Today begins our PECOTA Over/Under win total contest here at Pitcher List. The rules are quite simple: Guess whether a team will over- or underperform their 2020 PECOTA projected win total. For every guess you get right, you will receive one point, and the person with the most correct guesses will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card from me. There is no entry fee, and this is mostly just for fun, so I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to fill out the Google Survey below. Below are my predictions, and you can also see key additions and subtractions to each team’s roster. I provided a little write-up with each team to give some rationale for how I drew my conclusion. Have fun and good luck!
Link to survey: https://forms.gle/1WNo1aFXzzFYHeTm9
Angels – 87 Wins (72 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Anthony Rendon, Dylan Bundy, Jason Castro
- Key Subtractions: Kole Calhoun
- Reasoning: The non-trade of Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling certainly made me sour toward the Angels’ offseason, but they have still been quite successful in adding to the team’s depth. Anthony Rendon is the best Angels 3B since Chone Figgins, and that should tell you how long it has been since the Angels had a solid option there. I am going under here, as the Astros and A’s should both be competitive, and the Rangers have gotten better as well.
Astros – 98 Wins (107 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Austin Pruitt
- Key Subtractions: Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Will Harris
- The loss of Gerrit Cole is going to hurt, and the Astros have not responded well to their roster needs. Josh James and Jose Urquidy are going to need to break out if their rotation is going to hold up. I am still going over with them, as I still believe they are one of the three best teams in baseball (Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, in that order).
Athletics – 85 Wins (97 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Austin Allen
- Key Subtractions: Jurickson Profar, Blake Treinen, Tanner Roark, Homer Bailey
- The core of Chapman, Semien, and Olson is a solid one that has netted the A’s a couple of wild card appearances. I believe they lost way too much pitching for them to remain as competitive as they have been in the past. They have shed their strong depth and will need to hang in there for half the season so Billy Beane can make some moves to beef up the team. If they do not hang around, do not be surprised if Olson and Chapman are gone by this time next year.
Blue Jays – 77 Wins (67 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Hyun-jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Travis Shaw, Chase Anderson
- Key Subtractions: Justin Smoak
- A very exciting team that made some solid moves this offseason. I could see them in the low 80s in wins, but I still don’t think they have enough firepower to hang around in the competitive AL East. I am also a little lower on Vlad Jr. than everyone else seems to be.
Braves – 82 Wins (97 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Marcell Ozuna, Cole Hamels, Will Smith, Travis d’Arnaud
- Key Subtractions: Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, Jerry Blevins, Matt Joyce
- The Braves struck early this offseason, but lost out on Josh Donaldson. Austin Riley can slide over to third, but they lost one of their biggest offensive contributors, and that is going to hurt. PECOTA prefers the Mets and Nationals, but those teams are far from perfect. The Braves have certainly taken a step back this season, but you can’t dislike a team with star players such as Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Ozzie Albies. Max Fried is my sleeper Cy Young pick this season.
Brewers – 79 Wins (89 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Josh Lindblom, Omar Narvaez, Luis Urias, Eric Lauer
- Key Subtractions: Trent Grisham, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, Travis Shaw
- The Brewers lucked their way through a Christian Yelich injury and into the 8th inning of the wild card game against the eventual World Series champs. They were eight wins above their Pythagorean win expectancy, and I believe their offseason has been a net neutral. I’m fairly confident this team will end up with less than 80 wins. We could see Christian Yelich trade rumors floating around by July.
Cardinals – 80 Wins (91 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Kwang-hyun Kim
- Key Subtractions: Marcell Ozuna, Randy Arozarena, Jose Martinez
- The NL Central is about to become the worst division in the MLB. I feel as though the Cardinals are taking a slight step backward, but not by a considerable amount. The most significant move they made for 2020 was adding Kwang-Hyun Kim coming over from the KBO. Their rotation is a big question mark outside of Flaherty at the top, but if things swing right (Alex Reyes breakout in 2020?), they could be a force in the Central.
Cubs – 85 Wins (84 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Yikes
- Key Subtractions: Nicholas Castellanos, Pedro Strop, Ben Zobrist, Cole Hamels
- This organization has not given fans much to play with this offseason. I think there is an important lesson for Cubs fans to remember: Your team does not have to make a big splash every year to be good. In recent years, they have signed Heyward, Darvish, Lester, and Kimbrel to long-term contracts. Their young core is edging closer to free agency, and that means their young core players are hitting their late arbitration years. They have the fourth-highest payroll in baseball for 2020, and they underperformed their Pythagorean win expectancy last year by more than any team but the Orioles. It should be a fun race with the Reds and Cardinals, unless they decide to launch into a rebuild at the deadline.
Diamondbacks – 79 Wins (85 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Madison Bumgarner, Starling Marte, Kole Calhoun
- Key Subtractions: Taijuan Walker, Steven Souza Jr.
- A quiet but solid winter for one of the better teams in the NL West. Madison Bumgarner will provide them with a cheaper and younger replacement for Zack Greinke. The Goldschmidt trade ended up being a great deal for them, and they are set up nicely to compete for the next couple of years. I have a hard time believing Ketel Marte is what he was in 2019, but he is probably 85-90% of that performance moving forward. Starling Marte was also a nice addition to their outfield.
Dodgers – 103 Wins (106 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Mookie Betts, David Price, Blake Treinen
- Key Subtractions: Hyun-jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Russell Martin
- I had written this section before the Mookie Betts trade and this is what I said: “The Dodgers have not done much.” PECOTA projections are typically a little conservative when it comes to extremely high/low win totals, and that should speak to just how good the Dodgers are going to be. Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts in the same outfield does not seem real to me, and it is going to take a while to get used to this. I could see this team winning 110+ games.
Giants – 68 Wins (77 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Kevin Gausman, Tyler Anderson, Hunter Pence
- Key Subtractions: Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Kevin Pillar
- Arguably the most successful team of the 2010s, San Francisco overperformed their true talent last year, and they have not made any significant moves this winter. They lost three of their most valuable players, and I do not think the Giants are going to be a good team anytime soon.
Indians – 86 Wins (93 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Emmanuel Clase, Cesar Hernandez
- Key Subtractions: Corey Kluber, Yasiel Puig*, Tyler Clippard
- The Indians have been hard to watch over the last two years. It’s not that they have been bad, but it cannot be fun to see people on Twitter coming up with fake trades for your best player. I’d imagine losing Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber in less than a year could also demotivate you from watching. However, they still have Lindor, Ramirez, Clevinger, and Bieber. Add some young and promising arms from the high minors, and it should be easy to see this team performing relatively well in the rather weak AL Central. The division is better than it has been in recent years, but I still believe they have the talent to compete.
Mariners – 66 Wins (68 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Nestor Cortes Jr., Carl Edwards Jr., Kendall Graveman
- Key Subtractions: Domingo Santana, Omar Narvaez, Tim Beckham
- Evan White looks like he is going to be quite fun! Jarred Kelenic is receiving tons of praise from prospect people on Twitter. Kyle Lewis gave Mariners fans something to watch in September. The future looks bright, but the present is still rather dark.
Marlins – 71 Wins (57 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli, Stephen Tarpley
- Key Subtractions: Martin Prado, Neil Walker
- I believe the Marlins did quite well this offseason! They are still going to be terrible, but they certainly won’t be impossible to watch. I am quite a big fan of Francisco Cervelli, and Jonathan Villar is quite fun on the bases. They are still years away from competition, but they will have some nice trade chips come July.
Mets – 88 Wins (86 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha
- Key Subtractions: Zach Wheeler, Todd Frazier
- PECOTA projects the Mets as the best team in the NL East. They lost Zach Wheeler, but they still have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. I expect a little bit of regression from Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil, but they have tons of depth behind them, who should produce more than they did last year. I’m taking the under here, because it’s the Mets, and you never know when a wild boar might knock them on their back.
Nationals – 87 Wins (93 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Will Harris, Eric Thames, Starlin Castro
- Key Subtractions: Anthony Rendon
- The World Series champs kept the band together to the best of their ability. I think they should have kept Rendon instead of Strasburg, but Strasburg was the hero of their World Series run, and perhaps the fanbase would have hated to see the Nationals lose #1 overall picks in back-to-back offseasons. I am taking the under here, because I believe the Phillies and Braves are better than PECOTA believes them to be.
Orioles – 63 Wins (54 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Yeah
- Key Subtractions: Jonathan Villar, Dylan Bundy
- Name three of these pitchers
Padres – 79 Wins (70 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham, Jurickson Profar, Drew Pomeranz
- Key Subtractions: Hunter Renfroe, Luis Urias, Austin Allen, Manuel Margot
- This is the Padres target year to contend, and PECOTA has them pegged as the second-best team in this division. I still think they are a year away, but they are quite fun, so I’ll be rooting for them. Tommy Pham is one of the best players in the game and is going to rake in that lineup.
Phillies – 77 Wins (81 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Zack Wheeler, Didi Gregorius, Josh Harrison
- Key Subtractions: Corey Dickerson, Drew Smyly
- After adding Bryce Harper and friends last winter, the Phillies landed another big fish in Zack Wheeler. I am slightly concerned about his home run rate moving from HR-friendly Citi Field to the small and tight Citizens Bank Park. If the Phillies win the division in 2020, I would not be surprised. If they win 72 games, I would also not be surprised: There is a ton of variability here, and either end of the spectrum is defensible.
Pirates – 70 Wins (69 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: I’m struggling here
- Key Subtractions: Starling Marte
- Despite not launching into a full rebuild, the Pirates have not done much this winter outside of dealing their best outfielder, Starling Marte, to the Diamondbacks. They are easily the worst team in the NL Central, and I would not be surprised to see this team win less than 60 games. This is a case where the projection systems are not going to give an extremely low win total with a couple of players who are still quite exciting (Josh Bell, Bryan Reynolds, and Adam Frazier). Mitch Keller had incredible peripherals in 2019, and if he can get some better luck out there, he could transform into the front-of-the-rotation arm we all expected him to be.
Rangers – 73 Wins (78 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson, Todd Frazier
- Key Subtractions: Nomar Mazara, Emmanuel Clase, Hunter Pence
- Corey Kluber, Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Kyle Gibson are not what many would consider a “sexy” starting rotation, but those four have all flashed upside and should keep the Rangers in games. If their bullpen can hold together and their offense can score some runs for that rotation, the Rangers could be sneaky good. I still believe they are a true talent 78-82 win team, and 73 as a projection has me salivating over a free point.
Rays – 87 Wins (96 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Yoshi Tsutsugo, Jose Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Randy Arozarena
- Key Subtractions: Tommy Pham, Travis d’Arnaud
- The Rays depth is so incredible that they can trade a bona fide superstar in Tommy Pham and I am still confident in their ability to surpass 90 wins. Morton, Snell, and Glasnow at the top of the rotation is insane and would compete in any division. The AL East has taken a step back this season, with the Red Sox trading David Price and Mookie Betts, and the Rays comfortably sit as everyone’s favorite for the first wild card. I don’t think they have a good chance at winning the division, but something has to have gone wrong if they don’t win at least 90 games.
Red Sox – 85 Wins (84 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Alex Verdugo, Martin Perez, Jose Peraza
- Key Subtractions: Mookie Betts, David Price, Rick Porcello
- It’s a sad time for Red Sox fans. I love Alex Verdugo, but losing a superstar cannot make you feel good about your team’s thoughts on competing this year. I would imagine this could be demoralizing to the remaining members of the roster, and would not be surprised to see J.D. Martinez and Chris Sale involved in trade talks come July. This is certainly the turning point in Boston, but for now, I do not imagine them winning more than 81 games.
Reds – 86 Wins (75 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Shogo Akiyama, Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, Nicholas Castellanos
- Key Subtractions: Alex Wood, Jose Iglesias, Jose Peraza
- The most active buyer this winter, the Reds certainly surprised the baseball world when they acquired seemingly every free agent the White Sox did not sign. They have incredible depth in the outfield and seem open to sneaking above-average bats into the lineup while somewhat sacrificing certain defensive positions. Nick Senzel seems primed to stick in the outfield long-term, with Eugenio Suarez locked in at third following his 49 home run performance in 2019. Joey Votto posted his worst offensive performance in 2019 at 35 years old, but most projection systems believe he will bounce back to closer to what he has been through his mid-30s. They have a great chance at winning the division, but it should be a relatively close race with the Cubs and Cardinals.
Rockies – 76 Wins (71 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: They don’t seem keen on trading Jon Gray, which is quite smart.
- Key Subtractions: Nolan Arenado? Their entire fanbase?
- The NL West has become one of the best divisions in baseball, with the Padres, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks all making significant additions this winter. The Rockies, on the other hand, have opted to play dead and not make any significant moves. Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Jon Gray represent their most attractive assets, with Gray and Story being under contract for the next two seasons. They could receive some incredible prospect packages if they move them at the deadline, and Arenado seems to want out sooner rather than later. This might be the last time we see the Rockies project above 70 wins for a while.
Royals – 67 Wins (59 in 2019) – Under
- Key Additions: Maikel Franco, Jesse Hahn
- Key Subtractions: N/A
- The Royals are continuing their rebuild, and it is not showing any signs of ending soon. Merrifield and Mondesi are both exciting players to watch, but I do not think Merrifield will be on the next contending Royals team. Mike Matheny managing a new young core does not sound like an ideal situation considering how he handled the treatment of younger players in St. Louis during his tenure there. This team is not going to be very good, and this should be a free point.
Tigers – 69 Wins (47 in 2019 – Yikes) – Under
- Key Additions: C.J. Cron, Ivan Nova, Jonathan Schoop, Zack Godley
- Key Subtractions: Josh Harrison, Matt Moore, Tyson Ross
- Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal all look awesome! Unfortunately, they are not quite ready yet, and as such the Tigers should be quite bad again. They won 47 games last year, and PECOTA has them winning 22 more games than they did then despite not making any significant additions. This is another case of the projection system regressing teams closer to their median outcome. I would be surprised if the Tigers win 60 games this year. Check in with me next year, though: Their future rotation looks sweet.
Twins – 93 Wins (101 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Josh Donaldson, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey
- Key Subtractions: Kyle Gibson, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop
- Any team that has Rich Hill and Willians Astudillo has my heart. The Twins won the weak AL Central in 2019 and have added to their already-solid roster. Their lineup is going to hit a ton of dingers, and Jose Berrios leads a deep staff that could survive multiple injuries to their better starters. I am going over here, as I see them as the third-best team in the AL.
White Sox – 83 Wins (72 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Nomar Mazara
- Key Subtractions: Ivan Nova, Wellington Castillo
- Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel being paired together is going to be something to watch. Outside of the Reds, the White Sox were the most active team this winter, and their projection shows it. Not to mention Eloy Jimenez and the rest of their young core becoming more experienced, which will certainly add to their offense. Lucas Giolito emerged as an ace at the top of the staff, and his peripherals suggest it was a legit breakout with potentially more to come. I would not be surprised to see this team overtake the Indians as the second-best team in the weak AL Central. They’ll be able to beat up on the Royals’ and Tigers’ pitching for 22% of their games. This team could sneak into the second wild card spot rather easily.
Yankees – 99 Wins (103 in 2019) – Over
- Key Additions: Gerrit Cole
- Key Subtractions: Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius
- Typically, one would have said that Gerrit Cole has gone to the dark side by moving to the Yankees, but if the Yankees are the Empire, then the Astros have to be the First Order. The addition of Cole will give the Yankees one of the scariest rotations in baseball with Cole, Severino, and Paxton. The latter of those starting the season on the IL will slightly delay the Death Star, but I am sure they will not have a problem destroying planets with the incredible power in their lineup through the bats of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
Featured image by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Instagram)