Players have reported to camp and Spring Training games are in full swing, which means Opening Day is just a little more than a month away. So now that rosters, are for the most part set, there is no better time to start looking at handicapping regular season win totals.
Most sportsbooks operators in Las Vegas have hung their numbers on the board for each and every big league team and we turned those odds over to our roster of Covers Experts handicappers and asked them to give their favorite Under picks for the 2017 MLB season win totals:
Zack Cimini: Chicago Cubs - Under 95.5
"The Cubs run was magical last year and oddsmakers aren't fooled this go around. Eclipsing 95.5 wins in a division that's as tough as any is going to a difficult task. I'm also not sold on the Cubs receiving the boost at the back end of their rotation as they did a season ago."
Marc Lawrence: Cleveland Indians - Under 93.5, Chicago Cubs - Under 95.5
like the Tribe to sail over this number with the expected return of
outfielder Michael Brantley, the addition of Edwin Encarnacion and the
return to health of starting pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco.
But note: the last four times the Indians eclipsed 90 victories in a
season they followed up the next year with win totals of 85, 81, 78 and
74. Buyer beware.
"Defending World Series champions carry a
major target on their backs the following season. Remember, it took 103
wins last season in order for the Cubs to snap the 108-year curse. In
fact, the last National League team with more wins in a season was the
1993 Atlanta Braves. The combination of too much champagne and a major World Series hangover (none of the previous four champions have made it back to the playoffs) does the Cubs in this season."
Al McCordie: Colorado Rockies - Under 80.5
"You have to scratch your head a bit at a prediction that a team that finished 12 games under .500 (and hasn't finished with a .500 mark in seven seasons) and that added almost nobody new to its roster in the off-season is being tabbed for 81 out of 162 this year. Yet that is the situation we have with the Colorado Rockies. The one impact player who is joining the Rox from the off-season is IF/OF Ian Desmond, who had a big comeback season last year after signing a one-year deal with the Rangers. But Colorado has penciled in Desmond to be its first baseman, a position he's never played on a regular basis.
"More importantly, a pitching staff that had the fourth-worst overall numbers in baseball (4.91 team ERA) added only reliever Greg Holland to its roster and he is far from a sure thing given his recent history of injuries. So, last season's makeshift rotation, which had a ghastly 4.79 ERA, remains essentially unchanged.
"But perhaps the biggest reason to question a .500 record for the only mile-high team in baseball is the fact that, if they're not contending by July, there is fairly good chance the Rockies will start shipping some of their top veteran players off to contending clubs. Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez (a free agent after this season) and even the recently-obtained Desmond (who is on an affordable contract) could all find themselves in other places come August. That would certainly spell the end of any hopes for a .500 season. Finally, the NL West will not be a push-over division in 2017 with the Giants and Diamondbacks likely improving from 2016 while the Dodgers are a legitimate World Series Contender. Take the Rockies Under 80.5 wins."
Larry Ness: Los Angeles Angels - Under 80.5
"One of the warning signs of a weak pitching staff, is bringing a slew of arms into training camp and hoping that one or two can separate themselves from the rest. That’s what Anaheim faces these days. Longtime innings-eating ace Jered Weaver is gone and Garrett Richards inherits the job – but Richards has arm problems and much like in the movie Major League, the door is wide open for anyone who with a mid-90s fastball.
"Backing up a questionable staff are Mike Trout and – well, that’s about it. The Angels are paying the price for neglecting their farm system and throwing money at quick-fix free agents like Albert Pujols (still owed $140 million, coming off December foot surgery and may miss the season’s start) and Josh Hamilton. The middle infield - SS Aldrelton Simmons and newcomer 2B Danny Esponosa - should be excellent defensively and it will have to be. Catching is another issue, as Martin Maldonado (who has never played more than 66 games in a season) comes over from Milwaukee and tries to plug that hole. Management insists it will contend, but fans will have to head for Disneyland if they want consistent entertainment. A .500 season in an improved American League West looks like a pipedream."
Power Sports: New York Yankees - Under 83.5
"We don't think of the Yankees as an overachiever, but give skipper Joe Girardi credit. It's pretty much been a miracle to see this team continue to finish with a winning record, year after year. In three of the past four seasons, the team in Pinstripes has been outscored. I don't see them being better than last year, even factoring in the arrival of Aroldis Chapman."
Brandon Shively: San Diego Padres - Under 67.5
"The San Diego Padres are going to be terrible this year. It's hard to lose 100 games in Major League Baseball, but I expect the Padres to do it this season. San Diego's outfield is Hunter Renfroe, Travis Jankowski, and Manuel Margot. Their starting rotation is the worst in baseball with Jhoulys Chacin as their likely opening day starter. Additionally, remember that the NL West is a really strong division. Everyone outside of the Padres is improved in this division. Someone has to lose and I think it will be San Diego."