35.  Brandon Belt fell off a cliff last year and will be 31 this season.

They added Andrew McCutchen, which makes the outfield less horrid; the fact that Austin Jackson keeps finding MLB jobs is hilarious.  He’s the Sam Bradford of the MLB.

The Giants made some nice moves, but I just don’t see it coming together.  This team won 64 games last season.  They won’t be that bad, but it’s time to start thinking about trying to be.

Colorado Rockies: PECOTA Prediction: 78 wins  Verdict: OVER

Once again, the Rockies have a World Series lineup with no pitching.

The numbers say their rotation was pretty bad last year, but it was good enough to get them to the NL Wild Card Game.  They lost a big part of it, though.  Tyler Chawood is now a Cub, leaving Jon Gray as their only real trustworthy starter.

PECOTA comes in low probably because of it.  Ryan McMahon is a young 1st baseman who could struggle out of the gate, but Colorado has done okay with guys like that in the past.

The pitching is going to be a real problem.  If the Rockies are in it around the deadline, they should go all in for whoever the top starter available is.  It’s time to stop wasting this lineup.

San Diego Padres: PECOTA Prediction: 73 wins  Verdict: UNDER

It’s a slight under.  Please don’t watch this team.