MLB season win totals hit the board in Nevada last week, with Atlantis sportsbook in Reno posting their odds Thursday and the LVH Superbook in Las Vegas jumping in Sunday night.
We asked some of Covers Experts’ sharpest baseball handicappers to share their favorite MLB season win total plays before the first pitch goes out at the end of March.
Will Rogers - Los Angeles Angels (Under 84.5)
The Halos finished last season with a record of 78-84 and they might just struggle to make a significant improvement in the coming season. Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols appear to have their best days behind them and it's unlikely that their production will justify their enormous salaries.
Jered Weaver only managed to win 11 games while struggling through injuries last season and the Angels were fortunate that C.J. Wilson stepped up, winning 17 games. Once you get past their No. 1 and 2 starters, the rest of the rotation doesn't inspire much confidence. This team should face many of the same problems that it did last season, and I'd bet under 84.5 wins.
Matt Fargo – Los Angeles Dodgers (Under 92.5)
This is a classic situation of a team’s win total being overinflated. The Dodgers finished with 92 wins last season and, while they are expected to easily win the National League West again, this is not a good number posted, as it’s simply too high.
Of the six division winners from last season, five of them are seeing win totals for this year lower than the amount of games they won last season and Los Angeles is the lone exception. We will grab the Under here as I feel it has the best value on the board of the opening numbers.
Steve Merril – Cleveland Indians (Under 82.5)
The rotation has a lot of questions with Corey Kluber, Zach McAllster and Josh Tomlin on the back end. Cleveland's bullpen is relying on John Axford, who lost his closing job with Milwaukee. The offensive lineup is about the same and was mediocre last year. A lot will have to go right for the Tribe in order for the Indians to finish above .500 this season.
Jesse Schule – Philadelphia Phillies (Under 78)
The Phillies finished with 73 wins last season and I think things are going to have to get worse before they get better in Philadelphia. They have been shopping Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, and the rest of their rotation leaves a lot to be desired. Veterans Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are not the players they used to be, and between the three of them they account for over 46 million against the salary cap. There is still a giant mess to clean up in Philly, and I think it's a little too optimistic to think they will improve on last season's record.”
Doc’s Sports – Boston Red Sox (Under 87.5)
World Series hangover, no Jacoby Ellsbury, lots of aging veterans and I don't see the pitching staff being able to reproduce the same numbers again. They're also in the toughest division in baseball where the Yankees and Rays improved their teams. They'll be in the mix again, but getting to 88 wins is going to be tough.
Brian Power – Philadelphia Phillies (Under 78)
Last year saw the club outperform its Pythagorean win expectation, somewhat significantly so. Using the formula derived by Bill James, the Phillies should have only been a 65-win team in 2013. They won 73 games. For starters, this team is not better than last year and outperforming one's Pythagorean win expectation usually signals a downturn for the next season. I don't see this team even winning 70 games, let alone 78.
Marc Lawrence – Pittsburgh Pirates (Under 86.5)
After 20 consecutive losing seasons the Pirates finally broke on through to the other side with 94 victories last year. The last time they topped the 90-win plateau, they followed up with a 75-win effort the following year (1993). The loss of innings-eater A.J. Burnett to the Phillies cements it.