Thursday, February 19, 2015

2015 MLB Over/Unders

Win lines have been set for the 2015 season. Here are my thoughts:

Los Angeles Dodgers -- 92½ OVER
The reigning NL West champs and winners of 94 games last year made some nice moves this winter, solidifying their middle infield by trading for Jimmy Rollins and Howard Kendrick. They also unloaded Matt Kemp's contract for some solid talent in return, namely catcher/first baseman Yasmani Grandal. Now if only they could find a way to do the same with Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford...

Washington Nationals -- 92½ OVER
The Nats could very well win 100 games with that rotation. Let's just run through the names again; Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez, with Tanner Roark in reserve. That's ridiculous. Their lineup is equally stacked, with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span, and Wilson Ramos. They're also in a fairly weak division, which should help them pile up the victories.

Los Angeles Angels -- 89½ UNDER
I just feel like the Angels got really lucky last year. They beat up a lot on the Rangers and Astros, who accounted for 26 of their 98 wins. Both teams figure to be much better this year, plus LA appears to have gotten worse. Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, and C.J. Wilson are all another year older. Howard Kendrick will be missed. Mike Trout might continue to slide. I don't believe they'll win 90+ again this year, especially in such a tough division.

St. Louis Cardinals -- 88½ OVER
I already loved the Cardinals, so I really love them now that they added Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden. They're not going to miss Shelby Miller one bit, especially if they get a full year from Michael Wacha. I also think Kelton Wong's going to break out, and we haven't seen the best of Matt Adams yet, either. St. Louis is on the older side, which does give me cause for concern, but their all-around depth and balance should be enough to win the NL Central again, especially since the Cubs were the only other team that got demonstrably better.

Boston Red Sox -- 86½ UNDER
Boston's better, but how much better? Where you fall on the Sox depends on what you think of their remade pitching staff. If you think Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson bounce back, Rick Porcello's progression is for real, Wade Miley doesn't fall apart, and Joe Kelly takes a step forward, then the rotation could be pretty good. But if Buchholz gets hurt, Porcello regresses, and Masterson/Miley stay the same, then they're going to give up a lot of runs. Is the glass half-empty, or is it half-full? If this was at 84 or 85 wins I'd probably take the over, but this just feels too high for me. 

Seattle Mariners -- 86½ OVER
Their rotation's really good and they should hit enough after adding Nelson Cruz to Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Austin Jackson, especially since Pythagorean says they were a 91-win team last year.

San Diego Padres -- 85½ OVER
I'm very bullish on the Padres this year. They won 77 games last year without hitting a lick, so a really good lineup should add at least 10 wins to their ledger. Job well done.

Detroit Tigers -- 84½ OVER
Losing Scherzer hurts (a lot), but they still have David Price, Anibal Sanchez, and Drew Smyly, not to mention Justin Verlander. Trading Rick Porcello for Yoenis Cespedes upgraded the right field situation (so long, Torii Hunter), and the lineup is still dynamite with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler. A healthy Jose Iglesias back at shortstop should do wonders for the infield defense, and I think Nick Castellanos has a better year, too. The Tigers are still the best team in their division.

San Francisco Giants -- 84½ UNDER
I'm pretty down on the reigning World Series champs. Not only did they lose one of their best hitters in Pablo Sandoval, but they also lost out on everyone they tried to sign this winter. Their offense is too reliant on Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, and Brandon Belt, and the rotation is really just Madison Bumgarner at this point. Tim Hudson's old, Tim Lincecum stinks, and Matt Cain is no longer outperforming his peripherals. With the Dodgers and Padres both getting stronger, I see the Giants as more of a .500 team this year. 

Cleveland Indians -- 83½ OVER
Cleveland's got a great core of young/in their prime players such as Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis, all supplemented by veteran bats like Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Brandon Moss. That's a terrific collection of hitters. The Tribe also boast reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, who's likely headed for regression but should be helped out by a better year from Danny Salazar. Trevor Bauer should be better, Carlos Carrasco is pretty good, and Gavin Floyd might be able to help.

Pittsburgh Pirates -- 83½ UNDER
Not a fan of their rotation at all (besides Gerrit Cole), and the offense is way too reliant on Andrew McCutchen. Neil Walker and Starling Marte are pretty good, but Josh Harrison is headed for regression and I'm not sure Pedro Alvarez bounces back. They're really going to miss Russell Martin.

Baltimore Orioles -- 82½ OVER
Full, healthy seasons from Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado would make this a killer lineup with J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, and Steve Pearce. Their pitching's pretty meh, but that lineup should do some serious damage, especially in that park.

Chicago Cubs -- 82½ OVER
After signing Jon Lester and trading for Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero, the Cubs are contenders this year.

Toronto Blue Jays -- 82½ OVER
An easy one. Toronto won 83 games last year, then went out and signed Russell Martin and traded for Josh Donaldson. They're my favorites to win the division this year.

Chicago White Sox -- 81½ OVER
With a formidable top of the rotation (Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Samardzija) and improved offense in the form of Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, the White Sox will win more than they lose this year.

Miami Marlins -- 81½ OVER
Miami made some sneaky good moves this offseason, trading for Dan Haren and Mat Latos to bolster the rotation and improving the offense via Martin Prado and Mike Morse. Assuming Jose Fernandez returns to health and Giancarlo Stanton isn't negatively affected by last September's beanball, and that's a good team.

New York Mets -- 81½ OVER
The Mets may well be the better team in New York right now. They have a lot of good young pitching (Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Jacob deGrom) to complement a veteran lineup anchored by David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and the always-underrated Daniel Murphy

New York Yankees -- 81½ OVER
The Yankees have won more than they lost for each of the past 22 years. So yeah, I'm taking the over. They'll be okay without Derek Jeter (better, actually).

Oakland Athletics -- 80½ OVER
This feels way too low for the A's--a team that has won 278 games over the past three years. Granted, they lost a lot of talent from last year--i.e. Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Josh Donaldson, and Derek Norris--but there's still plenty to like here. They traded for Ben Zobrist, signed Billy Butler, and got Brett Lawrie in the Donaldson deal. The rotation added Jesse Hahn to Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, and potential rebounds A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker. Oakland was much better than an 88-win team last year anyways, for its run differential suggested it should have won 99 games. Assuming their true talent level was somewhere in between--let's call it 94 wins--then falling all the way to 80 wins is asking a lot. This is still a deep team, even without last year's star power, and I just think they're too good to have a losing record this year.

Kansas City Royals -- 79½ UNDER
The pitching staff is pedestrian without James Shields, the bullpen is due to regress, and the lineup is fairly mediocre. .500 is probably the best Kansas City can do this year.

Milwaukee Brewers -- 78½ OVER
The Brewers can flat out mash with Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Lind, and Gerrardo Parra. I think there's just enough starting pitching between Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta, and Mike Fiers to help them win more than they lose again.

Tampa Bay Rays -- 78½ UNDER
The pitching is still very good thanks to Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, and Chris Archer, but I don't see where the offense is going to come from outside of Evan Longoria and occasionally Desmond Jennings. A return to mediocrity is likely in store for Tampa Bay.

Cincinnati Reds -- 77½ UNDER
Positive regression from Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Homer Bailey will be offset by negative regression from Devin Mesoraco and Johnny Cueto as well as the losses of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon.

Texas Rangers -- 77½ OVER
Lost pretty much their entire team to injury last year and still found a way to win 67 games. With better luck this year they should be around .500.

Houston Astros -- 74½ OVER
The Astros are on their way up and have a sneaky good lineup with Jose Altuve, Chris Carter, Evan Gattis, and George Springer, especially if Jed Lowrie and Colby Rasmus bounce back. The staff needs Colin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel to replicate their success, which I don't necessarily think will happen, but the bottom line is that this is a better team than last year.

Atlanta Braves -- 73½ UNDER
The Braves are going to be brutal this year. 

Arizona Diamondbacks -- 71½ UNDER
After a quiet winter on the heels of a 98-loss season, Arizona may lose 100+ games this year. Poor Paul Goldschmidt.

Colorado Rockies -- 71½ UNDER
The Rockies didn't do much of anything after losing 96 games last year. As such, there's no reason to expect they'll be much better this year.

Minnesota Twins -- 70½ OVER
The Twins won 70 games last year but project to field a halfway decent rotation with Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Tommy Milone, and (gulp) Ricky Nolasco. They're not going to hit much, but they have a great infield and young talent is on the way.

Philadelphia Phillies -- 68½ UNDER
Once they trade Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee (good luck getting rid of Ryan Howard), this team is going to be absolutely abysmal.

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