The 2015 season begins on Sunday night in Chicago and the real season begins on Monday afternoon in the Bronx. With only a few days separating us from the start of a new season, it’s time to look at the win totals and pick five overs and five unders.
San Francisco Giants – 82
I realize this is an odd-numbered year and that means that the Giants are likely to miss the playoffs and then bounce back and win the World Series next year the way they did in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
The Giants did lose Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox where he is in line to become Carl Crawford 2.0 with handling the pressure and dealing with the media and listening to insane baseball fans that go along with playing in Boston. But they traded for Casey McGehee to play third and have Matt Cain back after he missed the second half of last season. Even with the NL West getting some depth with the Padres changing their entire team to compete with the Dodgers, the Giants will still be in the postseason mix for a wild-card spot and they will be better than two games over .500.
New York Yankees – 82.5
The last time the Yankees won less than 83 games was in 1992 when they won 76 games. That season was also the last time they finished under .500.
The 2013 Yankees won 85 games with these players playing the most games at each position:
C – Chris Stewart
1B – Lyle Overbay
2B – Robinson Cano
3B – Jayson Nix
SS – Eduardo Nunez
LF – Vernon Wells
CF – Brett Gardner
RF – Ichiro Suzuki
DH – Travis Hafner
The 2014 Yankees won 84 games with Jacoby Ellsbury leading the team with a .271 average, 40-year-old Ichiro playing 143 games, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew combining for 730 plate appearances, Masahiro Tanaka making only 20 starts, Michael Pineda making only 13 and Vidal Nuno making the fifth most starts on the team (14) despite being traded on July 6.
For as bad as the 2013 and 2014 seasons went for the Yankees with injuries and poor production, they still covered this number, and they will again in 2015.
New York Mets – 83
This is a dangerous pick. The Mets haven’t won at least 83 games since 2008 (89-73) and the hype train surrounding this team because of their starting pitching is so out of control it rivals that of the Cubs, who have had five straight fifth-place finishes.
The Mets’ rotation isn’t what it was projected to be without Zack Wheeler, but it’s still one of the strongest in the league and with Matt Harvey back, with a full season of Jacob deGrom and an improved offense, the Mets are clearly more than four wins better than they were last year at 79-83.
I don’t think the Mets are necessarily a playoff team the way everyone else has been so quick to believe, but they will be in contention for at least the second wild-card spot because as the Yankees have proved the last two years, you just have to not completely suck to be in the mix until even late September.
San Diego Padres – 84
The Padres weren’t effing around this offseason. They changed their entire outfield by trading for Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers and signed James Shields to a four-year deal to give them the deepest rotation in the NL West. If you look at the 77-win 2014 Padres and change their most used outfielders of Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin and Will Venable to Kemp, Upton and Myers and add Shields into their rotation in place of Eric Stults, who lost 17 games, then this team not only covers the 84, but they are a playoff team.
It’s weird to think about how bad the AL East has become and how much better the NL Wast has become.
Los Angeles Dodgers – 92.5
This number can be changed to 72.5 for the Los Angeles Dodgers without Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw won 21 games last year in only 27 starts and after what he has done the last four years, you can just go ahead and put him down for (at least) 20 wins this season, which means the rest of the team needs to find a way to 73 games and that shouldn’t be hard.
The Dodgers won 94 games in 2014 without Kershaw for all of April, with just two starters pitching full seasons (Zack Greinke and Dan Haren), A.J. Ellis hitting .191 in 347 plate appearances and having a group of untrustworthy middle relievers. They did stupidly trade Matt Kemp within the division to San Diego, sent Dee Gordon to Miami and lost Hanley Ramirez to free agency, but they added Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick and bolstered their rotation by signing Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. The Dodgers are a better team than they were last year.
Minnesota Twins – 73
The Twins are bad. Really, really, really bad. The Phillies have the lowest number (66.5) for this season, but I’m not sure the Phillies are the worst team in the league, it might be the Twins. It used to be a guaranteed win to take the Twins’ over, but those days are long gone.
The Twins won 70 games last season and that was with Phil Hughes somehow becoming the pitcher Yankees fans had been told since 2004 that he would become. Do I think Hughes is going to win 16 games again and walk only 16 in 209 2/3 innings and actually receive Cy Young votes? No. The Twins’ rotation did get some help with the addition of Ervin Santana, but aside from Joe Mauer, their lineup is a disaster and signing Torii Hunter, who will be 39 in July, isn’t going to turn back the clock to 2002, 2003 or 2004 for the Twins.
Tampa Bay Rays – 79
The Rays are going to be so bad that I feel bad that Evan Longoria’s production is going to be wasted in Tampa Bay. Well, as long as that production doesn’t come against the Yankees.
The 2014 Rays only won 77 games and they are a worse team this season. They aren’t going to get 23 starts and 11 wins from David Price. They no longer have Ben Zobrist to play every position. Wil Myers is in San Diego, Matthew Joyce is in Anaheim and Yunel Escobar is in Washington. Joe Maddon is in Chicago and Andrew Friedman is in Los Angeles. Jake McGee is coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery in December and new No. 1 starter Alex Cobb has forearm tendinitis. The Rays might want to add “Devil” back to their name because it might feel like 1998-2007 in Tampa Bay this season.
Detroit Tigers – 84
The Tigers won 90 games in 2014 and 18 of those were Max Scherzer’s, 15 were Rick Porcello’s and 15 were Justin Verlander’s. Scherzer is now in Washington, Porcello is in Boston and Verlander is beginning the season on the disabled list with triceps soreness. Sure, the Tigers will have a full season of David Price and he can fill the void of Scherzer leaving and if Anibal Sanchez stays healthy, he can take over for Porcello. But without Verlander healthy, and when healthy, pitching like 2009-2013 instead of 2014, the Tigers are in trouble.
Cleveland Indians – 85
The Indians earned a wild-card berth in 2013 and last season nearly earned another one because they spent September the last two years beating up on the White Sox and Twins to rack up late-season wins. Unfortunately for the Indians, only the Twins are a doormat for the AL Central now.
There seems to be a lot of over-the-top admiration for the 2015 Indians. The Indians won 85 games last year with 18 of those coming from Corey Kluber’s Cy Young season and no other Indians starter had double-digit wins.
The Indians’ rotation has been set as Kluber, Carlos Carrasco (54 career starts), Trevor Bauer (34 career starts), Zach McAllister (65 career starts) and T.J. House (18 career starts). There isn’t a whole lot of experience in that rotation and unless Kluber is turning into Cliff Lee in his late-20s, the Indians’ pitching can’t compete with the White Sox, Royals and Tigers. And the the Indians’ offense isn’t good enough to carry their pitching.
Boston Red Sox – 86
Everyone is drooling over the Red Sox’ lineup and how 2015 will be a “resurgence” for the team. The 2012 Red Sox won 69 games. The 2013 Red Sox hit the biggest parlay in the history of major sports an won 97 games. The 2014 Red Sox won 71 games. That’s two last-place finishes sandwiched around the most miraculous of miracles.
The 2015 Red Sox might have the best lineup in baseball, but their rotation is Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Joe Kelly. When Buchholz, who has only pitched three full seasons since entering the league in 2007 and who is coming off a season with a 5.34 ERA, is your Opening Day starter and No. 1, not even having the best lineup in baseball can make up for that.