Yesterday, Caesars Entertainment revealed opening 2019 MLB win totals for all 30 teams, and there are some interesting projections. The Yankees are given a higher win total than the Red Sox, while there’s only one team in the National League with a win total of 90 or over (compared to four in the American League). Here are the full opening win totals:
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) January 9, 2019
Things can change dramatically from one season to another in baseball, which makes it such an intriguing game. I believe these are among the best early bets to hit the over on their early 2019 projections.
Chicago Cubs (89)
The Dodgers have the highest projected win total (95) from the NL as things stand, and the Cubs come in second at just below 90 wins. Joe Maddon’s squad has won at least 92 games in each of the last four seasons, so there’s definite reason for optimism about them winning more than 89 games in 2019. Yu Darvish will hopefully be healthy and a lot better in his second season in Chicago, while the team kept Cole Hamels on what should be one of baseball’s best pitching staffs. If the offense is consistent, Chicago should be in the 90s again.
Atlanta Braves (84)
The reigning NL East champions aren’t getting much respect judging by these opening win totals. One issue is the division figures to be a lot more competitive with the Nationals adding Patrick Corbin and remaining in on Bryce Harper, the Mets keeping their fireball pitchers, and the Phillies potentially set to take another step forward. However, the Braves have improved themselves, including by adding former AL MVP Josh Donaldson to an already-potent lineup. They should be more than just a few games over .500.
Confidence: Very high
Los Angeles Angels (83.5)
The pitching staff is an obvious issue for the Angels, but they should get some urgency this season if things aren’t going well in the first several weeks of the season, as the window to win before Mike Trout hits free agency (unless he re-signs again before then) is closing fast. That could lead to a big trade—to strengthen either the starting five or another position on the roster—to boost a clubhouse that already has a couple of stars in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, who unfortunately won’t be able to pitch this season. The Angels should at least hover around 80 wins again because of the presence of Trout, so they could get into the mid-to-high-80s range if things go right this season.
Milwaukee Brewers (83.5)
I was shocked the Brewers were given a win total of 83.5—12.5 wins lower than their 2018 total when they led the National League with a 96-67 record. The NL Central is improved—including the Cardinals now with Paul Goldschmidt—but Milwaukee has the reigning NL MVP in Christian Yelich headlining an excellent lineup that plays strong defense. Some might be hesitant about expecting the bullpen to be as good as late last season, but the Brewers simply have a bunch of studs to close out games, and I don’t think last season was a fluke.
Confidence: Very high
Oakland Athletics (83)
It’s easier to see why people believe the Athletics’ 97-win 2018 season was a bit of a fluke, but the last time Billy Beane’s A’s made a 20-game jump in the win column (from 2011 to 2012, when they went from 74 wins to 94 wins), they followed it up with an even better season the next year, jumping to 96 victories. They aren’t as loaded as Boston or Houston, but Oakland has some players that should keep them in the 90-win range in 2019.
Miami Marlins (65.5)
Perhaps they’ll be the biggest surprise in Major League Baseball this season, but the Marlins are likely going to be among the bottom third in the majors again this season. However, it’s certainly not crazy to expect Miami can make a jump of three games in the win column after going 63-98 in 2018, even in an improved NL East. I don’t recommend taking chances on bad teams, but the free-playing, low-expectation Marlins could push for 70 wins.