Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Every year during spring training, it's
fun to try to guess how many games major-league teams will win during the
The Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nev., was first to release projected win totals
for the 2013 campaign. Using their over-under numbers, let's try to take a
crack at picking four teams that will likely hit the over and four others that
will probably hit the under in regular-season wins:
FIRST, THE OVERS:
ATLANTA BRAVES (over 86 wins): The Braves won 94 games last season, giving the
Washington Nationals a run for their money in the National League East. Their
longtime offensive leader, Chipper Jones, retired, and leadoff hitter Michael
Bourn was lost to free agency. They also traded away versatile Martin Prado,
who was their primary left fielder in 2012.
Still, Atlanta's offense may have even improved. The Braves added Justin Upton
and B.J. Upton to an outfield that already featured young star Jason Heyward.
They have five hitters in the lineup who are likely to hit at least 25 homers
apiece. Young shortstop Andrelton Simmons will have to adjust to batting out of
the leadoff spot, but even if that doesn't work out, B.J. Upton could be
As for pitching, Atlanta doesn't have top-of-the-rotation talent to rival
Washington and Philadelphia, but it should have five solid starters. If Mike
Minor can build on his strong second half from last year, he could establish
himself as one of the league's top young pitchers. The back end of the Braves'
bullpen is elite, led by the best closer in baseball, Craig Kimbrel.
With so many young players either in or entering the prime of their careers,
Atlanta isn't likely to finish eight games worse than it did last year.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES (over 76.5 wins): OK, this seems like a sucker bet, but it's
too good to pass up. During their unexpected run to the American League
playoffs last season, the Orioles posted 93 wins. How could they possibly drop
to 76 or fewer in 2013?
They didn't really suffer any significant losses or make many major changes
during the offseason. Mark Reynolds signed with the Cleveland Indians and Joe
Saunders with the Seattle Mariners. Highly regarded prospect Manny Machado, who
came up late last season, will now be the everyday third baseman.
So, why is the Orioles' over-under number this low? They were 29-9 in one-run
games and 16-2 in extra-inning games last season, which are marks they are
extremely unlikely to approach again. Also, they finished 93-69 despite scoring
only seven more runs than they allowed.
There's no doubt about it: Luck did play a major role in the Orioles' 93-win
season. If they finish plus-7 in runs this year, there's no way they'll get to
93 wins again. However, Baltimore has enough talented young players whose best
seasons are likely still ahead of them (Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt
Wieters, etc.) that winning more than 76 games would appear to be a slam dunk.
DETROIT TIGERS (over 90 wins): Although the Tigers got to the World Series,
they underachieved for much of the 2012 season. Expected to win close to 100
games in a weak AL Central Division, the Tigers settled for just 88 victories.
Toward the end of the year, though, Detroit began playing as well as
advertised. The Tigers still have superstars like 2012 AL Most Valuable Player
Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and former Cy Young Award winner Justin
In addition, Victor Martinez, who missed all of the 2012 season because of a
torn ACL, will be back in the lineup. The team also added outfielder Torii
Hunter, who batted .313 with 92 RBIs for the Angels last season. Anibal
Sanchez, acquired from the Marlins last July, will be on board all season as a
solid No. 4 starter.
Kansas City and Cleveland are teams on the rise, but the AL Central still has
to be considered one of the weaker divisions in the majors. Barring another
slow start, the Tigers ought to get into the mid-90s in wins.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (over 90 wins): En route to earning their first NL East
championship, the Nationals won a major league-best 98 games last season.
Injuries inevitably occur for every team, so betting on anyone to win more than
90 games can be considered a shaky proposition.
Look at Washington's roster, though. Unless Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez,
Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper all miss significant time, how can the
Nationals possibly fail to post more than 90 wins?
The Nationals' two biggest weaknesses last season were probably the lack of an
ideal leadoff hitter or an elite defensive center fielder. The trade that
brought in Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins eliminated both of those
Edwin Jackson was lost to free agency, but Dan Haren was acquired to be a
capable replacement. New closer Rafael Soriano will solidify a tremendous back
end of the bullpen, which also features Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. And,
don't forget, Strasburg won't have a strict innings limitation this year.
NOW, THE UNDERS:
HOUSTON ASTROS (under 59.5 wins): Houston stumbled to a 55-107 record last
season, and now it has to move from the NL Central to the AL West. With about a
third of their games to be played against the Angels, Rangers and Athletics,
it's tough to imagine the Astros not posting a worse record in 2013.
Houston ranked last in the majors in runs scored last season, and the additions
of Chris Carter, Carlos Pena and Rick Ankiel probably won't prevent them from
again being near the bottom in runs scored. Their anemic offense will be all
the more detrimental in the American League, which is more offensive-oriented
anyway with the presence of the designated hitter.
The Astros' opening-day payroll is expected to hover around $25 million. That's
about $3 million less than injured Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be
paid in 2013. In this case, you get what you pay for.
Houston is just beginning what will likely be a long, painful rebuilding phase.
To expect much more than 50 wins would seem overly optimistic.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (under 90 wins): Projected to have the highest payroll in
the majors this year, the Dodgers are rightfully considered one of the
favorites to land an NL playoff spot.
Going into spring training, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly were
sixth-through-eighth on the Dodgers' starting rotation depth chart. When a team
has that kind of pitching depth - as well as a 1-2 punch at the top of the
rotation (former Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke) that could
compete with anyone else's - it's easy to anticipate more than 90 wins.
For such a massive payroll, though, one would probably expect to field a better
starting lineup. Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez have the potential to be among
the best players at their positions. However, Kemp is coming off an injury-
marred season and is a below-average defensive center fielder. Gonzalez's power
numbers have been in steady decline for three years. Hanley Ramirez and Carl
Crawford have been nowhere near the great players they were three years ago.
Throwing a bunch of big-name, high-salaried players together rarely seems to
work as well as those teams hope. It's tough to buy team chemistry. It wouldn't
be surprising if the Dodgers post a win total in the mid-90s, but it just seems
more likely that their lineup will disappoint and limit them to something in
the 85-89 win range.
MIAMI MARLINS (under 64.5 wins): As good as the Washington Nationals and
Atlanta Braves are, and as good as the Philadelphia Phillies could be with the
top three in their starting rotation, the Marlins figure to lose plenty of
games to their NL East counterparts.
With a roster completely depleted after blockbuster trades with the Los Angeles
Dodgers last season and the Toronto Blue Jays during the offseason, Miami is
probably going to lose a lot of games. The Marlins ought to be able to lose
100, which would make them a good under bet.
Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison are the only returning starters among the
eight position players from last year's team, which had hoped to contend but
went a disappointing 69-93. After subtracting the likes of Jose Reyes, Hanley
Ramirez, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, Miami should easily lose at least five
extra games this year.
Stanton might be the best young player in the game, but he'll get little
support in the lineup, and he might be issued twice as many intentional walks
as the second-ranked player in that category this year. It's going to be a long
year in Miami, but at least there won't be too many fans on hand to watch it.
NEW YORK YANKEES (under 86.5 wins): To be fair, the Yankees suffered long-term
injuries to two key components of their offense - Curtis Granderson and Mark
Teixeira - after this 86.5 total was installed.
Trivia question: When was the last time the Yankees failed to win more than 86
games in a 162-game season? It was 1992, when New York finished 76-86. That
squad's home run leader was Danny Tartabull, its wins leader was Melido Perez
and its primary starting shortstop was the immortal Andy Stankiewicz. The
closer was Steve Farr.
Suffice it to say, it's been a long time since New York has not been a major
contender. And the Yankees still could challenge in the AL East; they have the
likes of CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera on board,
On the flip side, New York's offensive struggles were considerable during the
last postseason. Now they'll have to play as much as a third of the season
without Granderson and Teixeira and probably half the season without A-Rod, and
it doesn't appear they will be willing to spend big money to fix any of their
problems. This really looks like the end of a great era.
The Sports Network