MLB Win Total Primer
With position players reporting to most Major League Spring Training sites over the next few days, the sportsbooks are starting to get back into baseball mode. Atlantis Casino and Sportsbook in Reno, NV released MLB win totals on Thursday afternoon and LVH Superbook will be releasing their MLB win total numbers on Sunday. If you’re willing to tie up your money through September, there are plenty of attractive bets on the win total board.
Here at BangTheBook.com, Adam Burke will spend the next 30 days highlighting each of the 30 MLB teams with a preview of the upcoming season and a pick on the win total. It will be interesting to see what differences there are between Atlantis and LVH, as well as to see what differences there will be when the offshores open up their win total numbers. For now, here is a list of the win totals from Atlantis:
Los Angeles Dodgers 92.5
Detroit Tigers 91.5
Washington Nationals 90.5
St. Louis Cardinals 90.5
Tampa Bay Rays 88.5
Boston Red Sox 87.5
Cincinnati Reds 87.5 (under -115)
San Francisco Giants 86.5
Texas Rangers 86.5
Atlanta Braves 86.5
Oakland A’s 86.5 (over –115)
Pittsburgh Pirates 86.5 (under -115)
Kansas City Royals 85.5
Los Angeles Angels 84.5
New York Yankees 83.5
Cleveland Indians 82.5 (under -115)
Seattle Mariners 81.5
Arizona Diamondbacks 81
Baltimore Orioles 80.5
Milwaukee Brewers 78.5 (under -115)
Philadelphia Phillies 78
Toronto Blue Jays 77.5 (over –115)
Colorado Rockies 76.5
San Diego Padres 76.5
Chicago White Sox 76.5 (under -115)
New York Mets 71.5
Miami Marlins 66.5
Chicago Cubs 65.5
Minnesota Twins 65.5 (under -115)
Houston Astros 57.5 (over –115)
Last season’s World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, were lined at 82.5 at LVH and 79.5 (over -120) at Atlantis. The Red Sox were coming off of a 69-win season. The Cardinals, the National League representative in the World Series, were lined at 84 at Atlantis and 85.5 at LVH. As you can see from the numbers above, perception plays a big role in these numbers. The Cardinals are projected to win 90 or more of their games, while the Red Sox are projected to finish second in the AL East. The Astros are expected to lose over 100 games again this season, after winning just 51 games in 2013.
There are still moves to be made in free agency, as bigger name free agents like Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana from the pitching side and Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales from the position player side remain unsigned. It’s possible to jump in on some of the teams rumored to be filling holes with players like that before their win total numbers adjust. A guy like Jimenez or Santana may be worth an additional two wins to the team that signs him, so a team like Seattle, who needs starting pitching, may see their win total closer to 83 or 84 if they sign a player like that.
Another interesting thing from these numbers is that the winner of the AL West is projected to win less than 90 games. Each of the last two seasons, both Oakland and Texas won over 90 games. With Anaheim in a bounceback year and Seattle making some improvements over the winter, the oddsmakers seem to be expecting a much more competitive division in the AL West.
Something to keep in mind for looking at regression is a team’s record in one-run games. Studies have shown that records in one-run games are anything but predictive and, with bullpen turnover being such a big part of baseball, a lot of things would need to go right for a team to replicate that kind of success. The Yankees led the league in one-run games with a 30-10 mark. With Mariano Rivera gone, shifting David Robertson into the closer’s role would lower the depth of the overall bullpen. The Indians went 30-17 in spite of injuries to Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano, but they also won a lot of games in walk-off fashion. Arizona went 34-21 in one-run games for the third-best mark, despite a middle of the pack ERA, the seventh-highest FIP as a bullpen, and the most blown saves in baseball.
Another thing to look for when betting win totals is to understand that big transactions are often overvalued. The Blue Jays acquired R.A Dickey, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and Mark Buehrle prior to the 2013 season and their win total came out at 87.5 at LVH. The Blue Jays won just 74 games. With the advancement of statistics like WAR – wins above replacement player – and other sabermetric stats, the oddsmakers can try to project the amount of wins a player will add to a roster, but they may overlook things like changing ballparks, changing leagues, or what a team lost in order to acquire the players that they did. In Toronto’s case, Dickey went from an extreme pitcher’s park to a neutral park and went from the National League to the American League. It showed in his performance and it was something that the oddsmakers did not account for. Robinson Cano is this season’s example, going from a very friendly hitter’s park for lefties to a less favorable environment in Seattle. Also, playing nine road games in Anaheim and Oakland as opposed to Baltimore and Boston could hurt his production.
These numbers are sure to move over the next couple of days and certainly over the next few weeks with Spring Training injuries and late signings. For Adam’s 30 teams in 30 days segment, he will go in alphabetical order, posting just the Atlantis numbers until LVH or an offshore with numbers available to most bettors come out.
Like other sports, statistical analysis is crucial in baseball. In Adam’s previews, he will reference a lot of sabermetric concepts, so it may be wise to keep the tremendous glossary at Fangraphs on hand. It’s important to understand that advanced statistics in baseball are used to illustrate a player’s value. Because of that, it’s possible to simply add and subtract wins and losses based on additions and subtractions, but WAR is not a foolproof statistic. No baseball statistic is foolproof and some are more predictive than others, but every one of them can be a tool to help build a win total wager.
Be on the lookout for Adam’s first preview, the Arizona Diamondbacks, tomorrow at BangTheBook.com.