MLB win totals: Each fate 2022 projection, plus best bets on over-unders for Dodgers, Cardinals, more

The 2022 Major League Baseball season is nearly upon us. With the last few days of build up comes all kinds of predictions, picks, best bets and the like. Everyone needs to get their two cents in and, why not? Everyone should. Put yourself out there. It’s fun when you hit it and you get to show you’re mature enough to be accountable and use self-deprecating humor when you lose badly. It’s a win-win, really.

As far as my place in all this, feel free to jump over to my SportsLine page to see my picking acumen from last season.

In this space below, we’ll grab some totals picks. That is, we’ll list the total win for the 2022 season from Caesars Sportsbook and pick whether the team will win more (the “over”) or fewer (the “under”) games. This should be very difficult, as every team – at least in theory – should have a total right around where it is expected to finish.

Dodgers, over 98.5

One of the most remarkable tidbits about last season was the Dodgers’ total being 103.5, them hitting the over with room to spare and still not winning the NL West. Rather astounding. I’m going to, once again, hammer the over on the highest total. It bucks conventional wisdom, sure, but there are a few factors I can not ignore.

First off, the Dodgers are the best team. This does not necessarily mean they’ll win the World Series and a surprisingly disappointing season is always possible. Let’s dig in on the “best team” part, though.

If I believe the Dodgers end the regular season with the most wins, I like my chances of hitting the over here. That’s because Major League Baseball is on a run of 100-win teams. There were three last season. Three were on pace in whatever 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 Cardinals in 2015, but the point stands.

The influx of multiple 100-win teams per season these last handful of years is not a coincidence, in my view. The increase in the number of teams losing on purpose has left a lot more wins for the good teams to grab.

Just looking around the NL West, there are two bad teams. I don’t buy the Padres or Giants as 90-plus win teams, either.

Even if they are the only one this time around, I like the Dodgers to keep MLB’s 100-win streak going.

Blue Jays, over 92.5

The Jays were 91-71 last season and I believe they are better. It isn’t that simple, even if it sounds like it should be. We know there are moving parts and differences every single season and the Blue Jays have to replace the career year from Marcus Semien. Robbie Ray, the AL Cy Young winner, is also gone.

I’m counting on a huge year from Matt Chapman (as outlined in the preview) while the rotation has a full year of José Berríos, a full year of Alek Manoah and newly-signed Kevin Gausman coming. Bo Bichette is talented enough to take another step forward and join Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. as an MVP contender.

And I’ll mention again that the Blue Jays were a wrecking crew in Rogers Center after they went 22-22 in “home” games in Buffalo and Dunedin last year. They’ll be one of the best home teams in baseball this year.

I like mid-90s for Blue Jays wins in 2022, and that gets us home here.

Rays, under 89.5

Look, I know they do some sort of sorcery there, but the pitching depth is depleted and that’s a rough division. We just saw that I like the Blue Jays for around 95 wins. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are all strong playoff contenders, for me. Something is going to give there – in terms of sending one team down to the mid-80s in wins, this time around – and the Red Sox total is 85.5. I was going to be choosing between the Red Sox and Rays and the Rays’ number is four higher, so here we are.

With Shane Baz, Yonny Chirinos and Tyler Glasnow out from possible rotation spots in addition to relievers Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks, that’s a lot of slack that needs picking up. As much as I love Shane McClanahan, he won’t be carrying an ace workload. Drew Rasmussen threw 76 innings last year. Corey Kluber is 36. And while the Rays have been able to work around stuff like this the last several years, I do not believe they have the same combination of depth and talent in the bullpen to absorb the starter workload shortfall.

I took the Rays’ under (it was 86) last year and got badly burned. Scorched. 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.

Padres, under 88.5

This is tough. It might sound like an easy pick after the Padres went 79-83 last season and now are going 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 were still 67-49 through Aug. 10, a pace of 94 wins, before melting down the rest of the way.

My hunch this year is they’ll be less extreme and steadily work toward somewhere in the low-to-mid 80s in wins. There’s certainly a void in the lineup without Tatis (and once his wrist is fully recovered, do we trust his shoulder to stay put the rest of the way?) And that rotation is littered with question marks after Joe Musgrove.

Plus, in the NL West, the Dodgers are awesome and the Giants are coming off a 107-win season.

The Padres are absolutely a fringe playoff contender in the NL, but I’m not seeing them on the cusp of 90 wins.

Cardinals, under 85.5

The Cardinals often get far too much from their starters than they should. Case in point, Jon Lester had a 4.36 ERA compared to a 5.40 FIP in 12 starts last season after they acquired him and he’s now retired. I just feel like they’ll need a miracle this season.

Should-be ace Jack Flaherty has a shoulder injury. So does former wunderkind Alex Reyes. Adam Wainwright was ridiculous down the stretch 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 average from 2017-20? Are we really counting on Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, then?

It’s a good, though not great, mix of position players. The pitching staff is worrisome. And the Cardinals were basically a .500 team last season, save for a 17-game winning streak in September.

The NL Central is mediocre, at best, and the Cardinals are a part of the mediocrity. They’ll hover around .500 without the season-altering winning streak this time around.

Phillies, over 85.5

This is an admittedly risky venture. The Phillies enter the season probably, objectively, a worse team than both the Braves and Mets in the NL East. There are question marks all over the place, as I explained in the preview. The defense is terrible. The rotation could be in tatters behind Zack Wheeler. The bullpen is, well, the Phillies bullpen.

I like getting late in the signing process and just going offense by adding Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos to Bryce Harper et al in the lineup, though. They’ll have thump. It’s always possible Aaron Nola gets back to ace level and Ranger Suárez has all kinds of talent, possibly giving the Phillies a Big Three.

Do I sound hopeful? Maybe. I do not know why, though. I’m not a Phillies fan. I’m more a fan of being right and this one was just pulling me in.

Mariners, under 84.5

The Mariners, as currently constructed, are going to 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’m going under 84.5 this year. Is it as simple as looking at their negative-51 run differential, which carried with it and expected 76-86 record?

Maybe. Maybe I’m just basic.

If the 2021 Mariners were a 76-win true talent team and their true talent this season is, say, eight games better, they’d go 84-78, right? And I’d win the under.

The bottom line is the recent history of teams that ducked and dodged their way past unseemly run differentials to post winning records isn’t rosy in the ensuing season. I do think this team is better and on the right track, but I do not think they’ll have the kind of “luck” they did last season, say, in one-run games.

Rockies, over 69.5

By no means do I think the Rockies are good, nor will they come close to playoff contention. I do not think they are bottom-feeder level (Orioles, Pirates, Diamondbacks), though. Many thought they’d be that bad last year and they won 74 games. Trevor Story is out, but he had a down year anyway and Kris Bryant is in. I think Randal Grichuk will post huge power numbers there, too.

Most of all, the Rockies will continue to flex their muscles in Coors Field, where they were 48-33 last season.

Again, I do not think they’ll be good, overall, but I have a buffer of 92 losses here, as 70-92 gets the job done. C’mon Rocks! You can do it!

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