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Playing Fact or Fiction with All 30 MLB Team's Early-Season Records

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2017

Playing Fact or Fiction with All 30 MLB Team's Early-Season Records

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    As a fun way to put each team's early-season records into perspective, I extrapolated their current winning percentage out over a full 162 games in order to see how they would be projected to finish if they kept up their current pace.

    From there, I decided if each team's start to the year was fact or fiction, based on whether their projection was plus-or-minus eight wins of where I think they'll finish the year.

    Why eight games? Because eight games gave me roughly a five-percent margin of error in either direction, allowing for a clearly defined range with which to work.

    Obviously, it is still very early on in the season, and at the end of the day this was not meant to be anything more than a fun look at how things would shake out if everyone kept winning at their current rateso hopefully you will treat it as such.

     

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.

Arizona Diamondbacks

2 of 31

    David Zalubowski

    Record: 4-8

    Full-Season Pace: 54-108

     

    Team Outlook

    Following a busy offseason that saw them add slugger Mark Trumbo, closer Addison Reed and veteran starter Bronson Arroyo, expectations were relatively high for the Diamondbacks entering the season.

    They looked to be headed for disaster with a 1-7 start to the year, but they are 3-1 over their last four games and just took a three-game series from the Giants in San Francisco. This team has a chance to be a fringe contender for an NL wild-card spot if they can stay healthy, and I certainly don't see them dropping 100-plus games.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Atlanta Braves

3 of 31

    Todd Kirkland

    Record: 5-4

    Full Season Pace: 90-72

     

    Team Outlook

    For all that was made of the Braves pitching woes heading into the seasonafter Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were lost for the season and Mike Minor opened the year on the DLthe Braves enter play on Friday with a 2.39 team ERA, which is good for third in all of baseball.

    In fact, the pitching has carried the team to this point, as the offense is averaging just 2.56 runs per game, ahead of only the San Diego Padres. There is no shortage of talent on this team, and as long as the pitching staff holds up they should be in position to battle the Washington Nationals for the division title. Something around the 90-win projection seems just about right.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Baltimore Orioles

4 of 31

    Carlos Osorio

    Record: 4-5

    Full Season Pace: 72-90

     

    Team Overview

    The Orioles made some solid additions this offseason with the signings of Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, but they still don't look like a team that stacks up to the rest of the field in the AL Eastor the AL wild-card picture, for that matter.

    The offense is going to be there for this team, but the pitching is no less of a question mark than it was last season. A 4.85 team ERA in the early going is not a promising sign, and when all is said and done, I think this team finishes a few games under .500 on the year.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Boston Red Sox

5 of 31

    Kathy Willens

    Record: 4-6

    Full Season Pace: 65-97

     

    Team Outlook

    Coming off of a World Series title last year, there was a good deal of turnover on the Red Sox roster this offseason, as they opened the season with three new starters in the everyday lineup (Xander Bogaerts, A.J. Pierzynski and Grady Sizemore).

    Their offense is not firing on all cylinders yet, but there is still enough there for them to again be one of the highest-scoring teams in the league. The rotation looks strong as well, especially with Clay Buchholz bouncing back with a solid second start, and this team should be able to contend for the AL East title once again.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Chicago Cubs

6 of 31

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Record: 3-6

    Full Season Pace: 54-108

     

    Team Outlook

    Now in Year 3 of the rebuilding process under Theo Epstein and Co., the Cubs' roster is still a work in progress, as a very talented farm system continues to make it's way ever closer to the big leagues. They made some nice second-tier additions this offseason like Jason Hammel and Emilio Bonifacio, while Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija are looking for bounce-back years.

    They will almost certainly wind up in the cellar of the NL Central this season, but the rotation has looked solid and the offense can't be much worse than last year, when they hit .218 with runners in scoring position. A slight improvement over last year's 66-96 record seems reasonable.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Chicago White Sox

7 of 31

    Orlin Wagner

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    The White Sox continued adding young talent this offseason after moving Jake Peavy and Alex Rios last August, and while they may still be a few years off, the team features an undoubtedly improved roster entering 2014. If nothing else, the team will have one of the game's bestChris Saletaking the ball every five days.

    Losing Avisail Garcia for the season to a torn labrum hurts the offense, and the team's rebuilding efforts as a whole, and it could be enough to keep them from making a run at a winning season. We'll take the under on 81 wins, as I think the team's record will fall somewhere near the 75-win range, but this is still within range to make their start "fact," according to our rules.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Cincinnati Reds

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Record: 3-6

    Full Season Pace: 54-108

     

    Team Outlook

    The Reds spent most of last season in third place behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates, though they did wind up capturing the league's second wild-card spot. They looked strong entering this season as well, but the NL Central figures to be tough once again.

    They are off to a slow start, with the offense scuffling and the bullpen putting up a 5.14 ERA with Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall on the shelf. That said, there's too much talent on this roster to think they won't come around and contend for a playoff spot once again.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Cleveland Indians

9 of 31

    Nam Y. Huh

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    The surprise playoff team of 2013, the Indians had a good deal of turnover both in their rotation and their bullpen this offseason. That was not necessarily a bad thing, though, and a rotation of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister and, likely, Trevor Bauer after a great first start has the potential to be great.

    The Royals remain my pick to finish second in the AL Central and claim the No. 2 wild-card spot, but there is no reason the Indians can't put together another winning season and be right in the thick of things for most of the year. Just short of 90 wins seems about right, so we'll call their start a "fact" within our stipulations.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Colorado Rockies

10 of 31

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    The Rockies undoubtedly have one of the best offenses in baseball, provided superstars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are healthy, but their pitching will remain the deciding factor in their effort to contend. If Brett Anderson can keep pitching well, Jhoulys Chacin can come back healthy and prospect Eddie Butler can make an impact at some point, they have an outside shot to make some noise.

    In a best-case scenario, I think they will hover right around the .500 mark all season, with a decent chance at securing their first winning season since 2010.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Detroit Tigers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Record: 5-2

    Full Season Pace: 116-46

     

    Team Outlook

    Even after some big offseason trades saw them cut ties with Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, the Tigers still looked to be one of the teams to beat in the American League heading into the season. Their rotation is as good as any in baseball, even without Doug Fister, and the offense still features the best hitter in the game in Miguel Cabrera.

    Are they going to win 116 games this year? Probably not. In fact, I don't think they'll get to 100 with the Indians and Royals both looking solid behind them in the AL Central. However, they should easily top 90 victories en route to a fourth straight division title.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Houston Astros

12 of 31

    Carlos Osorio

    Record: 4-6

    Full Season Pace: 65-97

     

    Team Outlook

    There is still a lot of work to be done, but the Astros certainly looked like a more competitive team on paper entering the 2014 season. With veteran additions like Scott Feldman and Dexter Fowler, as well as a revamped bullpen, there is undoubtedly more talent on this year's roster.

    Granted, another last-place finish in the AL West seems all but guaranteed, but avoiding a fourth straight 100-loss season would be a nice step forward. At this point, a successful season for them should really not be measured in wins and losses, as they continue to evaluate talent and build for the future.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Kansas City Royals

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    Record: 4-4

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    After posting their first winning season since 2003 last season, the Royals entered 2014 looking to get over another hump and make it to the postseason for the first time since 1985. With improvements at second base and in right field, along with a staff that could conceivably be better than last year if flame-throwing prospect Yordano Ventura lives up to expectations, the potential is there to contend.

    They were my pick to claim the second AL wild-card spot heading into the season, and despite their troubling lack of power (one home run in eight games) they have been solid so far. My guess is they wind up just short of 90 wins and sneak into the playoffs.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Los Angeles Angels

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Record: 4-5

    Full Season Pace: 72-90

     

    Team Outlook

    The Angels have been serious disappointments over the past two seasons after spending big in free agency to add the likes of Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton. It was a quieter offseason this time around, but it may have been the most productive in years, as they shored up the back of their rotation and added some solid secondary pieces in David Freese, Raul Ibanez and Joe Smith.

    With injuries hitting the Texas Rangers and Oakland A's hard this spring, there seemed to be a window of opportunity for the Angels this season, but they were hit with an injury of their own earlier this week when Hamilton went down with a thumb injury.

    Still, with an improved staff, I think the Angeles will, at the very least, post a winning record, with the potential to make things interesting in the AL West.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Record: 6-4

    Full Season Pace: 97-65

     

    Team Outlook

    For many baseball people, the Dodgers were the favorites to win it all entering the season, and at the very least they were expected to duke it out with the St. Louis Cardinals for NL supremacy once again.

    The injury to ace Clayton Kershaw is troubling, but new addition Dan Haren has looked great at the back of the rotation, and a healthy Matt Kemp has a chance to be a real X-factor for the lineup. As long as Kershaw gets healthy and stays healthy, this team looks like the favorite in the NL West and a dangerous team come October.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Miami Marlins

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    Lynne Sladky

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    An offseason fire sale heading into 2013 immediately made the Marlins one of the worst teams in baseball, and they finished dead last in team batting average and runs scored last season. However, it may have been the best thing the franchise could have done, as they now have a wealth of young talent and look to be far better-positioned for long-term success.

    In the early going this year, the team has certainly not looked like a squad that lost 100 games last year. Their impressive young rotation has looked good once again, while their offense has been vastly improved, averaging five runs per game and hitting .269 as a team.

    I don't think they're legitimate contenders just yet, but a run at third place in the NL East and a winning record is very possible.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Record: 7-2

    Full Season Pace: 126-36

     

    Team Outlook

    After leading the NL in runs scored in 2012, the Brewers struggled through a rough season last year, finishing a distant fourth in the division after looking like potential contenders entering the season. With Ryan Braun back from suspension, Aramis Ramirez healthy and the starting rotation looking like it has the potential to be one of the best in the NL, they are my pick as the NL's dark horse team in 2014.

    A 126-win season would make them the winningest team in baseball history, so it's probably safe to assume that's not going to happen. However, a run at 90 wins and a wild-card spot seems more than reasonable, especially if what is the best pitching staff in baseball right nowwith a 1.95 ERAcontinues to throw the ball so well.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Minnesota Twins

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    Tony Dejak

    Record: 3-6

    Full Season Pace: 54-108

     

    Team Outlook

    The Twins turned in the worst starting rotation ERA in baseball last season at 5.26, and they sit dead last here in the early going this season at 6.89, despite adding Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes in the offseason. The team has a terrific farm system with a very bright future, but 2014 could be a long season.

    The team lost 96 games last season, and with a potentially stronger division around them, they could be even worse off this season. It may be a harsh projection here this early in the season, but I see them hitting the 100-loss mark in 2014. 

     

    Fact or Fiction

    Fact

New York Mets

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Record: 4-5

    Full Season Pace: 72-90

     

    Team Outlook

    The Mets made some notable additions this offseason, headlined by outfielder Curtis Granderson and right-hander Bartolo Colon. Even with Matt Harvey on the shelf, the rotation is solid and clearly the strength of the team, but there are too many question marks elsewhere for them to be considered contenders.

    They current rank dead last with a .198 team batting average, as questions remain at a number of positions, while the bullpen is a mess after losing closer Bobby Parnell to Tommy John surgery. Look out for this team next year, but another season right around their 74-88 finish from a year ago seems likely. 

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

New York Yankees

20 of 31

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    After missing the playoffs for just the second time since 1994, the Yankees went out and spent nearly $500 million this offseason reshaping their roster. Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka headlined the group of newcomers that also included Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, among others.

    They managed to win 85 games last season with a pieced-together roster, and they undoubtedly have more talent this time around. Still, it's hard to see this team avoiding injury for very long, and there is a significant lack of depth across the roster. Falling just short of 90 wins and finishing third in the AL East is where I had them pegged to start the season, and I've seen no reason to change my mind to this point.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Oakland Athletics

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Record: 6-3

    Full Season Pace: 108-54

     

    Team Outlook

    After making a surprise run to the postseason in 2012, the Athletics proved that was no fluke last year by claiming a second straight AL West title over the Texas Rangers. Their roster doesn't look amazing on paper, but they know how to build a team, and manager Bob Melvin gets more out of 1-25 on his roster than anyone in the league.

    A season-ending injury to Jarrod Parker hurt the team this spring, and A.J. Griffin joined him on the disabled list to open the season. Luckily, the team has a solid amount of pitching depth, and they have managed to get off to a solid start, even without those arms.

    I don't see them winning 100 games, but they should be in position to make a third straight trip to the playoffs this October.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Philadelphia Phillies

22 of 31

    Chris Szagola

    Record: 3-6

    Full Season Pace: 54-108

     

    Team Outlook

    Many thought the time was now for the Phillies to begin rebuilding this offseason, but the team instead opted to re-sign Carlos Ruiz and add veteran free agents A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Robert Hernandez.

    There is still some talent on the roster, but with their aging, injury-prone core, it's hard to see them finishing any higher than third in the NL Eastand a last-place finish is not out of the question. They have stumbled out of the gates, but they should be better than a 100-loss team, and first baseman Ryan Howard is actually pleased with the way they have opened the season.

    "In all actuality we’ve actually played very well this year," Howard told Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com. "I disagree with everybody else. Our record doesn’t necessarily reflect that right now, but, you know, we’ve played well. We had three real bad games. So the only thing to do is go out there and try to win again."

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

     

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gene J. Puskar

    Record: 6-3

    Full Season Pace: 108-54

     

    Team Outlook

    The Pirates finally ended a 20-year playoff drought last season, and with a talented young core in place they will be looking to return to the postseason in 2014 and for many years to come. Losing A.J. Burnett was a blow to the rotation, but they still have a talented staff, and Edinson Volquez has pitched well so far in replacing Burnett.

    The NL Central has quickly become perhaps the toughest division in baseball, but the Pirates certainly look to have the horses to make a return trip to the playoffs. I don't think they'll top 100 wins, so we'll say fiction here, but 90-plus wins are well within reach, as they are my pick to claim the second wild-card spot in the National League. 

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

San Diego Padres

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Record: 3-6

    Full Season Pace: 54-108

     

    Team Outlook

    Despite a shaky pitching staff and an offense devoid of any star-caliber producers, the Padres did better than most people expected them to last year, when they finished 76-86. With the emergence of Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, the rotation looked stronger entering the season, and another step forward by Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso could have the lineup looking better as well.

    They are not off to the best of starts, and this is not a team I expect to make a run at the NL West title or even a playoff spot, but they are not a 100-loss club either. Something similar to their 76-86 record last year seems like a reasonable expectation.

     

    Fact or Fiction

    Fiction

San Francisco Giants

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Record: 6-4

    Full Season Pace: 97-65

     

    Team Outlook

    Pitching was the biggest reason the Giants were able to win two titles in three years, and it was also the biggest reason why they fell to fourth in the NL West last season, as everyone outside of Madison Bumgarner disappointed.

    The pitching has looked solid once again here in the early going, and newcomer Tim Hudson has looked like a great signing. The offense has also looked strong, as they are averaging 5.5 runs per game and lead the NL with 14 home runs. There is no reason this team can't contend for a playoff spot, and somewhere in the low-90s in terms of wins seems realistic at this point.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Seattle Mariners

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Record: 5-3

    Full Season Pace: 101-61

     

    Team Outlook

    No one was busier this offseason than the Mariners, as they made headlines with their signing of Robinson Cano to a massive 10-year, $240 million deal while also adding Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and Fernando Rodney, among others.

    The success of this team will depend on how well the offense performs around Cano and whether or not key starters Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker can get healthy and stay healthy. They have the pieces to make things interesting, but there's no way they win 101 games in the tough AL West. My guess is that they will finish under 90 wins on the year.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Record: 5-4

    Full Season Pace: 90-72

     

    Team Outlook

    The Cardinals paced the National League last season with 97 wins, on the strength of a clutch offense that hit a record .330 with runners in scoring position and a deep starting rotation fronted by a bona fide ace in Adam Wainwright.

    They are hitting just .215 as a team so far this season, with a .181 average with runners in scoring position, but they have still managed to put up a winning record through nine games. As long as the hitting comes around, this team has the potential to be the league's best, and they could approach 100 wins if everything breaks right.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Tampa Bay Rays

28 of 31

    Chris O'Meara

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    The small-market Rays have managed to make the postseason in four of the past six seasons, as they continue to make the most of under-the-radar signings and one of the best starting rotations in the business. The decision not to trade David Price this offseason made them one of the favorites in the AL entering the year, and they are my pick to win the AL pennant.

    Losing left-hander Matt Moore to a UCL injury that could mean season-ending Tommy John surgery is a blow, but the Rays still look like a team in position to contend for the AL East title this year. I have them eclipsing the 90-win mark, so while they're by no means off to a bad start, even better baseball lies ahead.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Texas Rangers

29 of 31

    Tony Gutierrez

    Current Record: 4-5

    Full Season Pace: 72-90

     

    Team Outlook

    With the addition of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo to their lineup this offseason, the Texas Rangers looked to be restocked and ready to make a run at reclaiming AL West supremacy heading into spring training this year.

    However, myriad injuries to their pitching staff as well as catcher Geovany Soto and second baseman Jurickson Profar and a slow start from Fielder has the team below .500 to kick off the year. Provided the staff can get healthy and Fielder can get on track, this team still has a real shot at winning the division, and they are certainly not a 90-loss club.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Record: 5-5

    Full Season Pace: 81-81

     

    Team Outlook

    No team fell as far short of expectations as the Blue Jays last season, as a busy offseason of additions wound up netting them a grand total of one more win than they had in 2012. The pitching staff was largely to blame for the team's struggles, as injuries hit them hard, and the team opted against signing another arm this offseason in hopes that a handful of guys returning from injury could turn things around.

    Mark Buehrle has thrown the ball great so far, but the rest of the rotation has struggled to this point, as the other four starters have an ERA over 5.00. The keys here are Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow, the latter of which threw the ball well in his second start. If they can get on track, this team could make some noise. As of right now, though, right around a .500 finish looks to be where they are headed.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fact

Washington Nationals

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Record: 7-2

    Full Season Pace: 126-36

     

    Team Outlook

    The Nationals have frequently been called the most overrated team in baseball heading into this year after a disappointing 2013 season, but there is a reason so many baseball analysts think so highly of them. They are loaded with talent, with perhaps the best rotation in baseball once newcomer Doug Fister gets healthy, and an offense with no clear holes from top to bottom.

    Like I said with the Brewers, a 126-win season would make them the greatest team in baseball history, so it's fair to assume that won't happen. They could, however, make a run at the best record in the NL for the second time in three years provided they stay healthy and perform to their potential. They are my pick to win the NL East, and somewhere around 95 wins is where I see them finishing.

     

    Fact or Fiction?

    Fiction

     

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