Opening Day! Phillies win total for 2017 will be better, still not great

The teams are expected to be better than 2017. Those odds tho.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Anything is possible as the MLB season officially gets underway today. Well… not anything. In fact, it’s almost a mathematical impossibility the Phillies will win the World Series this season.

Or win the division.

Or make the playoffs.

2017 baseball is back!

As the Phils get their season started with a three-game set in Cincinnati, the expectations are, simply put, not very high. Even manager Pete Mackanin said earlier this spring he thinks they can be a .500 team, which is not great, but certainly better than last year’s 71-91 record. Unfortunately, he may be the only one who thinks that.

The Phillies are 100-1 to win the World Series this season, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. When the odds opened in the early off-season, nine teams were installed at 100-1, the worst in the league. Now, with the season starting, four teams have longer odds than the Phillies — including the Reds at 300-1— which gives them a fighting chance to not be the worst team in baseball this season. Still, they should be the worst team in the NL East, and that includes Atlanta and Miami, both at 80-1 odds to win it all.

So let’s forget about a parade down Broad St. for another year. What’s more important is whether or not the Phillies will be better than last season. And the consensus is yes. Probably. A little bit.

Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard are both gone. Are the 2017 Phillies better without them?

Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard are both gone. Will that make the 2017 Phillies better?

USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies opened at 72.5 wins in Las Vegas in February, and the most recent over/under — released by CRIS sportsbook in late March — has them up to 73.5 wins. The Braves finished behind the Phillies in the standings last season and opened at 71.5, and are now between 74.5 and 75.5, depending on the outlet.

Last year, the over/under for the Phillies was 66 games, so this season already feels like progress. That said, Vegas sets the over/under based on how people will bet on a team, so while that win total is usually pretty close — Vegas makes its money in the narrow margins, not with projecting blowouts — it’s probably more valuable to trust the baseball experts on such things as guessing in March how many wins a team will have come October.

Baseball Prospectus has the Phillies winning 73 games, three behind the Braves, according to their highly-regarded PECOTA rankings. Of course, BP also has the Mets winning the division over the Nationals, so who the heck knows.

Fangraphs has the Phillies projected for just 70 wins, tied with the Braves (and Brewers) for the fourth-worst record projection in the Majors.

Bleacher Report took each team’s PECOTA and made their own predictions, with the Phillies locked in fourth place in the division at 72 wins.

USA Today’s baseball minds project the Phillies for 74 wins, four games clear of the Braves and just 16 games behind the Washington Nationals for the division crown. That’s almost like a parade, right?

Our guess is the Phillies will be better than last season, the team will be much more fun to watch all year and there will be hope for the future for the first time in a while. And yet, somehow, that will translate to just about as many wins as last year. Let’s say 72, without any analytic research to back that up. One more win than last season — progress! — but if you’re gambling on the season…hedge and maybe take the under. Good to have you back, baseball, even if winning baseball is still a ways away.

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