Well friends, it appears baseball may just be played this season, after all.
After the league and its player officially came to an agreement on Tuesday night and while details for the 2020 MLB season continue to roll out, it’s a cautiously optimistic time for baseball fans.
With a season likelier than ever, BetOnline has dished out some MLB win totals based on the 60-game regular season implemented my MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday night.
As a result, I don’t want to waste any time in diving into these win totals.
While the shorter season gives the edge to underdog clubs in the sense that the smaller sample allows for more craziness. A hot start is a far more significant in a short season where it seems like most teams could find a way to get hot and into the dance.
That said, we’ll save the Cinderella stories for the season and stay sound with our predictions here.
Without any more hesitation, let’s go!
American League Win Total Over/Under Predictions in 2020
- Over 21.5 (-115)
- Under 21.5 (-115)
In 2019, the Orioles won 54 games – good for a .333 win%, and they didn’t get better at all this winter.
An unfortunate cancer diagnosis will keep Trey Mancini out for the season and the team traded Jonathan Villar to the Marlins on the heels of a big season that included him playing in all 162 games.
Those two players combined for 7.6 fWAR in 2019 with Hanser Alberto the only other position player worth more than one win.
The .333 win rate from a season ago represents 20 wins in a 60-game season. There’s little doubt the Orioles got worse on paper, so there’s no much for me to think about here.
I think the Orioles pick first in the 2021 draft and it will come after posting a win total under 21.5.
Prediction: Under (-115)
Boston Red Sox
- Over 31.5 (-115)
- Under 31.5 (-115)
When I first saw this total I was a little shocked.
Then I remembered the Red Sox went 84-78 last season (.519), traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers and saw Chris Sale fall victim to Tommy John surgery this spring.
I think Eduardo Rodriguez breaks out into an ace in 2020, but he has very little help behind him and the bullpen looks shaky as per 2019.
The offense will likely keep them somewhat relevant. There’s still plenty of talent in that lineup in J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi and others, but the pitching is wafer-thin relative to previous seasons.
Like with the Orioles, it’s obvious that the Red Sox did not improve this offseason. A .519 win rate this season represents 31.14 wins in 2020.
As a result, give me the under.
Prediction: Under (-115)
Chicago White Sox
- Over 31.5 (-110)
- Under 31.5 (-120)
It’s hard to look at what the White Sox did this winter and not think they’re a whole lot better than the 72-89 team (.447) they were a season ago.
Brought in were the likes of Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Steve Cishek.
Already present was a solid, young core in Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito.
Now, add in exciting young potential superstars in Luis Robert, Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, and you have plenty to work with here.
More than enough to go over what I believer is a low win total.
Prediction: Over (-110)
- Over 33.5 (-125)
- Under 33.5 (-105)
A 93-win season wasn’t enough to get the Tribe into the postseason in 2019, and questions remain about their candidacy this time around.
There’s no doubt their pitching is the strong point of the club with both Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber looking like Cy Young threats a season ago, but they’ll need names such as Adam Plutko, Zac Plesac and Aaron Civale to put in yeoman’s work at the back of the rotation.
Those names pitched well in 2019, however all of them outpitched their peripheral FIP and xFIP numbers, so regression is quite likely.
The Cleveland offense picked it up down the stretch last season, however it remains the club’s biggest question mark.
The Indians won at a .574 clip a season ago, a number that would represent 34.44 wins this time around.
While a case can be made either way, it will be difficult for the rotation and bullpen to replicate last season’s success and with a still-questionable offense, I’ll side with the under here with some more value to boot.
Prediction: Under (-105)
- Over 21.5 (-115)
- Under 21.5 (-115)
The Tigers were the worst in the business a season ago, posting a paltry 47-114 record (.292), a number that gave them the No.1 pick in the recent June MLB Draft and they nabbed near-MLB-ready slugger Spencer Torkelson as a result.
While there remains plenty of work to do in Detroit, they did seemingly improve on paper.
They filled holes on the left side of their infield with veterans C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop, improved their depth at the catching position – black hole last season – while brining back outfielder Cameron Maybin for a third tour of duty with the club.
We’re not going to mistake them for a contender, but their rotation isn’t the worst in the world, headlined by Matthew Boyd while the team will get former ace Michael Fulmer back this summer and prospect the prospect of promotions from their elite-level pitching prospect group of Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal – all ranked among Baseball American’s top 36 prospects – lingers.
Their .292 win rate from a season ago represents just 17.52 wins this season, so significant improvement would be required.
Still, I’ll take a leap and head for the over here.
Prediction: Over (-115)
- Over 35.5 (-115)
- Under 35.5 (-115)
The Astros took a rightful licking this offseason, but the shorter season is a plus for this team.
Starting pitching depth has plummeted in a short period of time, but the team only has to face the issue for 60 games rather than find answers over 162 contests. Besides, having Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke as your 1-2 punch doesn’t hurt, either.
We also have to keep in mind just how dominant this offense is. The Astros’ offense paced the bigs with a .355 wOBA a season ago and the bullpen ranked second with a 3.75 ERA.
Those factors – along with Gerrit Cole in the rotation – afforded Houston a .660 win rate in 2019, a number that works out to 39.6 wins this time around.
It appears we have plenty of breathing room with the over here.
Prediction: Over 35.5 (-115)
Kansas City Royals
- Over 24.5 (-115)
- Under 24.5 (-115)
The rebuilding Royals posted an ugly 59-103 mark in 2019, good for a .364 win rate, and I’m not so sure they’re better.
There is talent in the offense in Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler and Adalberto Mondesi, and they’ll get Salvador Perez back behind the plate after a torn ACL cost him most of the 2019 season.
Still, that offense added up to a .302 wOBA last season, good for 27th league wide.
They didn’t add to a rotation that ranked 23rd with a 5.30 ERA and while some low-end additions were made to the bullpen, it might not matter by that point.
If the Royals win at that same .364 clip this season, it gives them 21.84 wins, meaning somewhat notable improvement would be required to get over this total.
I see the opposite, so I’m going under.
Prediction: Under 24.5 (-115)
Los Angeles Angels
- Over 31.5 (-125)
- Under 31.5 (-105)
Offense won’t be the issue with these Angels.
They made a big free agent splash in bringing Anthony Rendon to town, and he should be able to protect Mike Trout in the lineup. The Angels will also get Shohei Ohtani back while Justin Upton finalizes a fine quartet of bats that will anchor a potent lineup.
The questions are all about pitching.
While they failed to land a high-end arm on the open market, the Angels did attempt to bolster the rotation with additions of Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran while Ohtani returns to head the rotation as well.
Still, the jury is out on whether these additions can improve their 29th-ranked 5.64 rotation ERA from a season ago. Honestly, it can’t get much worse.
The bullpen has former closer Keynan Middleton back from Tommy John surgery while the group itself wasn’t bad as their 2.5 fWAR was right in the middle of the pack last season.
A disappointing 2019 season saw the Angels work to a 72-90 record (.444) a number that would see them win 26.64 games this season.
Significant improvement is required, but I love the Rendon signing for multiple reasons and there’s reason to believe the rotation could substantially improve.
I’ll take the over.
Prediction: Over (-125)
- Over 34.5 (-115)
- Under 34.5 (-115)
The Twins took down the AL Central for the second consecutive season in 2019, turning in a sturdy 101-61 record, good for a .623 win rate.
The offense was thunderous as they set a new single-season home run record with 307 long balls, edging out the Yankees by a single home run.
The rotation lost Kyle Gibson but gained Kenta Maeda, the latter of whom has posted superior big league numbers in his career.
The Twins should also have veteran free agent pickup Rich Hill as their No.4 guy, giving Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi nice depth behind them.
The Twins also sported baseball’s most underrated bullpen. While the group worked to a 10th-ranked 4.17 ERA, their 3.92 FIP was the best in the league and their 7.4 fWAR checked in at third.
There’s caution to be had with the offense as nearly every player in that lineup enjoyed a career-year at the plate, but there’s also plenty of reason to believe the group will be among the game’s best this season nonetheless given their dpeth up and down the lineup.
If they replicate their .623 win rate from last season, they’ll win 37.38 games this season. Given the breathing room, I’ll take the over with ease.
Prediction: Over (-115)
New York Yankees
- Over 38.5 (-115)
- Over 38.5 (-115)
The Yankees are either a co-favorite or slight underdog to the Dodgers to win the 2020 World Series, depending where you look.
At the same time, they’re heavily favored to be the best in the American League with +175 odds to win the AL Pennant, but it’s an interesting debate as to whether they can live up to that billing.
While Gerrit Cole fronts the rotation, they’re already without former ace Luis Severino due to Tommy John surgery. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton remain, but Paxton has a lengthy injury history and No.4 starter J.A. Happ is coming off a brutal 4.91 ERA/5.22 FIP season and will play this season at 37 years of age.
Still, while there’s a chink the rotation armor, it’s still a strong group overall and one that most teams envy, even without Severino.
What’s most notable about their Bronx-bombing offense from a season ago is that they did so almost entirely without Giancarlo Stanton while Aaron Judge missed significant time as well. As a whole, the 2019 Yankees offense was riddled with injuries, yet produced among the best in the game.
Injuries crept up in the spring this season, but the delayed start to the season should have the Yankees’ offense healthy and ready to go.
Their .636 win rate from last season gives them 38.16 wins this time around. It’s close, but I’ll go with the over here.
Prediction: Over 38.5 (-115)
- Over 33.5 (-120)
- Under 33.5 (-110)
The perennial-contending A’s got into the dance again in 2019, but were stymied by Charlie Morton en route to a 5-1 Wild Card Game loss to the Rays.
Still, Oakland put forth a 97-win season that yielded a .599 win clip, and they should be contending again this time around.
The team seemingly has more starting pitching depth now than they did a season ago, especially with the return of Sean Manaea. However, the talk of the A’s rotation revolves around a couple of the game’s brightest pitching prospects in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, both of whom got their feet wet at the big league level in 2019.
The offense should be there, led by the likes of Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and 2019 MVP candidate Marcus Semien. For a team that warrants frugal spending, the A’s have been able to fill just about every spot on the field with an impact bat, save for second base at this point.
They lost a couple members of last year’s bullpen – namely trade-deadline acquisitions Fernando Rodney and Jeurys Familia, however it remains a strong group coming off a seventh-ranked 3.89 ERA, but also a third-ranked 3.98 FIP, from a season ago.
Their win rate from last season nets them 35.94 wins this season. Given their all-round makeup, I think they get there.
Prediction: Over 33.5 (-120)
- Over 25.5 (-115)
- Under 25.5 (-115)
It seems like an eternity ago when the Mariners came out hot and slugging to being the 2019 season, but it was pretty much all downhill from there.
The club would win just 68 games and compile a .420 win rate that represented the fifth-worst mark in all of baseball.
Reason for hope? Not much.
Perhaps Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi can bounce back from a disappointing 5.46 ERA/5.71 FIP through his first tour through the big leagues and youngsters Jesus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, Evan White, Shed Long and J.P. Crawford take encouraging steps in their development.
Still, their best offensive player Mitch Haniger is coming of a plethora of injuries issues including a ruptured testicle as well as core and back issues, the latter two of which have his current status in doubt.
At this point, it seems very much like a rebuilding season for the Mariners, one that could conceivably take them to the AL’s basement.
Their .420 win rate from last season puts them right about in line with this total, but I see regression written all over this club.
Prediction: Under (-115)
Tampa Bay Rays
- Over 33.5 (-115)
- Under 33.5 (-115)
Much like the A’s, the low-budget Rays always find a way into the mix. Heck, they took the Houston Astros to the fifth and final game of their ALDS matchup a season ago before running into Gerrit Cole in their Game 5 loss.
In this writer’s opinion, the Rays could very well have the best front-three rotation members in the American League.
Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, however you want to rank them, all displayed Cy Young-caliber stuff of late.
Snell won the award in 2018, Morton was a candidate for much of 2019 thanks to a 3.05 ERA/2.81 FIP and Glasnow was in the mix early thanks to a white-hot start that saw him pitch to a 1.78 ERA/2.26 FIP in 12 starts before injuries ended his season.
Let’s also keep in mind that the Rays boasted baseball’s best bullpen by way of their league-leading 3.71 ERA in 2019.
The offense has a new look without Tommy Pham and with Hunter Renfroe in the mix after an offseason deal with the Padres, but they ranked 13th with a .321 wOBA last season, which would be plenty with this caliber of pitching.
I’m extremely bullish on the Rays as a big-time threat in the junior circuit, so I’m not thinking twice about the over.
Prediction: Over (-115)
- Over 29.5 (-115)
- Under 29.5 (-115)
Speaking of pitching, the Rangers were all about it this winter.
They traded for former Indians ace Corey Kluber, signed former Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson and also brought in Jordan Lyles coming off a fine ending to his 2019 season with the Brewers.
Add those names to the Lance Lynn/Mike Minor pairing at the top – both of who pitched very well last season – and the Rangers all the sudden look awfully deep in that rotation after years of pitching futility.
The offense has some upside lead by Joey Gallo and Elvis Andrus, but they’ll need several names to step up.
Rougned Odor is likely on his final chance to prove his worth at the plate after a .205 average and brutal 77 wRC+ season in 2019 while the infield corners don’t look inspiring in the form of Todd Frazier and Ronald Guzman.
The bullpen is another question mark after the club finished 21st with a 4.73 ERA as season ago, and it’s a group that didn’t see much refinement in the offseason.
The Rangers’ .481 win rate from a season ago nets them 28.86 wins in this shortened 60-game campaign.
I’m going to look at the starting pitching as a big positive for this club and, despite questions marks elsewhere, the single-biggest factor in getting them just over this total.
Prediction: Over (-115)
Toronto Blue Jays
- Over 28.5 (-115)
- Under 28.5 (-115)
The Jays did some bolstering to their own rotation this winter, grabbing Hyun-Jin Ryu off the open market to front a rotation that now includes depth pieces such as Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson and Matt Shoemaker.
Whether flame-throwing top prospect Nate Pearson makes his way into that mix this season remains to be seen, but the Jays’ rotation sports more depth today than we’ve seen in some time.
Offensively, this club is young, exciting and the envy of most clubs.
Second generation youngsters Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio highlight the clubs offensive future and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. flashed star potential at times a season ago after an early-season demotion to the minors.
Despite their relative youth, the Jays should be able to score runs.
Like with many teams, the bullpen is an unknown. Closer Ken Giles dominated to the tune of a 1.87 ERA, 2.27 FIP and 14.09 K/9 in his first full season in Toronto last year despite running into an elbow issue in late June.
After Giles, however, it’s a cast of either unproven arms or relievers that will need to step up in a big way for the bullpen to support the seemingly improved rotation.
Their 67-95 mark and .414 win rate was bottom of the barrel if everything goes to plan for the Jays after making a handful of win-now moves in the offseason.
With that win rate equalling out to 24.84 wins this season, it’s the toughest call on the board for me.
I think they get awfully close to the total, but I think they fall just short. I’ll take the under by a whisker.