Before the word "bracket" even enters your head for another two weeks or so, there is some valued time to be invested thinking about another sports future outcome. Yup, it happens every Spring, along with buds on the trees and hay fever. Time to break out the bats & balls, forecasting who wins more MLB baseball games than odds makers think this season and who doesn't. It certainly is a better bet than say, a Pirates-White Sox pre-season game from Sarasota this Saturday afternoon. Because if you're starved for Florida wagering action, consider golf this month.
On the baseball diamond they tweak the rules every year but the betting formula remains basically intact. Over the course of the marathon 162 game season it's highly unlikely that the best teams will win more than 60% of their games (98), nor the worst teams will will lose more than 60% (64 wins). But don't think you're going to get an easy, guaranteed score. Only the record 40-8 stretch the Dodgers accomplished in 2013 assured bettors of cashing their Over the Win Total ticket early. It was the greatest 50 game ride since the Cardinals in 1942. What is forgotten about that feat is the Dodgers were a dismal 30-42 before it occurred. Proof that many were thinking their future "Under" bet was looking good in early June.
The MLB Over/Under season is only for the patient bettor. With a six month season filled with many twists and turns, injuries and statistical proof that you cannot either count your money or give up on any bet until at least September 1st, Contrasting the situation to the 16 game NFL season, where every football game is huge and every win or loss significant.
For example, the Minnesota Vikings proved to be every bit the "wise-guy bet" they were before the season started. I noted the red flag of opportunity when Diamond Sports, BetOnline and other leading sportsbooks marked the Vikes over win total at 7 but at alarming odds of -180. Everybody seemed to have gotten the word. They didn't disappoint and won their clinching 8th game before December 1st.
Baseball offers a very different scenario. You can count on perennial favorite teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers with slightly inflated win totals similar to the Cowboys and Steelers in the NFL. But for the rest of the NL and AL many teams offer a trickier option. As always, the heart of the numbers and confidence is based on starting pitching. Without that solid 4 to 5-man rotation you aren't going to get past .500 no matter how solid your starting position player eight is, defense on the field or bullpen.
The following are a few suggestions to pursue before we all begin carefully filling out our NCAA brackets and worrying about #3 seeds tanking early. The lines are courtesy of Elite-rated online sportsbook Bovada, the first online to post the MLB Over/Under Win Totals for the regular season. Be sure to check other premium offshore sportsbooks in March for competitive comparison.
Over 92.5 Wins (-130)
Under 92.5 Wins (Even)
One of my favorite axioms is "the line tells you something" and here we go again. Can you believe the beloved Cubbies lead the majors this year with highest projected team win total at Bovada with 92.5? This stands out as baseball's betting version of the Vikings and a major league endorsement following up their strong finish last year into the playoffs.
Maybe the best pitching in baseball with Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Add on an exceptional starting line-up with Anthony Rizzo on down, no doubt the young Cubs only concern is staying healthy. Will this finally be the year to break Billy goat curses and watch a World Series at Wrigley? That remains to be seen but breaking OVER 90 wins toward maybe a hundred looks like a solid bet. The only downside might be the intimidating -130 price.
Los Angeles Angels
Over 81.5 Wins (-115)
Under 81.5 Wins (-115)
One thing you can say for the LA Angels is they have experience. But maybe that is not a good thing these days where many teams opt for younger, hungrier players looking for more incentive dollars.
Long-time manager Mike Scioscia is back at the helm this year to lead the Angels. I'm looking for future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to bounce back this season with Mike Trout to lead the majors in home runs. That backbone should get any team past a .500 season with decent pitching and the Angels are a qualifier. Garrett Richards is a potential 20-game winner with proven starters Jered Weaver and C.J Wilson backing him up. Their bullpen is so-so and that might be part of the reason for the betting value. If all goes right this season, I like the Angels experience in a very competitive division to get past a soft number and OVER the total here as well.
Kansas City Royals
Over 85.5 Wins (-115)
Under 85.5 Wins (-115)
Again, another "the line is telling you something" candidate. Why hasn't the World Series winner bolstered a bit more confidence in the odds maker's pen? Wouldn't we expect at least a totals number in the 90's here with two great seasons in a row?
The answer might be in the Royals lack of marquee stars and small market appeal. A more logical answer would be that they've been fortunate to have been injury free while cultivating young talented players simultaneously over the past three or four years. Credit goes to their scouts and drafting system after many miserable years of losing so many games and being at the bottom.
Despite fine pitching from Edison Volquez and solid everyday contribution from starters like first baseman Eric Hosmer and all-star catcher Salvator Perez, I look for a few wheels to fall off this season. Maybe a few sore arms or a key injury to even out the odds. Search for the highest win total you can secure here and go UNDER the total on the Royals.
Like all investments, it's wise to shop around. The leading offshore sportsbooks mostly offer generous opportunities to bet larger amounts on this type of future wager. Similar to a half point in a single game, one win either way on the full season totals could make the difference. Therefore, it's a smart move to secure the best deal on the team of your choice. On the first day of Fall 2016, that could potentially seem like a really smart move.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding NFL previews and picks from Glenn, click here.