MLB World Tour: Dodgers and Padres to Open 2024 Season in Seoul Stakes Content Team 07/13/2023 The MLB is set to enhance its global presence
Playing MLB win totals — tying up your money with a book for several months at a relatively small edge in terms of expected value — is naturally unappealing to many bettors.
By placing these wagers, you’re diminishing your accessible bankroll in the short term and providing the house with an interest-free loan for at least half a year.
From a personal perspective, however, win total over/unders are my favorite preseason markets to try to beat in any league and also serve as a guide for teams that may be underrated in the divisional and World Series futures markets.
But, there are a few things you should always keep in mind when surveying the odds in these markets:
Moreover, we have an expanded playoff format, universal DH, and a bevy of late transactions — with more still to come during spring training — to factor into 2022 projections.
As a result, I will continue to update this post before opening day.
First, I want to define two terms you might see below: “Market” refers to the average of the three projections. In contrast, “Composite” refers to an average of the “Market” projection and my projection.
Before we jump into the division by division breakdowns, I thought you might be interested in seeing which teams improved their “True Talent” wins expectation the most, or declined by the most, since the end of the 2021 season:
The Braves (+11.6) and Padres (-6.1) make relatively surprising appearances — but this list also accounts for (1) improved projections; and (2) injuries.
Otherwise, the lists align with expectations.
You might see a few of these offseason movers pop up below in win total wagers — but not necessarily on the side, you might expect.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays underachieved by eight wins in 2021 (91 actual, 99 Pythagorean), and all projections like them to split the difference this season. Progression from this young core seems obvious, too.
My projection is closer to ZIPS than either of the other two systems, showing either the Jays or Yankees winning the division by a wider margin.
Toronto’s divisional odds should be closer to +125, and its World Series odds nearer to +800, than north of +200 and +1200, respectively. I prefer the value on either of those futures to the win total (Over 91.5), unless I can find an Over 90.5.
Tampa Bay Rays: I’m much higher on the Rays (92.1) than the market (85.1), which has been the case for several seasons, and I expected to bet on Tampa Bay coming into the year.
Still, I don’t see actionable value on any of the Rays’ wagering options, despite a lean to the Over at 89.5. For the highly motivated, you can try to middle that with the Under 92.5 also sitting out there.
New York Yankees: For PECOTA truthers, the Yankees look like a value side — projected to clear their win total by more than five games (listed as low as 90 at PointsBet), with implied divisional and championship odds of -273, and +576, respectively (listed +225 at BetRivers and +1300 at FanDuel).
I can see the argument for the Bronx Bombers, but I also have them finishing in third place in the division, so I don’t support the value argument.
Boston Red Sox: No projected value. Pass.
Baltimore Orioles: Zero incentive to compete in the toughest division in baseball. Still, projections think they can be competitive, and I found an Over 60.5 at BetRivers, which necessitated a play; need Over 61.5 or better.
Chicago White Sox: If you support the combined FanGraphs/PECOTA projection above, the White Sox may be a divisional value play (listed -180 at Caesars).
However, I’m slightly lower on the South Siders than the rest of the projection market. I found an Under 93.5 at BetRivers and would place that bet down to 92.5.
Minnesota Twins: The market is optimistic about the Twins’ chances after adding Carlos Correa. I have the lowest projection for Minnesota by about two games, but I’m happy to side with the market and take an Over 78.5 (-125) at BetRivers on a team that is still looking to add pieces (hopefully, some pitchers from Oakland). Over 79.5 is OK, too.
Moreover, the projection market puts their divisional chances anywhere from +283 to +450, so I had to make a small play on their AL Central odds (+600 at FanDuel) and lean into the upside.
Lastly, their World Series odds should probably be closer to +5500 than the +6500 at FanDuel, if you’re interested in a deep longshot.
Cleveland Guardians: Might be looking to sell, but the last time this organization paced for fewer than 80 wins was in 2012. Every projection agrees that the win total is low. Play Over 75.5 (Caesars), and buy out if they trade Jose Ramirez before Opening Day.
Kansas City Royals: No projected value. Pass.
Detroit Tigers: Sat at the top of my sleeper rankings in the early offseason and grabbed some small/untracked +7500 World Series.
This under was a confident wager last year. This year, I’m much more skeptical, but I think the market has overcorrected. As you can see above, I upgraded the Tigers by +10.7 of wins this offseason.
Yet, every projection system thinks the Tigers are now overvalued (low of 67.4 from PECOTA) against the betting market despite many high-upside prospects and a decent foundational season in 2021.
I bet Under 80.5 at BetRivers — one of my four favorite win total bets for 2022.
Houston Astros: After betting the Astros to win the West last year — using a projection in lockstep with the projection marketplace — all 2022 forecasts are low on the defending AL champions, and I played an Under 94.5 at BetRivers (bet to 92.5).
Even if Justin Verlander comes back to total health, and they adequately replaces Carlos Correa, the Astros still may have trouble surpassing this number.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels were my most significant fade of 2021, but I don’t like them this year from a total win perspective.
Still, they have a volatile, high-upside roster, and their divisional odds could be anywhere from +200 to +550, depending on the projection. Since I’m down on Houston and in line with the Angels’ market, I’ll take a divisional shot against a weak favorite at +400 (BetMGM).
You can also take a shot at their World Series odds (+4000) if you want to get wild. However, while I think the Angels can topple a weak division, I’m unconvinced that they’re a legitimate contender.
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners may be my most significant on-paper fade of 2022. I think they improved their True Talent level by nine wins this offseason. Still, the betting market has likely over-adjusted — no projection is within two wins of their listed total.
Both my projection and the market projection have Seattle finishing 5.8 wins under their total — the second of my four favorite win total bets this season.
You can find an Under 85.5 (-110) at Caesars, and I may add more if this number continues to climb before Opening Day.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers improved their talent level (+12.6 wins) more than any team this offseason. I found an Over 72.5 to play at BetRivers — but would pass unless you can get that number.
Oakland Athletics: The A’s declined in True Talent (-19.5 wins) more than any team this offseason — and they may continue to fall if they trade starting pitchers like Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas.
The market is typically low on Oakland — and that’s the case again (-4.7) this season. Still, my projection aligns with the betting market, making them an easy pass from my perspective.
Do you want to fade Billy Beane at a low number?
Atlanta Braves: The projection market has been low on the defending champions for a few seasons — consistently recommending under wagers.
Now things have swung the other direction — specifically regarding their divisional odds (+145 consensus) or World Series futures (+1300 at FanDuel) — which the projection market would make, at worst, around +130 and +1050, respectively.
An Over 90.5 would also catch my interest. Otherwise, stick to the plus-money futures. Atlanta might be undervalued to repeat.
That said, there’s another team in the East who I prefer.
New York Met: No, it’s not the Mets. I’m slightly low on my favorite team this season, but not as low as the market consensus.
However, their projection market value (-4.4 to the Under) is also driven by an outlier figure from Davenport (79). Unless you genuinely believe in that number, they’re an easy pass.
Philadelphia Phillies: Like the Angels, I’m not interested in the Phillies from a win total perspective — they have a star-laden, volatile, high-upside roster, and I don’t project any value in the number.
Alternatively, the projection market likes their chances to contend for the division (projected +370 to +575) or even make a run at the World Series (projected +2100 to +3500) — and given their specific offseason choices, I’m inclined to agree.
I bet a divisional ticket (+500) at FanDuel and a World Series ticket (+4000) at Caesars; the Phillies are my favorite longshot on the board.
Miami Marlins: I am high on the Marlins moving forward — with a plethora of young, controllable starting pitching at their disposal. And they started spending money this offseason, which is an encouraging sign.
Moreover, I show more upside in their win projection (+4.4 wins over listed) than any other team for 2022. And the projection market (range 75-80.2) generally agrees with my assessment.
Miami Over 74.5 (PointsBet) is the third of my four favorite win total wagers for 2022. I would bet that line up to 76.
Washington Nationals: No projected value. Pass.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers were my biggest wager in 2021, thanks to the discrepancy between my projection, the market projection and the betting market, and I see a similar edge again for 2022, albeit at juiced odds instead of +400.
FanGraphs makes them -266 to win the division, and PECOTA -713, or -405 combined; close to a 25% edge compared to the betting line.
I see a smaller gap between Milwaukee and the second-place team (3.1) compared to any other projection. Still, at a minimum, the Brewers should probably be -150 (60%) to -185 (65%) to win the NL Central — in what essentially amounts to a two-team race — with upside to look like -400 favorites out of the gates.
I don’t see nearly as much value on Milwaukee’s win total as their divisional line, but I will add a World Series future, too, with market projections setting the line closer to +1300 and +1500.
I was able to grab a +2000 before the number disappeared, but I’m comfortable taking a smaller shot on their World Series odds, down to +1500.
If the Brewers can beat up on a weak division and grab the second seed and a bye in the National League, they’ll certainly pay off those odds.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Redbirds needed a miracle 22-7 September and all of the luck (85 Pythagorean wins) to make the playoffs and burn our win total Under last season.
The projection market likes their Under to a significant degree yet again (projected 78.9, -6.6 vs. listed) — primarily driven by a 74-win forecast from Davenport.
The Cardinals are my model’s No. 1 defensive team by a wide margin, and I align more closely with the betting market (projected 85.5). Still, I was able to find a juiced Under 87.5 at BetRivers, which seemed too good to pass up.
Even if I remove the Davenport projection, 87.5 is still 3.7 wins from my consensus projection. And with that projection included, it’s 5.4 wins short, at the level of my Detroit and Seattle projections.
The Milwaukee division price generally correlates to this Under wager, so I’m not pushing a ton behind this one.
Cincinnati Reds: My projection likes the Under 75.5, and it may be wise to get ahead of a team that looks like it will sell. Still, the projection market likes the Over — someone does have to win games in this division. Ultimately probably a pass, but I will keep an eye on the Under.
Chicago Cubs: If I had to pick one team to defy all projections this year and break .500, the Cubs are the squad; they’re doing some exciting things which may not translate well to predictive data. I show slight value on their under, if anything, and have to pass.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Buccos’ Over was a sweat last year, and I wasn’t keen to make that same bet again.
Still, I found a juiced Over 62.5 at Bet Rivers and had to fire a wager. I would bet the Pirates’ Over to 64.5 — every projection has them at least one win higher.
Zerillo’s NL Central Futures
Los Angeles Dodgers: Like the Brewers, the Dodgers’ divisional odds offer a drastic discrepancy between my projection, the market projection and the betting market.
ZIPS only makes them -257 to win the West, while PECOTA has them at -546. However, I’m higher on the Dodgers than those projections and see a more significant standings gap between Los Angeles and the second-place team, in lockstep with Davenport.
As a result, the Dodgers should be -400 or better, at a minimum, to win the division — close to a 15% edge compared to the best available odds.
I bet their divisional price at -185 at FanDuel and would play it up to -233 (70% implied).
I prefer that bet to their win total of Over 96.5, where I also show actionable value, but that is a viable play.
LA’s World Series odds (+550 at FanDuel) seem reasonable, especially considering the extra wild-card spot and the three-game wild-card round. More optimistic projections would place their odds nearer to +400.
I’m not particularly eager to take World Series tickets below +1000 at this time, however.
San Diego Padres: No value in the win total market. Might offer preseason World Series value (+1800 at DraftKings, projected as low as +1550). Still, you’re likely to get closer to +2500 or +300 if you wait, and they stay around .500 for six to eight weeks without Fernando Tatis Jr. in the lineup.
San Francisco Giants: The projection market likes the Under (-3.3), but I’m closer to the listed total (+0.3) and very high on this organization.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Last season’s worst team is seemingly the best Over bet for 2022 and the last of my four favorite win total bets for this season.
I’m the low man on the Diamondbacks (68.2), but my projection would still clear their average total by 2.7 wins, while the market projections are more than double my number (+5.8).
Arizona has a much more talented roster than the other teams in the sub-70 win bracket. The Snakes will look to bounce back after a wave of injuries and poor luck (52 actual wins, 61 Pythagorean wins) in 2021.
I played the Over 63.5 at BetRivers but would place that wager up to 65.5.
Colorado Rockies: I am typically low on the Rockies, so I’m skeptical of my projection (-3.2), and the market (-0.8) is enough to dissuade me from making a wager, initially.
Moreover, any Under wager correlates to my Over wager on Arizona. I’m going to pass, but I’ll keep an eye on this total.
MLB World Tour: Dodgers and Padres to Open 2024 Season in Seoul Stakes Content Team 07/13/2023 The MLB is set to enhance its global presence