The 2022 Major League Baseball season is almost upon us. With the last few days’ build-up comes all sorts of predictions, choices, best bets and the like. Everyone needs to get their two pennies in, and why not? Everyone should. Put yourself out there. It’s fun when you hit it, and you show that you’re mature enough to be responsible and use self-deprecating humor when you lose badly. It’s a win-win, really.
As for my place in all of this, feel free to skip over to my SportsLine page to see my picking sense from last season.
In this field below we will get hold of some total choices. That is, we list the overall win for the 2022 season from Caesars Sportsbook and choose whether the team will win more (“over”) or fewer (“under”) matches. This should be very difficult as each team – at least in theory – should have a total just around where it is expected to end.
Dodgers, over 98.5
One of the more notable things about last season was that the Dodgers’ total was 103.5, where they hit over with room to spare and still did not win the NL West. Pretty amazing. I intend, once again, to switch to the highest total. It’s undoubtedly conventional wisdom, but there are a few factors I can not ignore.
First, the Dodgers are the best team. This does not necessarily mean that they will win the World Series, and a surprisingly disappointing season is always possible. However, let’s dig into “the best team”.
If I believe the Dodgers end the regular season with the most wins, I like my chances of hitting it here. That’s because Major League Baseball is on a series of 100-winning teams. There were three last season. Three were on pace, no matter what the 2020 season was. Four teams won at least 100 in 2019. Three got there in both 2018 and 2017. It was only the Cubs in 2016 and the Cardinals in 2015, but the point remains.
The influx of several teams with 100 victories per. season the last handful of years is in my opinion not a coincidence. The increase in the number of teams losing on purpose has left many more victories for the good teams to grab.
Just looking around the NL West, there are two bad teams. I also do not buy the Padres or Giants as a 90-plus winning team.
Although they are the only ones this time around, I like that the Dodgers keep MLB’s 100-win streak going.
Blue Jays, over 92.5
The Jays had 91-71 last season and I think they are better. It’s not that simple, even though it sounds like it should be. We know there are moving parts and differences every single season and the Blue Jays need to replace the career year from Marcus Semien. Robbie Ray, AL Cy Young winner, is also gone.
I expect a big year from Matt Chapman (as outlined in the preview), while the rotation has a full year with José Berríos, a full year with Alek Manoah and the recently signed Kevin Gausman. Bo Bichette is talented enough to take another step forward and join Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. as an MVP challenger.
And I want to mention again that the Blue Jays were a devastating team at Rogers Center after going 22-22 in “home games” in Buffalo and Dunedin last year. They will be one of the best home teams in baseball this year.
I like the mid-90s for Blue Jays wins in 2022 and it gets us home here.
Rays, below 89.5
Listen, I know they’re doing some kind of magic there, but the pitching depth is exhausted and it’s a rough breakdown. We just saw that I like the Blue Jays for about 95 wins. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are all strong playoff challengers for me. Something will give it – in terms of sending a team down to the mid-80s in wins, this time – and the Red Sox total is 85.5. I had to choose between red stockings and rays, and the number of rays is four higher, so here we are.
With Shane Baz, Yonny Chirinos and Tyler Glasnow out of possible rotation spots in addition to the relievers Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks, there is a lot of slack to be addressed. As much as I love Shane McClanahan, he will not carry a heavy workload. Drew Rasmussen threw 76 laps last year. Corey Kluber is 36. And even though the Rays have been able to get around that kind of thing for the last many years, I do not believe they have the same combination of depth and talent in the bullpen to absorb the lack of a starter’s workload.
I took Rays’ under (it was 86) last year and was badly burned. Burned. Maybe it’s a case where I just did not learn my lesson. Maybe this time I’m right and things have caught up with them.
Parents, under 88.5
This is hard. It may sound like an easy choice after the Padres went 79-83 last season and now want to be without Fernando Tatis, Jr. for weeks or even months.
But there was actually a lot that went wrong with the Padres’ pitching staff last season, and they still had 67-49 through August 10, a pace of 94 wins before melting down the rest of the way.
My feeling this year is that they will be less extreme and steady work towards a place in the low-to-mid 80s in victories. There’s definitely a void in the row without Tatis (and once his wrist is restored, do we trust his shoulder to stay seated the rest of the way?), And that rotation is fraught with question marks after Joe Musgrove.
Plus, in NL West, the Dodgers are amazing and the Giants are coming off a season with 107 wins.
Padres is definitely a fringe playoff challenger in the NL, but I do not see them on the verge of 90 wins.
Cardinals, under 85.5
The Cardinals often get way too much out of their starters than they should. For example, Jon Lester had an ERA of 4.36 compared to a 5.40 FIP in 12 starts last season after they bought him and he is now retired. I just feel like they’ll need a miracle this season.
It should be ace Jack Flaherty has a shoulder injury. So does former prodigy Alex Reyes. Adam Wainwright was ridiculous last season and it’s hard to bet against him, but he’s also 40 years old. Was Steven Matz’s 2021 season a real change, or is he more the guy who was well below the 2017-20 average? Are we really counting on Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson?
It’s a good but not great mix of position players. The pitching staff is worrying. And the Cardinals were basically a .500 team last season, except for a winning streak of 17 games in September.
NL Central is mediocre at best, and the Cardinals are part of the mediocrity. They will soar around 0.500 without the season-changing winning streak this time around.
Phillies, over 85.5
Admittedly, this is a risky venture. The Phillies are entering the season probably, objectively speaking, a worse team than both the Braves and Mets in the NL East. There are question marks everywhere, as I explained in the preview. The defense is terrible. The rotation could be broken behind Zack Wheeler. The bullpen is probably Phillie’s bullpen.
However, I like to be late in the signing process and just go on the offensive by adding Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos to Bryce Harper et al. in the row. They get thumped. It’s always possible for Aaron Nola to return to ace level, and Ranger Suárez has all sorts of talents, possibly giving the Phillies a Big Three.
Do I sound hopeful? Maybe. However, I do not know why. I’m not a Phillies fan. I’m more of a fan of being right, and this one just pulled me in.
Seafarers, under 84.5
The Mariners, as they are currently built, will be a better, more well-rounded baseball team in 2022 than they were in 2021.
And yet they won 90 games last season and I go under 84.5 this year. Is it as simple as looking at their negative 51 race differential, which carried with it and expected 76-86 record?
Maybe. Maybe I’m just basic.
If the 2021 Mariners were a true talent team with 76 wins and their true talent this season, for example, is eight games better, they would go 84-78, right? And I would win under.
The bottom line is that the recent story of teams that emerged and avoided their way past inappropriate running differences to post winning records is not rosy in the ensuing season. I think this team is better and on the right track, but I do not think they want the kind of “luck” that they had last season, e.g. in one-run matches.
Rockies, over 69.5
I by no means think the Rockies are good, nor will they come close to the playoffs. However, I do not think they are at groundbreaking level (Orioles, Pirates, Diamondbacks). Many thought they would be so bad last year and they won 74 matches. Trevor Story is out, but he had a bad year anyway, and Kris Bryant is in it. I think Randal Grichuk will also post huge numbers of power there.
Most of all, the Rockies will continue to flex their muscles at Coors Field, where they had 48-33 last season.
Again, I do not think they will be good, overall, but I have a buffer of 92 losses here, as 70-92 does the job. Come on Rocks! You can do it!