MLB Future Best Bets
Every year some of my favourite bets to make are the season long over/under bets on team win totals, and hence it seems like a good place to start my planned regular gambling column.
As with any bets I recommend during the season, these are all purely hypothetical. I’d of course never actually place any illegal bets. (Wink)
Unfortunately, the team which I thought would be the surest bet on the board (the Yankees), I cant find a line anywhere online. Presumably, with all the injuries they’ve sustained during spring training, the books have taken them down. It’s a real shame, because I was hoping to absolutely hammer the under, because I think they are in a for a huge fall this year.
San Diego Padres – 74.5 - OVER
The Padres are probably the team where my opinion differs the most from the conventional wisdom in the baseball community. I have the Padres in the mid-80s when it comes to wins. Their pitching staff is one of the deepest in the league, featuring at least 10 starting pitchers who I see as MLB quality. To go along with that, their lineup should finally feature some power bats if Jedd Gyorko emerges at 2nd base, and once Yasmani Grandal returns from his suspension.
To further read my thoughts on the Padres, I wrote an entire team preview (which is extensive, and very thorough) over at Blue Jays Plus.
The Padres spring training hasn’t been what one would hope for. Their star Chase Headley is doubtful for opening day, and starter Casey Kelly could be headed towards major arm surgery. However, even despite these setbacks, I am still very bullish on them heading into the season. Their strong depth allows them overcome these type of injuries more readily than others. Even if the poor spring might have tempered my expectations somewhat, it hasn’t gone far enough to drop them lower than 80 wins.
Another reason that has made me even more confident about the Padres, was hearing Joe Sheehan agree with me that he was taking the Padres to win the West on the most recent version of the Rany & Joe Podcast. Knowing that one of the leading lights of the SABRmetric movement has my back is very reassuring.
While I may be out on a limb here, this is the one of my bets that I feel the most confident about.
Philadelphia Phillies – 84.5 - UNDER
I find this line VERY puzzling. The Phillies were a huge disappointment last season, plummeting 21 wins down to 81. While its easy to say that last season was a fluke, specifically because of injuries, but I don’t see many reasons for optimism. During the hot stove season, they added two of the worst starting players in the majors in the brothers Young (Delmon & Michael)*, as well as trading for CF Ben Revere, and signing John Lannan to patch over their pitching staff.
*Note, may not actually be brothers.
None of those players inspires a lot of confidence in me, and when you couple those less than stellar signings with spring struggles from Roy Halladay, and a 50 game suspension to backstop Carlos Ruiz, I see even more misery in store for the aging Phils.
For the Phillies to bounce back, they would need full seasons from perennially injured Ryan Howard & Chase Utley, but also a breakthrough from failed prospect Domonic Brown. That’s a very big longshot. Take the under.
Toronto Blue Jays - 88.5 - OVER
Full disclosure here, I’m a diehard Blue Jays fan, but I don’t believe this prediction has anything to do with me being a homer. Frankly, this prediction has less to do with the Jays, and as much to do with how down I am on the Yankees, and to a lesser extent the Red Sox. Unlike past seasons where the AL East was seen as far and away the best division in baseball. I don’t see that being the case this year, where its occupied by a regressing Orioles squad, an injured and aging Yankees team, a highly unpredictable Red Sox, & even a Rays team always looking ahead to the future more than maximizing this year’s win total.
In addition to a weaker than normal division, you cant look past the oodles and oodles of talent they’ve added this offseason. By adding the likes of Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, Dickey, Cabrera, Bonifacio, & Izturis, the Jays have added more than 20 wins to their bottom line (using Fangraphs WAR). Couple that with the possibility of full seasons from Brett Lawrie, & Jose Bautista, I’m more than confident in using 90 wins as their baseline. Since 90 is higher than 88, I’m betting on my Blue Jays to actually give me something to cheer for this year.
Minnesota Twins – 68.5 - UNDER
After a decade of over achieving, and punching above their small market weight, things have come crashing down in the twin cities. The past two seasons, they’ve roared past 90 losses, and despite having an offseason that I like in the long run, should do absolutely nothing to improve their team short term.
Last year, the Twins were dead last in FIP, in strikeout rate, and in pitching WAR. In order to fix this problem, GM Terry Ryan decided to sign the worst contract of the off-season in the 2 year, 10 million dollar contract to Kevin Correia. That isn’t going to fix any problems what-so-ever. To go with their lacklustre collection of pitching talent, they also have what looks to be a deficient offence this year as well. They have a rookie penciled in CF (Aaron Hicks), a glove only shortstop (Pedro Florimon), a AAAA players at both 2nd (Brian Dozier), and right field (Chris Parmelee).
Even despite all those factors I might still be tempted to take the over. However the other factor that isn’t being included here, is that I see the Twins selling off even more talent than they did this winter. I think that by mid-season both Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham will be wearing a different uniform, and that is enough for me to expect yet another 90 loss season.
Oakland A’s to win the AL West - +580
I’m not very confident that the Athletics will win the division, however I do see the West as a wide open 3 team race, and given that situation the chance to get almost 6/1 that looks like an excellent bet to me. The Athletics are not only the defending West division champions, but I think they’ve improved from the squad they were at the end of last season.
The biggest flaw on their team in 2012 was their deficient infield, this year they’ve changed their mix by adding a wide collection of talent, from all different areas. First they acquired Hiroyuki Nakajima from the Seibu Lions, then they traded for Jed Lowrie from the Astros, and also has Scott Sizemore returning from the disabled list. I think that some combination of those 3 should boost the their biggest weakness, but those are the only moves that I like. They also made two excellent trades to acquire the underrated John Jaso, and also toolsy centerfielder Chris Young.
If I can get a defending division champion, who I think has improved over the off-season at over 6/1 then I cant pass that up.
San Diego Padres to win the NL West - +1500
For all the same logic that I listed for taking the Padres as an over, I’m also going out on a limb and saying that they may win the NL West. This here, is nothing but a pure value bet. I don’t believe that the Padres are the best team in their division, however I see it as a fairly even 4 horse race between every team that isn’t based in Denver, and since that’s the case, getting 15/1 odds means I cant possibly turn that down.
Those are my recommended bets from on the future market. My plan for the season is to have a daily list of bets which are mostly based on the starting pitchers starting that day. Anyway, this is just a start, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter (@Mentoch), and find the rest of my writing over at www.bluejaysplus.com