The temperatures are starting to rise, the birds are chirping, rain is falling, and the air just smells better. That can only mean one thing: baseball season is upon us. Teams are finishing up their spring training and getting ready for the longest grind in all of sports. These players are about to play 5-7 games every week for the next six months, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. “But Matt, baseball is so boring,” well to those haters I say screw you, baseball is glorious. However, the MLB heard those loud cries and made some monumental changes to the way the game is going to be played this season.
The most significant change is the addition of a pitch clock, which is intended to expedite the game. Each pitcher will get 15 seconds with no runners on and 20 seconds with a baserunner on in order to get the ball across the plate. The chatter around this hasn’t been positive, for the most part, but the spring games have all finished near a two and a half hours duration, I’ll take that all day. They also took away the shift, enlarged the bases, and limited the amount of times a pitcher can throw a pickoff (just twice per at-bat). These rules, in theory, get the league back to small-ball baseball and make the game less about mashing the ball over the fence. Now for a rule that affects this article in particular, they also made a change to the scheduling format.
Each team will now play all other 29 teams for at least one series. This is exciting because now fans get more opportunities to see players that they normally wouldn’t get a chance to, and teams can really see how they stack up against the league. No more beating up on the younger sibling at the bottom of the division standings. The league should look more balanced at season’s end, hopefully giving us a climactic finish. This should be a great year for baseball, hopefully winning back the hearts of Americans.
NL Central Win Total Predictions
Chicago Cubs: 76.5
If you were to ask Chicago fans, I wonder if they believe this roster will compete this year. I mean, they went out and added a former #1 overall pick in Dansby Swanson, Seiya Suzuki has his “rookie year” out of the way, and they also added a former MVP in Cody Bellinger. However, that pitching staff is going to be a liability. Marcus Stroman is going to lead the staff, but he obviously can’t pitch every day. Taillon will likely pitch less than 120 innings, Justin Steele will have a big “prove it” year and everyone else probably only starts for three other teams. The culture around the Cubs is built around winning, but this team seems like it could be destined for another mediocre season. The 76.5 seems like a couple games too many.
Give me UNDER 76.5 (+100) for 1u.
Cincinnati Reds: 65.5
What is there to really say about this Cincinnati roster? There are a few guys to be excited for if you’re a fan, but this won’t be an easy year to watch. Hunter Greene might be lighting up the radar gun, but he is essentially just a one-pitch pitcher. Batters have gone on record saying that it’s just a matter of sitting back and waiting for that fastball. They have a darling in Elly De La Cruz, but he probably won’t make the opening-day roster. They are also so bad that they don’t even have any pieces to trade away to get more prospects. Maybe Votto pieces something together, but this team is bad—arguably the worst team in the league. The new scheduling format doesn’t allow them to acquire as many cheap wins against the Pirates & Cubs either.
Give me UNDER 65.5 (-102) for 2u.
Milwaukee Brewers: 86.5
Milwaukee is a tough team for me to analyze. On paper, their lineup doesn’t really jump off the page. They have one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league, so that helps, but eventually the talent has to get that ball over the fence. Yelich is a shell of his MVP self, Hiura hasn’t taken the leap that a lot of people expected, and they really don’t have a ton of promising young talent that can elevate this lineup. Yet I like this team. They have arguably the best 1-2 punch in the MLB. With the new set of rules being put in place, I believe good pitching will be even more crucial for victories. The number is right on the nose, as they won 86 games last year, but that was also a down year. I am banking on the bounce back.
Give me OVER 86.5 (+110) for 1u.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 67.5
Oh Pirates…….. how it pains me to call you my favorite team. The narrative that the experts are giving the Pirates is one that ends in failure. BUT NOT ME! This is a young roster, and I get that, but they are talented. Reynolds asking for a trade is almost customary for the best player on this roster, so that also doesn’t bother me. They brought back Cutch to help show these guys what winning in Pittsburgh looks like. The Pirates also signed Rich Hill this offseason. That’s nothing to be excited about, but I do think he helps out the top-tier catching prospects in the Pirates system. Weirdly, I think the new scheduling format helps them as well. The Pirates competed well against teams that weren’t named the St. Louis Cardinals.
I think this is a contrarian pick, but give me OVER 67.5 (-115) for 1u.
St. Louis Cardinals: 88.5
This feels almost automatic at this point. The Cardinals are a winning machine that seems like no matter what, they will continue to churn out ass whoopings. They had last year’s MVP and possibly this year’s Rookie of the Year, displaying the vast level of talent they have across the board. Their pitching staff is the most noticeable weak spot on this team, but they get bailed out by having such a strong defense behind them. Yes, I think the fact that they have fewer games against the Reds, Cubs, and Pirates will hurt their win column a little bit, but the win total being below 90 seems like that is factored in. The Cardinals are probably my favorite bet to hit their win total.
Give me OVER 88.5 (-118) for 2u.
NL East Win Total Predictions
Atlanta Braves: 95.5
The Braves of today may be a little different than the ones that won that title just a couple years ago, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. They are still a young team that has had the taste of winning, and they don’t want to go back to anything else. But for some reason, I’m thinking this could be a down year for the Braves. The pitching staff still has some questions. Fried will be solid, but what will Morton be able to do? Spencer Strider has been given so much hype that I find it difficult for him to truly live up to it. They brought in Raisel Iglesias to command the 9th, but there are some questions about whether or not the guys ahead of him will be able to hold down a lead. I think this is a winning team, but I do think the division gets a lot tougher this year, and 96 wins is a high number.
Give me UNDER 95.5 (-105) for 1u.
Miami Marlins: 75.5
If only Miami actually cared about winning. They have one of the most exciting pitching staffs in the majors. Sandy is coming off his Cy Young season, Luzardo at times shined above his previous “top pitching prospect” form, Rodgers looks primed for a bounce back, and they have Max Meyer possibly coming up this year. They made a trade for AJ Puk from the Oakland A’s, in a move that I think is undervalued. Puk should come in and lock down that closer role. The lineup has a ton of questions, but the addition of Luis Arraez should give them a batting average anchor while these young guys go through their ups and downs.
Give me OVER 75.5 (-122) for 1u.
New York Mets: 94.5
I will admit, I am a Mets hater. This is a team built by veterans, so I get it; they know how to win. However, baseball season is 162 games, so how can you not question their health when you look at their starting rotation? There are four guys that could pitch fewer than 140 innings, and I wouldn’t be surprised. The lineup is solid, and they have stars littered everywhere, but it’s hard to think they can stay healthy all year. They are already without their All-Star closer Edwin Diaz for the year. I’m a guy who believes in signs. So if two of those four go for 150+ innings, I think they can get to 95 wins, but I’m not buying it.
Give me UNDER 94.5 (-114) for 1u.
Philadelphia Phillies: 88.5
The Phillies were a team I came into this season expecting to fall in love with. They were able to keep the entire core from their pennant winning team, while also adding “Captain America” Trea Turner to the top of that lineup. They have two horses in the rotation that can go out and win them games. However, too many people are on this Phillies team for me. They might as well be the public team with all of these Philadelphia teams making championship runs. That city is in the spotlight. Wheeler has some health questions, and I think Nola has shown some volatility. Harper “hopes” to be back before the all-star break, but rushing him back could lean more towards my play. The Phillies lost 25 games to the Braves and Mets last year. They will pick up some games there, but I think it balances out when they face the best of every other division.
Give me UNDER 88.5 (-104) for 2u.
Washington Nationals: 58.5
59.5 is tied for the lowest projected win total in the entire league. This is due to the fact that this team is built on a bunch of guys who haven’t proven themselves yet in this league. Gore and Abrams were once two of the top prospects in baseball, but it hasn’t translated to the majors just yet. The outfield is just gross to look at, so don’t even bother with the rotation. This looks like a major rebuild. I’m guessing that if they start out slow, they could be at risk of not even winning 50 games due to the fact that I think management shuts down guys as the season wears on. This is another system play; let’s fade the young team that just isn’t quite ready.
Give me UNDER 58.5 (-110) for 1u.
NL West Win Total Predictions
Arizona Diamondbacks: 75.5
This can be a promising year for the Diamondbacks. The team has a very young roster, and some of them could make an impact later on in the season. However, there are growing pains that come with having a young team. But these new rules favor the D-backs heavily in my eyes. They are built to play some small-ball baseball, and I think there will be some exciting times for Arizona. Gallen looked amazing last year despite going into last season with major concerns about his elbow. However, we just saw what Merril Kelley can do in the WBC. However, they have one of the biggest question marks at the closer position. I think because of their youth, they will struggle in those late-game situations. I think it’ll be closer than a lot of people think.
Give me UNDER 75.5 (-105) for 1u.
Colorado Rockies: 64.5
When I first started falling in love with baseball, the Rockies were easily my second favorite team. Beautiful ball park, sweet uniform colors, and who doesn’t love a high-scoring baseball game? This team does nothing to ignite that inner Rockies fire I have inside of me. Their rotation is easily ranked at the bottom, and C.J. Cron, Kris Bryant, and Brendan Rodgers, may only combine for 162 games played. Luckily for them, they won’t be getting baptized by the Dodgers and Padres for most of the year. However, I see this team fading fast towards the trade deadline, and they will sell whoever they can to start this much-needed rebuild.
Give me the UNDER 64.5 (-115) for 1u.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 96.5
The Dodgers have been the pinnacle of regular season excellence the last 5-7 years. Year after year, they are the favorites to hang the NL West Championship banner. Then this team lost its closer, its star shortstop, its longtime third baseman, a former MVP, and their win total is still in the high 90’s? Vegas clearly sees the Dodgers as a machine that will crank out another terrific season. How can I disagree? Miguel Vargas is one of my favorite sleeper players this season. Dustin May is set to anchor the 4-spot, and hold on, let me check… yup, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts still wear blue and white. They still have a solid farm system that seems like it churns out talent with too much ease. They may only hit this number by the hook, but I’m trusting the machine.
Give me OVER 96.5 (-110) for 1u.
San Diego Padres: 93.5
San Diego is gonna show the world how effective the “stars and scrubs” strategy really is. They traded the house to obtain one of the top five pieces in baseball last year. Just so they can pair him with another one of those top 5 guys already on their roster (yes Tatis is a top 5 player in baseball). The 1-4 players in this lineup could all finish the year with 100 runs and RBI’s. But if anyone has ever tried to do this strategy in fantasy sports, it works out around 30% of the time. The major league season is a long and grueling grind of 162 games. Injuries happen, and when you lack the depth necessary, the kinks in your armor show. The franchise has proven they will do what it takes to win a title, but this number just seems a hair too high. Soto and Musgrove are already dealing with something and the season hasn’t even started. Tatis will start the season suspended, and I am a known Blake Snell denier.
Give me UNDER 93.5 (-115) for 1u.
San Francisco Giants: 81.5
It feels like a sin to go against one of the most consistent franchises in the MLB, but when you look at this roster, where is the hope? Logan Webb looks great but the underlying date says that maybe he has some good luck. I think Sean Maneaa could be a sneaky candidate for Most Improved Player, but could we just be living in the Giants past? San Francisco is a franchise that is known to “fix” pitchers. In 2021, Alex Wood looked like he found his former self, but he had a major regression last year. Alex Cobb was just Alex Cobb last year. Which was a disappointment because a lot of people expected his game to elevate. The bullpen is sure fire, but on paper, this lineup looks to be in the bottom half of the MLB. I think the Giants are a great organization that knows how to win in this division. This may bite me in the ass, but I’ve got to go with my gut on this.
Give me UNDER 81.5 (-122) for 1u.
AL Central Win Total Predictions
Chicago White Sox: 83.5
The White Sox made the most important move in the majors by relieving Tony La Russa of his management duties. This was one of the most talented rosters over the last 2 years and it was being bogged down by an old, stubborn man who at times looked like he didn’t give a damn about what was happening on the diamond. The new skipper is a man by the name of Pedro Grifol. He had served on the Royals coaching staff since 2013 and won a title in 2015 with the franchise. He is no stranger to quality young talent, and he knows the culture that a winning team should have. The one thing he can’t control is the health of his roster. It seems like year after year we are seeing Robert and Anderson spending significant time on the IL. Sadly, they start the season without their all-star closer, as he is battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. They continue to put Eloy Jimenez in the outfield despite the fact that he may be the most fragile man I have ever seen – but his hitting tool is too great to ignore. They could probably win a few more games this season if they just moved him to DH and washed their hands of putting him in the field. This is one of the most difficult divisions in baseball, and it will be a tight race all season.
Give me OVER 83.5 (+106) for 1u.
Cleveland Guardians: 86.5
I really can’t explain my bias, but I really have never been a supporter of this Cleveland squad. Now a days I blame it on the fact that I hate their team name but I think there are other teams in this division to get behind. It’s hard to doubt what they can do when it comes to pitching, but doesn’t this seem like one of the weaker rotations in Cleveland’s past? McKenzie and Bieber will be solid, but the third guy is Cal Quantrill. Besides Jose Ramierez, who else jumps off the page? Maybe Josh Bell can be good, or maybe Amed Rosario can be productive again, but it just seems like people backing Cleveland are living off the past. Every other team in this division got better this offseason except them.
Give me UNDER 86.5 (+104) for 1u.
Detroit Tigers: 69.5
The Detroit Tigers are +3000 to win the Division on Fanduel. I mean I know that may seem crazy but weirdly I’m loving the odds at +3000. This is a team that is very young at its core but also has enough veterans in the clubhouse to help lead these young men. Detroit made an adjustment to their park, moving it more towards the hitter-friendly side of things. Lowering multiple outfield walls and moving the center field wall in should allow some of this young talent to thrive. Eduardo Rodriquez might be the spring training MVP if he keeps up with these numbers. They are sneakily deep in the rotation, and their bullpen could be solid if a couple things bounce right. Javier Baez can’t be worse than last year, and maybe, just maybe, Matthew Boyd can come through now that everyone doubts him. I understand this is an optimistic view of this team, but some teams have to get better year after year, and every year there is at least one team that surprises everyone.
Give me OVER 69.5 (-105) for 2u.
Kansas City Royals: 68.5
Now, not every young, promising team can be great. The Royals strike me as that team this year. They have some great pieces in that lineup, but Perez is really the only one people can trust. I know Bobby Witt is everyone’s favorite player, and call me crazy, but I just don’t see him living up to everyone’s expectations. Their big-splash signing was a man by the name of Aroldis Chapman. The man who gave up on a championship team because his crybaby ego couldn’t handle not being the closer. So we are expected to believe that he will be cool being the setup man? I think not. Brady Singer vastly outperformed his advanced stats, and the rest of this rotation makes you want to puke. This just doesn’t seem like a team that is ready, nor really wants to make that jump to being successful just yet.
Give me UNDER 68.5 (-105) for 1u.
Minnesota Twins: 84.5
I feel like I should preface this by saying that I think the Twins are a high-variance team. The rotation this year is the deepest it’s been in years. However, with every guy you speak positively about, you always have to say: “If he stays healthy.” Honestly, none of the starting five could hit the 150-inning mark this season. Bringing in Pablo Lopez was a great move for the organization. They needed pitching, and they had a logjam at middle infield. Lopez has had some shoulder issues in the past, but when healthy, he has looked like a top 25 pitcher in the majors. Tyler Mahle has always been told that he is a “good pitcher in a bad ballpark.” Well, now he lands in a more favorable spot in Minnesota. Kenta Maeda has proven he can be great, but what did I say earlier? The lineup has a quality mix of youth and veteran leadership that is easy to support. If Byron Buxton could play 140 games, just give him all the accolades. I say that this team will surprise a lot of people this year, and I hope I can cash in on that prediction.
Give me OVER 84.5 (-115) for 2u.
AL East Win Total Predictions
Baltimore Orioles: 76.5
Baltimore seems like they are always the ugly guy sitting on the side of the dance hoping that one day they are on the right side of fate. Will this year be the year? That’s hard to tell, but I can say I think this team will surprise people. They have elite prospects in important positions who are foaming at the mouth to prove themselves. Gunner Henderson is already being talked about as a guy who will get 30+ steals. Adley Rutschman has stolen the hearts of a lot of fans with his offseason workouts and videos. Grayson Rodriquez is the consensus No. 1 pitching prospect coming into this season who sadly had his season cut short last year due to injury. We saw though that the changes to the ballpark hurt the hitters in this lineup. Hays and Mountcastle lost numerous home runs due to moving left field back 26 and ½ feet. I do think that they will be one of the major beneficiaries of not having to face their division so much. I mean, no other division is as deep as the AL East. Call me hopeful, but I’m going to believe in the young talent.
Give me OVER 76.5 (-122) for 1u.
Boston Red Sox: 78.5
The tone among Boston Red Sox fans seems like they are ready to crucify upper management. Thankfully, they were able to reach an extension with the face of their franchise, Rafael Devers. God help that office if that didn’t happen. They brought in the best Japanese bat available this offseason, who looks like to be slated to lead off. Masataka Yoshida comes with a history of hitting over .300 and should be able to offer some much-needed consistency in this lineup. Since this isn’t a deep squad, the loss of Xander will be heavily missed around the 15-game mark. They have some prospects in the system who could elevate their play, but how can you trust that? Not to mention they are a Chris Sale injury away from having a rotation like the Pittsburgh Pirates. This very well could be a miserable season for Boston fans. With some improvements in other teams throughout the league, I don’t know how someone could trust this team.
Give me UNDER 78.5 (-115) for 1u.
New York Yankees: 93.5
I find it hilarious to see that Yankee fans are coming at Mets fans for “buying” their roster. Do you know your team’s history? However, this is the year where the Yankees didn’t really do that. They did make their typical Yankees splash by adding one of the best pitching talents available in Carlos Rodon. A guy who had a history of shoulder problems and will begin the season on the IL. “When healthy,” they could have one of the best rotations in the majors. I think Nasty Nestor takes a leap this year to the top 20. The lineup will depend on whether or not the organization will suck it up and eat the service time contracts for their elite prospects. Volpe and Peraza, talent wise, are much better than most of the team they deside to trot out there. Judge will face some obvious regression, Stanton is 34 years old, and I think they will start IKF. Call me crazy, but I just can’t believe this team will do the proper things to win a title, but I do think they can win during the regular season.
Give me OVER 93.5 (-120) for 1u.
Tampa Bay Rays: 89.5
I genuinley have no idea how this team is getting a mark close to 90. I mean, look at their lineup. No one on their team had 90 RBI or even 75 Runs. They also didn’t make any offseason moves to even bring in a guy to get close to those numbers. I get it – their pitching staff is elite. I honestly think Shane McClanahan could win the AL MVP this year. The bullpen has been consistent for years, and they know how to win, but at some point things have to bounce the other way. Tyler Glasnow already has an oblique injury, and I mean who is surprised? I do think Wander Franco bounces back this year, but is he ready to put a lineup on his back? This number seems like it is nine games too high if you ask me, but this team just seems like they always overachieve.
Give me UNDER 89.5 (-110) for 1u.
Toronto Blue Jays: 91.5
This could be the best team in the majors after everything is said and done. Just like how things could bounce right for teams like Philadelphia or the Mets, the Blue Jays have the guys that can win a title. They improved their ball park to be more hitter friendly. This should allow for guys like Chapman, Varsho, and Belt to add to what was already a stud-filled lineup. People expect regression from some of the stars of the Blue Jays, but what if it doesn’t happen? What if Gausman really is this good? What if Berrios regains his Minnesota form? I mean, Manoah could be fighting for the Cy Young. I believe in this team. The Yankees have been leading this division for far too long.
Give me OVER 91.5 (-110) for 2u.
AL West Win Total Predictions
Houston Astros: 95.5
The obvious question for this Astros team is, “Can they go back-to-back?” That’s too tough of a question in March, but it’s hard to doubt one of the best franchises of this era. However, there is a reason people say regression to the mean. This Astros team doesn’t have the same sparkle as years past. They have a solid pair in Javier and Valdez, but the three guys behind them all have questions. Pressley is a top-5 closer, but he hasn’t exactly been the perfect definition of health recently. Altuve sadly fractured his thumb in the WBC and will be out for 8–10 weeks. For some reason though, that only dropped the total by 1 game. I expected it to drop at least 3, maybe 4. Altuve means that much to this lineup, which also features Yordan Alvarez and those knees of his. It is easy to fall in love with this Houston team, but I think they might raise a few more eyebrows than people expect. Not only do I think the division will be better, but I think the fact that they can’t beat up on their division foes hurts them. I like the Astros, but let’s cap it at 95 games.
Give me UNDER 95.5 (-105) for 1u.
Los Angeles Angels: 82.5
After the amazing WBC, I kind of thought the public would’ve smacked this lineup up a game, but it has stayed at 82.5. I think this is primarily because Vegas knows this team is fraudulent. I firmly believe that if Ohtani was going to sign with this team, it would’ve happened by now. Any franchise hands that guy a blank check and says, “Name your price.” Trout has not been able to play 140+ games since 2018, and they didn’t really do all that much to make this already weak team any better. Really, this entire franchise is on the shoulders of two guys. If one of them gets injured, how do they stay afloat? The next best pitcher after Ohtani is Tyler Anderson. Yeah, the former Pirate product that really is best suited when he slots into that 4th or 5th pitching spot. The bullpen is atrocious, and don’t even bother looking at the farm system. This franchise is essentially screwed, and I think they realize that midway through the year. I see them trading away either Ohtani or Trout to hopefully correct all of the mistakes they have continued to make over all of these years.
Give me UNDER 82.5 (-105) for 1u.
Oakland Athletics: 59.5
Oakland seems to be another one of these dumpster-fire teams that looks like they are about to get bodied for 162 games. Their rotation, their lineup, their bullpen, and hell, even their coaching staff, all appear to be in the bottom third of the league. However, maybe they can compete a little more than everyone (including myself) is really giving them credit for. I think they have a guy who may be the league leader in steals, a Rookie of the Year Candidate, and they signed one of the more exciting Japanese pitchers. Now that sentence was all glass half-full, but this team will at times surprise the public. I don’t think they are the absolute worst team in the league nor do I think they have the bleakest future. For all we know, this could be the last year the A’s are in Oakland. The team might want to show out for the city. However, I may have some optimism, but I’m not stupid.
Give me UNDER 59.5 (-122) for 1u.
Seattle Mariners: 86.5
This Mariners team seems like it could be their year to make a special run. Julio took the league by storm last year and was elevated to the “star” category after just his rookie season. They even went out and made a splash trade at the deadline to bring in an ace to help aid that rotation, which now looks like one of the best in the league. The public seems to love this team, and it’s easy to see why. The new schedule format aids them a little bit. East coast teams traveling all the way to Seattle could aid them in stealing a game or two each series. The lineup may be young, but it’s exciting. Jarred Kelenic has been one of the stars of spring training, and I think the addition of Teoscar Hernandez is being a little undervalued. Hernandez hopes to provide a more reliable bat in the outfield as Mitch Haniger couldn’t stay off the IL. I can see them making another necessary move at the deadline to add some bullpen or even some middle infield help.
Give me OVER 86.5 (-134) for 1u.
Texas Rangers: 81.5
Texas was once again one of the biggest buyers this offseason. After spending big on their bats last year, they decided to buy a pitching staff this offseason. The big news is obvious: Jacob DeGrom is a Ranger, but he was also injured again this spring. No surprise there but it is disappointing. As a Mets hater, I would love nothing more than to see DeGrom go out and pitch 150+ elite innings, but that probably wont happen. It may not be as flashy as signing one of the best pitchers in baseball, but the signings of Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney should give Rangers fans even more hope this season. Heaney looked great at times last season but couldn’t stay healthy, and Nate was the best pitcher for the Red Sox last year (but I’ll admit that’s not saying much). This team on paper looks solid. Seager is the talk of the offseason, as he was the player who was hurt the most by the shift last season. Every expert is predicting an MVP-like jump from Seager due to these rule changes. The lineup isn’t perfect, but I think it’s good enough to win some games, and if I think the Angels and Astros aren’t going to be as good, those wins have to go somewhere. This team can play. 500 baseball for most of the year and then turn it on when the playoffs are around the corner and they hit this number.
Give me OVER 81.5 (-105) for 1u.
*All Odds via Fanduel Sportsbook
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