Lo Duca: What the 2019 Opening MLB Win Totals Tell Us About the Upcoming Season
Jeffrey Becker, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jake Odorizzi
- Caesar's Palace released 2019 MLB Season Win Totals last week, giving us our first look at what to expect next season.
- Paul Lo Duca breaks down the opening numbers, including what they tell us about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Even though we are still a month out from Spring Training and the two biggest free agents this offseason — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — have yet to sign with a team for 2019, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas felt confident enough to be first to market with over/unders for next season.
Given how many players are still out there, it is hard to find an edge on any of these numbers but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to take away from them. Betting markets are incredibly efficient and that means the win totals that Caesar’s released gave us our first good look at how Vegas sees the 2019 campaign shaking out.
The Astros unsurprisingly lead the way, opening at 97.5 wins and that number tells me Vegas is expecting them to have an easy time running away with the AL West. After a surprising 97-win 2018 season, not much is expected of the A’s (83 wins), who opened just a shade under the Angels (83.5).
I think the Angels could be an interesting team in 2019. Not only do they have the best player in the league in Mike Trout, but they made a few shrewd moves by signing starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Not much is expected out of the Rangers (70) and Mariners (74.5), so there are a lot of wins out there for the Halos to collect.
Moving to the AL East, I want to start with the Orioles. The O’s opened at a measly 59 wins. That number jumped off the page at me, but then again Baltimore only won 47 times in 2018, so 59 wins would be a marked improvement. Either way, I can’t remember the last time Vegas projected a team to lose more than 100 games. Yikes.
Of course the Yankees (96.5) and Red Sox (95.5) are the cream of the crop in the East, but the Rays (85.5) are laying in the weeds. Tampa put together a terrific second half last year and are an interesting team. At 85.5 wins, the Rays are projected for the fifth-most wins in the American League in 2019, which would put them in a Wild-Card spot.
Tampa has all the makings of becoming the trendy sleeper pick as we head into the season and the American League is pretty weak this season so I see no reason why they can’t put some pressure on the two big boys in their division.
As for the Red Sox, I’m a little surprised they “only” are at 95.5 wins. This team just won the World Series and their roster won’t be overhauled, so fade Boston at your own risk.
Moving to the AL Central, which could be the most interesting division in the league if you take a look at these openers. The Indians are the deserved favorites in the division, but are expected to take a step back in 2019. The Tribe have floated the idea of trading aces Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, so it’s no surprise that the market’s opinion of them is lower than it was last year.
The next two teams in the AL Central, the Twins (84) and White Sox (74.5) have my attention a little bit.
A year after a surprising run to the postseason, the Twins struggled last season and parted ways with manager Paul Molitor. Minnesota brought in Rocco Baldelli to be manager. Baldelli is a new-school guy and the Twins actually have some serious talent on their roster so I could see the rookie manager getting this team to overachieve.
The White Sox total is worth keeping an eye on just because they are still in the mix for Harper and Machado. Chicago’s rotation could be boom or bust in 2019 but if they add either of the star free agents they could make a run in a weak division.
I must admit I’m a bit surprised at a few of the over/unders for the National League East. Only one team, Miami (65.5), is projected to finish below .500 but no team opened with an over/under higher than 89 wins. That tells us that this division is wide open and adds some intrigue to the Machado-Harper Saga.
The Phillies are going after both players hard and have been among the favorites to land both players all offseason. Yet, Philadelphia is only at 83 wins. Surely if the Phils signed either Machado or Harper their win total would soar. Perhaps we shouldn’t assume that Philadelphia will land at least one of these guys.
I said earlier this offseason that I thought Harper would go back to Washington and these numbers don’t change my mind. The Nationals are already favored to win the division thanks to a great pitching staff and if Harper returns they could contend for a World Series.
The biggest surprise in the NL Central is how low the market is on the Brewers. The pitching staff won’t strike fear into anybody, but that offense was cooking last season and the bullpen remains a strength. Milwaukee was set at 83 wins, behind the Cubs (89) and Cardinals (88.5).
The oddsmakers are expecting the Dodgers to have an easy time winning the NL West as their over/under (95) is 13 wins higher than the closest team, Colorado (82). I think the Rockies are a live dog once again this season, even if they lost Adam Ottavino and DJ LeMahieu.
The Diamondbacks lost their best hitter, Paul Goldschmidt, and best pitcher, Patrick Corbin, so they shouldn’t be in the mix while the Giants and Padres look like also-rans.