For some, the end of football season leads to sorrow and depression. I happen to have an outlook that is the complete opposite. With March Madness on the horizon, along with sunshine and endless golf, how could your thoughts be anything but positive? Most importantly, pitchers and catchers recently reported to Florida and Arizona to begin Spring Training as another exciting season of Major League Baseball awaits us. With that being said, what better time than now for me to swan dive into the pool of MLB Futures.
The Yankees (3-1) and Dodgers (4-1) currently lead the way in the Futures market, with each providing little to no value in my opinion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think both of these teams are complete and built with dangerous lineups to make deep playoff runs. But is the risk worth the reward? Not at all. At the end of the day, it’s baseball – a game filled with injuries and parity. Let’s take a look at some of the ones that I’ve been licking my chops over:
I’ll start with my favorite one of the 2020 season – The Oakland Athletics. I got in on them last week at 27-1 to win the World Series and 14-1 to win the American League. I’ll also be adding to their win total at Over 89.5 wins. The only reason I’m high on this team is because the Houston Buzzer Boys won’t be able to cheat their way through the AL West this year, leaving the door open for the A’s to breeze their way into a playoff spot. Just kidding (kind of). But, in all seriousness, what excites me most is the potential of this Oakland pitching staff. Sean Manaea returned from shoulder surgery at the end of last season and started 5 games with 30 strikeouts in 29.2 innings, an ERA of 1.21 and a WHIP of 0.78. Decent. He showed some signs of a breakout in 2018 prior to the injury and I think we’ll see that this year. The former first round pick should slot in as the ace of this young, talented staff. Jesus Luzardo is another one of Oakland’s young arms who showed signs of greatness last year, albeit in a very small sample size. Luzardo pitched 12 innings with 16 strikeouts, while holding opposing batters to a .119 batting average. Again, decent. He has been a highly regarded prospect in their system along with A.J. Puk, the big lefty from University of Florida. Puk could take on a serious role in the A’s bullpen this year if he doesn’t vie for a spot in the rotation. Add him to the trio of Yusmeiro Petit, Lou Trivino, and Liam Hendriks, and you have yourself some big-time arms to shut the door on ball games. However, I do think they’ll miss Blake Treinen, who is due for a bounce back year with the Dodgers. Treinen was arguably one of the best relievers in baseball 2 years ago, but struggled for most of last season. It will be interesting to watch his possible resurgence in LA.
On the offensive side, this lineup doesn’t necessarily scare you on paper, but there are some names here of guys that are just starting to hit their stride. The table setter, shortstop Marcus Semien, finished 3rd in last year’s AL MVP voting, behind these two random guys Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. Do I have your attention now? Semien slashed .285/.369/.522 with 33 homers and 92 RBIs. Those are some serious numbers for a shortstop, and his defensive ability may be even more impressive. Semien led AL shortstops in fielding percentage AND assists. The guy’s a stud. Add Matt Olson, Khris Davis, and Matt Chapman to the middle of that lineup behind him and you’ve got something special. Speaking of defense, Chapman at third base combined with Semien up the middle makes for a defensive clinic on the left side of Oakland. I could keep going, but you probably already stopped reading to go place your wager on the A’s. Let’s hope they can stay healthy, maybe pick up another arm or two at the deadline and make a deep run at the title.
Let’s head to the NL Central, where I have a couple win totals that I like in this division. Let’s start with the Cincinnati Reds Over 84.5 wins. I was very high on this team last year and although they underperformed, I think they make some large strides in the 2020 season, due in large part to some huge offseason acquisitions. I would not be surprised to see them take this division as the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers are aging and did not do much to improve. Because of that, I’ll be looking at them around 3-1 to win the Central as well. The logic behind this is simple. Cincinnati has the best pitching staff in the division. If Sonny Gray repeats his 2019 form and Trevor Bauer gets back to his dominance he showed in Cleveland, you could argue they have one of the top front-of-the-rotations in baseball when you add in Luis Castillo – one of my favorite arms to watch in all of baseball. Castillo averaged almost 11 k’s/9 last year, and with improvement in 2020, he has the potential to be the ace of the division. The back end of this bullpen isn’t great, but is definitely good enough with the top 3 of Garrett, Lorenzen, and Iglesias. What I really love is the additions made on offense. This team should feast on the opposing pitching in the NL Central, which is one of the weakest in baseball in my opinion. Putting Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos in the middle of this order should give them at least another 50 homers and 160 RBI’s. Add Eugenio Suarez, one of the most underrated and under appreciated hitters in the game, and you have a scary 3-4-5 punch. The more I type, the more I really like this team – I’ll go out on a limb and say they not only surpass the 84.5 number, but win at least 90 games this year.
Staying in the NL Central, I’ll be taking the Pittsburgh Pirates Under 70.5 wins. Quite frankly, this is a team that is just very bad. It’s a shame, as they have a beautiful ballpark in an awesome city with passionate fans. If I put their projected lineup in front of the average fan, you might mistake them for the Tri-City ValleyCats. I really don’t see how this team even gets to the upper 60s in wins. The offense just isn’t there, other than Josh Bell, who had a monster season last year and even he may regress. The pitching staff is led by some inconsistent arms in Chris Archer and Joe Musgrove – they strike me as the type of guys who will be traded mid-summer to teams in contention. The Pirates won 69 games last year and did absolutely nothing to improve. Their top starter, Jameson Taillon, will be out for the year and their All-Star reliever Felipe Vazquez is currently facing 21 charges for child pornography. Can it get any worse in Pittsburgh? Take the under and move along.
The last win total I’ll be playing is the Red Sox Over 85.5 wins. This is just a contrarian play as I really believe the market has completely overreacted to the deal sending Mookie Betts and David Price out of Boston. How quickly people forget this offense is still elite and can win this team many games by themselves. I think we’ll see an emphasis on depth players added as we get closer to the season, and if a few of the arms overachieve, they could be well on their way to a 90-win season.