Not surprisingly, three of the last four teams standing in late October have the three highest season win totals in Major League Baseball preseason betting.
The reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs are projected for 95.5 wins according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, marking the second season in a row that the Northsiders have had the highest total.
After the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers (93.5), Cleveland Indians (92.5) and Boston Red Sox (92.5) fill out the top four. The Washington Nationals (90.5) are the other team in the ’90 club.’
There’s a distinct chance the Cubs, with a fully healthy Kyle Schwarber joining 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant and SS Addison Russell, could beat their projection. The Cubs also seem unlikely to face a major push from their NL Central opponents, who form nearly half their schedule.
The St. Louis Cardinals (84.5) are retooling and the Pittsburgh Pirates (82.5) could end up dealing CF Andrew McCutchen, a one-time NL MVP, before the July 31 trade deadline.
Of the two American League powerhouses, Boston and Cleveland, the Red Sox are projected to have the more potent offense. That tends to win out in the long run across 162 games, before pitching takes over in the postseason due to chillier weather and more off-days. The Indians could have some regression.
The Nationals always seem to have good regular seasons. It’s important to remember that their NL East rivals, the New York Mets (89.5), were still strong last season in spite of a plethora of injuries.
The team which oddsmakers see taking the biggest drop is the Texas Rangers (84.5), who had 95 wins in 2016 but had a likely unsustainable record in one-run games. Their cross-state rival, the Houston Astros (89.5), have the highest total of anyone in the AL West. As a young team on the rise, the Astros might be a little under the radar.
The Minnesota Twins (74.5) are pegged for the biggest jump after having just 59 wins last season. The Twins haven’t done a lot to upgrade their pitching, though, and could move 42-home run man Brian Dozier before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Speaking of the deadline, other big names such as McCutchen, Oakland Athletics RHP Sonny Gray and Chicago White Sox LHP Jose Quintana may all be on the move to contenders. In that event, the Athletics (73.5) and White Sox (69.5) could end up on the under side.
The San Diego Padres (66.5) are pegged for the worst record in baseball, but with 1B Wil Myers and RF Hunter Renfroe, they’ll at least be an interesting bad team. Some breakout from their youngsters could help the Padres beat their projection. The White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers (also 69.5) are the other teams with a prop of fewer than 70 wins.