Spring training games are well underway in Florida and Arizona, and optimism is running rampant. That said, here are projections for four clubs this season that have little shot of winning their division.
MLB managers and players talk the improvements of their teams, but the cold reality is sportsbooks have assigned MLB odds as to where these teams might finish in their respective divisions and what their win total might look like and those can be in stark contrast to rosy future. Let's take a look at four teams who might attract some long-shot action, but in truth have no real shot at division crowns or making the playoffs.
New York Yankees (+565 To Win AL East, Win Total 83.5)
While it is admirable for New York to show financial restraint, the Yankees are merely a slightly above-average club. Outfielders Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are in decline, and the Yanks are ordinary at the corner infield slots unless 1B Greg Bird takes flight. The middle of the infield is solid with Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius. The starting pitching leaves plenty to desire beyond Masahiro Tanaka. Consider the Pinstripes already overachieved last year with 84 wins despite a minus-22 run differential. More of the same in 2017 and nothing exciting for MLB picks.
Los Angeles Angels (+930 To Win AL West, Win Total 79.5)
If you live in SoCal, there has been quite a bit of optimism emitting from the baseball team in Anaheim during the offseason -- surprsing for a team that won only 74 games in MLB betting in 2016. Run prevention is big deal with the Halos in 2017, and given the lack of offense outside of an occasional C.J. Cron outburst, the infield is going to have prevent a lot runs because the lack of offense could not be more apparent. We all know Mike Trout is the best player in baseball and Troy Calhoun is above average right fielder. Other than still on the mend starter Garrett Richards, the pitching staff does not figure to shine in run prevention.
Pittsburgh Pirates (+900 To Win NL Central, Win Total 83)
It's official: the window of World Series opportunities has closed on Pittsburgh coming off a 76-win campaign. Andrew McCutchen seemed to age four years last season, and there are serious doubts the former NL MVP will ever be anything close to what once was even at only 30. The rest of the Pirates' every-day lineup is solid, but not elite. For the Bucs to have any chance of catching the Cubs and Cardinals, they will need big year from Gerrit Cole. Good talent but not enough resources.
Detroit Tigers (+500 To Win AL Central, Win Total 83.5)
Detroit is similar to Pittsburgh. The Tigers had their chances and never completely put it all together. If Jordan Zimmermann could pitch a full season (a big if), the rest of Detroit's starting pitching can keep the team in games. The first five spots in the batting order can be lethal, but Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez are in the mid-to-upper 30s and cannot go on forever. Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez will both turn 30 this season and hit home runs but help comprise one of the worst defensive outfields in baseball. The rest of the batting order has holes, and skipper Brad Ausmus has no clue how to use bullpen.