Despite the fact it’s been an unusually mild winter here in my native Toronto, I can still say with certainty that every sun-kissed snippet of Spring Training coverage I’ve started to see this week makes my stomach ache with jealousy. It’s not just the warm weather and the blue skies, though, it’s the baseball. I miss it. You miss it. We all miss it.
Well, the regular season might be six weeks away, but we now have win totals up on the DraftKings Sportsbook, and that’s almost as good. Here are my three favorite futures of the bunch.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
Not every projection system is infallible, but when Baseball Prospectus releases their PECOTA standings every year, it’s always wise to take at least a quick gander. So what did the computers spit out when it comes to the 2023 Bronx Bombers? Just the highest win projection in all of baseball. That’s right. Though the Yankees didn’t finish 2022 as one of the four teams with over 100 wins, PECOTA thinks they’ll be the best team in the league this coming season. From my vantage point, it’s difficult to disagree.
New York retained it’s notable free agents in Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, it added to it’s rotation in the form of Carlos Rodon and, like most AL East teams, it should benefit from baseball’s new flattened divisional schedule with fewer games against the likes of Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston. Are there some holes in this roster? Of course. In particular, left field and shortstop are areas of concern. However, with high pedigree prospects like Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza ready to contribute at the MLB level, most of that worry should be mitigated.
A juggernaut staff of starting pitchers helps gloss over any uncertainty, as well. Frankie Montas might not throw a pitch in pinstripes in 2023, yet Rodon, Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes will. Among the 140 pitchers to toss at least 100 innings last season, Rodon (2.64), Cortes (2.70) and Severino (2.94) were three of the 15 to manage an xERA below 3.00. Cole sat 26th with a mark of 3.31, but he made up for his “shortcomings” by leading the league in strikeouts (257). With horses like that taking the hill, the Yankees should clear this total for the fourth time in their past five full campaigns.
Speaking of PECOTA projections, Baseball Prospectus doesn’t just have the Twins pencilled in for a healthy 88.2 wins in 2023, they also have them winning the AL Central. To be fair, they are not alone in that particular prognostication, as FanGraphs has tagged Minnesota with its division’s best record, as well.
Now, you could find a pretty easy way to poke holes in some of this optimism. When assessing the Twins’ roster, injury concern is more apparent here than on most teams. Can Byron Buxton ever stay healthy? How about Kenta Maeda? Did Carlos Correa fail two or three physicals this winter? It all adds up quickly, and I haven’t even mentioned the likes of Sonny Gray, Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis. However, unlike last year, there’s enough depth on this 40-man to survive some bumps and bruises. The under-the-radar additions of Kyle Farmer, Michael A. Taylor and Joey Gallo give Minnesota some platoon options and bench stability, while the acquisition of Pablo Lopez means another above-average arm in a rotation that lacks ceiling but is stuffed to the brim with floor. It might not look sexy, yet that’s how wins are racked up across a daunting 162-game schedule.
Geography matters, too. Even with fewer divisional games lined up in 2023, the Twins still benefit from occupying the AL Central — the worst division in MLB. Losing a combined 12 games against the Royals and the Tigers hurts, but Minnesota will still see more of those two organizations than any coastal American League team. The Twins should clear this number with ease and I’d also take a look at them to make the playoffs at +145.
There’s a chance I’m a year too early on the Diamondbacks, but this just feels like a team that is on the brink of a very fun season. I mean, the young talent is staggering. Corbin Carroll posted a 130 wRC+ across his first 115 MLB plate appearances, and is easily considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. The same level of pedigree is attributed to Gabriel Moreno, formally the Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect, who is now looking to cement Arizona’s catching position for years to come.
Jake McCarthy registered a 2.3 fWAR in his 99 games at the big league level in 2022. Ryne Nelson looked good in three September outings, while Dray Jameson arguably looked even better in his four opportunities to start with the Diamondbacks. There’s a lot to like here when projecting the next half-decade, yet this influx of youth isn’t alone in the present. Christian Walker, Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen, Evan Longoria, Lourdes Gurriel and Andrew Chafin make up a core of veterans that should not only supplement the rookies, but are still fine ball players in their own right — particularly Gallen, as he finished fifth in Cy Young voting last season, all while posting the lowest WHIP in the National League (0.91).
Even factoring in the loss of Daulton Varsho, I truly believe this is a deeper roster with more raw talent than what Arizona had in 2022. That team won 74 games. This team should be able to improve on that total by at least a single victory.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.