Although some may consider it too early for judgments against MLB odds for next season, this handicapper has found teams that could be in for long seasons based on altered rosters and rosters not featuring much talent.
Tampa Bay Rays: UNDER 78.5
The Rays slipped to 77 wins last year in a so-so division and one of the most striking elements was the lack of talent in the everyday lineup. That is not going to change this season even if Ben Zobrist rebounds and Evan Longoria has a super season. After scoring just 3.8 runs per game, hard to imagine the offense will actually be much better and while the young pitching staff should be solid, there is too much pressure to be ‘perfect’ without run support. Of equal importance is the loss of Joe Maddon, who superbly worked the roster and was a genius in assembling a new bullpen every year. Too many if’s for this MLB baseball handicapper for a team that will top out at 75 wins.
Atlanta Braves: 73.5 UNDER
Normally, when a team is building a new stadium, they would like to create a buzz and have as competitive a team in place for the grand opening. Atlanta is headed to the suburbs in 2017 and gutted their batting order by moving Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis. The logic is not lost on me as to why since they averaged a mere 3.5 runs per contest and Upton and Heyward were just swinging at anything that looked like a strike instead of having an actual plan in the batter’s box. The signing of Nick Markasis as a contact hitter is good first step, but his defense is slipping despite reputation. The pitching staff gives them a chance, however, expect the Braves to have consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1989-90 and be a non-factor in the National League.
Arizona Cardinals /Colorado Rockies: UNDER 71.5
In horse racing, you will see the occasional 'dual entry,' which is what I will do here for win totals MLB picks. Honestly, I cannot make up my mind which team will again fail to win 70 games for a second consecutive season and frankly it could be both if San Diego is much improved and having to face the AL West this season. Arizona is starting over with a new front office top to bottom and their only real strong offensive asset is Paul Goldschmidt. Colorado stood pat and has fingers crossed Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will spend less time on the DL. That’s kind of like hoping Kanye West would just keep his mouth shut, not going to happen.
Minnesota Twins UNDER 70.5
The AL Central could well be the most balanced division in baseball with four teams capable of finishing with winning records. Detroit are the defending champs and still the team to beat, Kansas City was one game away from being World Series champions, Cleveland is showing they have the mettle to compete and the White Sox opened up the checkbook to match the young studs they had on the roster. If my assessment is correct, that leaves Minnesota as the odd team out in the division. The Twins only won 70 games a season ago and while Ervin Santana is a positive pickup, I have a hard time believing Minnesota will be 36-40 in division play again, which will leave them in the 60’s for win total. For one of my sports picks win totals, place your MLB picks on the Twinkies UNDER.