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2019 MLB Win Total Opinions

NL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 89 – Washington Nationals: Atlanta was by far the best team in the NL East last season and only won 90 games and while Washington being 82-80 last season despite +89 in runs signals a season of improvement, Washington might not have done enough to move up by seven wins. Patrick Corbin was a great add but the pitching staff wasn’t a major issue last season, allowing only 4.2 runs per game for an above average mark in the NL. Brian Dozier and Yan Gomes bounce-backs aren’t a given changing leagues and ultimately the case for the Braves, Phillies, and Mets to improve is strong. Losing Bryce Harper is replaceable on the field but it signaled to the roster that the team isn’t in it to compete for a title this year after falling short with great teams in several recent seasons. Washington had a huge 20-7 month of May last season that will be tough to replicate and this was a team that finished eight games below .500 from June 1 onward. It will be hard to match last season’s 11-7 mark vs. the Phillies and against the NL playoff teams Washington went a combined 17-28 last season as the great scoring numbers was built on a collection on blowout wins including outscoring the Marlins and Mets by 60 runs. Washington also went 5-1 vs. a historically bad Baltimore team in interleague play last season.

NL CENTRAL

BEST BET: UNDER 77½ Wins – Pittsburgh Pirates: There is a lot to like about the pitching staff in Pittsburgh but run support could be a problem and there is room for inconsistency with the rotation after possibly getting a few overachieving seasons last year. Ivan Nova is also gone as a stable starter and Chris Archer has been more flash than substance in recent years. Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis look like NL contenders and Pittsburgh will have a hard time featuring a winning record vs. those three teams collectively as they did last season thanks to going 12-7 vs. the NL Central champion Brewers last season for a surprising outlier. Matching last season’s 14-5 mark vs. the Reds will also be a challenge with many expecting a rise for Cincinnati this season. Pittsburgh also went 15-5 in interleague play in 2018 beating up on the Tigers, White Sox, and Royals, three of the AL’s worst teams last season. In 2019 the interleague slate is featuring quality teams from the AL West, also adding to the travel miles on this year’s slate. For all that went right last season Pittsburgh still only won 82 games and getting close to that figure looks unlikely this season.

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NL WEST

BEST BET: OVER 93 – Los Angeles Dodgers: Starting the season with a losing record through May last season limited Los Angeles to only 92 wins last season but this was a .500 team in 44 one-run games. Los Angeles couldn’t run away with the West due to competitive Colorado and Arizona squads even though the Dodgers had the best scoring differential in the NL by a wide margin at +194. Signs are pointing downward for several of the other West squads and the pitching staff for the Dodgers should remain among the best in the NL. Los Angeles could be just as good at the plate and even better defensively with some of the changes they have made. As they have done several years in a row, if needed they will be mid-season buyers as this squad could get even better in the final two months ahead of the playoff push. This is a discounted price compared to last March on the Dodgers after a similar World Series finish in 2017 and ultimately a slide backwards from an overachieving Colorado team looks likely in 2019 while Arizona lost several key players as well. San Francisco and San Diego could improve but still appear to be far back from being contenders this season.

AL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 74½ – Toronto Blue Jays: After being a huge disappointment last season many expect the Blue Jays to rebound this season. Getting better health from Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman is far from guaranteed and neither was consistently effective when they were healthy last season. The talented young offensive talent in the system doesn’t necessarily translate into instant success at the MLB level as well as this is a team with some exciting prospects but little proven MLB talent. Ultimately in a stacked division with Boston and New York likely to push 100 wins while Tampa Bay remains competitive, there aren’t going to be a lot of opportunities for the Blue Jays to pick up ground. Facing a likely significant deficit in the division race, valuable veterans could be shipped off as the trade deadline approaches as well as this looks more like a team building for 2020. Toronto isn’t likely to feast on Baltimore as they did last season as well going 14-5 in those matchups against a historically bad Orioles team. Despite the disappointment last season the Blue Jays were 10-6 in extra-innings games and 23-17 in one-run games while also going 13-7 in interleague play, records that simply aren’t likely to repeat.

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AL CENTRAL

BEST BET: OVER 74 – Chicago White Sox: Chicago didn’t have the off-season they envisioned with the front office coming up empty in pursuit of several prominent free agents. With a big jump from last year’s win total of 62 on this price many are likely looking ‘under’ on this team. The AL Central still looks like a marginal group of teams and improvement isn’t necessarily likely for any of the other foes. Chicago has room to improve after going just 7-12 vs. both the Twins and the Tigers in the division last season while the White Sox lost 25 one-run games. Chicago was 17-12 last August before folding in September as the young nucleus on this roster has potential and the rotation has another year of experience after enduring a lot of growing pains last season. Alex Colome can shore up the bullpen and a favorable late April schedule could allow the young unproven team a productive first month to catapult to a season of improvement. Unable to land a big fish in the winter, management could also be a surprise buyer mid-season as well knowing that they might have a tough time luring free agents again next winter and making a mid-season deal could provide an opportunity. It also won’t be a shock if no team in the AL Central has a great record and a playoff spot is attainable for a team willing to be aggressive, with Chicago the lone potential big spender in the division.

AL WEST

BEST BET: OVER 71 – Texas Rangers: Texas got off to a 4-11 start last season and never recovered. 2015 Manager of the Year Jeff Banister was fired in September and 42-year old Chris Woodward takes over with a fresh perspective after helping the Dodgers to great success the past three seasons.Most view Texas as again one of the worst teams in the AL but it is not hard to envision seasons of decline for the Athletics (97 wins in 2018) and Mariners (89 wins in 2018) in the AL West. The Angels are also turning a page with new management while Houston doesn’t have much room to improve after winning 103 games last season. Texas went just 34-47 at home last season 28-48 in the division last year as there is a lot of potential for picking up ground. Texas went 6-13 vs. both the Angels and Athletics last season and getting closer to even in those series would provide a significant boost. Texas was also 12-19 in one-run games last season while losing seven extra-inning games and after a respectable run from late April to June the Rangers closed the season 29-49 after July 1 after falling well out of the playoff race. The Rangers have won with a marginal starting pitching rotation in the past and the team could find modest success with a collection of veteran newcomers that includes Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, Edinson Volquez, and Shelby Miller. None looks like a home run pick-up but even if two of those veterans have respectable results it could stabilize the pitching staff. The lineup still has some potential even if former budding stars have not ever fully blossomed into franchise players and it won’t take a major improvement for Texas to hit this number with reasons to expect a slide back to the pack from several of the other AL West teams.

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