The regular season is over. It feels like just yesterday I was picking five over and five under win totals for the season and now it’s all over.
With the end of the regular season, it’s time look back at my 2019 over/under win total predictions and see where I went right and wrong it what was a 7-3 season. Here is the 2019 MLB Over/Under Win Total Predictions blog.
Part of the write-up from March is italicized.
(This season’s win total in parentheses)
NEW YORK YANKEES, 96.5 (103): WIN
On paper, the Yankees are the best team in baseball. Unfortunately, “on paper” doesn’t win the World Series and starting the season with Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances and Aaron Hicks all unavailable, and Didi Gregorius out until at least midseason isn’t exactly helpful to exceeding a win total of 96.5. Thankfully, the majority of Major League Baseball isn’t trying to win and getting back near 100 wins won’t be that hard.
Unfortunately, the injuries didn’t stop with the spring training injures of Severino, Sabathia, Betances and Hicks. Miguel Andujar would be lost for the season, Giancarlo Stanton would miss nearly the entire season, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge would miss a couple months, Luke Voit would go on the injured list twice for a hernia, Brett Gardner would spend time on the IL, as would James Paxton and Edwin Encarnacion, and Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman. The Yankees got hurt, their replacements got hurt and their replacement’s replacements got hurt. The Yankees set the single-season record for most players to go on the injured list and they still covered their by six-and-a-half wins. It’s scary to think what type of record this team would have been capable of had they been at full strength, or even 75 percent, all season.
CHICAGO CUBS, 88 (84): LOSS
There is this idea the Cubs are trending in the wrong direction and won’t be good for some reason in 2019. Listen, I don’t like the Cubs and would like nothing more than for them to be a disaster this season, but it’s just not realistic. The Brewers will once again be right there contending for the NL Central and the Cardinals and Reds made vast improvements, but it’s still the Cubs’ division to lose, just like it was last year until … they lost it.
Once again the NL Central was the Cubs’ to lose, and once again, they lost it. Their losing streak in the second-to-last week of the season ruined their playoff chances, and before Game 162, the team announced Joe Maddon wouldn’t be back for 2020. After winning the 2016 World Series, the Cubs lost in the ALCS then lost both a tie-breaker game for the division and wild-card game and then didn’t even make the playoffs. The Cubs need significant changes to their major league roster and might want to think about not allowing Theo Epstein to sign any free agents with his career track record in that market. It will be a while until I believe in the Cubs covering an over.
HOUSTON ASTROS, 96.5 (107): WIN
The Astros’ biggest problem (which clearly wasn’t much of a problem after winning the World Series in 2017 and reaching the ALCS in 2018) was that their lineup wasn’t long. The addition of Michael Brantley — a player I wanted the Yankees to sign instead of Brett Gardner — gives them that length as they can now stack George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Brantley in some order one through five. That’s a very scary one through five.
I’m petrified of the Yankees having to face Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in a potential ALCS matchup. I’m also worried about how the Yankees’ pitching is going to handle the lengthy lineup the Astros now have with George Springer, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel making up the top two-thirds of their lineup. The Astros were the best team in baseball this season, mostly due to the significant injuries suffered by the Yankees, and they will be the team to beat in the postseason as well.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS, 83.5 (72): LOSS
It’s hard to find overs to pick and believe in when nearly all of baseball seems to be trying not to win, or at least not investing in winning. The Angels are my pick for the second wild card and while I don’t trust them, I think they will be at least a .500 team in 2019. I could see them being a 90-win team this season, which is enough to eclipse their number.
Looking back, I don’t know why I thought the Angels would be good. I guess I looked at the teams not named the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox and thought they would be at the top of that next tier of teams in baseball and at least a team capable of playing two-games-over-.500 baseball this season. But the Angels were their usual crappy selves, falling 12 wins short of covering in what was another losing season for the franchise.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES, 89.5 (81): LOSS
I hate this pick, I really do. I don’t want the Phillies to do well, but unfortunately, one team in the NL East is going to win 90 games and I think the Phillies have the best chance to do it. My Phillies pick is more of a process of elimination pick.
The Mets? I’m not about to ever back the Mets to meet or exceed expectations even if their number is four wins lower (85.5). The Nationals? They had trouble scoring runs and winning games with the face of their franchise. I’m not sure how an 82-win team gets an 88.5 number when their biggest addition was one-year-wonder Patrick Corbin. The Braves? They are the biggest threat to the Phillies in the division, especially since they won 90 games last season, but a lot has changed in the NL East since last season.
At least I knew I hated picking the Phillies’ over while I picked it. The Phillies’ lineup and rotation on paper still looks strong. As for their bullpen, I didn’t think it would cost them their season and cost me this over. The Phillies were built on hype and I bought into that hype thinking they would battle the Braves for the NL East title, when instead it would be Bryce Harper’s former team which would finish second in the NL East. When Harper signed with the Phillies he talked about recruiting other free agents to play for the Phillies in future seasons. Any free agent chasing a championship won’t be signing there with how competitive this division is looking for the foreseeable future.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES, 58.5 (54): WIN
The Orioles won 47 games last season. 47! And that was with a half season of Manny Machado playing at an MVP level. This season, they won’t have Machado at all and will have the worst roster top to bottom in the league, much worse than last season’s roster, which won 47 games. If this number were at least year’s 47 it would be too high. At 58.5 it’s outrageous.
There are layups and then there’s picking the Orioles to win less than 59 games. This one was about as easy as it gets as the Orioles finished five wins shy of covering and 49 games back of the Yankees in the division. It’s going to be hard not to pick the Orioles again next season.
BOSTON RED SOX, 94.5 (84): WIN
Outside of a rotation that’s banking on Chris Sale’s shoulder to continue to hold up, David Price to avoid falling off again, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez to be consistent and Nathan Eovaldi to not turn back into the Nathan Eovaldi that caused every team until the Red Sox to give up on him, the Red Sox’ biggest question is their bullpen. Their ownership basically said to the fan base “We won the World Series, we’re reeling in the spending” as they chose not to bring back Craig Kimbrel and are going with a bullpen so shaky that their starting pitching became their non-closing relief options in the playoffs. That can work over the course of a month in the postseason, however, it’s a recipe for disaster over the course of six months in the regular season.
Chris Sale got hurt, David Price got hurt, Rick Porcello was awful, Nathan Eovaldi got hurt and was ineffective and the bullpen was a disaster. Everything that went right for the Red Sox in 2018 went wrong for them in 2019, and it was an enjoyable six months of watching them lose and lose and lose some more. All of the losing got Dave Dombrowski fired, and now the Red Sox have essentially a team of general managers, a lot of money tied up in an injured rotation, and aren’t sure if they want to pay Mookie Betts. As long as the Dodgers don’t come and rescue the Red Sox from their payroll situation again, they’re headed to a dark era.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX, 74 (72): WIN
I feel the least confident about this pick out of all the unders I selected, only because the White Sox are headed in the right direction and nearly there, while the other clubs have a ways to go. Signing Manny Machado would have helped greatly, as he stood them up, showing he could care less if his family members and friends in Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay are now on the team. The reason I’m picking the White Sox as they inch closer and closer to baseball relevancy is that for them to increase their win total by 12 from last season, a lot has to happen. A lot.
The White Sox put a late-season run together to put this pick in jeopardy, but ended up falling two wins short of a push and three wins short of a cover. The White Sox are headed in the right direction, and in a division in which the Royals and Tigers are nowhere near contending and the Indians don’t want to pay anyone, the White Sox are going to have a window coming up where they could win the AL Central and return to the postseason.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS, 69.5 (59): WIN
The Royals did nothing to improve in the offseason, they actually got worse, and yet, their number is 11 wins higher this season. Everything about them says “Last place in the AL Central” and that was with Salvador Perez and now Perez is out for the season, needing Tommy John surgery.
This might have been the easiest under to pick of all. The Royals had no business having their line be 11 wins higher than they had in 2018, and they proved it by finishing 11 wins shy of covering. The Royals don’t look like they’re anywhere near ready to be competitive, falling back into their 1990s and 2000s days. I might be picking against the Royals for a while.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS, 74.5 (67): WIN
The Blue Jays are now in complete rebuild mode after having missed out on their championship window. First, they let Jose Bautista leave as a free agent and then Edwin Encarnacion and then Josh Donaldson and then they released Troy Tulowitzki, essentially now paying him to play for the Yankees. The heart of their order from their 2015 and 2016 ALCS appearances is gone and any valuable assets they have left between now and the trade deadline this season will be gone too.
The Blue Jays gave me a clean sweep with my under picks as they were as bad as expected. Aside from White Sox, they have the brightest future with a young and controllable offense that’s major-league ready. If they’re able to combine the top of their lineup with some starting pitching, the Blue Jays might not be a postseason team, but they certainly won’t be a team I would be picking as an under.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!