Some say it is hard predicting the future, but I say, have you ever read this from wikiHow? It’s pretty simple actually. Read some Greek mythology, keep a dream journal, get some Tarot cards, gaze into that crystal ball, and the future is crystal clear. Seriously. It is that easy. Here are the absolute-stone-cold-can’t-miss-locks of the year that will not miss because I am an oracle now thanks to wikiHow. Keep in mind that the division, award, and World Series odds will fluctuate throughout the 162 games. Now is a great time to look for the best value on the board before the season kicks off.
Baltimore Orioles Over 76.5 Wins -130 & finish 4th in AL +225
Coming off a surprising 83-win season in 2022, this win total feels a bit too low for this up-and-coming Baltimore squad, especially with the schedule adjustments in play. They will play 24 fewer games against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox, and despite their inexperience, the ceiling of this team is much higher than the total given total.
They have the number one-rated farm system with the number one pitching prospect, Grayson Rodriguez, waiting in the wings to support their lackluster starting rotation soon enough. Rookie of the Year runner-up Adley Rutschman leads the way for the offense, and the O’s have plenty of other solid pieces around him. Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle, and the number one prospect in the game, Gunnar Henderson, round out the top half of the lineup. They have a lockdown closer in Félix Bautista, and we’re not even asking for a .500 finish from them with this total. We’re just looking for a competitive team to get to at least 77 wins and beat out the Red Sox, who don’t look inspiring at all.
If this was five years ago I’d say their pitching staff is elite with Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, and James Paxton leading the way, but it’s 2023 and those guys are brittle as it gets. They lost Xander Bogaerts and replaced his bat with an unknown quantity of Masataka Yoshida, and 38-year-old Justin Turner. Yoshida faired well in the WBC, but who knows how well he does throughout the season. Boston won just 78 games last year in their last-place AL East finish and didn’t do much to improve. The odds of the Rays, Yankees, or Blue Jays slipping to 4th are very slim, so I’ll gladly take a roll of the dice on the Orioles to beat them out in the division at a +225 price.
Los Angeles Angels Over 82.5 Wins -115
The year-in and year-out question surrounding this team has been, “how can they manage to have two generational talents and fail?” It’s baffling, but this has to be the year the Angels get over the .500 mark. They’ve failed to do so in seven consecutive seasons, and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2014, but this team has too much talent to fail once again.
The additions of Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Drury, Gio Urshela, Tyler Anderson, and Carlos Estévez aren’t blockbuster moves by any means, but they solidify a group headlined by Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. With a 3.8 WAR and 137 wRC+ last season, Taylor Ward broke out and is a legitimate piece to their puzzle, and if Anthony Rendon can somehow stay healthy this could be a top-10 offense.
Everyone knows Shohei is a bonafide ace, and behind him are some legitimate lefties in Tyler Anderson, Patrick Sandoval, and the most hyped-up starter this spring, Reid Detmers. He has added some significant velocity to his heater and should be primed for a big break-out. Admittedly, the bullpen leaves a lot to be desired, but we’re asking for 83 wins, not the moon. If you’re a big believer in them, +155 for the Halos to make the playoffs is an enticing wager as well.
Seattle Mariners Over 87.5 Wins -115, AL West Champions +320, AL Pennant +900, World Series +1900
I took the over on their win total last year set at 84.5, and I’m back again. Led by Rookie of the Year, Julio Rodríguez’s 5.3 WAR last season, the Mariners finished with a 90-72 record in 2022 and they head into this season with an even better squad. Their mid-season acquisition and extension of Luis Castillo give Seattle a legitimate ace, with Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, and Marco Gonzales slotting in behind him. Look for Gilbert and Kirby to take a leap in their third year in the bigs. Hopefully, they can find some more whiffs. The starters will be at ease knowing their leads will be safe behind one of the best bullpens in the league headed by the trio of Paul Sewald, Andrés Muñoz, and Diego Castillo.
Added to the already potent Seattle lineup are Teoscar Hernández (2.4 WAR in ’22) and Kolten Wong (2.5 WAR). They supplant Jesse Winker (0.4 WAR) and Adam Frazier (1.1). The prospect shine of Jarred Kelenic has started to wear off following his disappointing MLB debut, however, he looks to be making strides and is still just 23. Don’t be surprised if he’s hitting closer to the top of that lineup come Summer. This is an outstanding roster and +320 is far too good of a value for them to win the AL West.
The Astros are already going through their fair share of injuries with Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez, plus they lost Justin Verlander this offseason. They’re still one of the best in the league but have no business being -175 favorites to win the division given their current state. This Mariners squad was so close, yet so far, to advancing past Houston last postseason, but I like their chances to go deeper this October. Jerry Dipoto will do whatever it takes to wheel and deal them to the top and make it to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Who knows, maybe they win it all.
New York Yankees and New York Mets to each win 90+ games +140
The season hasn’t even started and somehow neither of these New York teams is off to the best start. Injuries to stars like Edwin Diaz, Luis Severino, Carlos Rodón, and Frankie Montas are deflating, but both teams are more than equipt to deal with them and carry on to 90+ wins. We all know Steve Cohen is going to go to all costs to get the guys he needs to get this Mets team in contention, and the Yankees are still who we thought they were. They will spend at the deadline if needed, and it appears that Rodón’s injury isn’t nearly as serious as it initially was thought out to be.
Even if they can’t get it done in the postseason, the Yankees are still an absolute juggernaut in the regular season. They have recorded at least 90 wins in every season since 2017 averaging 97 wins per year over that span. The Mets won 101 games last year and look just as poised to get to the 90-win plateau in 2023. You can find this win parlay under team futures at DraftKings.
American League MVP: Kyle Tucker 34/1 (wrote earlier in the off-season, now 25/1)
Year in and year out this will be Shohei Ohtani’s award to lose as long as he stays healthy. There were legitimate arguments that Ohtani should have won last year (9.4 combined WAR) over Aaron Judge’s historical (11.4 WAR) season, and that’s because there’s no one doing what he does. He’s a unicorn, but there’s zero value in betting him at around 2/1. Wait for a better entry point if he starts slow out of the gates, or put a sprinkle on a long shot like Kyle Tucker at nearly 34/1.
Coming into his third full season at 26, Tucker could be poised for a big leap this year. The majority of projection systems at FanGraphs have him penciled in the top 10 in AL WAR. Over the last two seasons, he has been elite at the dish, in the field, and on the basepaths finishing in the top 89% in xwOBA and top 87% in outs above average.
Tucker had the fifth most stolen bases (25) and finished with a 4.0 BsR rating which was 13th among everyone in the AL. He also had the fifth most outfield assists in the AL with eight, and playing on a perennial contender like the Astros should also boost his case come the season’s end. Ultimately this will likely go to Ohtani as long as he stays healthy, but a dart throw on an up-and-coming stud like Tucker to break out big is worthy of a sprinkle.
National League MVP: Francisco Lindor 25/1
You have to search for value pre-season, and there’s no better value in the NL MVP market than Francisco Lindor. He rebounded in year two with the Mets with a 6.8 fWAR, which was 5th best among NL hitters last season, and first among NL short-stops. With the shift banned, his top-tier defense will be put on display more than ever. He has routinely been in the top 98% in outs above average since joining the league, so look for even more highlight reel plays from him.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him get back to over the 30-home-run plateau. Over the last two years, he has been playing through relatively consistent abdomen issues, but in the offseason, he had an appendectomy and has been pain-free since the procedure. +2500 for a 29-year-old Lindor, playing in the limelight of NYC, is just too good to pass up in the MVP market.
American League Cy Young: Cristian Javier 25/1 (wrote earlier in the off-season)
Following his six innings of no-hit ball in the World Series I knew I’d be firing away on Cristian Javier to win the Cy Young in 2023. My fascination for Javier didn’t start there though, as he was one of my favorite pitchers to wager on throughout the 2022 season, and for good reason. Hardly anyone can square him up. Despite having a two-pitch fastball/slider mix, he was in the top 96% in xERA/xwOBA and the top 94% in K% last season.
Without Justin Verlander atop the rotation, I’m expecting the Astros to take the reigns off Javier and allow him to throw a full complement of innings this year in his age-26 season. He’s still worth a bet at 21/1 over at FanDuel if you can wager over there, 18/1 isn’t as great at DraftKings. These awards markets are always in flux though, so better numbers could present themselves if Javier has a slow start early on.
National League Cy Young: Aaron Nola 12/1
Aaron Nola gets lost in the sauce of elite pitchers, but he deserves more notoriety, especially after last season. In 2022 he led all starters with a 6.3 WAR, was second in innings pitched (205), had the second lowest BB% (3.6%), and was fifth in CSW% (33.6%) and xERA (2.74). All six of FanGraphs projection systems see a repeat of last season, and have him finishing either first or second in WAR among all NL starters. Nola is entering a contract year so for him to continue his dominance before he gets paid next offseason.
Regular Season Leaders
Most Stolen Bases: Jazz Chisholm Jr. 20/1
With the new MLB rules in place, there is going to be a huge increase in stolen base production this season, and Jazz should be one of the many benefactors of that. Health hasn’t been his strong suit early in his career, but he’s one of the fastest in the game with a sprint speed in the top 94 percentile over the last two seasons.
The Marlins have been one of the most run-heavy teams over the last two seasons, and some of the projection systems have Chisholm finishing in the top three in stolen bases. Similar to any other future bet, if he’s healthy, he should find his way to the top of the stolen base leaderboard.
Most Runs Scored: Brandom Nimmo 50/1
Hitting atop the Mets’ powerful lineup, Brandon Nimmo is an on-base machine. Playing in 151 games, last year was the healthiest of his career, and it led to a career-high in runs. He finished with the 6th most runs with 102 thanks in part to having the 19th-best OBP. If he stays healthy, he should be in the mix to lead the league in runs once again, making 50/1 a valuable wager in my eyes.
Most Wins: Max Fried 15/1
The ace of the best team in the National League, Max Fried is set up to find the most wins this year. He’s coming off a career-best 5.0 WAR season while ranking in the top 94% BB%, top 87% xwOBA/xERA, and top 91% in chase rate. Runs will never be an issue with the Braves offense, and holding onto leads won’t be a problem either. Their bullpen is ranked number one heading the year by FanGraphs by a large margin. All of the projection systems have him finishing around the top of the wins leaderboard, which makes sense for a team with a win total set at 94.5.
Most RBIs: José Abreu 45/1
For the first time in his career, José Abreu will not be in a White Sox uniform, and that’s for the best of his outlook. He’s slated to hit clean-up for one of the best lineups in the league, the Houston Astros. Abreu has always been privy to driving runners in and finished second among all players in RBIs in both 2019 and 2021. +4500 is simply too good to pass up on the man they call Pito.