MLB Season Win Total Best Bets

MLB Season Win Total Best Bets

MLB Season Win Total Best Bets                     
By Joe Nelson
Playbook.com

While basketball is taking center stage this March, the 2013 MLB season is just around the corner. Now is a good time to take a look at the win total projections for the upcoming season. My Best Bet in each division for the 2013 MLB season is listed in this article.

NL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 87½ Wins - Atlanta Braves:
The Braves had an impressive season last year, out-scoring foes by 100 runs and allowing the fourth fewest runs in the entire National League. The Braves made a big splash with the acquisition of Justin Upton but he has been a player whose success has been built on hitting in an offense-friendly home ballpark. Martin Prado was arguably the most valuable player on this team last season given his versatility and great year at the plate and his loss in understated. Tim Hudson had an excellent season last year but he has made fewer starts than the previous season each of the last two years and at 37 his numbers appear on pace to continue in the wrong direction. Kris Medlen carried the team in the second half of the season with numbers that will simply be impossible to replicate. Julio Teheran will be counted on to play a big role in the rotation but it is not clear he will be ready. All in all the pitching staff looks unlikely to deliver the same results as last season. Washington again looks very tough in the East and while the Mets and Marlins could be much worse this season, this is a team facing great expectations. The schedule may not be as light as some expect and considering this squad had some of the worst slugging numbers in the NL last season there is reason to be skeptical of this squad and the high projection.

NL CENTRAL

BEST BET: OVER 81 Wins - Milwaukee Brewers:
The Brewers made a late push last season to go 83-79 and finished just five games out of the wild card picture. Milwaukee had the sixth best run differential in the National League and that was with a disastrous bullpen and only one starting pitcher making more than 24 starts. While the rotation has less experience, if Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers can replicate the success of last season there is great promise. Highly regarded prospect Wily Peralta looked the part in limited action last season and Yovani Gallardo has proven to be one of the more consistent starters in the league, posting 25 quality starts last year. Chris Narveson is also a wild card that could provide a boost after missing most of last season. Milwaukee's lineup scored the most runs in the National League last season with nearly 4.8 runs per game and while the Ryan Braun PED shadow will linger, he posted huge numbers last year in the face of great scrutiny. Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura showed great promise late in the year and Norichika Aoki could improve with a year in the States under his belt after a very solid debut season. Cincinnati will certainly be the favorites in the division but the Reds were incredibly fortunate with getting full seasons from five starting pitchers last season. St. Louis and Pittsburgh will remain threats in this division as well but all three of those teams may be hurt more by the loss of the Astros in the division as Milwaukee had limited success vs. Houston last year.

NL WEST

BEST BET: OVER 82½ Wins - Arizona Diamondbacks:
After a breakthrough 94-win season in 2011 the Diamondbacks crashed last season, particularly early in the year before rallying to finish 81-81. Justin Upton is now in Atlanta but this lineup still has plenty of punch and in offense-friendly Chase Field Arizona will score runs. Only three National League teams scored more runs than Arizona last season and the Diamondbacks were +46 in run differential despite just a .500 record. Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill should be poised for bounce-back seasons after mediocre results last season and the emergence of Wade Miley makes this rotation very promising. Brandon McCarthy could also prove to be a great addition if he is healthy. Arizona has quietly had one of the better bullpens in the National League the past two seasons and this division will still be wide open even with the defending World Series champions present and the big-spending Dodgers looking to make a big move. For Arizona to make a move this season the offense will rely on the emergence of budding stars Adam Eaton and Paul Goldschmidt, both have shown flashes of brilliance and could develop into All-Star caliber players.

AL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 78½ Wins - Baltimore Orioles:
The Pythagorean wins numbers call for a big drop for Baltimore this year and it is hard not to agree with that assessment. Baltimore was only +7 in run differential last season yet finished 24-games above .500, something that just does not add up. Baltimore had a record setting season with one-run wins and this could be an improved division even with the Yankees battling injuries. Toronto has made moves to make a run this season and Boston should certainly be much more competitive this year. The Baltimore rotation is filled with question marks and Jason Hammel may have hard time replicating the start he had last year while batters may be more prepared for Wei-Yin Chen this season. Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez are also long shots to deliver full seasons of the short term success they enjoyed last year. Baltimore's bullpen is likely to regress this year after amazing numbers last season. This team has some nice continuity from last year and the return of a few players from injury adds some depth to this squad so this is not a team that will fall off the map but repeating the magic of the 2012 season seems like a long shot.

AL CENTRAL

BEST BET: OVER 77½ Wins - Kansas City Royals:
With teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Oakland making big positive moves forward last year it may finally be the year of the Royals. Kansas City bolstered its rotation with James Shields and Ervin Santana and if both can bounce back after tough seasons this could be a solid pitching staff. The Royals have improved in the win column four consecutive seasons but the big breakthrough has not happened. Kansas City was 18 games below .500 last year despite only being -70 in run differential. Kansas City was 7th in MLB last season in team batting average as this is a quality lineup with young stars in Alex Gordon and Billy Butler while Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez offer great promise for improvement. If Eric Hosmer can bounce back from an awful 2012 season and post numbers like he had in 2011 this could be one of the better lineups in the American League. Minnesota and Cleveland both have big question marks this season in the pitching staffs and while Detroit will be a heavy favorite in this division there may be room for another team to make a run and the Royals are strong candidates.

AL WEST

BEST BET: UNDER 77½ Wins - Seattle Mariners:
The Angels and Rangers are favored on top of this division but it was Oakland that won the AL West last season, going 94-68. While the Baltimore run to playoffs last year felt fluky, the A's were only two runs worse than the Rangers in run differential and the pitching staff allowed the fewest runs in the entire American League by a mile. That leaves Seattle in a tough spot in this division, even with the addition of the Astros. Long travel will be in store for Seattle with two Texas teams in the division and after back-to-back years of solid improvement in the win column this could be a step-back season for the Mariners. They are moving in the fences as Safeco Field this year which could be problematic for a pitching staff that has Felix Hernandez and several question marks and the metrics for Hernandez are pointing in the wrong direction. The Seattle offense has made a few proactive moves but powerful lineups from the Angels and Rangers will make it tough for Seattle to gain any ground. This number suggests an improved season but with three playoff contenders in the division, wins will be tough to come by.

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