It’s getting ridiculous now, isn’t it?
Once sign stealing was quelled, the haters couldn’t wait for the Houston Astros to fall flat on their faces. But this Day of Reckoning never really comes, does it? No matter what front office or rule changes occur, these modern-day Astros just keep on chuggin’. They are a seemingly unstoppable freight train, one that Denzel Washington and Chris Pine wouldn’t even be able to handle.
But what about some of these major offseason moves? Did the MLB’s offseason frenzy open up some avenues to challenge the unstoppable ‘Stros? Well, the American League now welcomes Kenley Jansen, Masataka Yoshida, and Justin Turner (all Red Sox); Josh Bell (Guardians), Tyler Anderson (Angels), Carlos Rodon (Yankees, welcome back to the AL), and Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney (both Rangers).
Did any team truly do enough to swing the balance of power in the AL? Let’s dive in and take a much closer look with my Over/Under win totals and subsequent fantasy analysis.
(Editor’s Note: This article was written on March 7th, transactions after this date are not noted.)
American League East
Last year’s record: 78-84
2023 Vegas Over/Under: 78.5
Frascella’s Projection: 76-86
Hitting: Superstar Rafael Devers is gonna have to do some heavy lifting, here. Newly-acquired Justin Turner already got drilled in the face with a fastball (16 stitches, out of commission in the short-term), and OF Masataka Yoshida is a wild card when it comes to projecting his production in the MLB. Outfielders Alex Verdugo and Adam Duvall are going to have to perform above my projections in order for this club to crack my 76-win prediction. Adalberto Mondesi (short-term) and Trevor Story (long-term) are key injuries for a team that needs supporting production for Devers.
Pitching: Who can you really trust, here? Chris Sale is lookin’ sharp in the preseason, but it feels like he could break down at any moment. Corey Kluber is mostly over the hill, and maybe Nick Pivetta pitched over his head for a good portion of last season? “Sure thing” isn’t a phrase that applies to this Boston rotation.
Last year’s record: 83-79
Vegas Over/Under: 76.5
Frascella’s Projection: 81-81
Hitting: They may have the most exciting duo of young players in the MLB in C Adley Rutschman and SS Gunnar Henderson, though I’m far more confident in the former’s offensive ability for now. Outfielders Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander are pretty consistent in what they do, plus Mullins gets a fantasy boost given his speed in relation to the MLB’s rule changes regarding pickoff throws (pitchers can only throw over twice). Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays are fine, but I won’t have many shares of them, if any.
Pitching: This is where this team loses me. I liked what they were building with Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells, but then you go and add Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin as your “big” acquisitions in the rotation? I have Irvin as a clear regression candidate given ballpark factors – I don’t particularly care for his stuff, either – and Gibson could always just get rocked, right? Overall, this roster has a ton of potential, but I don’t believe now is their time. Maybe 2024.
Last year’s record: 86-76
Vegas Over/Under: 89.5
Frascella’s Projection: 90-72
Hitting: You might be tempted to think of the Rays as a light-hitting, pitching-first team, but look again: Yandy Diaz is coming off a career year, former MVP candidate Brandon Lowe is back in action, Wander Franco is ready to bust out and Randy Arozarena has developed into a strong fantasy option. The keys to this offense getting over the top will be surprising production from C Christian Bethancourt and more consistency from the enigmatic Isaac Paredes. This group is solid when everyone is healthy, though.
Pitching: Tyler Glasnow (Grade 2 left oblique strain) is out 6-to-8 weeks, already? Jeez. He’s starting to feel like Sale in terms of injuries. Luckily for Tampa’s faithful, they still have Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen, and Zach Eflin. With all five healthy, I probably would have had the Rays around 93-94 wins. But it’s like… put up or shut up already, Glasnow! Fantasy-wise, I think Springs is the most likely to regress of the three young studs. I feel plenty comfortable with both McClanahan and Rasmussen.
Last year’s record: 99-63
Vegas Over/Under: 94.5
Frascella’s Projection: 93-69
Hitting: Aaron Judge is the best hitter in the world right now, but what exactly did GM Brian Cashman do to supplement his production this offseason? Back are the familiar names and faces: Jose Trevino, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Josh Donaldson, D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, Harrison Bader, and Giancarlo Stanton. Sift through the group – where will the supplemental production come from? Fantasy-wise, I’m only touching Rizzo and Stanton outside of The Honorable Mr. Judge.
Pitching: I was feeling great about this rotation until Frankie Montas went down for the year and Nestor Cortes’ hamstring injury continued to linger. I just gotta call a spade a spade: From what I’ve seen of Cortes in recent months, he came into spring training out of shape. Enjoying the spoils of success, possibly? That leaves Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, and Luis Severino as the three studs I will be firing up in fantasy this season. Those three alone are better than competing rotations of five. Domingo German is fine in AL-Only too.
Last year’s record: 92-70
Vegas Over/Under: 90.5
Frascella’s Projection: 95-67
Hitting: This Over/Under line is oddly low, no? Here’s a young, powerful team on the rise… and their Over/Under is 1.5 wins below last year’s total? Fishy indeed, but I’m still taking the bait and going Over here. Is this the best offense in the league? You have two young superstars in their primes leading the way – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette – supported by steady veteran George Springer and rising bats in Alejandro Kirk and Daulton Varsho. I’ve soured on veteran Matt Chapman over the years, but even he should be fine given the overall lineup protection and support here. Pitchers should fear this explosive lineup.
Pitching: Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and Chris Bassitt are about as safe as they come as a 1-2-3. I sort of like the bounce-back opportunities for the backend of this rotation, too – Jose Berrios can’t possibly perform any worse than he did in ’22, and Yusei Kikuchi’s pure stuff still looks pretty good. The Toronto Blue Jays are a well-balanced team with a strong offense and solid starting rotation.
American League Central
Last year’s record: 66-96
Vegas Over/Under: 68.5
Frascella’s Projection: 59-103
Hitting: For me, I don’t really see a fantasy play in this entire lineup. I’m most likely to try OF Akil Baddoo because of stolen bases in the MLB’s new fast-paced style of baseball, but otherwise, I’m not interested in much. Javier Baez is boom-or-bust as always, and Austin Meadows hasn’t been the same player since leaving Tampa.
Pitching: Yuck. I’ll take late, late shots on Eduardo Rodriguez and/or Michael Lorenzen, but nobody else. I want absolutely nothing to do with Spencer Turnbull nor Matthew Boyd. I like Matt Manning in terms of per-inning production, but I seriously wonder about durability and sustainability in his case.
Last year’s record: 65-97
Vegas Over/Under: 68.5
Frascella’s Projection: 75-87
Hitting: I may have shot low on this win total, here. The more I’m lookin’, the more I’m likin’ this little Royals team in a weak division. C Salvador Perez is the steady veteran leader here, surrounded by electric young talents in Vinnie Pasquantino, Bobby Witt Jr., and Drew Waters (unfortunately out six weeks with a left oblique strain). Hunter Dozier somehow always finds playing time, while Edward Olivares, MJ Melendez, and Franmil Reyes are all worth keeping an eye on in AL-Only.
Pitching: Hands down, Brady Singer is one of the best young pitchers in the game. Zack Greinke remains a solid, crafty old vet, and I liked the pickups of both Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough. I will definitely have shares of both Singer and Lyles out of this decent group. Overall, I like what the Kansas City Royals are building here.
Last year’s record: 78-84
Vegas Over/Under: 84.5
Frascella’s Projection: 79-83
Hitting: Is there such a thing as getting re-excited about the exact same player? Sure, the Twins and their faithful are happy to have Carlos Correa back long-term, but is he enough for this club to jump from 78 wins to 84-85? Wait… didn’t they already have him last year? Joey Gallo is a losing player, so that docks this team immediately for me. Max Kepler is talkin’ a big game this offseason, but I think he kinda is who he is. I’ll probably only have shares of Byron Buxton on this entire team.
Pitching: Sonny Gray seemed to pitch over his head last season, and I’m not 100% sold on Joe Ryan as a front-end starter in this league. I do like Pablo Lopez and Tyler Mahle, relative to where they are slotted into this expected rotation.
Last year’s record: 81-81
Vegas Over/Under: 83.5
Frascella’s Projection: 85-77
Hitting: Now’s gotta be the time, right? I so wanted to put the White Sox first in this division, but the Guardians have simply proven more when it comes to winning when it really matters. I think it’s finally time this offense puts it all together – that means Andrew Vaughn, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez operating at a high level collectively. Relative to ADP, I’m probably gonna have the most of Robert and Eloy there. I loved the Andrew Benintendi pickup because this offense needs a veteran to settle things down sometimes. This lineup has the right mix of upside and potential stability all the way through.
Pitching: A very strong rotation with Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Mike Clevinger. Cease is a tier 1 starter for fantasy baseball, while Lynn just keeps finding a way to get it done in his old age. Giolito concerns me as a “name” pitcher who may have fallen off a cliff. Kopech is very good, provided he remains healthy this time around. Clevinger is pretty much the best SP5 in baseball, the way he’s currently slotted. Top-tier group, with the potential exception being Giolito relative to ADP.
Last year’s record: 92-70
Vegas Over/Under: 86.5
Frascella’s Projection: 87-75
Hitting: This Vegas Over/Under seems to be baking in regression for all of the following guys: Andres Gimenez, Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario, and Josh Naylor. And that may be true in a couple instances, but I think Gimenez is the real deal. He’s always looked the part – poised, confident, professional, and extremely versatile. Young OF Oscar Gonzalez looks like a potential monster, so I’ll definitely have multiple shares of him. Josh Bell was a savvy pickup because this lineup has enough “nice” hitters to keep him confident and protected.
Pitching: Shane Bieber-Triston McKenzie-Cal Quantrill form a pretty safe 1-2-3 here. Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac will do what they always do: Switch spots between SP4 and 5 and confuse people as to who is who. They’ll always be available in your 14-team leagues. Just pay attention to whoever has been the hottest of late, haha.
American League West
Last year’s record: 60-102
Vegas Over/Under: 59.5
Frascella’s Projection: 51-111
Hitting: OF Seth Brown is the only one I’ll have shares of here. If you wanna take a shot or two on fellow OF Ramon Laureano, go ahead. No matter how you slice it though, this is the worst team in baseball.
Pitching: I don’t mind James Kaprielian for AL-Only, but that’s about it. Paul Blackburn is in for even further regression after a putrid second half of ’22.
Last year’s record: 68-94
Vegas Over/Under: 81.5
Frascella’s Projection: 82-80
Hitting: Veterans Corey Seager and Marcus Semien continue to lead the way for this group, but I don’t think most realized how effective Nate Lowe and Adolis Garcia were last season. I’m not too impressed by the rest of this offense, though. I suppose the “swing” guy is C Jonah Heim – if he can perform to his full potential perhaps the Rangers can outperform the Angels and Mariners within this stacked division.
Pitching: I don’t wanna hear anything about “side” issues and tightness when you paid Jacob deGrom $185 million! That doesn’t get me excited about this rotation for Texas, nor their upcoming season. Nathan Eovaldi also has side issues for this club. On paper, I wanted to maybe give them a shot at second place in this division, but why reach when the Angels and Mariners are both lookin’ good in totality? Lefties Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez are both regression candidates here, as well.
Last year’s record: 73-89
Vegas Over/Under: 81.5
Frascella’s Projection: 85-77
Hitting: It’s now or never, right? I mean, how can this team not mash with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, Brandon Drury, Anthony Rendon, Luis Rengifo, Taylor Ward, and Hunter Renfroe? I mean seriously, if they don’t hammer baseballs this organization is officially cursed. I like the acquisitions of both Drury and Renfroe – low-risk, low-pressure for them when you have protection from Trout, Ohtani, Ward, etc. The depth of talent here makes everybody a better individual fantasy play. Like, I don’t even mind trying Rendon in AL-Only even if he might be completely washed. And I like Rengifo as a late sleeper everywhere. Come on – they can’t flop now, can they?
Pitching: Tyler Anderson joins three strong arms in Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval (who seems to be one of the most underrated in the game), and Reid Detmers of no-hitter fame. I don’t even particularly mind Jose Suarez as a fifth starter, either. This is as ready as I’ve seen this club in years. I finally believe they have a real shot to make the playoffs.
Last year’s record: 90-72
Vegas Over/Under: 86.5
Frascella’s Projection: 86-76
Hitting: Julio Rodriguez, Teoscar Hernandez (great pickup) and Ty France are really the only three I trust here. I have to believe Eugenio Suarez will fall back down to earth after a strong bounce-back last season. And these Mariners have four guys I’ve never been a “guy” of: Kolten Wong, J.P. Crawford, A.J. Pollock, and Jarred Kelenic. Good thing Cal Raleigh is already one of the best fantasy catchers in the game.
Pitching: This is why I have them just slightly ahead of the Angels and Rangers (not their hitting). I feel great about the deadly trio of Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby. Not much to knock from a fantasy standpoint. And at the very least, Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzales are experienced lefties. There’s no glaring dead weight in this rotation. I mean we are splitting hairs with the Angels and Rangers, but this Mariners’ squad has proven just a bit more at this particular point in time.
Last year’s record: 106-56
Vegas Over/Under: 97.5
Frascella’s Projection: 100-62
Hitting: Are you learning anything new when I tell you about Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Jeremy Pena? Nope. You’re learning nothing. You already know that fivesome is f***kin’ scary. Throw in the veteran 1B Jose Abreu – about as professional as “professional hitters” come – and you get one opposing pitcher nightmare after another. Michael Brantley is currently dealing with some personal issues, but if they get him consistently too, forget about it.
Pitching: Take Justin Verlander away, and Lance McCullers – surprise, surprise – is already hurt again. These two facts took about 5-9 wins off my overall Astros’ projection. But hey, who is cryin’ about Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy? This group remains rock solid. When I think “consistent” – generally speaking – I immediately think of Sandy Alcantara, Corbin Burnes, and Framber these days. Houston’s premier lefty is in good company.
In the end, we can talk about “name” players all we want – but true baseball people know it isn’t about that. What it’s about – when it comes to a dominant postseason team like these Houston Astros – is heart, balls and simply executing when everything is on the line. It takes a rare breed. Just ask those Derek Jeter-Mariano Rivera-Bernie Williams Yankees about it.
John Frascella is a published baseball author who has been covering the game for nearly 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy baseball, football and basketball.
All of Frascella’s 2023 MLB Win Totals
- Astros: 100
- Dodgers: 98
- Blue Jays: 95
- Braves: 94
- Yankees: 93
- Phillies: 92
- Padres: 91
- Mets: 91
- Rays: 90
- Brewers: 89
- Cardinals: 87
- Guardians: 87
- Mariners: 86
- White Sox: 85
- Angels: 85
- Giants: 83
- Rangers: 82
- Orioles: 81
- Twins: 79
- Marlins: 77
- Red Sox: 76
- Royals: 75
- Cubs: 75
- Diamondbacks: 72
- Reds: 67
- Pirates: 65
- Rockies: 63
- Tigers: 59
- Nationals: 52
- Athletics: 51
Great info, John
Adds conviction for me on certain guys!
Agree on quite a few of those wins totals…
Thanks so much for reading, and for your kind words!
Yes, it’s my pleasure to provide you with some useful information. If anything else pops up during the season, don’t hesitate to reach out here or @LegendSports7 on Twitter. My sincere thanks once again!