MLB Season Win Total Odds - MLB Futures
by Dave Schwab - 3/9/2011
Right now anyone who wagers on sports undoubtedly has their mind filled with thoughts of No.1 seeds, bubble teams, bracket busters and all the other things that bring the madness to March for college basketball. However, it’s important to remember that all 30 Major League baseball teams are back to work in preparation of another 162-game season.
Opening day is less than a month away, but it is not too late to place a wager or two on one of the most interesting futures bets available- MLB win totals. Sports books such as Bodog, BetUS, and Sports Interaction have all released their MLB season win total odds for the projected ‘over/under’ for every team in the league.
Oddsmakers form a win total line by starting with some form of computer-generated power rating that relies on a series of complex formulas to assign a numeric value to a particular team in terms of projected wins. Next, this number will be adjusted up or down based on variables such as recent roster moves, current form, public perception, and any pertinent injuries that may linger into the regular season. A perfect example this year would be the St. Louis Cardinals. When pitcher Adam Wainwright, who won 20 games in 2010, went down with an injury to his pitching arm that required season-ending Tommy John surgery, so did the Cardinals’ win totals for the season.
It is not important to understand how the total line is formed, but what is important is how to recognize value in the actual numbers. Who had the foresight to realize that 81 ½ wins for San Francisco was far too low for the eventual World Champions, who actually won 92 games last season? Toronto was predicted to be buried near the bottom of the AL East with powerhouses New York, Boston, and even Tampa Bay ahead of it (which is exactly what happened), but the Blue Jays managed to win 85 games against an ‘over/under’ of 71 ½.
Some of the higher profile teams in the league held true to form such as the Yankees, who won 95 games against a total line of 95 ½, and Philadelphia, who exceeded its projected total by 4 ½ games with a league-high 97 wins. With the addition of Cliff Lee to a pitching staff that already has Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, it is easy to see why the Phillies have the highest win total line in the league at 96 ½ games. The value here could actually be in the ‘under’ as the huge expectation level this team will have to face this season could actually end up wearing it down a bit, just ask the Miami Heat.
An interesting trend to take into consideration is a three- or four -year picture of a team’s win totals. A perfect example on the plus side would be the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds won 72 games in 2007, 74 games in 2008, and 78 games in 2009. Their projected total for 2010 was 79 ½, keeping in line with the upward progression of team. Cincinnati actually blew that number away with 91 wins last year.
Conversely, take a look at a team like Texas that won 90 games last season against of total line of 82 ½. The Rangers’ ‘over/under’ total for this season is 86 ½ games, and while this team still has quite a bit of overall talent, there seems to be quite a bit of value in the ‘under’ considering they lost the services of their best pitcher when Lee signed with Philly.
The final area to try and mine some value out of the win total line is digging for this year’s sleepers. Every season there are always a couple of teams that overachieve by winning more games than they are projected to. A couple a teams that might fit this bill heading into this season could be the Oakland Athletics at 83 ½ wins in the American League and the Chicago Cubs at 81 ½ games in the National League. The A’s won 81 games last season and appear to be one of those teams on an upward progression while the Cubs won only 75 games in 2010 but appear to be ready to reclaim their stake to NL Central title that they held just a few years back.
The following is a look at the MLB season win total odds for all 30 teams as provided by Sports Interaction.
Arizona Diamondbacks 72 ½
Atlanta Braves 87 ½
Baltimore Orioles 76 ½
Boston Red Sox 95 ½
Chicago Cubs 81 ½
Chicago White Sox 85 ½
Cincinnati Reds 85
Cleveland Indians 71 ½
Colorado Rockies 86 ½
Detroit Tigers 84 ½
Florida Marlins 82 ½
Houston Astros 72
Kansas City Royals 68 ½
LA Angels 83
LA Dodgers 84
Milwaukee Brewers 85 ½
Minnesota Twins 86 ½
NY Mets 77
NY Yankees 91 ½
Oakland A’s 83 ½
Philadelphia Phillies 96 ½
Pittsburgh Pirates 67 ½
San Diego Padres 75 ½
San Francisco Giants 88 ½
Seattle Mariners 74
St. Louis Cardinals 84
Tampa Bay Rays 85 ½
Texas Rangers 86 ½
Toronto Blue Jays 76 ½
Washington Nationals 72 ½
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