The Baseball Savant

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Talking Futures – 2012 Over/Under Total Wins

Our pals at BetOnline have released some over/under values for total wins for the upcoming 2012 season. We’ll go through the divisions.

AL EAST

Yankees: Over 93 wins = -115; Under 93 wins = -115
Red Sox: Over 88 wins = -135; Under 88 wins = +105
Rays: Over 87.5 wins = -122; Under 87.5 wins = -108
Blue Jays: Over 80.5 wins = -135; Under 80.5 wins = +105
Orioles: Over 71 wins = -105; Under 71 wins = -125

The Yankees win 97 games last year and essentially stood pat besides trading Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. That’s obviously a rotation upgrade assuming Pineda stays healthy & it seems like New York’s rotation should be a bit better than last season’s. You are sort of betting on their offense to keep going forward despite dealing with massive age issues. I think the gains for a guy like Curtis Granderson is real and not luck derived. Mark Teixeira is motivated and so is Alex Rodriguez from what I can understand. Nick Swisher is in a contract year and Robinson Cano is one of the best hitters in the game. You aren’t getting crazy value for the over-93 at -115, but if you had to bet on the Yankees, how can you not see them winning 94 games?

Boston won 90-games last season and the O/U here is 88. I could go either way on the Red Sox. On the surface they look tremendous, but you have to wonder what the effects will be in year one without both Theo Epstein & Terry Francona leading the franchise. BetOnline obviously likes them a lot at over-88 wins, but I don’t think getting to 87 wins would be that far off. Because of this I’d probably stay away from Boston all together because I wouldn’t be surprised if they went 85-77, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they went 97-65. If I had to go one way I’d go under-88 at +105 only because the value is there.

Tampa Bay is an easy play. You take the over 87.5 wins at -122. Tampa won 91 games last season and I don’t see them falling off. They get Matt Moore this year and the rotation is a year older. Hopefully Evan Longoria can play a full season and I think the offense will get a pretty big boost by having a full season of Desmond Jennings. The Rays need another thumper in my opinion in the lineup, but they are hoping Carlos Pena can be that guy and avoid an Adam Dunn-esque fall in 2012. Still, the pitching staff here has the potential to be utterly dominant from start to finish.

Take the under-71 wins for the Orioles even if it is at -125. Baltimore is playing in the most difficult division in baseball. They get 72 games against their divisional rivals, all of whom could probably be considered among the top-10 teams in all of baseball. Four of the top-6 teams in the AL reside in the AL East meaning the Orioles are in for a horrific season. Last year Baltimore went 69-93. If they avoid 100 losses this year it should be considered a successful season. There is simply no way this team flirts with 72-73 victories.

Clearly BetOnline likes Toronto to be a +.500 team. I was really hoping that the Blue Jays would offer some type of under the radar value, but I don’t see it. At -135 for over 80.5 wins, you almost feel as if you have to take it because Toronto is going to be that good. Last year the Blue Jays went 81-81, and they are better this season. Something would have to go remarkably wrong with the Jays to fall under .500. Ricky Romero is an ace and Brandon Morrow is completely dominant in games. I think Brett Cecil will be good this season, the bullpen is solid and this team can score runs. The back end of the rotation is a little thin, but if Toronto can stabilize the pitching they are going to win a lot of ball games. I’ll mention this below with the NL East, but it’s highly likely every team in the East sans Baltimore will win 85 games. The last time it happened was as recent as 2010!

AL CENTRAL

Tigers: Over 94 wins = -120; Under 94 wins = -120
Royals: Over 78.5 wins = -120; Under 78.5 wins = -110
Indians: Over 76.5 wins = -122; Under 76.5 wins = -108
Twins: Over 74 wins = -115; Under 74 wins = -115
White Sox: Over 77 wins = -110; Under 77 wins = -120

As we’ve seen before, the difference between Detroit and the rest of the Central is astonishing. The Tigers won 95 games last season so Vegas is expecting more of the same from the boys in Motown. The scary part about Detroit is that they could get better. Guys like Austin Jackson & Brenna Boesch get a year older so hopefully they can take a step forward. The same goes for guys like Rick Porcello & Max Scherzer. Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball. They added Prince Fielder to the offense. There is no real value either way with the O/U being at -120 and 94 wins is a huge amount, but how can you not go for the over if you are looking at Detroit? The other teams in the Central are terrible and the Tigers will have 44.4% of their games played against their division rivals!

The rest of the Central is a mess. Kansas City won 71 games and if you look at the above odds you see that BetOnline believes the Royals to be the 2nd best team in the Central! Wow! I guess I could see it. The hitting could be pretty darn good. Eric Hosmer is a star in the making. Mike Moustakas has an incredible track record in the minors. Billy Butler is solid. If Alex Gordon & Jeff Francouer can keep up with what they did in 2011 then Kansas City should score some runs. I’m not completely sold on the pitching, but if guys like Mike Montgomery, Chris Duffy & Aaron Crow can turn in solid years, the Royals might not be that bad.

I think the Indians are intriguing especially with Carlos Santana & Asrubal Cabrera emerging offensively. The team gets Shin-Soo Choo back this season, but Grady Sizemore is already hurt again. The pitching is intriguing with Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Slowey & Derek Lowe, but like Kansas City, there are so many question marks. It would be great if Lonnie Chisenhall would start raking at the major league level.

The Twins are another team that could be OK, but the entire team is one big injury prone conglomerate and if Joe Mauer & Justin Morneau can’t turn in completely healthy seasons, then Minnesota is in the tank. I don’t think you can build an offense around Denard Span, Josh Willingham and Danny Valencia. I think the Twins really need healthy years from both Francisco Liriano & Scott Baker as well. If they can’t get those types of years out of those 4 building blocks, then Minnesota is going to suffer another year like the one produced in 2011.

The White Sox could be the most intriguing for a couple of reasons. The first is that the starting pitching could be pretty darn good. I know you can’t expect Jake Peavy to be healthy at this point, but at least right now it looks as if Peavy is going to be 100%. Last year looked rough with a 4.92 ERA in 18 starts, but his FIP was a smallish 3.21! Peavy’s peripheral stats were solid too with a 7.7K/9, 1.9BB/9 & 0.8HR/9! Over a full season with decent run support & defense you are looking at a 16-17 game winner. Chris Sale is another “unknown”. Sale was dominant as a reliever last year & will transition into the rotation. He’s got filthy stuff & will struggle with control, but he’s one of those guys that at any time could throw a no-hitter. John Danks & Gavin Floyd are solid starters who were better than their ERAs suggested last season. Offensively Chicago has some work to do but maybe Gordon Beckham will be better & Adam Dunn can’t possibly be that bad again can he? The White Sox did win 79 games last year and oddly enough the value here is -110 at over-77 wins. That’s not a bad bet.

Overall the Central isn’t the best division in the game, but it could easily be one of the most if not the most intriguing. I don’t think anyone touches Detroit unless the Tigers fall apart completely, but Kansas City, Cleveland, Minnesota & Chicago aren’t all that different regarding where they are as teams. From the above lines you can see that all are in that mid-70s win range which will make for interesting baseball in the Central if only because the teams are evenly matched & it’s worthwhile to see which teams are progressing and which teams aren’t.

AL WEST

Angels: Over 89.5 wins = -135; Under 89.5 wins = +105
Rangers: Over 93.5 wins = -110; Under 93.5 wins = -120
Mariners: Over 72.5 wins = -105; Under 72.5 wins = -125
Athletics: Over 73 wins = -105; Under 73 wins = -125

The Angels won 86 games last year and add in Albert Pujols & CJ Wilson. They’ll win 90 games this year easily. The -135 isn’t giving you an value, but the bet is obvious that Vegas thinks LA is going to win at least 90 games. I’ve said before I think LA could have problems offensively because some of their “name” players are aging while Mike Trout isn’t quite yet ready to hit the big time, but having Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson and Ervin Santana as your 4-man rotation is going to buy a tremendous amount of wins. This team is a nightmare in a short series meaning they are one of a handful of teams nobody wants to see in the postseason.

There really isn’t any value play on the Rangers either, but I think they wind up down a bit this season. They don’t look to lose pace offensively especially if Josh Hamilton sticks around, but I think the pitching loses CJ Wilson this year. A year ago it lost Cliff Lee. They hope Neftali Feliz & Yu Darvish can come in and really boost the rotation after Derek Holland and Scott Feldman, but I don’t know. I don’t think you can take two unknown quantities and throw them up against the Angels and expect another AL West title. There isn’t much value going with them at -120 for the under-93.5 wins, but there is no way I’d take them for 94-95 victories this year.

Seattle was 61-101 a year ago so to take the over-72.5 wins you’d have to think they’ll improve by 12 games with basically doing nothing and losing their 2nd best starter. There isn’t any value at -125 for going under 72.5 wins so really there isn’t any reason to bet Seattle unless you are convinced they are going for 90 losses easily which seems inevitable to me.

I feel like Oakland is in the same boat as Seattle. This is a team with virtually no hitting combined with little to no starting pitching outside of Brandon McCarthy. Vegas seems to think Oakland is another 90-loss team out West which makes sense. The distinction between the haves (Texas & Anaheim) and the have nots (Seattle & Oakland) is striking. The value in Oakland would be taking the over 73 wins at -105, but how do they scrape together 74 victories?

NL EAST

Phillies: Over 95.5 wins = -105; Under 95.5 wins = -125
Braves: Over 85.5 wins = -125; Under 85.5 wins = -105
Marlins: Over 82.5 wins = -150; Under 82.5 wins = +120
Nationals: Over 82 wins = -135; Under 82 wins = +105
Mets: Over 74.5 wins = +105; Under 74.5 wins = -135

New York’s plight isn’t quite as bad in the NL East as Baltimore’s is in the AL East, but you see a similar setup. The Mets essentially don’t have anybody & will have to rely on some significant pitching prowess, which they pretty much don’t have, to try and just smell contention. David Wright hasn’t been a superstar since 2008. Jason Bay isn’t any good. Carlos Beltran is gone. Jose Reyes is gone. Ike Davis has some promise, but who else can the Mets throw out there in a star studded division? The Mets won 77 games last season, but I don’t see how they improve on that number in 2012. Maybe they can get to 75-87, but I don’t see it. The line says New York is awful and I don’t think you take take the -135 even if you believe they’ll lose 100 games.

I’d stay away from Philadelphia. It would be tempting to take them at -105 at over 95.5 wins, but the NL East is going to be pretty darn good and I could see 93-94 wins getting the division title simply from a competitive standpoint. I don’t think missing Ryan Howard is going to be a factor all that much to be honest as long as guys like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley & Hunter Pence can remain healthy. I think the -105 at over-95.5 is fool’s gold, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Papelbon struggle as closer there.

BetOnline seems to think Atlanta is a shoe-in for 86 wins, but here is where it gets a little intriguing. If Atlanta’s under 85.5 wins was +105 instead of -105 I’d grab it up in a second. We don’t know if Tommy Hanson is going to be 100% for a full season. If he is then Hanson along with guys like Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor & Brandon Beachy combine to give Atlanta a formidable lineup. The problem I have with the Braves is their offense. If Jason Heyward doesn’t turn his 2011 around and if Chipper Jones struggles with injury (when doesn’t he?) then where is the offense coming from? If you were picking value bets then taking the under 85.5 at -105 would be the pick for Atlanta because you can easily envision a scenario where they fall completely off the map.

The Marlins should be steered clear of at all costs. The team is ENTIRELY too good to lose half their games. The easy bet here is going over 82.5 wins at -150, but because the bet is -15o you should probably stay away from it. On the other side, betting they’ll lose 82 games is ridiculous.

The Nationals are simliar to Miami but to a lesser degree. The team is simply too good to lose half their games. While -135 isn’t as bad as -150, there is almost no chance the Nationals turn in a 80-82 season. The hitting could be pretty scary too with Ryan Zimmerman, Mike Morse and Danny Espinosa. If guys like Jayson Werth & Adam LaRoche can have bounce back years then Washington rotation of Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez & Edwin Jackson is too good to keep them under .500.

For the most part the NL East should be a blood bath. Both of baseball’s East divisions are brutal on top with a struggling team at the very bottom. While it might seem obviously that the NY Yankees & Philadelphia Phillies are the favorites, I don’t think it would be entirely shocking to see any one of the top-4 teams in the division wind up on top at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

NL CENTRAL

Reds: Over 87 wins = -115; Under 87 wins = -115
Brewers: Over 84.5 wins = -120; Under 84.5 wins = -110
Cardinals: Over 87 wins = +105; Under 87 wins = -135
Pirates: Over 73 wins = -135; Under 73 wins = +105
Cubs: Over 73.5 wins = -115; Under 73.5 wins = -115
Astros: Over 62.5 wins = +100; Under 62.5 wins = -130

Vegas seems to be in agreement that Cincinnati is the team to beat in the NL Central this season. The Reds only won 79 games last year, but the division winning Brewers won 96 games. That doesn’t mean that 96 wins is automatic for the Central champion, but if 90 wins is the benchmark then Cincy has at least an 11-game improvement in store just to get to 90 wins & assume it is enough. The Reds did at Mat Latos and that’s a huge addition to the rotation. I think a lot of things have to go right to get a big win total. I can see Detroit flirting with 100 wins because their division is so bad. The same can be said for the Angels or Rangers due to the AL West bottom feeders being awful. I don’t think teams like the Yankees & Phillies can win 100 games because the divisions are so tough. I think the same here with Cincinnati. The Reds might be the best team in the Central, but the Pirates are coming along and it’s not like the Cardinals & Brewers are going away. We all know Chicago isn’t to be great, but a 3-game weekend series against Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza & Paul Maholm isn’t exactly cupcake city either. Where does that put Cincinnati? I think it makes them the Central favorites, but I’m not sure by how many victories. I think 88 wins could win the division. You can be 100% sure that 95 wins gets it done, but maybe 86 wins it too. With the O/U being both at -115, you might as well stay away from the Reds.

The total for Milwaukee seems absurdly low. Just 84.5 wins? You almost have to take the over 84.5 wins and here is why. Ryan Braun is back for a full season. Braun’s numbers might not be as good as they were last year’s because there is no more Prince Fielder in the lineup, but the Brewers have a pretty darn good stable of hitters. They added Aramis Ramirez to play 3B while Alex Gonzalez brings some pop as well. Nyjer Morgan is underrated while Corey Hart & Rickie Weeks are more than solid bats. Milwaukee is going to score runs. Remember too that Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf & Shaun Marcum are essentially in contract years. Wolf has a club option for 2013, but if the Brewers don’t exercise that option then he’s a goner and will be playing for another contract. Greinke & Marcum will be looking for huge deals so you are going to see a pitching staff with a ton to prove every night out. Keep in mind that the Brewers won 96 games last year. Can they fall of by 13 games by losing Fielder alone? Think about this. The Brewers 1B last year provided 5.5 WAR (wins above replacement). The Brewers 3B provided 0.1 WAR and their SS provided 1.0 WAR. Last year for the Cubs Ramirez provided 3.6 WAR. Which would give Milwaukee a +3.5 gain at that position. Last year for Atlanta, Gonzalez provided 1.1 WAR which is basically the same but +0.1. That’s a total improvement of +3.6 wins above replacement. Taking the 5.5 WAR that Fielder provided last season away you get a 1.9 WAR deficit the Brewers are going to have to replace with who plays 1B. So the pitching staff is going to be hungry. They’ve been there before & the loss of Fielder won’t be devastating. Even at -120 the evidence suggests Milwaukee is a shoe in for at least 85 victories!

The Cardinals are EASY! You easily take the +105 for over-87 victories! It’s not even an issue. Sure they lose Pujols, but I think guys like Carlos Beltran, John Jay, Allen Craig & Lance Berkman can make up for it. If Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter are healthy this team will be more than fine. Can they win a World Series? It’s highly doubtful, but they can win 88 games.

Pittsburgh is going to be interesting this year not for any type of expectations regarding championships but because it’ll be interesting to see how good they can get. They won 72 games last year so betting the over-73 wins is an easy take, but at -135 you probably should stay away. The best bets for the Pirates concern their odds of winning the division or getting to the World Series. Those odds are long, but if AJ Burnett & Erik Bedard catch lightning in a bottle, the Pirates could surprise. There is no value here.

There is no value for the Cubbies either. Give Theo Epstein some time. The Cubs have absolutely no offense, but their pitching staff could be pretty decent. The Cubbies won 71 games last season which was behind Pittsburgh even and it won’t be pretty again this year. The O/U is -115 both ways so who really knows, but I’d stay away. They’ll be around 73 victories and if I had to guess I’d peg them for the under, but my confidence is more in the fact they’ll finish in 5th place rather than what their win total will be while residing there.

Forget Houston. They are stone freaking awful. Last year the Astros went 56-106. Do they really have a 6-game improvement in them? Hardly. The Astros are the worst team in baseball by such an extreme margin that we might be talking about comparisons to the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks who went 51-111! Obviously you’d take the under-62.5. I’m almost to a point where the -130 for taking the under seems like a bargain!

NL WEST

Diamondbacks: Over 85 wins = -135; Under 85 wins = +105
Giants: Over 87.5 wins = -110; Under 87.5 wins = -120
Dodgers: Over 81.5 wins = -110; Under 81.5 wins = -120
Rockies: Over 82.5 wins = -110; Under 82.5 wins = -120
Padres: Over 71 wins = -130; Under 71 wins = +100

It’s interesting how the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and then immediately became the 2nd best team in the division! Ian Kennedy isn’t going 21-4 again, but let’s not forget that the strides both he & Daniel Hudson made were supported by their periphery numbers. Getting Trevor Cahill from Oakland was a sweet move & now the Snakes have a pretty decent rotation. It’s not nearly as good as what San Francisco can throw out there, but San Francisco has absolutely no chance to match offensive production with Arizona. The lines for Arizona are ridiculous. I don’t know if you can go -135 on the over-85 wins, but I also don’t see how Arizona avoids going 86-76 at a bare minimum.

The Giants won 86 games in their title defense. BetOnline suggests the Giants will once again be under 88 wins and that seems feasible given the current state of San Francisco’s offense. I don’t think you can take the line on either the over or the under for SF. The pitching is nasty so they can be in any game they play, but offensively they are going to struggle unless Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval & Aubrey Huff go off! That doesn’t seem likely meaning the Giants are going to have a hard time outlasting Arizona.

The Dodgers, like St. Louis, give us an easy target. The obvious play here is taking the over 81.5 wins at -110. Sure it’s still -110 but I can’t see how LA doesn’t at least finish 82-80. The pitching is solid with Kershaw, Billingsley & Lilly up front. I think Aaron Harang & Chris Capuano could be bigger additions than people think and for the first time in awhile, the Dodgers come to camp with a bullpen pretty much figured out and ready to play a significant role in the team’s success. Los Angeles won 82 games a year ago & I think they get a little better. Like the Giants, the Dodgers will struggle a little at the plate, but getting full seasons out of Juan Rivera & Dee Gordon should help. It’s probably too much to ask Matt Kemp to replicate his incredible 2011 season, but Andre Ethier can still get better I think. It’s tough to see LA winning the West, but winning 83 games won’t be tough at all.

The Rox won 73 games last season and I simply don’t see it. The team’s #1 starter is now Jeremy Guthrie who was the #1 starter in Baltimore. That’s not improving your pitching staff in the least. The betting lines almost insinuate that the Rockies should be better than the Dodgers which is unbelievable for me. The easy play here is taking the under for -120. It means Colorado would have, at a minimum, to go 82-80 which seems next to impossible! That would be a 9-game jump, and the team didn’t get better. While you are once again putting up $120 to win $100, I can’t see how Colorado plays over .500 baseball.

San Diego is tough to judge either way. In 2010 they were regarded as the worst team heading into the season among the 5 NL West teams, but wound up winning 90-games, just 2 behind the eventual World Champion Giants. Last year they fell to 71 wins. San Diego lost their pitcher in Mat Latos this past offseason in a trade with Cincinnati. While the Padres are oftentimes difficult to predict, the West is going to be fairly competitive and I’m not sure the Padres have the horses to keep pace. Under 71 wins would make them 70-92 and that makes some sense with the loss of Latos. The line at -130 for over-71 wins seems to make San Diego an obvious candidate for victories, but I can’t see it. I’d go +100 for under 71 wins.

MY BEST OVERALL PLAYS

Tampa Bay: Over 87.5 wins at -122
Milwaukee: Over 84.5 wins at -120
Toronto: Over 80.5 wins at -135
Baltimore: Under 71 wins at -125
Chicago White Sox: Over 77 wins at -110
Anaheim: Over 89.5 wins at -135
Atlanta: Under 85.5 wins at -105
St. Louis: Over 87 wins at +105
Houston: Under 62.5 wins at -130
Los Angeles: Over 81.5 wins at -110
Miami: Over 82.5 wins at -150
Washington: Over 82 wins at -135

I’m pretty darn confident about the Blue Jays, Brewers, Rays, Orioles, Angels, Astros & Dodgers. I think the plays on the White Sox, Braves, & Cardinals are simply good odds to bet on. The rest of the bets don’t have lines that seemingly give good odds or I don’t have a really good feel for how the team’s season will turn out.

The Marlins & Nationals bets are ones with significant risk because of the line. Essentially I’m banking on a couple of things here. The first is that the Braves have to falter which I think they do by betting the under on 85.5 wins. The 2nd is that Philadelphia doesn’t run away from the division and the 4 top teams in the division essentially boil down to a brutal battle of wills with some evenly matched squads. If you believe in Atlanta then you are banking on 4 teams with at least 83 wins in the same division that has only 5 teams. The last time that happened in the NL was the 2005 NL East with Atlanta (90-72), Philadelphia (88-74), Florida (83-79) & New York (83-79). The only other time it has happened in a 3-division NL was in 2003 with the East again. I’d be willing to bet that it has a good chance at happening again in 2012.

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March 1, 2012 - Posted by | Futures

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