Prior to the start of the MLB season, I ran a 30-team MLB Win Total series, covering all 30 teams in depth. Each article was around 2,000 words or more and it covered everything from hitting to pitching to defense, the best and worst-case scenarios, and any free agent acquisitions that were going to have an impact.
Midway through the month of August is a good time to look back and update those wins totals and see how they are going. Some teams are clearly underachieving while others are overachieving and some are performing right about where they were expected to perform. Just like the format of the win total series, these will be posted alphabetically.
Pick: Under 81
This was a tough team to pick right out of the gate, but the lean was on the under and the Diamondbacks’ 9-22 record in March and April is pretty much the difference. From May through July, the Diamondbacks were exactly .500. A slow start to August has pushed them further below .500.
Pick: Over 86.5
At the time that the win total was posted, Kris Medlen was still expected to pitch and Mike Minor’s Spring Training shoulder injury had not been revealed. Also, Ervin Santana had not yet been signed. The Braves were still on pace to go over this total, but they’ve lost 12 of their last 15.
Pick: Over 78
Might as well go ahead and cash this ticket right now. The Orioles have been the hottest team in baseball over the last several weeks. Amazingly none of the players listed as key acquisitions or losses have meant much, but the patchwork rotation has more than held up and the Orioles are one of the league’s best defensive teams.
Pick: Under 88.5
Another one to go ahead and cash. The Red Sox entered the season with a lot of health questions in the rotation. Jake Peavy was bad, Clay Buchholz was hurt again, and now Jon Lester and John Lackey have both been traded. Shane Victorino has missed a ton of time and the outfield has been a black hole of awful.
Pick: Over 68
This one will come down to the wire as the Cubs have solved their bullpen problems and have been much more competitive in the second half as Anthony Rizzo has turned into the monster that people expected. The future is insanely bright for the Cubs with Javier Baez, who is already up, and Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, who are in the minors.
Pick: Under 78
Jose Abreu has been much better than this author predicted during the win total series. Overall, the team has been much better than anticipated, even though the bullpen is a trainwreck and it’s still Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, or pray for rain in the rotation. This one will come down to the wire and most people have 76 or 76.5 on this number.
Pick: Over 84
The season-long injury problems for Joey Votto have taken a major toll on the Reds as their rotation has been even better than projected, but the offense has really lagged behind. Without Votto’s OBP in a lineup that no longer has Shin-Soo Choo, the Reds are among the league’s worst in runs scored per game. This one looks like a loser.
Pick: Over 80
The Indians defense has been historically awful and that has made life even more difficult than it needs to be for the starting rotation. Danny Salazar has been a major disappointment, as was Justin Masterson, and the Indians have been awful on the road. This one will come right down to the wire and could depend on Terry Francona’s ability to keep the team playing when the playoff hopes fade away.
Pick: Under 76.5
Cash this ticket. It was said that the Rockies under “should come in comfortably” back in February and that’s precisely what is going to happen. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have spent most of the season hurt and the rotation has been an abomination. It looked dicey at first, but the Rockies are 20-65 in their last 85 games.
Pick: Over 89.5
If you had told me that the Tigers would get David Price at the Trade Deadline, I couldn’t have put enough on the over of this number. But major bullpen issues and Tommy John surgery for Bruce Rondon after the write-up was posted have held this team back. With Anibal Sanchez on the shelf and Justin Verlander having the worst season of his career, this looks dicey at best.
Pick: Under 62.5
Apparently it’s really hard to lose 100 games. The Astros have gotten a career year from Jose Altuve and some outstanding pitching from Dallas Keuchel to have a great shot at going over the number. The Astros were 32-38 after the first 70 games and are just 18-34 since. They’re trending in a way that gives them a shot at 62-100, but it looks unlikely.
Pick: Over 82
This one looks to be coming in comfortably as the Royals rotation has been better than expected and the prolonged offensive slump caused by bad luck has gone away. The Royals may collapse and miss the playoffs, but they’re a confident team that plays great defense and has a stellar bullpen.
Pick: Under 87.5
This is the first team that is unquestionably going to have a losing pick. The Angels have been outstanding and it’s a shame that they could be bounced in a one-game playoff with 95 wins and be robbed of the chance to play in the ALDS. The Angels have stayed relatively healthy and have overcome some early-season bullpen troubles to have the second-best record in the AL.
Pick: Under 93.5
This one will come down to the wire. The Dodgers have had injury issues, as all older teams do, and the bullpen full of ex-closers had trouble bridging the gap to Kenley Jansen before Chris Perez got hurt and Brian Wilson got demoted. The rest of the division has been so bad that it’s the Dodgers’ 32-18 mark against the West that has them close to the number.
Pick: Over 68.5
This one appears to be an easy winner even without the services of Jose Fernandez for most of the season. The Marlins were great at home early on and Giancarlo Stanton is carrying the offense on his broad, powerful shoulders. The other starters have been good, especially at home, and the Marlins bullpen has been outstanding with a 30-17 record in one-run games.
Pick: Over 79
Another easy winner from the preseason as the Brewers have been much better than anyone anticipated. The Brewers offense ranks top five in the NL in most offensive categories and all four guys with 23 or more starts have ERAs of 3.58 or less. The bullpen has been good and the defense has been solid.
Pick: Under 70.5
Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson have exceeded expectations by quite a bit and the Twins look like a good bet to go over their win total at this point. The bullpen has protected leads and the scrappy Twins are 23-21 against the AL Central. The bottom has not fallen out once even with injuries to Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco. It’s difficult to see how they’re winning games, but they are, and that’s all that counts.
Pick: Under 73.5
Admittedly, it wasn’t a strong lean on the Mets, but the price was +120 and that had to be considered. The Mets are towards the bottom of the league in a lot of offensive categories, but the pitching staff has been terrific overall. The emergence of Jacob deGrom and the development of reliable bullpen arms has been a major key. The bullpen was a big reason why the under pick was suggested and that is a big reason why the Mets are on pace to go over.
Pick: Under 87
This one looks to come in solidly under the number. The Yankees lost CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda in an already-weak rotation and Masahiro Tanaka was outright dominant before he was also hurt. This team could be in a much different position, but health was one of the themes of the preseason analysis and it came to fruition.
Pick: Over 88.5
Chalk this one up as a winner. The A’s have been great from wire-to-wire and show very few signs of slowing down. Jason Hammel hasn’t worked out, but Jeff Samardzija has and the platoon advantages are absolutely working. The bullpen has ironed out some kinks and nobody has a run differential that comes close to Oakland’s. By Pythagorean Win-Loss, the A’s should be 79-42 and on pace to win 106 games.
Pick: Under 76.5
Cash this ticket. The Phillies are a sinking ship and a mess of a team with a lot of untradeable veterans that have no desire to be there. Since June 20, the Phillies are 19-30 and the Phillies are 22-33 against the NL East. They see a lot of their own division the rest of the way and their non-divisional opponents are San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Oakland.
Pick: Over 83.5
This one may be close. The Pirates will play a lot of divisional games down the stretch and Gerrit Cole remains injured. The rotation has been cobbled together most of the season, but the Pirates offense has been outstanding over the last two months. Unfortunately, Andrew McCutchen is still out and probably will be until the last week of August at best.
Pick: Over 78
This one is precarious at best as injuries continue to ravage the Padres. It’s been another lost season because of injuries with Andrew Cashner, Robbie Erlin, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Jedd Gyorko, Josh Johnson, Everth Cabrera, and Cameron Maybin all hurt at various points. Most people have a better number than 78 for the over, but the fact that this even has a chance given how the Padres season started is bordering on miraculous.
Pick: Under 86.5
With each passing day, this bet looks better and better. The Giants were leading the NL West for a while and entered June with a 36-20 record. Since then, the Giants are 27-37 and a complete lack of offense is the reason why. The Giants averaged 4.34 runs per game over their first 56 games. Over the last 64 games, they are down to 3.5 runs per game.
Pick: Under 80.5
One of the rare big misses on this list. The Mariners are allowing just 3.2 runs per game on the season as the starting rotation has been great and the defense has been league average, which is a 106-run improvement from last season. The Mariners are actually 14-22 in one-run games with a Pythagorean Win-Loss of 71-49, so this was definitely a major miss.
Pick: Over 91.5
The Cardinals will fall short of this number. Offensive problems are a major reason why, as the Cardinals are tied with the Braves for the second-worst run output per game in the NL. The Cardinals are dead last in the league in home runs and the loss of Michael Wacha really hurt the starting rotation.
Pick: Over 88
Far and away the biggest miss on this list is the Tampa Bay Rays. Wil Myers was hurt early in the season and the Rays bullpen was very tough to watch early in the season. Alex Cobb was also hurt and some key offensive players got off to bad starts. The Rays were 24-42 on June 10. That was unexpected. They’re 36-19 since then. But it’s too little too late for a win total.
Pick: Under 87
From the biggest miss to the biggest win. The Rangers have completely quit on the season and the starting rotation has been awful since day one. Martin Perez needed Tommy John and now Yu Darvish is also on the shelf. Things have gone from bad to worse and Ron Washington will be looking for work after the season.
Pick: Under 80.5
Mark Buehrle’s excellent, and unexpected, start to the season has the Blue Jays in a great position to go over this win total. The Blue Jays had a 17-3 stretch from May 15 to June 6 and that’s all they needed to probably cover this number. Other than that stretch, the Jays are 46-56. They have lost eight of their last 11, so don’t give up hope yet.
Pick: Over 89.5
This one is going to be very close as the Nationals lost a lot of key parts to their offense early in the season. After their May 28 loss, the Nationals were 25-27. Since then, they are 41-26 and 15-11 since the All-Star Break. They certainly have a shot to get to this number, but it will take some quality play down the stretch.
In terms of bets that appear decided, 11 are winners and 10 are losers with nine that are solidly up for grabs. Anything can happen with about 40 games left in the season, so these projected final records could look a lot different in the span of a week or so.