On March 31st, I posted my best guess at each team’s win total and projected finish. I thought I would examine my picks after two months of play starting with the AL and NL East.
AL EAST – Preseason Predicted Win Totals
NY Yankees 82
Tampa Bay 80
In the AL East, the Yankees are as much of a surprise in a good way as the Blue Jays are surprising in a bad way.
Boston has yet to click on all cylinders and when they do, I have a feeling they will leave the rest of this division in the dust. If they can find production at third base this offense has the potential to be monster. On the pitching side, if David Price is anything like his former self and Drew Pomeranz can maintain his health and find his consistency, nobody touches them in the East.
Baltimore has put together a fine early run, but with Kevin Gausman (.1 WAR) struggling out of the gate and Ubaldo Jimenez continuing to be Ubaldo Jimenez (-.2 WAR) they are going to need to find a solution for getting starters through the 6th inning consistently. Their bullpen, even without Britton, has been excellent but this is too many innings for the pen to work over an entire season. The offense will take a step forward once Machado finds his groove at the plate (88 OPS+).
The Yankees are a very interesting team and caught me by complete surprise. I am extremely impressed by the young talent they have at the major league level and it is nice to see Pineda (.8 WAR) and Severino (1.6 WAR) start strong. However, I don’t see how the rest of the rotation is going to hold up over the course of the season and counting on Pineda to stay healthy is a big leap of faith. Tanaka, thought to be an anchor is struggling (-.3 WAR). The Yanks are going to have to overpower teams and hope they lead going into the 8th inning (to reach their top tier end gamers) to keep the wins coming. That’s a lot to ask for a young team that was thought to be at least a year from contending.
Tampa is the one team that is question mark for me. Their pitching staff is young but solid and their line-up, if Morrison (1.3 WAR and already matching his homer total for all of last year) and Dickerson (2.7 WAR) can stay hot is intriguing. They might have a run in them or they might fall off a cliff and Chris Archer (1.2 WAR and a K per 9 of over 10) will be wearing new laundry and pitching for a contender when we reach September.
At this point, given Toronto’s age and health combined with the talent in the division, 2017 is likely not a year they will sniff contention. The biggest question may be whether the front office is willing to jettison their top talent/biggest names in order to get younger. They already let Edwin Encarnacion walk in the off season so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them try to move on from their current core if they can find takers willing to pay what they are asking for in return.
Updated June Projected Win Totals
NY Yankees 85
Tampa Bay 84
NL EAST – Preseason Predicted Win Totals
NY Mets 87
The NL East is shaping up largely as I envisioned heading into the season. However, injuries have hit hard, especially with the Mets and although the order of the teams is likely to mirror my initial projection, the win totals are likely off (I’m looking at you, New York Mets).
Washington appears stacked and appears ready to give regular and repeated beatings to their divisional competition. Even with the loss of Adam Eaton early in the season the team continues to run over their competition and looks to be serious contender in the NL. Their search for a closer is overrated during the regular season but they would be wise to figure things out and set roles for the arms in the pen and make a move or two for the post season when an upgraded bullpen will be essential.
The Mets, who entered the season with the notion of challenging the Nationals for the top of the NL East has morphed into an injury riddled poorly run organization. The pitching which heading into 2017 was the envy of most teams has fallen apart and deGrom (1.6 WAR) is the only thing holding the starting 5 from DEFCOM 1 status. Conforto (2.2 WAR in only 154 at bats) has finally carved out regular playing time and looks to be turning into the star many expected him to become. Bruce (124 OPS+) had an early hot streak and continues to keep the team competitive during these rough times. Things may have a way of working themselves out but with Familia out for at least a few months and a lot of health question marks up and down the roster I don’t see this getting better for the Mets.
Atlanta was off to a surprisingly strong start thanks to Freddie Freeman (2.7 WAR/ 226 OPS+) and Matt Kemp (163 OPS+) powering the offense. Brandon Phillips has also been a solid pick up (103 OPS+). Now, Freeman is out for a projected 10 to 12 weeks with a broken wrist, Dansby Swanson (a preseason favorite for NL Rookie of the Year) continues to have a disastrous time at the plate (52 OPS+), and the veteran pitching help the team brought in has not paid off as they hoped (Dickey 0.0 WAR and Colon -1.1 WAR). This team looks to be sinking like a stone.
The Marlins have been quietly mediocre to poor for a while and things don’t seem to be changing any time soon. It will be nice to see what changes the organization can make once the despised Loria sells the team and new ownership takes over. As 2017 plays out, there is little besides a great outfield to get excited about. Ozuna has a 147 OPS+, Stanton a 138 OPS+, and Yelich a 101 OPS+ (and 1.3 WAR). A terrible rotation, an under-achieving pen, and no help coming from the minors. The only reason they may avoid the basement in the NL East is the equally brutal Phillies.
The Phillies have a terrible starting rotation (nobody has an ERA+ of even 100) and a sketchy pen that miscast its pieces and cost the team a few wins already. The offense is built around some flawed players (Joseph and his contact issues, Saunders with his health, etc…) and players who have not developed the way the team hoped (Exhibit A: Franco). Altherr has been their most exciting player sporting an OPS+ of 156 but whether he can sustain that type of production is a huge question mark. If Nola can stay healthy and the other young arms can slowly develop/improve at the major league level, Franco can find fix whatever is wrong with his offensive approach, and the best arms in the pen are used in the highest leverage situations, this team has an outside shot to overtake the Marlins for 4th in the division.
Updated June Projected Win Totals
NY Mets 80
For the original March 31st projections, click here.
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