One of the sure signs of spring in Reno, Nevada is the first MLB win totals of the season hitting the board at the Atlantis sportsbook.
Steve Mikkelson, sportsbook manager at Atlantis, has been the first one in the industry to post MLB season win totals for some time now, doing it again with Thursday’s release of the popular Over/Under props for each of the 30 major league clubs. Mikkelson says every year is different and presents its own unique challenges.
“For me, the parts I struggle with the most are those teams that didn’t play up to expectations and those that exceeded expectations last year,” Mikkelson tells Covers. “You’re trying to figure out if they’re for real and will that continue going forward.”
Teams like the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Angels forced Mikkelson to check and recheck his numbers before officially opening wagering on Thursday afternoon.
Overall, the one division that gave him the most headaches was the National League West. The Los Angeles Dodgers are at the top of the NL West and earned Mikkelson’s highest season win total at 92.5, which is still behind the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies, who saw win totals as high as 97. Last season, the Detroit Tigers earned to loftiest win total at 94.5, finishing just Under at 93-69 in 2013.
“How high can you go with the Dodgers? Everyone is expecting them to win and anything less than a World Series will be a disappointment for the team and the fans,” says Mikkelson. “You really have to find that number that will bring balance.”
The Dodgers’ California rivals, the Giants, are also a tough team to peg. Due to San Francisco’s closeness to Northern Nevada, Mikkelson says the Giants are often the most-bet team on the win totals board. That’s an even stickier situation when you consider how up-and-down San Francisco has been in recent years.
“They have a down year, then win the World Series. Then have a down year, then win the World Series,” Mikkelson says of the Giants, who have a win total of 86.5. “Where are they this year? I do know everyone is going to bet them Over though.”
Another California club that could be a wild card when it comes to season win totals are the Los Angeles Angels. The Halos boast one of the best teams in the bigs – on paper – but due to injuries and a decline in starting pitcher, L.A. wasn’t able to meet the expectations set last season.
The Atlantis opened the Angels with a season win total of 89.5 in 2013, and the team put in a disappointing 78-84 campaign. This time around, Mikkelson isn’t going as high as last year but does expect an improvement from last season's efforts, tabbing the Halos at 84.5 wins.
“There is so much talent and such a big payroll. But, as we’ve seen, big payrolls rarely win World Series,” he says. “Is Albert Pujols going to be hurt again all year? Can Josh Hamilton get back to his form? Jered Weaver is losing zip on his fastball every season. And they still have one of the best players in baseball in Mike Trout.”
At the bottom of the board, in terms of expected season wins, sit the lowly Houston Astros. Last year, Mikkelson painted the Astros with a 59.5 win total – the lowest number he can remember booking. He’s breaking that all-time low with a 57.5 season win total for Houston in 2014.
“Besides just being terrible, there’s a big problem for the Astros this season,” says Mikkelson. “They’re a better team, in my eyes, but the rest of the American League West has gotten better too. The Mariners will be better, the Angels should rebound and the Rangers and A’s win continue to play good baseball. Those four other teams have gotten better, so I don’t know where the Astros are getting those wins from.”
The biggest movers and shakers on the MLB season win total board, in terms of difference between last year’s win expectations and this season, are the World Champion Boston Red Sox – 79.5 in 2013 to 87.5 in 2014 – and the Pittsburgh Pirates – 79 in 2013 to 86.5 in 2014. The Chicago Cubs went from 72 in 2013 to 65.5 this year, and the Toronto Blue Jays dropped from 86.5 in 2013 to 77.5 for this upcoming season.
Here’s the full list of 2014 MLB season win totals from the Atlantis Resort Spa Sportsbook in Reno, Nevada:
Arizona Diamondbacks - 81 (over -110/under -110)
Atlanta Braves - 86.5 (over -110/under -110)
Baltimore Orioles - 80.5 (over -110/under -110)
Boston Red Sox - 87.5 (over -110/under -110)
Chicago Cubs - 65.5 (over -110/under -110)
Chicago White Sox - 76.5 (over -105/under -115)
Cincinnati Reds - 87.5 (over -105/under -115)
Cleveland Indians - 82.5 (over -105/under -115)
Colorado Rockies - 76.5 (over -110/under -110)
Detroit Tigers - 91.5 (over -110/under -110)
Houston Astros - 57.5 (over -115/under -105)
Kansas City Royals - 85.5 (over -110/under -110)
Los Angeles Angels - 84.5 (over -110/under -110)
Los Angeles Dodgers - 92.5 (over -110/under -110)
Miami Marlins - 66.5 (over -110/under -110)
Milwaukee Brewers - 78.5 (over -105/under -115)
Minnesota Twins - 65.5 (over -105/under -115)
New York Mets - 71.5 (over -110/under -120)
New York Yankees - 83.5 (over -110/under -110)
Oakland Athletics - 86.5 (over -115/under -105)
Philadelphia Phillies - 78 (over -110/under -110)
Pittsburgh Pirates - 86.5 (over -105/under -110)
San Diego Padres - 76.5 (over -110/under -110)
San Francisco Giants - 86.5 (over -110/under -110)
Seattle Mariners - 80 (over -110/under -110)
St. Louis Cardinals - 90.5 (over -110/under -110)
Tampa Bay Rays - 88.5 (over -110/under -110)
Texas Rangers - 86.5 (over -110/under -110)
Toronto Blue Jays - 77.5 (over -115/under -105)
Washington Nationals - 90.5 (over -110/under -110)