MLB Odds, Win Total Picks: How to Bet 2023 Futures for Dodgers, Marlins, White Sox, More
Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Jazz Chisholm Jr. of the Miami Marlins.
Spring training is underway, and Major League Baseball is already going to look much different in 2023 than it did in 2022.
Shorter games, less time between pitches, more steals and no infield shifts are some of the key changes grabbing all of the media attention early in spring training.
Meanwhile, sportsbooks have released win total markets for all 30 teams, including team and player futures for various awards. It’s always important to shop around for the best number. One win on a win total may not seem like a lot, but you never know when that win will be the difference between a winning bet and a losing bet.
Here are my four favorite MLB win totals in 2023.
Arizona Diamondbacks Over 74.5 (-120 at DraftKings)
Stolen base attempts are up 20% in spring training this season compared to last year’s spring training. From a team speed perspective, few are better positioned to take advantage of the stealing enhancement than the Diamondbacks.
Corbin Carroll was the fastest player in all of MLB in his debut last September. Jake McCarthy is projected to swipe 25-plus bases. Josh Rojas stole 23 last year, and Alek Thomas is in the 95th percentile for sprint speed on Baseball Savant.
Arizona could also turn to Jordan Lawlar — one of its top prospects — in the middle of the season, and he’d add more speed to the basepaths as well.
This team will put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses because of its speed, and the Diamondbacks are also projected to be a well above-average defense too. By outs above average, no team was even close to Arizona last season with a +44 rating. The next best was Houston at +36.
The defense and the speed are small difference-makers that season-long projections can sometimes miss on a team.
The upside for this roster comes from its young pitching. Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson and Brandon Pfaadt all add depth to this starting rotation behind the solid front three of Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Madison Bumgarner. Nelson registered a 117.8 Stuff+, per Eno Sarris’ model from The Athletic, and paired that with above-average command. He has three good pitches and could become a rotation regular.
Pfaadt struggled with homers in the PCL in the minors, but his high fastball should be electric in a more friendly pitching environment. Jameson doesn’t have overwhelming stuff but locates well and has a decent floor as a back-end starter because of it.
Last season, The Diamondbacks were one of the most profitable first-five teams in the whole sport but couldn’t carry it through nine innings. The bullpen once again is a weakness on paper, but the natural variance and randomness to bullpens on a year-to-year basis suggest there’s room to regress positively.
There’s some disagreement in the models on Arizona this season. ZiPS has it at 81 wins, PECOTA is at 73.8 and FanGraphs is at 77.
I love the young pitching, and the Diamondbacks are my favorite win total of the season at over 74.5 wins. I’d play the over at 75.5 but no higher than that.
You’re probably going to hear quite a bit about how the White Sox are primed for a bounce-back season in 2023. They dealt with a ton of injuries last year, Tony La Russa is gone as the manager, and much of the underlying talent is still that of the team that won 93 games in 2021.
But they had a .500 season last year and followed it with a pretty bad offseason.
The first reason to be a bit skeptical of the White Sox is that the schedule is more difficult now than it was in years past. They’ll play more games against the stronger and deeper National League and fewer games against the sport’s worst division from top to bottom. That’s fewer games against the Tigers and Royals and more matchups with the NL East and NL West.
The second reason is the pitching staff.
Lucas Giolito never recovered the stuff that made him a good pitcher from 2019-21. His Stuff+ per the model sat at just 91.9 last season, and his changeup the his only pitch that registered as above average. Michael Kopech could be better in 2023, but betting on him to stay healthy and manage his command issues seems like a tall task.
Dylan Cease and Lance Lynn are a perfectly good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, but after Kopech and Giolito, it’s a major question mark.
Mike Clevinger, Davis Martin and Reynaldo López are the next three, and they don’t have anyone in the upper minors on the verge of a breakout. Closer Liam Hendriks is battling cancer and the next option to replace him — Kendall Graveman — posted just a 99 Pitching+ last season. For that metric, 100 is considered average.
It’s a good bet to expect Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez to play and produce a lot more in 2023 with better health outcomes. But the White Sox lost José Abreu, the only disciplined hitter on a team that chased more balls than any in the sport last year.
Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and Elvis Andrus are all projected to bat between 5-9 in this lineup. None have produced in the last year-plus.
My colleague Sean Zerillo projects them for 76.5 wins, while three different public projections have them at 80 wins or fewer. ZiPS is at 74, PECOTA has them at 79 and FanGraphs sits at 80.
I’d bet the White Sox under 81.5 wins or better and also would look to bet them to miss the playoffs given the improved middle class of the AL this season.
Miami’s offseason additions of Jean Segura and Luis Arraez seem to be leaning into MLB’s banning of infield shifts. Both are plus-contact hitters who don’t hit for power, and that will enable them to have more traffic on the basepaths in 2023.
Miami’s team cratered last season, but it has players I’m betting to bounce backs in 2023. Jazz Chisholm was putting up MVP-level numbers until he went out injured and missed the final 100 games of the season. He’s in his prime years and projected 3.3 wins. If healthy, he’s a major speed and power boost to this lineup.
Trevor Rogers had a poor season in the back end of this rotation as he struggled with command and injury. His stuff remains solid and his location numbers improved in the second half of the year, so he should be better too.
Edward Cabrera had a breakout in 2022, and his health makes him a low-floor, high-ceiling player. The Marlins have one of the three best pitching prospects in MLB with Eury Pérez, along with the reliable Braxton Garrett, who pitched solid innings in 2022.
You can always count on the Marlins’ pitching, and I’m skeptical that it’s even possible to be as bad at hitting as they were last season against left-handed pitching. They finished last season with a 71 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, which is 10% worse than every other team in the majors.
Avisail García should perform closer to league average instead of the 66 wRC+ he posted in year one of his Miami deal.
With 18 fewer games against the Braves, Mets and Phillies, plus an improved lineup floor with plus-contact hitters, Miami should do enough to finish close to .500 with its pitching staff remaining solid.
Zerillo projects the Marlins at 78 wins, and all of the public models are more bullish than this number. PECOTA is at 80.2, FanGraphs at 79 and ZiPS is at 75. I’d bet the over at 75.5 or better.
The Dodgers look as vulnerable as they have in multiple seasons.
Gavin Lux tore his ACL on Monday, leaving them dangerously thin in the infield since Justin Turner and Trea Turner left in the offseason. The current infield is likely to feature rookie Miguel Vargas at second base and mediocre veteran Miguel Rojas at shortstop.
They’re also likely to start Trayce Thompson in center field and David Peralta in left.
The Dodgers could be starting as many as four or five players who are league-average hitters at their positions, and Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Will Smith are not enough to make up for that themselves.
Without an additional star, the Dodgers’ lineup goes from impossibly deep to just above average. Look across the National League, and it’s apparent that St. Louis, San Diego, Philadelphia, New York and Atlanta all look better than this unit from top to bottom.
Los Angeles has been a pitching factory for years, and betting against it in this department is asking for trouble. But even the rotation has more questions about durability than ever.
Clayton Kershaw remains elite when on the mound, but he took extra rest often last year between starts and shouldn’t be counted on for more than 120 innings. Tony Gonsolin is unlikely to repeat his absurd success in the first half of 2022. Noah Syndergaard could improve his velocity again, but if he doesn’t, he’s a below-average MLB starter.
If everything goes right, it’s a top-five rotation in baseball once again. But the depth behind the main starters is diminished from last season barring a huge step forward in command from prospect Ryan Pepiot.
The lineup lost three near-everyday starters at shortstop, third base and center field and didn’t replace any of them in free agency. That’s going to cost them wins, and it may cost it the division too.
PECOTA has the Dodgers at 95.2 wins, FanGraphs is at 87, ZiPS sits at 91 and Zerillo comes in at 95.7. Davenport is also at 95 for them.
They’re a public team, and their dominance of the sport should be respected. But this team looks weaker on paper than any Dodger team in recent memory. I’d bet under at 95.5 or better.
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