MLB Predictions – NL East Team Win Totals
Following up on AL East season win totals, we take a look at our MLB predictions for the NL East win totals. Don’t bother yourself with the challenges of picking a World Series winner at this particular juncture. However, you should be honing in on some easy to predict wins totals. It’ll take you just 10 weeks to see these futures bets out, as the MLB season is slated to last about that long. There are plenty of easy targets in the NL East, so let’s divulge some information and pounce on some weaker lines.
Atlanta Braves – Over/Under 33.5 Wins
After showing immense improvement last season, the Atlanta Braves are expected to do some damage in 2020. Improving on their 97-win season will be challenging, but reaching a similar feat would certainly be welcome. The team made a splash in free agency and tweaked the roster in an attempt to balance the unit. How does this affect their regular-season outcome?
Out with Josh Donaldson and in with Marcell Ozuna. The Braves wisely moved on from Donaldson (due to his rich contract negotiations) and made an outstanding move by getting Ozuna on a one-year deal. This allows the Braves to keep the thump in their lineup while saving future funds. Donaldson was slightly more productive when looking at the basic stats, but some advanced stats would prove otherwise. Ozuna’s hard hit rate (48.4 percent) topped Donaldson’s (47.2 percent). Ozuna also edged out Donaldson in line drive rate by 1.9 percent, making the replacement was a clever one.
The lineup returns with MVP candidates in Freddy Freeman (38 homers, 113 RBI) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (41 homers, 37 stolen bags). Ozzie Albies (24 homers, 15 stolen bags) should continue to hit near the top of the order to keep this offense at the top of the NL once again. Last season, the Braves scored the third-most runs in the NL, hit the fourth-most homers, and stole the fourth-most bases. The addition of Travis d’Arnaud at catcher will only help their offense.
— Ian Steele (@IanSteeleABC6) June 28, 2020
Atlanta was one of the teams that lucked out with the NL implementing the DH. Austin Riley was overwhelmed for part of his rookie campaign, but the experience will come in handy in 2020, as he should receive regular reps at DH. Riley is a major wildcard for the team. He crushed the ball in the first half, tallying 16 round-trippers and 41 RBI over just 187 at-bats. Then, he fell off and hit .161 over 87 at-bats in the second half. If he matures in 2020, then watch out!
Good news is that the team went out and signed a true ace. Cole Hamels dealt with some shoulder soreness and the team wasn’t sure if he would be ready for the start of the season. Luckily for them, he’s feeling much better and Atlanta expects him to be ready for the beginning of the season. This was a big deal with Mike Soroka having a bit of a flukey 2019 season (2.68 ERA, 3.85 xFIP).
The Braves had a solid bullpen in 2019, but things will get even better with a full season of Mark Melancon and the addition of Will Smith. The former San Francisco Giants closer, Smith, stranded 88.7 percent of base runners last season and tied NL relievers for the 10th-best WAR. Melancon was one of the relief arms that tied with Smith.
Atlanta won 59.9 percent of their games last season and definitely improved in the offseason. Their 33.5 win line sits at 55.8 percent. The team should beat up on the Miami Marlins in their own division, along with the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East and reach the over.
Miami Marlins – Over/Under 24.5 Wins
One of the bottom feeders in 2019, the Marlins have a lot to prove. The team was blown up before the 2018 season, marking yet another rebuild. The club went 57-105 last season (35.2 percent win rate) and was thrashed by their own division. They went 24-52 (31.5 percent win rate) and will play even more contests within the NL East in 2020.
Miami’s pitching staff posted the third-worst ERA (4.74) in the NL last season. Sandy Alcantara was their lone bright spot, tallying a 3.88 ERA over 32 starts. He compiled a very low hard hit rate against of just 34.6 percent. Southpaw Caleb Smith compiled a 3.10 ERA over his first 11 starts, but regressed to a lousy 5.46 ERA over his remaining 17 outings. Unfortunately, this is a bad group of starting arms and some are very inexperienced.
Notable player left out is Max Meyer, the Marlins 1st round pick. He hasn’t signed yet and per a source is likely to be added once inked. https://t.co/gQVlII660l
— Yehuda Schwartz (@yaschwa30) June 28, 2020
Things aren’t much better in the bullpen. The Marlins finished 2019 with the fourth-worst relief ERA in the NL. Keep in mind that the Colorado Rockies are lower on most of these lists because they play half of their games in altitude, so these numbers are worse than you might think. Veteran Brandon Kintzler was brought in after he posted a 2.68 ERA for the Chicago Cubs last season. This helps, but the pitching shouldn’t be much better as a whole moving forward. They’ll draw more impressive offenses in interleague play with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Marlins offense produced the fewest runs in the NL last season. They play in a large ballpark, but 146 homers over 162 games is pitiful. Jesus Aguilar and Jonathan Villar were brought in to spice things up. Villar’s 24 homers and 40 stolen bags were insanely impressive last season with the Orioles, but the power numbers will dip. Still, he’s a phenomenal upgrade. Aguilar fell off after a 2018 campaign that saw him rack up 35 long-balls and 108 RBI for the Milwaukee Brewers. Inconsistent playing time led to his demise and eventual trade to the Rays, who also deployed him in a platoon role. Aguilar should receive every opportunity with the Marlins.
All things considered, this offense should take a step in the right direction this season. However, the pitching staff will continue to hold the team back from making much progress as a whole. The over/under is set a bit high at 24.5. With extra games within the NL East (possibly resulting in a 12-28 record), the Marlins are almost a sure bet to finish under, especially with the AL East rounding out their remaining 20 contests.
New York Mets – Over/Under 32.5 Wins
In March, Noah Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery to end his 2020 season. New York Mets fanatics were buzzing before the year with optimism. Unfortunately, this one hurts really, really bad.
New York already lost Zack Wheeler in free agency to the Philadelphia Phillies, so they’re down two major contributing arms from 2019 when they won 86 games. They still have the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner in Jacob deGrom. Following deGrom will be Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha.
The replacement arms sound decent on paper, but in reality, it’s a significant dip. Wheeler and Syndergaard combined to tally a 9.1 WAR last season. Stroman, Porcello, and Wacha combined for a 5.5 WAR. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
The Mets bullpen was a disaster in 2019, compiling the third-worst ERA in the NL. They’ll be looking for major bounce back campaigns from closer Edwin Diaz (5.59 ERA) and Jeurys Familia (5.70 ERA). A full season of Brad Brach helps, but it’s not clear what they’ll receive from the recently-injured Dellin Betances. There’s potential for this pen to be decent, but there’s also a chance they’re as bad as before.
The Rookie of the Year will continue to anchor this lineup. Pete Alonso was a nightmare for opposing pitchers. His 53 homers led the MLB and his .323 ISO ranked fourth-best in the NL. J.D. Davis (.307, 22 homers in 410 at-bats) and Jeff McNeil (.318, 23 homers over 510 at-bats) will need to continue to thrive in order for the Mets to replicate a run total that finishes in the top half of the NL.
Yoenis Cespedes is returning and the DH implementation to the NL is perfect timing for the Mets. It has been a long time since we have seen Cespedes, (July of 2018 to be exact) so expectations should be humble. It’s no guarantee that New York gets any quality out of Cespedes, but you never know.
The offseason wasn’t nice to the Mets and they didn’t make any major moves in free agency. They had an awful lot of success against the Nationals (12-7) last year and held their own against the Braves (8-11). Don’t expect these results in 2020. Even with the Marlins in the division, they won’t end the season with a .500 record against the NL East. The Mets feel destined to finish under .500 (unpopular opinion). This puts them well below their 32.5-game win line.
Philadelphia Phillies – Over/Under 31.5 Wins
The Phillies finished the 2019 season with a .500 record for the first time since 2012. Things are looking up for the organization. The Bryce Harper signing provided them with an immediate upgrade in the lineup, but they weren’t so lucky in other aspects. Jake Arrieta battled bone spurs in his pitching elbow, eventually resulting in season-ending surgery. Aaron Nola needed half the season to get back on track after his fantastic 2018 campaign. Can they improve from their .500 mark and hit the over in 2020?
Phillies starters compiled the fifth-worst ERA among starters in the NL. Reinforcements are on the way with the Wheeler signing. The righty was rock-solid for the Mets last year, tying for the seventh-best WAR in the NL among starters. Wheeler’s 195:50 K: BB ratio was particularly impressive.
Arrieta is said to be looking sharp, so there’s reason to speculate that he will be at least a little better now that he’s healthy. Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta will round out the backend of the rotation. Obviously, Nola was a problem last season. His hard-hit rate jumped from 25.1 percent to 41.9 percent. His strikeout rate was very high, but it makes you wonder if Nola is as dominant as his 2018 campaign led us to believe. He finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting that season but saw his ERA rise by 1.50 all the way up to 3.87. Of course, this isn’t a bad ERA, but it’s not exactly where most thought Nola would be in 2019.
The Philadelphia bullpen will benefit from the sneaky return of Tommy Hunter. He has posted an ERA of 3.80 or less in 5-of-6 seasons as a reliever. This bullpen that ranked in the middle of the pack in the NL will be about the same, if not better this year.
The offense didn’t quite fire on all cylinders, but they were respectable, producing the eighth-most runs in the NL. Rhys Hoskins really struggled. After hitting .246 with 34 homers and 96 RBI without Harper in the lineup in 2018, Hoskins dipped to .226 with 29 homers and 85 RBI. He wasn’t unproductive by any means, but many thought he would do more.
Andrew McCutchen returns after tearing his ACL early last season and prospect Adam Haseley will likely receive an opportunity in center field after hitting .266 across 222 at-bats last season. The addition of Didi Gregorius in free agency was a nice grab. Gregorius is a solid defender that can really produce offensively from the shortstop position. He crushed 16 homers and drove in 61 runs over 82 games last season. Had he been healthy, Gregorius would have reached the 20-homer mark for his fifth-consecutive season with the Yankees.
The team failed to go .500 against the NL East last season (36-40), but that was largely due to their 9-10 line against the Marlins and 5-14 mark against the Nationals. That luck against the two can’t continue. With a quality arm like Wheeler and a nice bat in Gregorius, the Phillies should find a way to top 31.5 wins. They may barely surpass it, but over is the way to go
Washington Nationals – Over/Under 33.5 Wins
After winning the World Series in 2019, the Nationals earn an aggressive line for regular-season win totals. The club retained Stephen Strasburg after he completed his first fully healthy season sine 2014. I’m not criticizing the signing at all, just noting that it’s nowhere near a guarantee that he makes 12 starts out of the 60 contests this season.
Of course, the signing left Anthony Rendon as the odd man out, as he signed with the Los Angeles Angels. The two earned massive paydays after their triumphant World Series run, and rightfully so. Winning comes at a price and Washington was forced to sacrifice their best overall bat.
The Nationals finished second-best in runs scored in the NL last year. They tied for the best batting average and tied for the best BB/K ratio. We’ll see how they stack up in 2020 with Rendon’s .319 average, 1.010 OPS, 34 homers (81 total extra-base hits), and 126 RBI out of the picture. Ryan Zimmerman just announced that he will sit out this season due to safety over COVID-19.
Eric Thames and Howie Kendrick figure to platoon at first base, but with the DH available in the NL, the two may play more often than not. Top prospect Carter Kieboom will give it a go at third base. He hit .303 over 412 at-bats in Triple-A last season. The Nationals will expect some growth out of center fielder Victor Robles. He was largely inconsistent in 2019 but has the tools to be a solid everyday player. The incredibly youthful Juan Soto (34 homers, 110 RBI) won’t have Rendon next to him in the lineup anymore, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs. Trea Turner (.298, 35 stolen bags) will be responsible for setting the table in the offense.
This club boasts one of the best starting staffs in baseball. Things don’t get much better than Max Scherzer, Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. Heck, even Anibal Sanchez tallied a 3.85 ERA over 166.0 innings last year. Washington posted the second-best ERA (3.53) among starters in the NL last season. That shouldn’t change moving forward, especially in a reduced season that could aid Scherzer and Strasburg’s health.
The bullpen was an issue last season, but it was upgraded with the addition of Will Harris (1.50 ERA over 60.0 innings). A full season of Daniel Hudson helps, too. Washington’s bullpen won’t rank near the very bottom in the NL again in 2020.
The Nationals went 44-32 against the NL East last season. That’s a 57.8 percent win rate. They’ll have some challenging matches with the Rays and Yankees in the NL East. The 33.5-game line equates to a 55.8 win percentage. Rendon’s 7.0 WAR really puts stress on this, because his WAR represents 4.3 percent of games this season. It’s going to be a very close bet on this one, but let’s trust in the advanced stats this time and take the under. This is a perfect set line and the Nationals could very well wind up with 32 or 33 wins in 2020.