With the curtain closed on the NFL season, some members of Covers‘ editorial team – namely Andrew Avery, Andrew Caley and Justin Hartling – look forward to the return of the big leagues and try to predict where oddsmakers will open the 2015 win totals for each club.
To get things started, here’s a look at the American League East.
American League East
2014 record: 96-66
2014 win total: 81.5
Andrew Caley: To me the Orioles appear to be the latest team to go first to worst. However, books won’t be as likely to see a 20 win drop. They need everyone to stay healthy and for Chris Davis to not turn into Adam Dunn.
Justin Hartling: Baltimore’s five players that have left accounted for 74 home runs and 237 RBI’s. Baltimore did rank fourth in run differential last season, so as long as pitching can produce consistently this team can still be good. Expect a number around 85.5.
Andrew Avery: I kind of like that number too. I’m a big fan of Adam Jones and Manny Machado, but I don’t get how their staff pitched as well as it did last season.
Andrew Caley: I don’t like that number. The rotation will be hard pressed to put up a repeat performance of last season. Prediction: 81.5.
New York Yankees
2014 record: 84-78
2014 win total: 86
Andrew Avery: I look at the Yankees roster and it screams mediocrity to me. Their starting rotation should be OK and all, but I don’t know. Could oddsmakers put something low-80s on the Bombers? Like I’m feeling 82.5? They only won 84 ball games last year. If I’m a fan of the Jays, Sox or O’s, this Yankees team doesn’t intimidate me.
Justin Hartling: That number looks about right to me. The Bronx Bombers will win thanks to their pitching staff though with both Tanaka and Sabathia having the potential to single-handedly win ball games, and I really like Pineda in that third spot. The question is; can this team muster any sort of offense to help their staff?
Andrew Caley: The Yanks tinkered with their lineup here and there with the acquisitions of Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius, but this teams lacks the traditional Yankee shine. C.C. Sabthia needs to re-find his game and Masahiro Tanaka needs to be healthy, but another big public play here, so I say 83.5 wins.
Toronto Blue Jays
2014 record: 83-79
2014 win total: 80
Andrew Caley: The Jays made big upgrades at third base and catcher, trading for Josh Donaldson and signing Russell Martin. But they have yet to address positions of need, namely second base and their bullpen. The rotation also remains the same, but the development of young pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez is intriguing. My main is question though is simply, did this team get better? I don’t know. Prediction: 83.5 wins.
Andrew Avery: I can see books slapping the Jays with something like 84.5 wins for 2015. Major upgrade with Josh Donaldson instead of Brett Lawrie playing at 3B, obviously. That outfield is not looking so good, especially at CF. But it all comes down to the starting rotation and I can’t wait to see Marcus Stroman pitch again.
Justin Hartling: In my opinion, Russell Martin was the best addition this offseason. The Canadian-born catcher could be the best in baseball at calling the game, which will be huge for a staff full of young pitchers. I figure this total will come in around 82.5.
Tampa Bay Rays
2014 record: 77-85
2014 win total: 88.5
Andrew Caley: The loss of Joe Maddon cannot be understated. The way he manages a game accounts for several wins. Also the departures of David Price, Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers doesn’t help. They will need Evan Longoria to return to MVP form and for their rotation to stay healthy to compete in the East. Prediction 77.5 wins.
Andrew Avery: I don’t know if I can see books giving the Rays a number that high. This team is destined for the cellar in the East and it’ll take more than MVP-like numbers from Longoria to get this team rolling. I do like Asdrubal Cabrera at SS though. I think Vegas has the Rays somewhere in the low-to-mid 70s for wins. I’m gonna say 73.5 perhaps?
Justin Hartling: The Rays lost a top-tier manager (Maddon), their staff ace (Price), one of the most underrated players in baseball (Zobrist) and an OF with enormous potential (Myers). But hey, I’m sure the weather will be nice in Tampa Bay this year. A total of 73.5 seems right, but might be hard to achieve.
Boston Red Sox
2014 record: 71-91
2014 win total: 87
Andrew Caley: The Sox will be a sexy pick with the public this year bringing in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to go along with stables Dustin Pedroia and David Oritz. So expect a bit of an inflated total. In reality this team is still full of question marks, especially in the rotation. Can Clay Buchholz return to form? Can Rick Porcello follow up an impressive 2014? Does Justin Masterson remember how to throw a baseball? Prediction: 86.5.
Andrew Avery: This team is going to be intriguing. If Porcello pans out, if they get good seasons from Masterson (who I like better than most), Miley (same), and if Buchholz turns it around after whatever the hell you call last season, they could be an exciting team. I love Bogaerts and a full season of Rusney Castillo is exciting as well. I think they’ll get projected at 87.5.
Justin Hartling: Pablo Sandoval will add some pop to the lineup and Hanley Ramirez will be solid as well. The biggest addition may be Rick Porcello though, after the Sox trotted out mediocre, at best, pitching last season. I’m expecting the total to be around 78.5.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts on win totals for the AL East clubs in the comments section.