• Article by Devin Ellington and Blake Lawatch of our @HoopBallGaming Division

     

    As we start and finish Spring Training there are deep dives to be done as well as betting markets to be dissected. Furthermore, divisional breakdowns are a good way to get familiar with a team before the season starts! Blake Lawatch and myself will be breaking down EVERY MLB team’s win totals as well as looking into some value on divisional winners.

     

    AL WEST

    Houston Astros (+130) o/u 87.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    They were bad in the regular season, and then exceptional in the playoffs. They wouldn’t have made the postseason had it not been for the expanded playoffs and were on pace to win 78 games. They’ve now lost perennial CY Young contender Justin Verlander for the whole season with an injury. They’ve also lost Framber Valdez, who was given high expectations; he’s possibly gone for the whole season.

    This is still a good team and I’m taking the over without much effort. A lot of these players will have a bounce-back season in 2021. After the cheating scandal and the weird offseason, they didn’t have much of a chance in 2020. Altuve and Correa were terrible, and they’ll bounce back. They’ve signed Jake Odorizzi and Lance McCullers is returning from injury and is looking good so far in Spring Training. That’s the biggest question mark for the Astros – can the pitching sustain? Starting pitching and relief pitching could be this team’s downfall. Their offense is a powerhouse and will be able to keep up with anybody in the league. If McCullers can do what he did before his recent slew of injuries, this team will make some noise in the American League pennant race.

    Key Addition: SP Lance McCullers, SP Jake Odorizzi

    Key Loss: OF George Springer, SPs Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez

    Key Prospect: SP Forrest Whitley (#41) 

    Division Projection – 1st

    Los Angeles Angels (+330) o/u 82.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    This team had a pretty good and pretty quiet offseason. After acquiring Anthony Rendon in 2019, they’ve cemented the win-now idea by bringing in some other really nice pieces. Last year they were on pace to win 70 games, which is too low if you ask me. Mike Trout is going to Mike Trout, but what about the rest of the offense? Shohei Ohtani is going to be a hitter sooner than later I think (although he’s looked good on the bump in Spring Training so far). Kurt Suzuki is a veteran catcher who can help this pitching staff and still has a pretty solid bat with mid 330s wOBA the last 3 years. Jose Iglesias had the best year of his career in Baltimore last year, and he can be an important piece if he can fill the shoes of Andrelton Simmons.

    If this team wants to get over 82.5 wins, it’s going to come down to three things. The first is the pitching staff. They actually have a pretty solid staff. If Alex Cobb can be more than just a warm body, that would be a big step. Ohtani’s health is the second. He absolutely needs to stay healthy, thus the whole hitter-only thing. The third thing is Jo Adell. He’s a big time prospect who had a bad debut in 2020. Will he be good enough to help only a year later? This is a good team that is going to be fun to watch, but ultimately I think they come just short of 82.5 wins. 80-82 is where I see them finishing.

    Key Addition: C Kurt Suzuki, SS Jose Iglesias, RP Raisel Iglesias

    Key Loss: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Julio Teheran

    Key Prospect: OF Brandon Marsh (#53), SP Reid Detmers (#74)

    Division Projection – 3rd

    Oakland Athletics (+130) o/u 86.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Everything that the A’s lost in free agency, they brought back in free agency. The A’s are always the team that shocks; moneyball, always retooling, always staying relevant. I don’t think this year is going to be any different. They lost a solid closer, they signed a solid closer. They lost a solid shortstop, they signed a solid shortstop. This team is just very solid all around. I don’t think they are a .600 team like last year (which equates to 97.2 by the way), but they are going to contend.

    Their pitching 1-5 I think has some potential. Chris Bassitt is coming off a couple good years, and Jesus Luzardo is showing why he was a highly touted prospect. Sean Manaea is the biggest question mark for me. Injuries in 2018 and 2019 and then the shortened 2020 season create a lot of uncertainty. His fastball velocity has lost 3 mph steadily over the last 4 years and he’s at risk of dropping into the 80s which is never good. If Manaea can stay healthy, that’ll be a big help. As for the offense, it’s decent to strong across the board. Ramon Laureano had the big postseason so there is a lot of hype around him. They will have no shortage of power on this team. The bullpen is also very solid with three guys that can close if need be. I like this team a lot and wouldn’t be surprised if they give Houston a run for their money.

    Key Addition: RP Trevor Rosenthal, 1B Mitch Moreland, SS Elvis Andrus

    Key Loss: RP Liam Hendriks, SS Marcus Semien, IF Tommy La Stella

    Key Prospect: SP AJ Puk

    Division Projection – 2nd

    Seattle Mariners (+2800) o/u 71.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: OVER

    The Mariners are an exciting young team that got better this offseason by adding veteran arms. Seattle is still trying to figure out exactly what they have in SP Yusei Kikuchi so getting him and Marco Gonzales some help was a great addition. Plus, they addressed the bullpen by signing Ken Giles. Swapping in young and exciting prospects for fading and expensive talent like Dee Gordon is a good move. This Mariners team is set up for making moves in 2022 but they could also very well exceed expectations this year with improved pitching and better hitting. Infielders J.P. Crawford and Shed Long are going to be studs on defense and in the lineup for Seattle. Power hitting will come from batters like RF Mitch Haniger and CF Kyle Lewis who both could slug over .400.

    Key Addition: SP’s Chris Flexen, James Paxton, RP Ken Giles

    Key Loss: INF Dee Gordon, OF Mallex Smith

    Key Prospect: OF Jarred Kelenic (#4), OF Julio Rodriguez (#5)

    Division Projection – 4th

    Texas Rangers (+4500) o/u 67.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    Here we have a team in the Rangers who are not looking to do a whole lot this season, meaning they are not looking to compete and they are looking to fire sale in order to set up for next year. The amount of pitching that was lost from last year’s team will be vital seeing as their offense has taken multiple steps back. Texas has not had a winning season in four years and their only source of winning will come from starter Kyle Gibson … until they trade him, that is.

    Key Addition: SP Mike Foltynewicz, OF David Dahl

    Key Loss: SP Lance Lynn, SP Corey Kluber, IF Austine Romine, UTIL Derek Dietrich

    Key Prospect: 3B Josh Jung (#63)

    Division Projection – 5th

     

    AL EAST

    Baltimore Orioles (+10000) o/u 63.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    The Orioles were on pace to win 68 games last year. As young rebuilding teams go, it’s essentially the same bad team as most of their talent is in the minors. I was able to really dig and find 2 things that might make this ballclub better: Trey Mancini and John Means. Mancini is a solid average and power hitter that had his best season in 2019 before missing all of last year due to cancer. Means gave up a lot of home runs last year but many of his peripheral numbers show a positive regression more towards 2019. He’s gained some velocity on his fastball and threw it more, which means more strikeouts, fewer walks, and more home runs. If he can just get back to limiting the long ball, he should be in for a good season.

    The part of their team that got worse? The bullpen… which is unfortunate as the bullpen is relied on more and more every year as starters rarely see the 6th inning. They rotated out some bullpen arms including Mychal Givens. He wasn’t great by any means, but he was the best that they had. I think overall the O’s may have gotten just a little bit worse, but not bad enough to stay under 63 games.

    Key Addition: OF Trey Mancini

    Key Loss: RP Mychal Givens

    Key Prospect: C Adley Rutschman (#2), SP Grayson Rodriguez (#27)

    Division Projection – 5th

    Boston Red Sox (+2200) o/u 79.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Retaining a trio of J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts was huge for this Red Sox team. The return of Chris Sale at some point in this season will be a giant boost for the pitching staff. It says something that their run differential last year was the worst in the AL East but they also scored the most runs per game (5.15) in the division. It would make sense to believe that they could experience a good amount of positive regression in the form of their arms. There is a good blend of vets and young, exciting talent on this roster. There was also a bevvy of additions to this team with guys like Hunter Renfroe, Alex Verdugo (last year)/Kiké Hernandez, and utility man Marwin Gonzalez. 

    Key Addition: OF Hunter Renfroe, OF Alex Verdugo, SP Garrett Richards

    Key Loss: RP Collin McHugh, RP Steven Wright

    Key Prospect: 1B Bobby Dalbec (# 93), 2B Jeter Downs (#49)

    Division Projection – 4th

    New York Yankees (-190) o/u 95.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    If we had a “What Grinds My Gears” type of segment, this is where I would start. The Yankees always being good, always being relevant, and always being in the picture would be my number 1 topic. They’re going to be good again! Surprise! They lost James Paxton who wasn’t himself in New York. What they replaced him with will more than make up for the production he did deliver. Corey Kluber is always in Cy Young talks, and Jameson Taillon, who has shown a lot of promise, will do just fine. They even got Jordan Montgomery back from the Tommy John surgery he had in early 2019.

    They have no shortage of batting average and no shortage of power. Every player on their team is projected to hit over 20 HRs. I’m not a projections guy, but that’s just ridiculous. They still have Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman in the pen so that’s not even a go-to weak spot. This team’s good, AL Pennant good, and there’s no reason they can’t push 100 wins in this slightly weaker AL East.

    Key Addition: SP’s Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon

    Key Loss: SP James Paxton

    Key Prospect: OF Jasson Dominguez (#32), SP Clarke Schmidt (#88)

    Division Projection – 1st

    Tampa Bay Rays (+400) o/u 86.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Will this team be as good as they were in 2020? A .667 winning percentage equates to 108 wins! So no, they won’t be. I’m still going to take the over, but just barely. They’re good in every facet of the game. They’ve got a ton of pitching, led by Tyler Glasnow. All the pitchers that they’ve brought on may be past their prime, but they’ve still got some innings left in the tank. I will always be a Chris Archer apologist, so he gets the green light for me. The bullpen is passable, but kind of top loaded.

    The real kicker is their farm system. There is a good chance they don’t account for much in 2021, but also would it be that surprising to see call-ups dominate? Tampa loves to develop talent and these guys are all legit. They probably lose to the Yankees, split with the Jays, and beat the Sox and Orioles. That’s all it takes to be a few games above .500. 

    Key Addition: SP’s Rich Hill, Chris Archer, Michael Wacha

    Key Loss: SP’s Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, OF Hunter Renfroe

    Key Prospect: SS Wander Franco (#1), SP’s Luis Patino (#19), Brendan McKay (#72), IF Vidal Brujan (#50)

    Division Projection – 3rd

    Toronto Blue Jays (+330) o/u 87.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Win-now mode has been fully activated for this squad. They brought in quite a bit of talent to pair with their young and impressive core prospects. They had a winning percentage of .533 last year which roughly lands them at 86 wins in a full 2020 schedule. The additions of George Springer and Steven Matz alone put them comfortably ahead of that. Matz had a down 2019 with an unsustainably bad 38% HR/F. Regression has to be in the cards. They also brought in Marcus Semien who is a solid SS that gets to handle 2B this year. Kirby Yates is as good as a closer as this team could have gotten (update: he’s out for the year). He had career years in 2017, 2018, 2019, and only had 4.1 IP in 2020.

    We haven’t even touched on their homegrown system yet! Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Teoscar Hernandez, Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen. I could legitimately keep going but I’ll stop. Assuming any kind of uptick in their performances, which I think is safe to assume, they should cover this win total fairly easily. My 2 biggest concerns are the pitching depth and the fact that they don’t really have a home ball park this year.

    Key Addition: OF George Springer, IF Marcus Semien, SP Steven Matz, RP Kirby Yates

    Key Loss: 3B Travis Shaw

    Key Prospect: SP Nate Pearson (#10), SS Jordan Groshans (#46)

    Division Projection – 2nd

     

    AL CENTRAL

    Chicago White Sox (-140) o/u 90.5

    Blake: OVER*

    Devin: OVER*

    *Editor’s note….Eloy Jimenez being out for about 5 months really hurts this team and their chances of winning the division. Obviously, we NOW are looking at going under the win total with no Eloy in there.*

    The best team in this division got even better somehow in the offseason. Adding a veteran arm like Lynn and putting him in the rotation with Dallas Keuchel and young guys Kopech, Giolito and Cease makes a strong five. Adding smart hitting and amazing depth in Tim Beckham and Adam Eaton was huge. This adds balance to go along with all the power that the White Sox have. It is also an increase in OBP and OPS. I love the exciting young talents in Madrigal and Kopech and I also like that they got rid of their strikeout heavy catcher in James McCann. Now, they’re rolling with Yasmani Grandal as their primary catcher. Yermin Mercedes who has had 1 MLB PA, will be his backup. He has some stellar numbers in the minor leagues: wOBA in the high 300’s and low 400’s with only a mid teens K%. 

    Key Addition: SP Lance Lynn, OF Adam Eaton, RP Liam Hendriks, INF Tim Beckham 

    Key Loss: C James McCann, OF Jarrod Dyson

    Key Prospect: SP Michael Kopech, 2B Nick Madrigal

    Division Projection – 1st

    Cleveland Indians (+750) o/u 80.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    This offseason was a little MEH for Cleveland. At first glance it looks like they lost a ton of talent, but the pieces they lost weren’t exactly vital pieces. Saving money by not paying the aging Carlos Santana, as well as Tyler Naquin, was big. Developing younger guys is going to prove more fruitful. Behind the aces, it would make Cleveland’s lives easier if they were able to somehow find a strong fourth SP. I am expecting a huge year from 3B Jose Ramirez since Terry Francona will rely on him with the departures from the infield of Francisco Lindor and Santana. A huge positive is the fact that they bring back that powerhouse pitching staff, led by Shane Bieber. Lastly, having Francona as your manager is never a negative.

    Key Addition: N/A

    Key Loss: SS Francisco Lindor, 1B Carlos Santana, UTIL Tyler Naquin

    Key Prospect: SP Triston McKenzie (#51) , SS/3B Nolan Jones (#36)

    Division Projection – 5th

    Detroit Tigers (+5000) o/u 65.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Over the last couple of years the Tigers have added not only a tremendous amount of talent, but experience, too. Adding the two veteran arms they did to help anchor the younger and more raw talent was a superb idea. Gaining instant offense in Wilson Ramos is a positive that will help a club that ranked towards the bottom of the majors in offensive production last year. Nomar Mazara is a nice defensive add and Robbie Grossman is a smart hitter who will offer opposite-field slicing to get the Tiger baserunners in scoring position. Overall, this team got better compared to last year’s team, and don’t forget that A.J. Hinch is the manager now. It will be interesting to see how he manages in his first year being back from his suspension for his role in the Astros sign stealing debacle. 

    Key Addition: SP Julio Teheran, SP Jose Urena, OF Nomar Mazara, OF Robbie Grossman, C Wilson Ramos

    Key Loss: SP Jordan Zimmerman, 1B C.J. Cron

    Key Prospect: 1B/3B Spencer Torkelson(#3), SP Casey Mize(#11), OF Riley Greene(#21), LHP Tarik Skubal(#24), RHP Matt Manning(#25)

    Division Projection – 4th

    Kansas City Royals (+5000) o/u 71.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    This Kansas City Royals team is a very exciting one to me and I feel they are easily the most improved team within the AL Central. They addressed every single glaring need in one offseason. Getting power at 1B and an upgrade in Carlos Santana is great (even if he didn’t fit in Cleveland, as I noted above). Adding speed in the outfield with Michael Taylor as well as getting improved infield defense and smart hitting in Hanser Alberto are also other savvy moves made by the Royals front office.

    The key losses are the BEST losses. Shedding the terrible pitching of Harvey, Holland, Montgomery, Kennedy and McMarthy will help spike the positive production that this pitching staff could potentially provide. Another key note is the signing of RP Wade Davis, who won the World Series with Kansas City back in 2014 alongside current Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Having those two guys together again will be a great smile-booster for the clubhouse. Speaking of Perez, he missed a ton of games last year and his health could help spark the Royals to going over their win total.

    Key Addition: OF Andrew Benintendi, OF Michael Taylor, 1B Carlos Santana, UTIL Hanser Alberto

    Key Loss: SP/RP Ian Kennedy, 3B Maikel Franco, RP Greg Holland 

    Key Prospect: 3B Bobby Witt Jr.(#7th)

    Division Projection – 3rd

    Minnesota Twins (+140) o/u 88.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: UNDER

    This is a tough team. Last year they were on pace for 97 wins which I don’t see them hitting again. The rest of the division has gotten better, and the Twins I believe have mostly maintained. They have a defense that’s stout and fast as hell with Byron Buxton and the signing of Andrelton Simmons. They have the offensive firepower they need by re-signing 87 year old Nelson Cruz (*smiles) who can still mash. The only thing that I question is pitching. Jose Berrios needs to be the ace of this staff. The rest of the rotation, Happ, Shoemaker, and Pineda, all need to be what they can be, but often times haven’t been. I (Blake) have this team hitting the low 90s in wins, so I lean slightly to the over.

    Key Addition: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP JA Happ, SP Matt Shoemaker, RP Alex Colome

    Key Loss: SP Rich Hill

    Key Prospect: OF Alex Kirilloff (#26), SS Royce Lewis (#17), OF Trevor Larnach (#80)

    Division Projection – 2nd

     

    NL WEST

    Arizona Diamondbacks (+4500) o/u 75.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    67.5…That was how many wins they were on pace for in 2020. The only thing they’ve done to improve their team is shore up the bullpen. They’ve actually done a very good job of that, but the only way in the world this team hits the over is if everybody plays better. Nobody can have a down year. Bumgarner is another year older after a slightly down 2019 and a real bad 2020, albeit in a small sample. There is also no way in any universe they can keep pace with the Dodgers or the Padres, so that means sell! Sell! Sell! Any positive attribute on this team should be gone by the trade deadline. This is my most confident play in the whole league.

    Key Addition: RP Tyler Clippard, RP Joakim Soria

    Key Loss: SP Mike Leake

    Key Prospect: OF Corban Carroll (#47), OF Kristian Robinson (#55)

    Division Projection – 5th

    Colorado Rockies (+6600) o/u 63.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    How do you replace the best third-baseman in all of baseball? The answer is, you really don’t, especially when the haul you get in return is not at all impressive. That on top of the fact that the Rockies haven’t brought in a major-league free agent in since 2018, which was the last time this team made the playoffs. To be frank, there are a ton of guys on this roster who were on that 2nd place team. I am looking for Raimel Tapia to have a breakout year with from Nolan Arenando’s departure. A major storyline to keep an eye on is the status of if Charlie Blackmon and/or Trevor Story, as they could easily be traded at or before the trade deadline. This pitching staff is honestly the best part of this team right now and if they can somehow will them to above expected wins than we could cash a very close OVER ticket on the Rockies wins this season.

    Key Addition: SP Austin Gomer (incl in Arenado trade)

    Key Loss: 3B Nolan Arenado, OF David Dahl

    Key Prospect: OF Zac Veen(#54)

    Division Projection -4th

    Los Angeles Dodgers (-300) o/u 103.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    I mean…

    I don’t really know how to defend our prediction of under other than the fact that we just don’t see it happening. Call it the Lakers approach. They won it all last year, they’re essentially the same team PLUS the NL Cy Young winner. Creating chemistry won’t be an issue but there is no reason for them to try and win every regular season game they can. When there are injuries, expect players to miss an extra week more than needed just to keep them healthy. The Padres are hot on their tail which might take just enough wins off their total. David Price and Dustin May are their biggest question marks. I also don’t think Bauer will pitch at a Cy Young level again. He’ll tinker his way into some trouble this year like he tends to do.

    Key Addition: SP Trevor Bauer, RP Blake Treinen

    Key Loss: OF Joc Pederson, 2B Kike Hernandez

    Key Prospect: C Keibert Ruiz (#57), SP Josiah Gray (#58)

    Division Projection – 2nd

    San Diego Padres (+200) o/u 95.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: OVER

    The Padres definitely pursued opportunities to solidify their pitching. Bolstering the staff with more arms and upgraded arms was a top notch move. Keeping pace with the Dodgers is going to be a very challenging task but with the new arms and the balance of veterans I believe the Padres can get the job done. There is a nice collection of hitters throughout this lineup and guys like Jake Cronenworth, Tommy Pham and Ha-seong Kim who will have elevated roles. I would not be shocked if we saw this team work their way to multiple 10-game win streaks throughout this season.

    Key Addition: SPs Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, RP Mark Melancon 

    Key Loss: SP Garrett Richards, RP Trevor Rosenthal, 1B/DH Mitch Moreland

    Key Prospect: SP MacKenzie Gore (#6), SS CJ Abrams (#8) 

    Division Projection – 1st

    San Francisco Giants (+5000) o/u 75.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Taking the over on this team is probably the most surprising pick I’ve made so far. No team has gone from winning championships to rebuilding to somewhat contending, faster than the Giants. If they were in the NL Central, they may legitimately have a shot at the wild card. They were on pace to win 78 games last year. This team still has the same core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and their catcher of the future in Joey Bart. Mike Yastrzemski is really making a name for himself as a power and average hitter. He’s now more than just Carl’s grandson.

    What they lost in Samardzija, they more than made up for in free agent signings. They’ll pair nicely with Kevin Gausman if he can keep up last year’s pace. My three biggest concerns for this Giants team: will they be able to score runs consistently, will they be able to hang around the .500 mark in a division with the Dodgers and Padres, and will Johnny Cueto be more than just a shell of his former self? If just a few things break right, this team should end right around 80 wins.

    Key Addition: SP’s Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Aaron Sanchez, 3B Tommy La Stella

    Key Loss: IF Zach Cozart, SP Jeff Samardzija

    Key Prospect: SS Marco Luciano (#16), C Joey Bart (#23), OF Hunter Bishop (#83)

    Division Projection – 3rd

    NL EAST

    Atlanta Braves (+130) o/u 92.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    First, the health of SP Mike Soroka is going to be the key driving force in the Braves’ success this year. Until he gets back the bats of Freeman, Albies, Ozuna, Acuna Jr., and Austin Riley will need to be hitting hard to make up for the loss of Soroka. Getting Charlie Morton will obviously be huge in lessening that blow in the rotation. Atlanta will probably be looking to Max Fried and top pitching prospect Ian Anderson a lot more in the earlier parts of 2021.

    Key Additions: SP Charlie Morton, RP Carson Edwards Jr., 2B Jason Kipnis

    Key Losses: SP Jhoulys Chacin, SP Tommy Milone, OF Adam Duvall

    Key Prospects: OF Christian Pache(#12), SP Ian Anderson(#18)

    Division Projection – 2nd

    Miami Marlins (+1700) o/u 72.5

    Blake: UNDER 

    Devin: OVER

    The Marlins are still up and coming. They have potential to be good. Sixto Sanchez is an electric pitcher who might be great. They have a pretty good offense. They just don’t have enough to be a .500+ team in the hardest division, top to bottom, in baseball. Adam Duvall still has a lot of pop in his bat and Corey Dickerson is an underrated hitter. This team will be able to stay relevant because of their offense. The pitching is obviously what has me going under. Sandy Alcantara is their number 1 and he’s not a number 1 type pitcher. He’s pumping high 90s during spring training, so that could mean good things. After him though, there isn’t enough to count on except the improvement of Sixto Sanchez. This team will be contenders in a few years, but I think that might have to start in 2022.

    Key Addition: OF Adam Duvall, RP Anthony Bass

    Key Loss: RP Brad Boxberger, SP Jose Urena

    Key Prospect: OF JJ Bleday (#20) , SP Max Meyer (#28), IF Jazz Chisholm (#66)

    Division Projection – 4th

    New York Mets (+140) o/u 89.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    This offense is going to be fun, this pitching is going to be fun, hell, even this bullpen is going to be fun! The 2021 Mets have zero reasons to be bad. Even the Wilpons are out. What more could you ask for? They brought in SS sensation Francisco Lindor to really take this team to the next level. I’ve always had a soft spot for Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. Pete Alonso had a “down year” but he still smashed, and he’s only going to get better. The pitching needs to be strong behind DeGrom and I see no reason why it won’t. Syndergaard is on the comeback trail. We’ve seen him injured more often than not. Even if that is the case, they still have very strong pitching with lots of upside. Edwin Diaz had a very strong 2020 campaign in large part thanks to his fastball coming back in full force. Even in a strong NL east, the Mets should still be able to crack 90 wins. 

    Key Addition: SS Francisco Lindor, SP Taijuan Walker, C James McCann

    Key Loss: SP Rick Porcello, Of Yoenis Cespedes

    Key Prospect: C Francisco Alvarez (#48), SS Ronny Mauricio (#67)

    Division Projection – 1st

    Philadelphia Phillies (+800) o/u 81.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    For being a team with a win-now mentality, for being a team that gave Bryce Harper enough money to buy the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for being a team that has some legitimate pitching, they sure did jack s**t in the free agent market. They brought in some solid relief pitchers and a starting pitcher in Matt Moore who hasn’t pitched in 3 years (he pitched 10 innings in 2019 but c’mon). The Phillies were on pace to win 76 games in 2020 and the NL east has only gotten tougher. They may be staring down the barrel of Harper’s loaded contract for quite some time with some regret.

    Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler absolutely have potential to be number 1 starters for 25 teams in baseball. Alec Bohm showed us last year why he was such a highly touted prospect. This whole offense has potential, including McCutchen who still has some solid ABs left in him. This team is better than the 76 wins they might have won last year, but I don’t think they’re a .500 team. If they were in any other division in this league, I would say over, but they’re not in any other division; they’re in the NL east, and the NL east has just gotten too tough from top to bottom.

    Key Addition: RP’s Jose Alvarado, Archie Bradley, SP Matt Moore

    Key Loss: SP Jake Arrieta

    Key Prospect: RHP Spencer Howard (#42), SP Mick Abel (#76)

    Division Projection – 3rd

    Washington Nationals (+550) o/u 84.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: OVER

    At the time of writing this, Stephen Strasburg has a “mild calf strain”. At the time of you reading this, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was done for the year. He’s been healthy of late, but once you get that injury prone tag, it’s hard to do anything about it. He’s a big piece to this team obviously. Regardless of Strasburg’s health, I’m taking the under. This team was on pace for 70 wins last year. They’ve brought in some pieces that I like. The talent they’ve signed is more than they lost for sure. They have a fantastic offense led by two studs in Juan Soto and Trea Turner. Carter Kieboom is young and still on the rise and I feel like Victor Robles still has his peak in front of him as well. The biggest thing that worries me about this team? The starting pitching.

    The average age of the starting 5 going into the season is 33.2 years old. Max Scherzer seems like he’ll never slow down, but he has to at some point. Is this the year he slows down? Probably not. Patrick Corbin has taken a step back each of the last two years. Oh, they also brought in Joe Ross…! Their bullpen is nothing to fear either. They have Brad Hand to close which is nice, but none of the setup guys are tremendous in any way. The NL east has gotten too good, and the Nats have just maintained what they’ve had essentially, which isn’t going to cut it. I see them ending the 2021 campaign with a sub .500 record.

    Key Addition: RP Brad Hand, OF Kyle Schwarber, 1B Josh Bell, SP Jon Lester

    Key Loss: C Kurt Suzuki, RP Sean Doolittle

    Key Prospect: SP Cade Cavalli (#99)

    Division Projection – 5th

     

    NL CENTRAL

    Chicago Cubs (+350) o/u 80.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: OVER

    Blake: This team is tough. They are going to be in a lot of high scoring games. Their offense says postseason but their pitching says minor leagues. They brought in some pitching, but not enough to replace what they lost. I don’t know if what they added is going to be enough. Jake Arrieta is most certainly past his prime as his ERA has gotten worse 5 years in a row. I know ERA isn’t everything, but it’s still something. I like the Zach Davies addition, but they had to trade away Yu Darvish to get him.

    As for the offense, they still have their key guys that we can expect a lot from in Bryant, Baez, and Rizzo. They added Joc Pederson to the mix, who can hopefully get all the ABs he wants and take advantage of the brick wall in Wrigley. Nico Hoerner is an exciting young infielder as well who should get the call back up to the bigs before too long. The only hesitation with taking the under is someone in this division has to take charge. It’s a weak division and someone has to win it. The Cardinals are likely to do that, but if not, it just might have to be the Cubbies. 

    Key Addition: OF Joc Pederson, RP Brandon Workman, SP’s Jake Arrieta, Zach Davies

    Key Loss: SP’s Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, OF Kyle Schwarber, 

    Key Prospect: SP Brailyn Marquez (#60), Brennan Davis (#61)

    Division Projection – 4th

    Cincinnati Reds (+250) o/u 83.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    I’m not really sure what Vegas sees in this Reds team. Or were they too lazy to make a decision and just extrapolated last year?  In 2020, they were on pace to win 84 games. They lost the Cy Young winner in Trevor Bauer, Joey Votto isn’t the Votto of old, and Amir Garrett can’t stop fighting entire teams. Yet they still think there will be zero dropoff. They do have a fairly solid lineup. Not a lot of holes 1-9 and the bench is decent as well. Starting pitching is mediocre, and it’s led by Sonny Gray who has had every kind of season possible. One year he looks like a Cy Young contender, the next year he’s barely a 5th starter. A bevy of closers to choose from for this bullpen which is nice, but not nice enough. Every piece of this team is going to have to play at or above their potential to hit the over on 83.5 wins.

    Key Addition: RP Sean Doolittle

    Key Loss: SP Trevor Bauer, SP Anthony Desclafani

    Key Prospect: SP Nick Lodola (#59), SP Hunter Greene (#71)

    Division Projection – 3rd

    Milwaukee Brewers (+340) o/u 82.5

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    There were a lot of losses to this Brewer team in the offseason but the fact of the matter here could be addition by subtraction. Milwaukee is the prime example of Steady Eddy within this division. I don’t believe the Reds will be able to make up for the losses to their pitching staff and the Cubs are going to have major hurdles to get past. The Brewers are a team that will be patient around the deadline and bring in pieces that they need the most. The farm system is a little barren with no prospects within the top-50. Even though there were a ton of transactions surrounding this team during the offseason there really isn’t too much change within this Craig Counsell system.

    Key Addition: OF Jackie Bradley Jr., 2B Kolten Wong

    Key Loss: OF Ryan Braun, SP Brett Anderson, OF Ben Gamel, IND Eric Sogard

    Key Prospect: OF Garrett Mitchell(#65)

    Division Projection – 1st

    Pittsburgh Pirates (+7500) o/u 58.5

    Blake: UNDER

    Devin: UNDER

    The Pirates will likely be selling off most of their assets before the trade deadline ends. There are a couple of really exciting prospects the Pirates could call up this year. Cole Tucker is a very solid defensive infielder for the Pirates and I believe is too valuable to trade. Ke’Bryan Hayes, still technically a prospect, will get another year of MLB experience under his belt as he had a monster year in 2020. The Pirates are holding the #1 pick in the draft and winning is not a high priority for this franchise.

    Key Addition: OF Brian Goodwin, 3B Todd Frazier, C Tony Walters, SP Tyler Anderson

    Key Loss: SP Chris Archer, RP Derek Holland, SP Trevor Williams

    Key Prospect: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes(#9)

    Division Projection – 5th

    St. Louis Cardinals (+160) o/u 87.5 

    Blake: OVER

    Devin: OVER

    Acquiring the best third baseman in the game is always a good move to make and the Dirty Birds of St. Louie (yes, Cubs fan here) pulled just that off. Having the defense and the hitting of guys like Paul Goldschmidt and the aforementioned Nolan Arenado on the corners is absolutely beautiful, and I for one cannot wait to see it. Exciting young outfielders like Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader are great additions to staples like Yadi as well as Paul DeJong and Matt Carpenter. Losing Kolten Wong is a tough emotional blow but a rather simple one to get over on the diamond. He is a great second baseman but there are other talented players in this lineup who can do the job. The Cards are always around come September and October so I would not be shocked to see the win total go over.   

    Key Addition: 3B Nolan Arenado

    Key Loss: 2B Kolten Wong

    Key Prospect: OF Dylan Carlson(#13)

    Division Projection – 2nd

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