Category: baseball

MLB 2015 NL East Preview

There isn’t much intrigue to speak of here. The Nationals will probably have the division all but locked up by the all-star break. As a whole, the NL East comes down to groups of teams trending rapidly in opposite directions. The Nationals added the top free agent pitcher available, The Marlins locked up Giancarlo Stanton for 68 years and 984 billion dollars, and picked up some productive pieces in Dee Gordon, Mike Morse, and Dan Haren. The Mets didn’t add a ton apart from Michael Cuddyer, but the healthy returns of Matt Harvey, David Wright, and Bobby Parnell, figure to help. And then there’s the other guys…

The Phillies are looking to…they’re in a…they should probably… Ok, let’s just call it what it is. If Ruben Amaro had a shred of sense, he’d have gotten what he could for aging slugger Ryan Howard, still productive veteran Chase Utley, and now injured hurler Cliff Lee last year, or at the latest, this off-season. I don’t know that trading your best pitcher is ever the answer, but if it was, Cole Hamels would also fetch the best return of prospects.

Then there’s the Braves. I’m not sure they needed to blow everything up, but at least they committed. Out with Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward, and in with… Shelby Miller and a bunch of guys they hope to see in a couple years. While the future may be brighter for one of these teams, this season figures to be a long one for fans of both.

Projected Winner: The Nationals. I get angry at weird things sometimes. I don’t know why. I just do. Last year, the Nats had a pitcher win 15 games and sport a sub-3.00 ERA. Moreover, his fielding independent pitching (FIP) supported those numbers being reflective of excellent pitching, rather than luck. And he isn’t good enough to crack their rotation. What. The. Fudgesickles? My point is this. If Tanner Roark isn’t good enough to crack your starting rotation, you either have an embarrassment of riches in starting pitching, or you have no clue who he is. So the Nationals will win this division. Because they have a guy who could secretly trade places with Zack Greinke and very few people would notice… and he’s not good enough to make their rotation. Ridiculous. 

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps?: If you asked me this question and no form of bet hedging was an option, I’d say yes. I think the Marlins have done enough to improve the roster to be in the conversation, and if Jose Fernandez successfully returns from TJ surgery in June, I think they have enough to make a run. I also think Christian Yelich is an all-star this year. You heard it here first. Unless you heard it somewhere else first, in which case you heard it here second. The Mets might also be a part of the conversation, but ultimately I think they’ll fade.

MLB 2015 AL East Preview

The AL East is as intriguing a division as there is in baseball. The two big teams in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees both have massive needs. The Red Sox pitching staff is barely middle of the road, and the catcher who was expected to make each of them better, Christian Vazquez, is out for the year with TJ surgery. Meanwhile the Yankees have yet another old/injury prone lineup and the distraction that is Alex Rodriguez. Their pitching staff may be improved, but the depth in the middle infield, pitching staff, and behind the plate leave a lot to be desired. The Tampa Bay Rays trail only the Oakland Athletics in roster turnover it seems this off-season, but have an interesting squad. They open the season with several injury concerns, but if the young pitching staff can stay healthy and pitch up to their potential, it could be the best staff in the East by far. The Baltimore Orioles are still waiting on Matt Wieters to come all the way back from TJ and JJ Hardy will enter the year on the DL. Chris Davis has one game left on his suspension, but he has a therapeutic exemption to go back on Adderall so time will tell if he returns to his 2013 form. The Toronto Blue Jay will roll out six rookies with major roles to start the season. All have tremendous upside (except maybe Devon Travis who just has solid upside) but there is obviously plenty of risk with such a young roster.

Projected Winner: The risk just might pay off for the Jays. They traded Brett Lawrie for Josh Donaldson this off-season, and signed the best catcher on the market In Russell Martin. Justin Smoak will look to resurrect his career in the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre, and there might not be a better trio in the middle of an order than Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Donaldson. If their pitching can hold up, there is a chance the Blue Jays not only win the division, but run away with it.

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps? Probably not, but there are some situations that I could see a team sneaking in. The division is rather weak as a whole, so if a team like Tampa Bay or Baltimore perform really well within the division, they could put up enough wins to sneak in as a Wild Card. The bottom of the division will likely be the Red Sox and Yankees, unless the Red Sox move some of their quality pitching prospects and outfield depth to improve both their rotation and bullpen. If they get a guy like Cole Hamels and a bullpen piece or two in July, it could be enough to catapult them up to Wild Card contention.

MLB 2015 NL Central Preview

No shortage of noise here this off-season either. The Cubs appear to be serious about making a run, after signing Jon Lester, trading for Miguel Montero, and bringing in Joe Maddon, without even the slightest hint of skullduggery, to manage. Nope, Rick Renteria didn’t get boned one bit there.  The road to the NL Central crown still runs through St. Louis, though, because it always freaking does. That pitching is just better top to bottom than the rest of the division. The Pirates have found a way to make things interesting in recent years, but the departure of Russell Martin north of the border is going to hurt. It’s hard to tell if the Reds are looking to be a factor or slowly edging into a rebuilding era. If they’re trying to add young pieces, I’d have started by flipping productive veterans Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto rather than staff ace Mat Latos, but what do I know. And you have the team from the land of beer and sausage races.

Quick, how does a team with two of the best all-around players in the game (Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy) and a former PED-enhanced MVP who is still productive without all the junk project to finish last? Well, turns out, you have to pitch the ball too. I’d love this Brewers team, Ryan Braun notwithstanding, if they just had the pitching to keep them in games. 

Projected Winner: The Cardinals. Because this is America. And three things are constant. Death, taxes, and the Cards winning the NL Central. Why? Pitching wins ballgames and they have it in spades. You could nitpick a little bit and say they have some holes in the lineup, and Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina aren’t getting any younger. But as they say, you don’t have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than your buddy. And they’re faster. 

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps?: This is where the real intrigue lies. Slide any of the teams other than the Cards into one of the other National League divisions and you can make an argument that they’re a legitimate Wild Card contender. However, as it stands, they’re all going to beat up on one another 19 times each over the course of the season. The other divisions have walk-over teams, where the big boys can realistically hope to go 15-4 or even 16-3. No such luxury here though. So if all plays out the way I think it will, you’ll be looking at a division winner with a win total in the high 80s and the rest of the gang between 78 and 85. And that may not be good enough to surpass the second place team from the NL West or East that has some weak opposition to beat up on. Is the NL’s deepest division really going to be its least represented in the postseason? I don’t know, but I consulted with a fortune cookie and the little paper inside said I was destined for traveling to exotic locations…so there’s that.

MLB 2015 National League West Preview

Well, this division certainly made a lot of noise in the offseason, didn’t it? San Diego acquired seemingly every available slugging outfielder not named Cespedes. The Dodgers retooled the front office and subsequently, a large chunk of the roster. The overachieving Giants and their best-in-the-game manager Bruce Bochy are coming off yet another surprising World Series championship.

But let’s start with the bottom. The Diamondbacks and Rockies were terrible last year, and that doesn’t figure to change. For the 20 something year in a row the Rockies still don’t have any pitching, and even if Jon Gray and Eddie Butler break out, it’s not enough. The D Backs are now led by Chip Hale, and have added Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, and while some of their young guys (see: Enciarte, Ender; Peralta, David; Owings, Chris) look like future studs, they’re still a couple of years away. Neither of these teams will factor.

With only a hint of sarcasm, the poor Giants. They lose the Panda to free agency, Hunter Pence to a broken arm for a while, Angel Pagan’s back is reportedly a concern, and their rotation is counting heavily on Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy, combined age over 70. Bochy can work magic, but look for a big step back this year. The Padres were serious about improving their putrid offense. Enter Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris, and to a lesser degree, Will Middlebrooks. Their starting pitching remains a strength, if on potential alone. They might very well miss Huston Street, however, at the back end of ballgames. Very quietly, he has been baseball’s most effective closer for the last three years.

Projected Winner: The Dodgers. They just have a spectacularly good starting rotation, even if the criminally underrated Hyun Jin Ryu’s barking shoulder keeps him out the first month. There are very few lineup questions, if any, (the Pads still don’t know if Yonder Alonso, Tommy Medica, Carlos Quentin, or a Partridge in a Pear Tree will be starting at first base, or whether its Middlebrooks or Yangervis Solarte at third) and the departures of Brian Wilson and Chris Perez give Don Mattingly fewer catastrophic options to insist on using in high leverage situations out of the pen – even if closer Kenley Jansen misses the first 4-6 weeks after foot surgery. The Padres will keep it interesting, but probably finish four or five games back at the end of the season.

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps?: It’s not outside the realm of imagination, that’s for sure. The Padres have a good shot. Here’s why: The NL Central has the Cardinals, Pirates, and an improved Cubbies team that figure to contend. The Reds are still potent enough to play some spoiler, and the Brewers, while probably ticketed for a last place finish, shouldn’t be walkovers. That division could beat up on itself and struggle record-wise. Meanwhile, teams like the Padres and, perhaps, the Marlins in the NL East can fatten up against legitimate bottom dwellers in their divisions and lock down one of the two wild cards. Will they? The magic eight ball says check back with us in July for a clearer picture.

IBWAA Awards Ballot

Both the BBWAA and the IBWAA have announced all their awards this past week. I am a voter for the IBWAA, and it was certainly interesting to see how my ballot varied from the final vote, although I don’t have any major gripes with any of the awards, outside of maybe Manger of the Year. Fellow IBWAA member and ESPN SweetSpot Blogger Dave Scheonfield did an excellent job breaking down the votes, so I will more speak to the winners and my ballot.

The top reliever matched my votes as I too had Greg Holland and Craig Kimbrel atop my ballot. In the AL, I chose Dellin Betances and Zach Britton to round out my ballot. Betances was a dominant late inning reliever for the Yankees and looking past the completely overrated save statistic, he was as good as there was, but Holland was simply the best. In the NL, I also gave votes to Mark Melancon and Tyler Clippard. Melancon was the best reliever to me on a very good bullpen, and Clippard seemed to be the lone reliever that remained consistent throughout the year for the Washington Nationals.

For Manager of the year, Buck Showalter won in the AL, who was also my top choice. Showalter was able to help lead the Orioles to the AL East title despite major injuries/ suspensions to his top two players, Manny Machado and Chris Davis. I also selected Mike Scioscia despite the fact I largely don’t agree with his managing style, you can’t ignore his success over his tenure with the Angels and his team’s improbable division title. Lloyd Mclendon got my third vote as the work he did to keep the Mariners competitive all season was impressive.

In the NL, Matt Williams won, but he didn’t even crack my ballot. Outside of the Dodgers, the Nationals had the most talent of any team in the NL. Williams made the headlines with his dealings with Bryce Harper far too often. My top choice was Bruce Bochy, and yes this was before the postseason (our ballots were turned in September 28th). Bochy somehow keeps the Giants competitive regardless of talent and injury woes. Also making my ballot were Clint Hurdle and Mike Matheny.

The Rookie of the Year winners were quite simple. Jose Abreu and Jacob DeGrom were clearly the best in their respective leagues; the trouble was filling out the other two spots. In the AL, there were too many options to choose from, while the NL there weren’t enough. Masahiro Tanaka was a popular recipient of votes, but his injury shortened season just didn’t cut it for me. Coming in second for me in the AL was Yordano Ventura, who was purely dominant at times, which he continued to show into the postseason. My third vote in the AL was Danny Santana who flew under the radar of casual baseball fans, as he plays for the woeful Minnesota Twins, but he hit .319 in 101 games while stealing 20 bags and playing solid defense at both shortstop and centerfield.

In the NL, Billy Hamilton came in third on my ballot but, while his numbers leap off the page and he hit better than many expected, his season as a whole was a bit disappointing, but still good enough to crack my ballot. I was happy to see fellow IBWAA voters recognized the person I had second on my ballot, even if he finished third in the IBWAA vote. While playing for the awful Arizona Diamondbacks, Ender Inciarte has an excellent year.

Was there any question as to who would win the NL Cy Young? Of course Clayton Kershaw ran away with the vote, being selected as a unanimous winner. The next two on my ballot were obvious as well, Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto, but that is where I think I differed from most. Fourth on my ballot was Jake Arrieta, who seemed to take a no-hitter into the fifth of every outing this season, and wound up with a 2.53 ERA while striking out more than 9.5 per nine innings of work. My fifth and final spot in the NL was a Washington Nationals pitcher, but not the one that jumps out to most people. To me, and according to Baseball Reference’s WAR, the best pitcher for the Nationals this season was Tanner Roark and his 2.85 ERA and walking less than two per nine innings.

In the AL, Felix Hernandez won the vote, but my top pitcher was the same as the BBWAA, Corey Kluber. I actually selected Chris Sale ahead of Hernandez, but all three had excellent seasons. My final two spots on the ballot went to current free agents, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.

In the MVP voting, Mike Trout was a pretty simple choice. We submitted ten names for the MVP votes, so let me run those off in order; Trout, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Alex Gordon, Nelson Cruz, Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, and Michael Brantley. The one that jumped out to me when crunching the numbers and selecting my top MVP votes was Altuve. He led all of baseball in hits with 225; the only other player to reach the 200 mark was Brantley who hit it right on the nose. Altuve broke the Houston Astros team mark for hits in a season, eclipsing a player who should make the Hall of Fame this year, Craig Biggio. Altuve also led all of baseball in batting average and the AL in steals.

For the NL, Kershaw won the vote, but he didn’t even make my ballot. I have always been pro-pitchers on the MVP ballot until I had to fill one out myself. This is surely a topic that will be discussed on this coming weekend’s podcast here on The Stain, but I just couldn’t put Kershaw on my ballot. He was clearly the best player in baseball, but having to go 10 deep on the ballot made me realize that Kershaw would be the only pitcher that cracked the ballot in either league. This is simply because it is nearly impossible to compare a pitcher to a hitter, and it also wouldn’t be right to give the top spot to a pitcher but not have a pitcher land anywhere else on my ballot. It was then that I decided that my MVP ballot would be for position players only.

My votes went as follows; Andrew McCutchen, Jonathan Lucroy, Anthony Rendon, Giancarlo Stanton, Buster Posey, Yasiel Puig, Josh Harrison, Jason Heyward, Hunter Pence, and Matt Holiday. The NL voting was tough once I removed pitchers from the conversation. Stanton probably would have come out on top for me had it not been for his incredibly unfortunate and ugly injury to end his season early. Yadier Molina didn’t even make my ballot, despite me constantly trying to find a spot for him, but his injury plagued season just didn’t allow him to play enough to make my ballot. In the end it really felt like a war of attrition, but McCutchen won out for me.

Manny Machado’s Bat Throw, An Arbiters Dream?

Manny Machado is one of the best young players in all of baseball, but his antics over the weekend were ridiculous. He managed to empty the benches twice by acting like a 12 year old, or his off-season workout buddy Alex Rodriguez.

It all started when Machado was running from second to third on a grounder to Josh Donaldson at third. Machado tried to avoid the tag, but he lost his balance when Donaldson apparently tagged Machado too hard. Machado fell to the ground, slammed his helmet, and immediately got into Donaldson’s face, clearing the benches.

Later in the series, Machado managed to “accidentally” hit catcher Derrick Norris with his bat on his backswing.

It was all topped off when Machado swung at a ball down by his ankles, losing his bat that appeared to be intended for the Oakland A’s third baseman, but three things went wrong there.

1) The third baseman was Alberto Callaspo, not Donaldson who Machado had the beef with

2) The bat was nowhere close to the third baseman, instead had a better chance of hitting the third base umpire than Callaspo.

3) He claims the bat slipped out of his hand as he tried to make contact.

Now, the third thing does not immediately jump out as strange, bats slip out of batters hands, it happens. But when the ball is down and in at the ankles, and the swing would only make contact if the ball was letter high on the outside corner, it is pretty clear he was not actually trying to make contact.

Then again, this could work out really well for the Baltimore Orioles. It is likely Machado will be handed a suspension for his actions over the weekend, and given Machado’s comments after the game, he will likely appeal the suspension and claim he was trying to make contact with the ball.

Machado is arbitration eligible following the 2016 season, and while the Orioles will probably try to sign him to a deal before he gets there, might this swing be in the team’s favor should they go to salary arbitration?

Couldn’t you just imagine the two parties going before an arbiter, Machado’s camp saying “Manny is one of the best young players in all of baseball, just look at his numbers” and the Orioles responding with, “Yes, his numbers are fantastic, however, he claims this swing was an attempt to make contact with the ball, clearly there is some sort of underlying neurological issue yet to be discovered. We will pay him the league minimum but ensure he has health care for life to take care of the problem if it manifests itself again in the future.”

Hey, arbitration is said to be brutal, and when it comes to money people can do some crazy things, so I encourage the Orioles to keep this GIF in their back pocket.

The Mendoza Line Movie Review

The Mendoza Line is a low-budget film written and directed by Nathan Kaufman that does a decent job at taking a look at the side of baseball that is rarely focused on, the low-minors players with no real future in baseball.

The story follows a catcher, Ricardo Perez, in his fourth season in the low minors who is actually an undocumented worker carrying a fake social security number. He is on his way out of professional baseball, and his wife is on her way out of the marriage. The storyline following Perez helps move the story along, but it is the commentary that makes the movie.

Many people don’t realize just how little the typical minor league baseball player makes, many live below the poverty line, and the movie shows that pretty well. Perez’ wife works two low-paying jobs, and he says “she makes more than I do”, which can certainly be the case in the minor leagues.

The movie follows a supposed A ball team, the Marysville Gold Sox, which is actually a collegiate wood bat summer league. It also has some inconsistencies when referring to some minor league cities and the progression a play might make, but I am also hyper-critical when it comes to baseball movies.

There are plenty of old baseball clichés used, but also some decent humor as well. The movie also touches on the lack of African-Americans in baseball, steroid use, and the difference between drafted players and international signings.

Overall, the movie was a decent watch, mixing some cultural issues along with some decent comedic relief. It is a quick watch, a run time around an hour and twenty minutes, but it also flies right by. I wish the movie had been a bit longer and dove deeper into some of the cultural topics raised and it could have been a really good movie. Instead, I put it as a movie that is worth the time to watch, but not a must see like it could have been.

For more information and where to rent/buy the movie, check out The Mendoza Line’s website.    

How I found myself at a Chinese National Baseball Team game.

Since I have moved to Arizona, I have been able to experience baseball in a whole new way. I have talked to team scouts, scouts with major media outlets, and countless coaches and players. I got to know the incredible hidden gem that is a minor league spring game on a back field and found the best spots to stand to make sure I get accurate velocity readings from the team’s radar guns.

Then Spring Training comes to an end and 125+ players for every team head off to the level they are assigned to, but that doesn’t mean the complexes go silent (they certainly get a lot quitter, but silent they are not). Instead, Extended Spring begins, and players get to spend another 2 1/2 months living in a hotel playing baseball every day in front of crowds that get dwarfed by little league fields around the corner.

Around baseball fields, you get used to hearing foreign languages, usually Spanish, but being so close to the Rangers, I often ran into groups of fans carrying signs and cardboard cutouts speaking Japanese as they get a glimpse of Yu Darvish getting in some cardio on his non-throw day. The Japanese fans are no longer here in Arizona, so I was surprised when I ran into a group of women on the way to the field speaking an Asian language the other day. It caught me by surprise because it wasn’t the Japanese I got somewhat accustomed to hearing, it was certainly something different.

As I look up toward the fields, one Rangers team is taking on the Seattle Mariners while the other Rangers squad is facing a team in all red uniforms and yellow writing across the chest. My mind immediately races through the teams who have spring complexes in Arizona, and then across the rest of baseball, and no team has this specific color combination. I go to grab the days rosters and lineups from the bins set out so media and scouts know who is who given players are not wearing names on the back of their jersey’s. One lineup shows the Rangers and Mariners logos, while the other has the Rangers logo and a yellow “C” with a red outline in Old English font.

Still thoroughly confused, I decide not to set up behind the radar guns and watch the field that features several players I am interested in getting a look at, but instead head over to the field where the group of women I passed earlier have settled in, along with three Rangers players and one other guy. I set up right behind the plate and look out at the pitcher wearing the all red jersey I am unfamiliar with and read the name printed on the front of the jersey, suddenly I realize it is the Chinese National Baseball Team.

I would love to be able to tell you more about the players, but I still can’t tell you who any of them are other than the pitcher had a big, healthy body that I would say projects well, if I had any clue his age. See, instead of the entire squad being made up of players that tend to be 21-years old or younger that I have become used to seeing in Extended Spring games, the Chinese team had a wide range of ages among their players. The catcher took off his mask to holler something out to his teammates, and looked to be at least in his mid-to-late 30s, while the first baseman couldn’t have been more than 22 or 23, nor was he taller than 5’11”.

I couldn’t tell you who played for the Rangers, I really didn’t pay attention, instead I just watched in curious awe. A tall white man, clearly American, jogs out to the mound to talk to the pitcher, but then someone else comes out quickly after him. Usually when another person follows the manager to the mound there is a pitching change, but instead, it was a translator. I then looked into the dugout to see there were at least three English speaking coaches and the Chinese translator runs back into the dugout to bounce back and forth between coaches to help relay the messages the coaches are trying to get across.

I couldn’t tell you what the score was, who won, or even if the game was competitive, which is the case for pretty much all the spring and extended spring games I have been to as I have focused more on players than the game as a whole, but this day was different.  I not only didn’t care about the score, but I didn’t find myself caring who looked good and who didn’t, I simply sat back and enjoyed the oddity that was the Chinese National Baseball Team facing off against a Rangers minor league club in front of a crowd that totaled about a dozen.

2014 MLB Predictions

Shaun’s picks for the 2014 MLB Season

 

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Kansas City Royals

AL West: Oakland A’s

AL Wild Card #1: Detroit Tigers

AL Wild Card #2: Tampa Bay Rays

AL Pennant Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

AL MVP: Mike Trout

AL Cy Young: James Shields

AL Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card #1: Cincinnati Reds

NL Wild Card #2: Pittsburgh Pirates

NL Pennant Winner: Washington Nationals

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez

NL Cy Young: Jose Fernandez

NL Rookie of the Year: Chris Owings

World Series Champion: Tampa Bay Rays

 

Torsten’s picks for the 2014 MLB Season

 

AL East:  Tampa Bay Rays

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Texas Rangers

AL Wild Card #1: Boston Red Sox

AL Wild Card #2: Oakland A’s

AL Pennant Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

AL MVP: Mike Trout

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale

AL Rookie of the Year: George Springer

NL East: Washington Nationals (it was Atlanta before 3/5ths of their starting rotation suffered arm injuries)

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card #1: Cincinnati Reds

NL Wild Card #2: San Francisco Giants

NL Pennant Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez

NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner

NL Rookie of the Year: Arquimedes Caminero

World Series Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Baseball Over/Unders

Team

Wins

Torsten

Shaun

Arizona Diamondbacks

80.5

Over

Over

Atlanta Braves

87.5

Over

Over

Baltimore Orioles

80.5

Under

Over

Boston Red Sox

87.5

Over

Over

Chicago Cubs

69.5

Under

Under

Chicago White Sox

75.5

Under

Over

Cincinnati Reds

84.5

Over

Over

Cleveland Indians

80.5

Over

Over

Colorado Rockies

76.5

Under

Under

Detroit Tigers

89.5

Over

Under

Houston Astros

62.5

Over

Over

Kansas City Royals

81.5

Over

Over

Los Angeles Angels

86.5

Over

Under

Los Angeles Dodgers

92.5

Over

Over

Miami Marlins

69.5

Under

Under

Milwaukee Brewers

79.5

Under

Over

Minnesota Twins

70.5

Over

Under

New York Mets

73.5

Under

Under

New York Yankees

86.5

Over

Under

Oakland Athletics

88.5

Under

Over

Philadelphia Phillies

76.5

Under

Under

Pittsburgh Pirates

83.5

Over

Over

San Diego Padres

78.5

Under

Over

San Francisco Giants

86.5

Under

Under

Seattle Mariners

81.5

Under

Over

St. Louis Cardinals

90.5

Over

Over

Tampa Bay Rays

88.5

Over

Over

Texas Rangers

86.5

Over

Over

Toronto Blue Jays

79.5

Under

Under

Washington Nationals

88.5

Over

Over

 

Locks: Baseball is going to be a tough one to call this year. Lots of teams are on the verge of making a jump. A few are on the precipice of a significant drop. But most of these lines look pretty spot on, as us being in agreement on 20 of the 30 teams would indicate. That said, if you’re the betting sort, here’s our lock for the over as well as the under.

 Torsten:

Over: Atlanta Braves. Really? 87.5 wins? This team won 96 games last year with practically zero production from Dan Uggla and BJ Upton, and no Brandon Beachy or Johnny Venters for practically the entire year. They have pitching, one of the best young players in baseball in Freddie Freeman, and if any of the aforementioned guys has a better 2014 than 2013 (not a stretch), who is to say this team can’t win 95+ games again? For Pete’s sake, they get to play the Mets, Marlins, and Phillies 19 times each.

 

Under: San Diego Padres: There’s a bit of talent on this squad, but they’re the fourth best team in a five team division. No way they flirt with .500. Even if Chase Headley manages to stay healthy, and they get a bounce back year from Josh Johnson, there just isn’t enough of anything on this roster. The bullpen especially has question marks the size of Mount Rushmore. They’ll be lucky to get to 70 wins, much less the 78.5 the line is set at. I could have made a similar argument here for the Rockies, but with two superstars in the lineup (Tulo & Cargo) and a better-than-you-think bullpen (Rex Brothers is a stud), you never know.

Shaun:

Over: Kansas City Royals: I really believe the Royals have a shot at the playoffs this year. I like the top of the rotation with Jaime Shields, they have a stud pitcher that should earn himself a spot in the rotation after getting a taste of the big leagues last season in Yordano Ventura, and Greg Holland is an excellent closer. They also play fantastic defense, and have finally filled the black hole that has been second base in Kansas City with the addition of Omar Infante. I see the Royals flirting with 90 wins, not just teetering around .500.

Under: Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are old, signing older players, and they guys who used to be young and talented are just aging and declining. They do have a couple young guys that are impressive, but that likely won’t be enough. It is hard to say it is a lock for a team to win less than 77 games, especially a team with such a proud history as the Phillies, but I just don’t see it. Their starters aren’t that good anymore, and with all the money locked up in the aging veterans, they lack depth. I honestly see them as one of the five worst teams in baseball.