With the 2023 MLB season just over one day away, it’s now or never to invest in what teams you think will go over their win totals, win their division, or even win the World Series. In this article, I’ll share my favorite season-long futures for you to tail or fade.
Cincinnati Reds over 65.5 wins (-120)
Last season was a year of transition for the Reds. After going 83-79 in 2021 following a Wild Card berth in 2020, Cincinnati decided its roster wasn’t good enough to compete and essentially blew it up before 2022. This resulted in the Reds losing 21 more games than in 2021, finishing the season with a 62-100 record. All the Reds need to do is win four more games than it did last season, and I think Cincinnati will blow past that number.
In 2022, Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson, the two most talented Reds position players, played in 103 and 50 games respectively. If those two players are able to stay healthy over the course of the season, the Reds lineup gets an immediate boost. Additionally, Spencer Steer, the #2 Reds prospect and #47 overall prospect by FanGraphs made the Opening Day roster and is a sneaky contender for NL Rookie of the Year. The Reds also brought in veterans Wil Myers and Kevin Newman, who add stability to its lineup.
While the lineup should be improved, the Reds starting rotation is the biggest reason why I’m a believer in this team. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft all showed glimpses of potential as rookies last season, and I’m expecting all three pitchers to take a big step forward in 2023. If even two of the three pitchers pitch near their capabilities, the Reds rotation could be among the best in MLB. I’m not expecting any of these pitchers to win the Cy Young, but I think all three are capable of being All Stars and pitching to a 3.5+ fWAR. Additionally, if the Reds are able to hold a lead going into the ninth inning, you know Alexis Diaz will be closing out a win.
The Reds likely won’t be a playoff team (or even close to one), but 65.5 wins is a disrespectful number for this team, and I think they’re easily capable of winning 70-75 games, comfortably going over its win total.
San Diego Padres to win the NL West (+120)
The tides are shifting in the NL West. After being the powerhouse team in the division over the last decade, the Dodgers have its worst roster since 2014, while the Padres have its best roster in franchise history.
Once everyone is in the lineup, the Padres lineup headlined by Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth is the best in baseball. Additionally, its rotation of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, and some combination of Michael Wacha, Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo is one of the best rotations in baseball.
San Diego, in my eyes, is by far the most talented team in the NL West, and it’s the Padres division to lose. The books still view the Dodgers as the favorite to win the division, so take advantage of their mistake by getting the Padres at plus money.
St. Louis Cardinals to win the NL Central (-125)
The Cardinals easily won the NL Central in 2022, and there is no reason to believe St. Louis won’t repeat as division champs.
1-9, the Cardinals might have the best and most balanced lineup in MLB. Currently, Roster Resource expects the Cardinals lineup to be: Brendan Donovan 2B, Lars Nootbaar RF, Paul Goldschmidt 1B, Nolan Arenado 3B, Willson Contreras C, Tyler O’Neill CF, Nolan Gorman DH, Jordan Walker LF, Tommy Edman SS. Top to bottom, not one player is an easy out.
While I’m very high on St. Louis’ lineup, there are a lot of question marks surrounding its rotation, but I still think it’s a good enough group to guide the Cardinals to the top of the division. Jordan Montgomery, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Steven Matz are all more than capable of having solid seasons, and realistically, the Cardinals probably only need three of them to be at worst fine in order to win the division.
To me, the Brewers are the only actual threat of competing for the division, but I don’t think its lineup will be good enough to win the 90-ish games required to have a chance at surpassing the Cardinals. Lock the Cardinals in to repeat as division champs.
Los Angeles Angels over 81.5 wins (-120)
Every year, people are convinced it’s finally the year the Angels will be good. Last year looked promising for about a month, then everything went array and the Angels finished 73-89.
However, I truly think this year is different. Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are obviously two of the best players in baseball history, but I think both have a lot to prove in 2023. Ohtani is in a contract year, and you best believe he’s looking to become the richest player in MLB history in about eight months. Following the World Baseball Classic, there has been a lot of talk in the media about how Trout desperately wants to get back in the postseason. After team USA’s run to the WBC championship game and his strike out against Ohtani to end the game as the tying run, the only way Trout can make up for this is by showing what he can do in October. In reality, Trout has nothing to prove, but he can finally cement his legacy as the best position player of this generation with a deep October run.
Beyond Ohtani and Trout, the Angels are overall a really solid offensive team. Taylor Ward, Anthony Rendon, Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Drury and the collection of depth pieces in Gio Urshela, Luis Renigfo, Jarred Walsh and David Fletcher come out to be one of the better position player groups in MLB.
Additionally, beyond Ohtani in the rotation, the Angels have a really good supporting cast. Patrick Sandavol and Tyler Anderson both had really good 2022 seasons, while Reid Detmers seemed to put everything together in the second half of the season. Barring injuries, the Angels rotation is one of the stronger groups in the American League. While the bullpen is a little shakey and easily the Angels worst unit, I don’t think it’s a bad enough group to derail the work the starting rotation is capable of doing.
The biggest thing for Los Angeles will be staying healthy, and if they do, the Angels will easily win at least 82 games. While injuries to Ohtani and/or Trout would make it much more difficult, the Angels did a really good job of making its roster deep this offseason, and I still think it’s capable of winning 82 games even without a generational talent.
Chicago White Sox to win the AL Central (+250)
This time last year, people were talking about how the White Sox were the extreme favorites to win the AL Central and potentially be a team ready to contend for the World Series. However, an injury-riddled season, a mid-season manger change due to Tony La Russa’s health and a .500 season later, the White Sox are projected by many as the third best team in AL Central. This makes no sense to me, especially with odds as high as +250.
While Jose Abreu is a big loss, the White Sox roster is more or less the same as what it was when it won the division in 2021 and it could be even better if the majority of its players stay healthy.
Last season, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada missed significant portions of the season due to injury. If even three of the four players are healthy throughout the 2023 season, the White Sox will likely have the best lineup in the division and that’s especially true if Andrew Vaughn and Andrew Benintendi perform at the levels they’re capable of.
On the pitching side, Liam Hendriks is out for the foreseeable future, but other than that, there’s not much to be concerned about. The rotation is one of the better groups in baseball, while the bullpen is more than capable of holding its own.
At +250, the books are giving us great value to bet on the White Sox having a bounceback season.