*1. DODGERS: This is the worst LA team in several seasons with reduced pitching depth and the defense will not be as good at shortstop second base. I considered betting under 97 =½ wins, but 38 games against the Rockies and Diamondbacks ended that idea.
*2. PADRES (WC): No team in years improved more in the dugout than Bob Melvin replacing Jayce Tingler. The weekend addition of starting pitcher Sean Manaea moved them up one spot.
*3. GIANTS (WC): They will miss the offensive production of Buster Posey and the presence of Kris Bryant and they start the season without the injured Evan Longoria and LaMonte Wade Jr.
*4. ROCKIES: Why didn’t they just re-sign Nolan Arenado before the 2021 season instead of adding Kris Bryant to get worn out playing leftfield in spacious Coors Field?
*5. DIAMONDBACKS: The hope for defensive improvement will take an early season hit with Nick Ahmed starting the season on the injured list.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
*1. BREWERS: The National League’s best combination of pitching and defense should be good enough if they offense does not improve from last season = BET OVER 88½
*2. CARDINALS: Their superior defense is not good enough to overcome an already ailing pitching staff and lineup with far too many below average bats. Still, they are the only other team in baseball’s worst division with a chance of finishing ahead of .500.
*3. CUBS: The roster is filled with mediocrity on the mound, at the plate and in the field.
*4. REDS: They did not disguise their intentions of being sellers this season. Any decent player still on the roster will be playing elsewhere by August 1st … = BET UNDER 74½
*5. PIRATES: Yet another team that will be sellers, but, other than Bryan Reynolds, is there anyone to sell?
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
*1. BRAVES: They have the most quality players than any team in the National League, including the only in the division that plays above average defense.
*2. METS (WC): After the pitching ailments over the past week, forget about competing with the Braves and 85 might be the maximum win total.
*3. MARLINS: The most starting pitching arms in the division, but will they hit enough, or catch it?
*4. PHILLIES: The most overhyped team in baseball. Almost certainly baseball’s worst defense which isn’t going to help the questionable pitching staff.
*5. NATS: One of multiple candidates to be the worst team in the National League.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
*1. JAYS: Plenty of offense, the pitching improves with the defense of Matt Chapman, and imagine if they traded for Jose Ramirez?
*2. RAYS (WILD CARD): Now a distant second after multiple pitching injuries during spring training?
*3. YANKEES (WILD CARD): They bypassed on the shortstop market because of top prospect Anthony Volpe who better be the next Derek Jeter or Brian Cashman will need to explain to the Steinbrenner family.
*4. RED SOX: To reach the post season, Alex Cora will again need to be the AL’s best manager.
*5. ORIOLES: Once again there is zero reason for fans to fill baseball’s best ballpark.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
*1. WHITE SOX: The distance in the division has narrowed following spring training injuries to Lance Lynn, Garrett Crochet and Andrew Vaughn plus the Craig Kimbrel trade.
*2. TWINS (WILD CARD): Might be the most improved team in the American League, but still little margin for error and will Byron Buxton ever remain healthy?
*3. TIGERS: The offense and defense are improved, but the heralded young pitching staff must at least approach the expectations.
*4. ROYALS: They took a step forward last season, but it will be more difficult to duplicate that with the Twins and Tigers improving more.
*5. GUARDIANS: There is little chance that Jose Ramirez remains in Cleveland, and would they trade Shane Bieber?
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
*1. ASTROS: Still good, but another step back after losing Gerrit Cole, George Springer and Carlos Correa the past three off-seasons, but no AL organization has more young impact arms.
*2. MARINERS (WILD CARD): A nice combination of professional veterans and elite young talent. Also, GM Jerry DiPoto will not hesitate buying prior to the trade deadline = BET OVER 83 ½
*3. ANGELS: Even if Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani stay healthy the remainder of the roster is the definition is average?
*4. RANGERS: The offense and defense will improve with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, but the pitching still lacks difference makers.
*5. ATHLETICS: The teardown has not concluded with Frankie Montas, Lou Trevino and others soon filing change of address cards.