MLB Win Totals: Blue Jays On Rise In AL East

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman swings at a baseball and gets a base hit in during a spring training game against the New York Yankees
Image Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the Toronto Blue Jays finished with 91 wins, easily surpassing their preseason MLB win totals projection of 86.5. Yet that was only good for sole possession of fourth place. Such is life in the AL East, the Nightmare Mode of MLB divisions. No other fourth-place team in the other five divisions even cracked 75 wins, because baseball is hilariously cruel. 

At the betting window, 2022 AL East win totals show a division not much easier than last year’s gantlet. It’s one of only two divisions where multiple teams are tagged for 90-plus wins. Of course, the East also sports the Orioles. (The division contains multitudes.) continues its 2022 MLB betting preview with a division-by-division look at MLB win totals. Having begun with a breakdown of the NL East, we turn our attention to the AL East, where once again four teams are projected to easily clear .500.

2022 AL East Win Totals

Team Win Total
Toronto Blue Jays 92.5 (Under -115)
New York Yankees 91.5
Tampa Bay Rays 91.5
Boston Red Sox 85.5
Baltimore Orioles 62.5 (Under -115)

Odds via DraftKings and updated as of 6 p.m. ET on March 28.

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios throws a pitch during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies
Image Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 91-71 (4th place)
2022 win total projection: 92.5 (-105)
Key additions: 3B Matt Chapman, SP Kevin Gausman, SP Yusei Kikuchi
Key subtractions: OF Randal Grichuk, SP Steven Matz, SP Robbie Ray, SS Marcus Semien 

Last year’s Blue Jays scored the third-most runs in the AL, allowed the fourth-most, and finished nine wins off their Pythagorean pace, with a run differential that trailed only Tampa Bay and Houston. 

They let the AL Cy Young winner walk (Robbie Ray), let their 7.3 WAR shortstop mosey down to Texas (Marcus Semien), and they’re probably going to be better than they were last year. Because they can’t possibly be any unluckier.

While neither Yusei Kikuchi nor Kevin Gausman are likely to produce the kind of season Ray did last year, when paired with a full season from ex-Twins ace Jose Berrios, they should offset the loss of Ray and Stephen Matz. 

But the thing that should give pitchers nightmares is that Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Bichette are going to be another year matured. Also, Matt Chapman joins the fun, and Teoscar Hernandez is a guy most people who didn’t grow up with a Carlos Delgado poster on their wall will start to respect for being the 30-home-run hitter he is. 

The Jays are young with a wide-open window whose biggest weaknesses are an average bullpen and the health of George Springer. Well. The bullpen thing, anyway. The Springer factor isn’t so much a weakness as it is inevitable. 

New York Yankees

Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees in action against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on October 02, 2021
Image Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

2021 regular-season record: 92-70 (3rd place)
2022 win total projection: 91.5
Key additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isaiah Kiner-Falefa
Key subtractions: OF Clint Frazier, OF Brett Gardner, SP Corey Kluber, C Gary Sanchez, 3B Gio Urshela, 1B/DH Luke Voit 

It took GM Brian Cashman until July 28, when his club was 53-47, to realize lefties might not be a bad idea in Yankee Stadium. The one with the famously short right-field porch.

If there’s reason for tempered optimism that the franchise can return to the Fall Classic for the first time since winning championship No. 27 in 2009, it’s this: They’re at least getting a full season out of lefty sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo.

The plan calls for an infield of Rizzo at first, Gleyber Torres at second, and newcomers Isaiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson at short and third, respectively. That leaves veteran DJ LeMahieu to act as a super sub rotating around the diamond and giving everyone a regular spell, as the organization again prioritizes frequent rest as a means of keeping everyone healthy. And health is absolutely an ongoing concern in the Bronx.

If they can get Luis Severino fully recovered from his 2020 Tommy John surgery; if they can keep Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Jameson Taillon, and  LeMahieu healthy; if their high-octane offense doesn’t completely disappear for weeks at a time; if Torres is the 2018-19 player and not the 2021 player … if, if, if. 

Presuming reasonable health and BABIP luck holds, the Yankees should be able to hang with any team in the American League. But if they’re the same stuck-in-third-gear team we’ve seen the last couple of years? There’s little chance they will beat their MLB win totals expectation by five wins again, like they did last year. This all points to a low-ceiling, high-floor team where 91-92 wins feels about right. 

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco blows a bubble while waiting for a pitch in against the Boston Red Sox
Image Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 100-62 (1st place)
2022 win total projection: 89.5
Key additions: SP Corey Kluber
Key subtractions: DH Nelson Cruz, SP Collin McHugh, SP Michael Wacha, INF Joey Wendle

Welcome to the “Figure Out What the Tampa Front Office is Scheming on This Time” challenge.

The smartest, most creative team in baseball handed 21-year-old shortstop Wander Franco an 11-year, $182-million contract, signed former Cy Young winner/recently oft-injured Corey Kluber, and didn’t do anything else all that crazy in the offseason. 

The plan appears to be something like “wait for pitchers Tyler Glasnow and ace-in-waiting Shane Baz to get healthy.” Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) likely won’t pitch this year, but Baz should see time if his recovery from thoracic outlet surgery goes smoothly. He would anchor a rotation (with actual starting pitchers this year!) that will be supported by a lineup that should be well above average.

Despite a lack of big names, this is a legit offense that piled up 857 runs last season, second in the majors. Although veteran DH Nelson Cruz has been subtracted from the calculus, Tampa should still be able to hang close to the Yankees and Jays in terms of firepower. 

Shane McClanahan is young, left-handed, and strikes out a ton of guys. (“Why can’t my team get one of those,” you’re thinking.) And a rotation topped by McClanahan and Kluber could be a gnarly 1-2 (for as long as Kluber can stay on the hill). If Baz comes back and Kluber stays out of street clothes, this has the makings of a quality staff.

A Wild Card run isn’t out of order, but a repeat atop the East might be a tall ask with so many rotation question marks. As such, when looking at MLB win totals, Under 89.5 for Tampa should very much be in play — but with this big, glowing caveat: If they won 100 again or lost 90, we shouldn’t be surprised, because these are the Rays. And chaos is their brand.

Boston Red Sox

Image Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 92-70 (2nd place)
2022 win total projection: 85.5
Key additions: OF Jackie Bradley Jr., SP Rich Hill, SP James Paxton, 2B Trevor Story, SP Michael Wacha
Key subtractions: RP Adam Ottavino, SP Martin Perez, OF Hunter Renfroe, SP Eduardo Rodriguez, OF/1B/DH Kyle Schwarber

The greatest disservice the Red Sox did to bettors was not bringing back Garrett Richards to continue to build on his Fenway résumé, where he has a 6.82 ERA and a framed picture in the home of every Over bettor from coast to coast. (Michael Wacha: Please try to fill those shoes!)

Other than that, Boston’s biggest splash was its six-year deal with Trevor Story, a 28-year-old shortstop moving to second for the first time in his career, coming off his worst full season, and whose OPS is 200 points lower outside of Coors Field. 

Last year’s Red Sox, like the Yankees, overachieved relative to their Pythagorean record. And like last year, they’ll be starting the season without ace Chris Sale. He’s likely to return to the rotation sooner rather than later (though at what point a fresh injury will knock him out again is a valid question). When he arrives, Sale should give Boston a nice 1-2 at the top of the rotation with Nathan Eovaldi. But losing Eduardo Rodriguez and replacing him with one of Rich Hill, Wacha or James Paxton (at some point, if he gets healthy) is pure garage-sale mentality. Maybe one of them will actually be worth something someday. Or maybe they’re just a bunch of busted VCRs.

This is a team that can hit but can’t field. It’s also a team that can pitch enough, but only if they have their pitchers. If Sale takes the ball more often than he doesn’t, the Sox should be able to eclipse their MLB win totals projection of 85.5. But we’re betting Guerrero Jr. in Fenway against Rich Hill will end poorly for Boston more often than not.

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Ryan Mountcastle (left) celebrates a home run by forearm bashing Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins during a game against the Kansas City Royals
Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 52-110 (5th place)
2022 win total projection: 62.5
Key additions: C Robinson Chirinos, SP Jordan Lyles, INF Rougned Odor
Key subtractions: SP Matt Harvey

The good news is Baltimore’s run differential played exactly to expectation last year. The bad news is that expectation was 52-110 — a season only slightly less embarrassing than the the 2018 Orioles (47-115) but slightly worse than the 2019 Orioles (54-108). Just how rough was 2021 for Baltimore? It gave up nearly a thousand runs. That’s … that’s so many runs.

Will the Orioles be good next year? Oh, oh no. Oh definitely not. But we don’t need them to be good to cash Over 62.5 wins. We just need them to be regular bad, instead of apocalyptically bad.

Optimists can hang their hat on a couple of good things:

  • Center fielder Cedric Mullins and third baseman/left fielder Ryan Mountcastle each cranked 30-plus bombs last season!
  • The entire pitching staff’s FIP was nearly a full run lower than its ERA, suggesting a healthy dose of bad luck!
  • John Means threw a no-hitter! Those are hard to do. Unless you’re a pitcher in April or May of last season, when it was apparently very easy to do.

And reinforcements are on the way. Grayson Rodriguez should contribute to the rotation (which is already improved just by not having Matt Harvey in it), and catcher Adley Rutschman, the top prospect in baseball, could crack the Opening Day lineup.

There are four teams with MLB win totals in the 60s, and the O’s have the worst of it. Three projected victories fewer than even the Pirates. An 11-win improvement in what is arguable the toughest division in baseball is asking a lot. It’s a low bar to hurdle, and they should be better than 52, but … we can’t give them 63.