MLB Predictions 2022: Updated Win-Loss Projections for Every TeamApril 5, 2022
MLB Predictions 2022: Updated Win-Loss Projections for Every Team
Soon enough, the MLB season will start and fans will inevitably fall into the trap of reading too much into early standings.
It makes sense this year even more than others, considering there was the small threat of not having baseball at all and a serious threat of a second abbreviated season in three years.
No need to worry. Baseball is almost here.
Before anyone gets a chance to overreact to early box scores, let's update win-loss projections for each MLB team, using the DraftKings Sportsbook as the baseline.
You can also use projections from FanGraphs and the PECOTA playoff projections to get a sense for how much the ideas vary.
Toronto Blue Jays
Last Year's Record: 91-71
The Blue Jays were just one game shy of making the postseason last year in a division that featured four teams winning more than 90 games.
The noticeable change this season was Toronto trading for All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman, who adds to a lineup that already featured Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Their rotation is led by Jose Berrios, who signed an extension after being traded at last year's deadline, and free-agent signee Kevin Gausman, who essentially replaces reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray.
MLB.com ranked Toronto's rotation third-best in baseball. Add Chapman to a lineup that led baseball in OPS and home runs and this could be a really exciting year for the Blue Jays.
Tampa Bay Rays
Last Year's Record: 100-62
The Rays made a run at Freddie Freeman this offseason, which was uncharacteristic for a team that normally doesn't flirt with high-priced free agents.
It was an unsuccessful pursuit, but Tampa still tackled its main priorities even before the lockout.
Star shortstop Wander Franco, who will play his first full season, signed an 11-year contract extension and enters this season with high expectations. The Rays signed Corey Kluber to a one-year deal and reliever Brooks Raley to a two-year deal just before the lockout began.
It's a standard expectation for Rays' pitching to thrive, and this year should be no different. But remember: this lineup, mostly still intact, slugged the same as the Los Angeles Dodgers (.429) and hit one more home run (222) than the Houston Astros.
If there's any drop-off, it won't be as drastic as the betting line suggests.
New York Yankees
Last Year's Record: 92-70
Even with an offseason short on major acquisitions, the Yankees should be right back in the thick of the AL playoff picture.
The betting odds say as much, and there's not much of a reason to go against it.
The Yankees needed to improve their starting pitching, but Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino are still the best starters behind Gerrit Cole. To address their need at shortstop, the Yankees traded for Isiah Kiner-Falefa instead of signing one of the marquee free agents on the market this offseason.
All of it is just enough for the Yankees to jog in place.
Boston Red Sox
Last Year's Record: 92-70
The Red Sox are the one winning team in this division that stand to take a step back.
Signing Trevor Story in free agency injected even more life into this lineup, which should once again be exciting. Boston does, however, have some question marks in its rotation.
The Red Sox signed right-hander Michael Wacha and lefties James Paxton and Rich Hill to one-year contracts. Paxton is returning this summer from Tommy John surgery. Hill is 42 years old, and Wacha was signed for depth.
Can any of them make up for losing Eduardo Rodriguez in free agency? Even if so, it doesn't stack up well against the Blue Jays, Rays and Yankees.
Last Year's Record: 52-110
The Orioles remain hopeless for yet another season, but at least the betting odds are suggesting some improvement in the fourth year under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.
It would be difficult to be worse than 40 games out of the wild-card spot like Baltimore was last year. The Orioles also went on a 19-game losing streak from late July to mid-August.
All they really did to improve was sign right-hander Jordan Lyles as a presence behind John Means, and second baseman Rougned Odor, who was released by the Yankees.
Chicago White Sox
Last Year's Record: 93-69
Most of the AL Central got better, but the White Sox are still the class of the division. Even without any significant offseason moves, this would've been one of the more competitive teams in the league.
But they needed a right fielder and a second baseman to improve beyond the early-exit postseason team they have been the past two seasons.
Chicago found an imperfect solution to the right field issue, trading closer Craig Kimbrel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for A.J. Pollock, who likely would've played in left field for L.A. but will slide over to right field in Chicago.
Offense shouldn't be a problem for this team.
The biggest questions are whether the White Sox can improve defensively; how much they can get out of Dallas Keuchel, who had a down year in 2021; and Michael Kopech's transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation.
Last Year's Record: 73-89
Before the lockout, it wasn't quite clear how the Twins would respond to falling down to the bottom of the division.
Then last month they traded for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela from the New York Yankees. They also got Sonny Gray from the Cincinnati Reds and signed perhaps the best free-agent shortstop on the market in Carlos Correa.
Suddenly, Minnesota is once again a threat in the American League, even if it's still unclear to what degree.
What's certain is this is a much better team than when we last saw them in the regular season.
Last Year's Record: 77-85
This should be a better team than it was a year ago, though it still may be a year away from serious contention.
Signing two-time All-Star shortstop Javier Baez and starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, both of whom have World Series rings, adds instant credibility to a squad mostly made up of young, unproven talent.
The most exciting part about watching the Tigers will be seeing how that young talent develops, particularly first baseman and top prospect Spencer Torkelson.
Detroit won't have a playoff team, but don't be surprised to see the Tigers finish above .500 for the first time since 2016.
Kansas City Royals
Last Year's Record: 74-88
The goal in Kansas City is to get young players such as Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez transitioned to the major leagues and then see what happens from there.
Developing the youngsters is all this season is about for the Royals. If that happens, the record won't matter as much.
They won't compete for the division title barring some major contribution from their young core.
Last Year's Record: 80-82
It's hard to compare the Guardians to the rest of the teams in this division and feel like Cleveland really put its best foot forward, which is a shame considering the organizational rebranding that's taking place there.
The offseason has been a flop, as properly characterized by The Athletic's Zack Meisel and Jason Lloyd.
Unlike last year's division winner White Sox, Cleveland could not afford to be this quiet and expect improvement.
The betting line is kind in its assessment of a regression for the Guardians.
Last Year's Record: 95-67
Aside from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Astros have not won fewer than 95 games since 2016.
This is Houston's division to dominate, at least for another season. The Astros' significant losses are Carlos Correa, who was replaced by top prospect Jeremy Pena, and Zack Greinke, who is essentially replaced by Justin Verlander returning from Tommy John surgery.
There are some legitimate questions about the Astros' pitching. How durable is Verlander? How long is Lance McCullers Jr. out (flexor strain)? And the bullpen is always an adventure.
The Astros should still cruise to their fifth division title in the last six years, especially if Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez emerge as All-Stars as expected.
Last Year's Record: 90-72
The betting community sees regression from the Mariners, but this is a team to keep an eye on this season.
As you're likely aware, Seattle has the longest standing postseason drought in baseball (20 season), and last year stayed competitive for a wild-card berth up until the very end of the season.
Put reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and All-Stars Adam Frazier and Jesse Winker on a team like this and it stands to reason they would be competitive again in this division.
Los Angeles Angels
Last Year's Record: 77-85
This is a critical year for the Angels coming off Shohei Ohtani's MVP season and with the game's best player Mike Trout returning from another injury-plagued season.
The Angels also get Anthony Rendon back. Some combination of Ohtani, Trout and Rendon could be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
Like always with the Angels, their pitching will be the true indicator of their success or failure. Noah Syndergaard is pitching his first full season since recovering from Tommy John surgery, but how much the Angels can rely on him is still an open question. Health alone, though, should improve the Angels from last season.
Last Year's Record: 60-102
It should be fascinating to watch how far more than half a billion dollars in offseason investments gets the Rangers in just one year.
They should immediately be better offensively and in the middle infield with both Corey Seager and Marcus Semien on board.
But they didn't address pitching well enough to be a real threat this season.
A 15-game improvement would be a welcomed site in Arlington. But there's still only one winning baseball team in the Lone Star State.
Last Year's Record: 86-76
The A's will be a losing team this season, and it appears to be by design.
They shipped away all of their key players and apparently were never in the mix to bring back Starling Marte or Mark Canha in free agency. Both players instead signed with the New York Mets.
This team is headed in a different direction, with a renewed priority of bolstering their farm system that ranks toward the bottom of the league.
New York Mets
Last Year's Record: 77-85
If they get a healthy Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the Mets' rotation should have the best 1-2 punch in baseball.
The problem is that health is far from a guarantee.
Sure, the health concern is legitimate for any team, but especially this one. Already, deGrom is dealing with a stress reaction in his shoulder and is expected to miss at least four weeks. Scherzer, who signed a three-year, $130 million deal with New York this offseason, also saw his body break down at the end of the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The lineup, though, has a lot of potential with the addition of Starling Marte and the return of Robinson Cano from suspension.
Last Year's Record: 88-73
The defending World Series champions should have stiff competition in the division this year. Winning fewer than 90 games just isn't going to cut it for NL East supremacy like it did last season.
So it's good for Atlanta it retooled in the offseason to remain viable.
Trading for Matt Olson is the perfect remedy to losing Freddie Freeman. Atlanta was also able to bring back postseason hero and trade-deadline acquisition Eddie Rosario.
If Atlanta takes any sort of step back, it won't be because of its own doing.
Last Year's Record: 82-80
The Phillies added two of the best hitters on the free-agent market this offseason.
Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper will remain the Phillies' primary right fielder, while Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos rotate the corner outfield and designated hitter spots.
One of the major offseason needs for Philadelphia was adding more protection in the middle of the lineup for Harper, which they have done.
MLB.com ranks the Phillies' rotation in the top 10 across baseball, with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola at the top.
If that holds true, and the offseason acquisitions live up to expectations, the NL East race could turn into one of the more fascinating things to watch this season.
Last Year's Record: 67-95
The Marlins are trying to bounce back from a 95-loss letdown season after surprising the baseball world and making the playoffs in 2020.
To do so, they signed sluggers Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler, last year's World Series MVP. They traded for Joey Wendle, a versatile infielder who can also hit, and veteran catcher Jacob Stallings to help guide Miami's young pitching staff.
The Marlins will be better in 2022, but it won't be enough to make a difference in the larger NL landscape.
Last Year's Record: 65-97
The best thing Washington did this offseason was sign 41-year-old designated hitter Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2023.
That's not going to make up for missing Stephen Strasburg, who's only pitched a combined 26⅔ innings in the past two years.
Strasburg won't be ready for the start of the season. Patrick Corbin, Washington's Opening Day starter, is trying to bounce back from a rough 2021 performance in which he posted a 5.82 ERA and went 9-16 in 31 starts.
Any improvement the Nationals make this year will be incremental.
Last Year's Record: 95-67
Milwaukee returns one of baseball's best rotations, which should keep the team competitive in the NL. Only the Cardinals appear to pose any threat to the Brewers in this division, again, unless the Cubs surprise people.
The question for Milwaukee won't be whether it can win games. A rotation led by Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes just about ensures as much.
The question is whether enough offense was added to the Brewers' lineup to make them more than just division champs and an easy out in the NLDS.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last Year's Record: 90-72
The Cardinals did not do a lot to improve a team that went on a magical 17-game winning streak to vault them into the postseason as a wild-card team last year.
Their most noteworthy offseason move was bringing back franchise icon Albert Pujols, who of course is a shell of himself at this point. St. Louis also signed lefty Steven Matz for the middle of its rotation.
Beyond that, nothing really impresses about the changes made to this team. Relying on a historic winning streak is not a recipe for success, so it's reasonable to expect this team to regress back to the mean.
Last Year's Record: 71-91
The Cubs are not ready to return to winning form just yet, but let's monitor things on the North Side.
Signing Marcus Stroman immediately improves the Cubs rotation, as does the addition of left Wade Miley, who they claimed off waivers from the Reds.
They also brought in catcher Yan Gomes and outfielder Clint Frazier on reasonable contracts relative to their roles. The Cubs lacked talent in the outfield before signing Japanese standout Seiya Suzuki, and their bullpen leaves a lot to be desired.
Chicago could surprise some people, but at first glance it looks like another losing year as the rebuild continues.
Last Year's Record: 83-79
This would be a lot more interesting to write about if the Reds were actually trying. Since they are not, all you need to know is they will lose more games than last year in the name of "payroll alignment."
They are effectively replacing Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker with Tommy Pham, who signed a one-year, $7.5 million deal with Cincinnati. They traded Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins, and Luis Castillo could also be traded sometime soon.
Sounds to you like a team that's trying to win?
Last Year's Record: 61-101
The Pirates are not yet ready to contend, with the franchise firmly planted in a rebuild.
This is a season far more centered around developing and evaluating young talent. The goal isn't so much to win a lot of games but rather to find out who can contribute toward that cause in the near future.
Pittsburgh has an All-Star in Bryan Reynolds, who could be part of the future if the Pirates decide to keep him around. Ke'Bryan Hayes also has potential to emerge as an All-Star this year.
But it's all about intel for the Pirates.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Year's Record: 106-56
The pitching isn't quite as elite as last year, but it's still pretty good. Whatever the rotation is lacking could be made up by what is widely considered the most loaded lineup in baseball.
Just the thought of leading off with Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner—two former MVPs and last year's NL batting champion—is incredible to consider.
Lose Corey Seager in free agency? No problem. Move Turner to his natural position and insert another one of the game's best left-handed bats in Freeman.
In terms of results, expect more of the same with the Dodgers.
San Francisco Giants
Last Year's Record: 107-55
The betting line suggests last year was either a fluke or the Giants are expected to take a major step back.
They won a franchise-record 107 games last year, which no one saw coming. Don't make the mistake of allowing the Giants to sneak up on you again this year.
It's one of the better rotations in baseball with Logan Webb still leading the way along with free-agent signing Carlos Rodon. They also added Alex Cobb and re-signed Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood.
The Giants will be challenged offensively with making up for the losses of Buster Posey and Kris Bryant.
San Diego Padres
Last Year's Record: 79-83
This is supposed to be the redemption year for the Padres after falling short of expectations in 2021. They went all-in a year ago on pitching but could not stay healthy and at times just underperformed.
Between better health and the managerial change bringing in Bob Melvin, all of the ingredients for them living up to last year's expectations are there.
Missing Fernando Tatis Jr. for up to three months with a fractured wrist suffered in a motorcycle accident during the lockout is less than ideal. But San Diego traded for Luke Voit for an extra bat, and there is enough talent to be relevant this year beyond the hype.
Last Year's Record: 74-87
You know a team is bad when it signs a star like Kris Bryant, somewhat unexpectedly, and it is still projected to be worse than the previous year.
That's the case with the Rockies, who failed to trade Jon Gray or Trevor Story before last year's deadline, even though it was obvious they would not retain either player in free agency.
Last Year's Record: 52-110
Two things of significance the Diamondbacks either did or did not do: they did hire pitching coach Brent Strom, who is widely considered the best in the game. They did not trade Ketel Marte, easily their best player and possibly someone who could be around once the Diamondbacks are ready to compete.
That won't be this year, but Arizona should be better than a year ago.
Marte, Madison Bumgarner and Zac Gallen are all nice pieces, but it won't be enough to make up for them playing in the vaunted NL West.