Here are my Top 3 MLB season win total best bets for the 2016 season.
1) Tampa Bay Rays (OVER 78)
The Rays should be able to squeak out tighter games especially at home this season. They lost a bunch of 1-run tilts last season. The Rays were just 42-42 at home last season and should be much better at Tropicana Field this year. Their pitching looks strong and the offense should be much improved with the additions of Cory Dickerson and Brad Miller. The defense will also have more range. I think Steven Souza Jr. is a lock for at least 20 HR's and 20 steals with a decent batting average. He's 26 and entering his prime right now. Souza has 151 strikeouts in 131 career games. He showed signs of improvement before his finger injury, as he drew a career high 46 walks in 373 at-bats last season. Very talented kid who just might have a breakout season. The Rays won 80 games last season and that was with closer Brad Boxberger (41 saves) losing 10 games. His ERA of 3.71 last season was significantly higher than his ERA of 2.37 in 2014. Chris Archer is my AL CY Young award winner and Drew Smyly is featured in my Top 5 MLB Left-handed starters age 27 or younger article. I have the Tampa Bays Rays winning the AL East in 20016 with a 91-71 record.
2) Kansas City Royals (OVER 87)
I predicted the Royals to win the World Series two seasons ago and everyone thought I was crazy. I was off by one year. The Odds-makers are disrespecting the champs and you should never question the heart of a champion. This team still has a top-notch bullpen even without the services of closer Greg Holland. Wade Davis should breeze his way to at least 50 Saves. The Royals have great chemistry and all they need is for their starters to give them 6 quality innings. This team is very talented. I think Eric Hosmer is headed for a career year with a .300 average, 30 home runs and 15 steals. The Royals know how to win and should be very formidable once again this season. The Royals' lineup doesn't strikeout too often and they are masters of putting the ball in play. All of the key players are just entering their prime and confidence should be sky high. Great Bullpen. Great Defense. Lots of team speed. I have the Kansas City Royals winning the Central with a 93-69 record.
3) Toronto Blue Jays (UNDER 87.5)
The Blue Jays led the league in Home Runs, runs scored, and batting average in all of baseball last season. While the offense looks potent once again on paper, these teams have regressed the following season. Toronto does most of its damage at home as Rogers Centre is notorious for increasing the number of Home Runs. Last season, Rogers Centre played more of a pitchers pen, ranking 24th in runs according to ESPN park factors. I love Marcus Stroman as an ace, but will he stay healthy? Marco Estrada and RA Dickey can miss some bats. The rest of the rotation is unproven, and if any key member of the Blue Jays goes down for a lengthy period their depth will be tested. The Blue Jays might start fast, but I don't believe the bullpen or rotation will hold up. That puts a lot of pressure on the offense over the course of 162 games. Who's going to close? Drew Storen or Brett Cecil? I think Roberto Osuna is the best choice. The Blue Jays will probably win more games than my prediction of 74-88 (4th in AL East), but should stay under 87.5. I don't think the Blue Jays will be making any major trades and add payroll this Summer. They might be sellers this season!
Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline