Baseball is perhaps one of the toughest sports to bet. Sure, basketball games have a lot of garbage time and free throws that result in backdoor covers. But you really never know what’s going to happen on a day-to-day basis in the MLB. But the season as a whole? We’ll at least try.
I’m joining with Alex Kolodziej–resident gambling, daily fantasy, Q and A and randomness person–to go through the win totals of each team and predict the over/under. For those new to this, Vegas decides a total win amount for each team. We’ll start with the Baltimore Orioles, whose total is 82.5. Over means more than 82.5 wins, under means less than 82.5 wins. There’s your free lesson for the day.
Of course baseball is unpredictable, but we’ll go ahead and give you the right answers anyway–at least I will. Hurry off to your local ‘guy’ or log online and cash in your vacation money when October rolls around. The wait will be worth it.
We continue today with the American League. You can find the National League predictions here.
Baltimore Orioles – 82.5
Alex Kolodziej: Baltimore’s sneaky pitching will possibly come down to Earth as it seemed the whole AL East had zero answer for Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman; Darren O’Day also came on nicely in relief situations.
Not a ton of firepower but a lot of just really good pitchers. They’ll surely miss Nick Markakis, but still provide balance with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis.
Schoop and Pearce complemented a nice lineup for Baltimore in 2014, but I feel hitters catch on to the O’s rotation this season–I’ll grab the under.
Tommy Stokke: I’ll take the over, as I think the Orioles will win the AL East. It’ll come down to the Orioles and Blue Jays, but the Orioles lineup is enough to carry an under-named, over-productive rotation.
Boston Red Sox – 86.5
TS: If there is a favorite to go from worst-to-first then it’s clearly the Red Sox. I’m not exactly buying the hype, however. Pablo Sandoval is going to make a lot of money for a .280 hitter who’s three year home run totals are 12, 14 and 16. That’s a growing number, but it’s a significant decline from the 23 he hit in 2011.
There are too many guys for not enough positions in Boston. Will they make a big move? Maybe? Probably? But how long can they wait? The starting rotation isn’t scaring anyone. If the Red Sox were aggressive in trading for or signing an ace, I’d be more optimistic. Instead, they were signing a Cuban outfielder who’s starting in Triple-A and overpaid Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Throw in the decline of Dustin Pedroia, and I’m not so sure. I’ll go under.
AK: Yawkey Way and Vegas alike must sense a glimpse of a title in ’15, as the BoSox win total is set at a hefty 86.5.
A lot of young talent in the lineup with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts will be clashed with the new hitters in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, long-term Sox in Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz also cemented in the Boston regulars, so I’m not too worried about the offense putting up runs in 2015.
While I’m not sold on Justin Masterson as he returns to Fenway, the pitching rotation will be a lot better than people perceive with Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley. I like the Sox to come out of the East and I also bode for the over.
Chicago White Sox – 81.5
AK: The White Sox, like many MLB squads, made some major offseason moves to help assist their club as they welcome in Adam LaRoche, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Samardzija.
Chicago’s offensive outlets stem primarily from matching the heavy dose they’ll see from Detroit and Cleveland, so they’ll counter the Miggys and Brantleys with Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia amidst the heart of the order in 2015 to help knock home the capable on-base guys like Adam Eaton and Cabrera; the 1-through-5 hitters match up against any competitor in the AL.
Eaton looked great in his new club in ’14, and while their rotation of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Samardzija, Hector Noesi, and the possibility of Carlos Rodon (also add David Robertson as a closer) holds value for a contender, the AL Central looks a bit too rigorous for me to take the over this season for the Pale Hose.
TS: Well, this is awkward. I’ve followed the hype surrounding the Cubs and White Sox all winter. Of course everyone is higher on the Cubs, but I don’t think they should be–at least not this year. The lineup is clearly improved, but more importantly, the White Sox improved their dreadfully awful bullpen with the signings of Robertson and Zach Duke. Maybe the Tigers aren’t as good as they’re supposed to be, but more likely is that the Royals are down significantly and the Twins stay down. I can see the White Sox finishing on the right side of .500. I’ll take the over.
Cleveland Indians – 84.5
TS: I’m jumping on the trendy pick of the Indians winning the AL Central. Is it trendy? I think it is, but maybe not. Maybe it’s nothing more than a hunch. The rotation is young, but the lineup should be potent with the addition of Brandon Moss. The coming promotion of shortstop Francisco Lindor only helps. Over.
AK: The Tribe are the favorites for many “sharp” bettors, and the more you gaze into the crystal ball, it’s difficult to ignore the talent of Terry Francona’s Indians.
Kluber emerges out of the pack as the ace (no surprise) but Carlos Carrasco could be the surprise out of the starting five in 2015. The 6″3′ righty pushed through at least 5 innings while squandering a run or less in nine of his last 10 starts to culminate the year.
If Brantley’s 2015 season produces MVP-like numbers once more, the Indians could mark the frontrunners out of the AL Central.
Detroit Tigers – 84.5
AK: A bit ominous to see the Tigers dropping as much as five wins throughout the offseason with Detroit now all the way down to 84.5 wins. Sharp money coming in on the under? Who knows.
Huge blow to the lineup once the season rolls around with Victor Martinez, the Tigers dealing with some knee soreness to one of the most disciplined hitters in baseball, but when you have Miguel Cabrera, it tends to lessen the pain.
Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez broke the starting lineup and proved to be promising last season, but Detroit’s also down an ace with Max Scherzer.
Justin Verlander’s numbers are dwindling as his age climbs, David Price looked uncomfortable at times in Comerica, and Anibal Sanchez’s health remains a concern.
A packed AL Central, something tells me 2015 won’t be the year for Detroit, so I’ll reluctantly take the under.
TS: Many are just waiting for the Tigers to crumble. It’s coming, but not this season. You don’t pay Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera to pull off the gas. Even if the team doesn’t think it can re-sign David Price, they have to keep him the whole season and go for it.
There are certainly questions with Verlander’s health and ability at this point. But the Tigers are the ultimate buyers. They’ll finish second in the division with more than 84.5 wins and grab a wild-card spot.
Houston Astros – 75.5
TS: The Astros made moves to win games for the first time under GM Jeff Luhnow, which is a sign that this thing is starting to come together, similar to the way things are being done in Chicago. After everything was torn apart, now appears to be the time that some results start to show.
But for a team that made so many moves, I don’t know how much better the Astros actually are. They’ll put up runs in bunches during one stretch and provide solar energy for Houston with swings and misses. An out is an out, but you prefer your outs have a chance at something. With so many strikeout victims in the lineup, it’s hard not to expect slumps throughout the year.
With that being said, a lineup with George Springer, Chris Carter, Evan Gattis and Colby Rasmus should never be out of a game.
That, however, depends on the pitching staff.
Can Collin McHugh do what he did last year? There’s a lot of faith being put in Roberto Hernandez and Asher Wojciechowski, who had an impressive spring. Can Scott Feldman pitch like the guy he’s paid to be? The bullpen is fantastic, but can the starting rotation give them a lead and can the offense avoid long offensive droughts?
My guess is no. Under.
AK: Mix some power with youth, some speed with age, and the Astros may be on to something for the next handful of years.
We know George Springer will be a name that breaks the surface in the near future, while Chris Carter and Evan Gattis will hit for an average of .190 with 55 home runs.
Dallas Keuchel marked the unsung hero of 2014’s staff with 12 wins and an ERA a shade under 3.00, but the ‘Stros will need assistance from Scott Feldman, not to mention Houston will need to counter some great starts from McHugh a season ago with some insurance.
I like Houston, I really do. But placing them in a division like the AL West, a core that could contain as many as four playoff teams, I’m still leaning under here.
Kansas City Royals – 80.5
AK: James Shields departs the fountains of Kauffman Stadium, paving a gap for ace Yordano Ventura and the Royals as they plan to brush off a World Series loss to the Giants a year ago.
It was quite magical for a team with such mediocre power to continue winning high-stake games. Kansas City fell to the bottom of the league in home runs, only to represent the AL when it was all said and done.
The Royals were one of those “lucky teams” in 2014, and in my honest opinion, that so-called magic will be wiped away in ’15–I’ll take the under as Kansas City will surely miss two veterans in James Shields and Billy Butler.
TS: The law of averages says that Ned Yost needs to crash down to Earth, as do the Royals. Too many losses this offseason, weird acquisitions. I’m following the trend for big-time regression from the Royals.
Los Angeles Angels – 88.5
TS: Once Garrett Richards returns, this is the most well-rounded team in the American League. Playing in a division with the Astros and Rangers allows for padded victories, especially the the A’s are down. I’ll go over.
AK: One of the most exciting teams in the nation will have their sights set on a title as the Angels assembled one of the more lethal combinations of hitting and pitching in 2015.
Matt Shoemaker took the reigns off of an aged starter in Jered Weaver, giving the Angels a young arm to complement C.J. Wilson, while also bringing in some massive potential in ex-Marlin Andrew Heaney.
We all know the prestige of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but C.J. Cron could add some power with Josh Hamilton’s off-the-field problems.
Too much talent and way too much motivation for a team that was ousted by Kansas City last year, therefore I’m saying way over on the Halos.
Minnesota Twins – 72.5
AK: While nothing to show for it in 2014, the Twinkies really played well under ace Phil Hughes, as he experienced some smooth sailing past the early months months of April and May.
Glen Perkins can be highlighted as one the AL’s most efficient closers, but how many opportunities will he get? Aside from Hughes, the lower-tier hurlers like Mike Pelfrey, Kyle Gibson, Ricky Nolasco and Tommy Milone don’t generate the consistency of most clubs, leaving a bit of an empty hole for the 3-4-5 guys.
Ervin Santana’s suspension clearly hurts as well.
Call me crazy, but I really like the Twins lineup, especially the meat of it. Danny Santana will likely lead off, then you have a combination of power and contact with Brian Dozier, followed by an elite hitter in Joe Mauer, then a pure slugger in Kennys Vargas.
The future may not look too bright for Minny, but I can buy into the talent for 2015. It’ll be a tough obstacle in a stacked division but give me the over for the Twins at 72.5.
TS: Whatever the total is for the Twins next year, I’ll likely take. But for this year, considering the rest of the division as well, the Twins will finish under this mark as well. Miguel Sano could see some time later in the year, and the pieces are there for a bright future. But it won’t be a bright present in 2015.
New York Yankees – 81.5
TS: The Yankees had just about everyone get hurt last year and nothing really went right. Yet, they still won 84 games. I think they’re better this year, and with Joe Girardi anything is possible. I’ll go over.
AK: The Pinstripes are one of the more bland teams in the MLB for 2015 and aren’t a very flashy bunch with all the contenders in the AL East.
Tanaka’s health will raise a question in the upcoming year, and young arms in Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi will be either feast or famine for New York.
Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira are reaching a point of no return with their age, and I’m not so sure you can hand down the duties to Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees will either surprise the East and take home the division or fail to reach 75 games–I choose the latter.
Oakland Athletics – 81.5
AK: Billy Beane clears house and all of a sudden the A’s fanbase begins to freak out at the mix up of the ball club.
They’ll be just fine, in my opinion, even without power hitters in Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, bringing in Ben Zobrist (TB), Billy Butler (KC), Brett Lawrie (TOR), and Ike Davis (PIT) to name a few. Not a masterful lineup, but Beane knows better than most of us (watch Moneyball and the endless reps of lat pulldowns).
The A’s will lean upon Sonny Gray to dazzle the rotation as their ace. The magic number? 18. If he can rack up that many W’s, watch out for Oakland, as they also provide some nice arms with Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz.
Perfect time to jump on the Oakland bandwagon as many hop off, and I’ll snag the over.
TS: It seems too easy to take the under after the overhaul the A’s underwent. But I think I agree with Alex. Beane knows more than many, and his group of misfits and castoffs usually does pretty well. I’ll say they just sneak over.
Seattle Mariners – 86.5
TS: I can’t help but notice that a ton of people are on the Mariners as their AL representative in the World Series. But Lloyd McClendon is still the manager, so that’s one obstacle. The pitching staff is nice, but how much can we expect out of rookie Taijuan Walker? They should be able to score some runs, but 86.5 is a lot of wins. The Mariners disappoint this season and finish under.
AK: The Mariners highlight yet another potential AL contender with their pitching (Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Fernando Rodney), power (Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Mike Zunino, Nelson Cruz) and contact/speed (Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson, Brad Miller), so you’re wondering how they go under, am I right?
While I wish I could vote each AL West clubhouse to go over, this may be a situation where these teams just absolutely brawl it out and beat up on each other (aside from the Halos).
It’ll be extremely close but I’ll take the bold route and go under with Seattle and this one may be too good to be true.
Tampa Bay Rays – 78.5
AK: First looks at Tampa Bay had me considering wagering my rent money on the under, that is, until I dissected the Rays and what they had to offer for 2015.
The AL East right looks as if it’ll be a three-headed race among Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore, but tell me, where’s the pitching?
While Alex Cobb’s windup resembles a pterodactyl attempting to bathe itself, he stifled hitters all year round in 2014, K’ing 149 batters in 166.1 innings.
He’ll join the pitching staff in mid-April with a forearm injury, but that shouldn’t pose a problem as the Rays still counter with Chris Archer and Drew Smyly.
The magic number? 4. Tampa should come out victorious in 90% of games if they can score that amount of runs in 2015. Whether it be Kiermaier, Jaso, Jennings, or another Ray hitter, there must be a bat that assists Evan Longoria.
The number says it all, and I’m sure under bettors are salivating, but I’m not falling into this trap.
TS: Okay, I’ll fall into the trap. I’m taking the under.
Texas Rangers – 76.5
TS: Too many question marks in the rotation, too tough of a division. I’ll take the under.
AK: I originally liked for the Rangers to maximize their potential for 2015, but an injury to Yu Darvish hinders an already-mediocre rotation containing Ross Detwiler, Colby Lewis, and Nick Martinez.
Prince Fielder has a ton of ground to make up, and Adrian Beltre continues to blossom at third, but the injury to Darvish totally sets back Texas for 2015–I’m taking the under here.
Toronto Blue Jays – 82.5
AK: Reyes, Martin, Bautista, Encarnación, Donaldson–just a few names that will surely contribute the offense that Toronto brings out for 2015.
The starting pitching had a glimmer of hope until Marcus Stroman went down for the year with a knee injury, setting up an opportunity for either Daniel Norris or Aaron Sanchez to replace the hard-throwing righty.
This isn’t necessarily a downtrodden lineup that will find issues hitting the ball, but they may find woes within pitching. You can’t win if you can’t pitch, but this offense can carry the Jays. I hate to do it, but I’ll say ‘over’ for Toronto in 2015.
TS: I don’t hate doing it. I’ll take the over. The Blue Jays have perhaps the best offense in the division. The questions will come about the bullpen and starting rotation depth, but I’m not that worried. Can the young guys on the team stick with it for 162 games? Probably not, but that’s what the veterans are for, and there are plenty.
AL East Odds
Red Sox +200
Blue Jays +300
AL East Best Bet
AK: I’ll have to side with the average Joe here and slide the Red Sox into my AL East slot. It’s weird, it’s almost as if the aura is all but present amidst the city all the way to the side streets of Boston. I’m not sure if the deceptiveness of Porcello cloaked in a Tiger uniform toyed with my mind, that is, being a No. 3 starter (behind Scherzer and Verlander), but they add in Sandoval, a player who’s prone to winning championships and titles.
The ambiance drapes over the city of Boston in ’15 and in my eyes, they slither their way out of a pretty competitive division.
TS: I think the Orioles win the division, but I like the Yankees at +450. Again, they finished second last year with 84 wins, and I think they’re a better team. If they’re close, they aren’t afraid to make a deal. With those odds, I don’t hate it for the Yankees.
AL Central Odds
White Sox +240
AL Central Best Bet
TS: Not real great odds no matter who you like, unless it’s the Twins. But the odds are good enough in comparison to stick with my original pick and go with the Indians +240.
AK: I’m taking the Tribe here as I feel they’re offering some elite value at +240. While the Tigers appear great on paper, I think Francona slays the dragon and the Indians push forward into the playoffs.
AL West Odds
Houston Astros +1200
Texas Rangers +1200
AL West Best Bet
AK: You look at the Athletics the previous years and the guys in the clubhouse with Donaldson, Moss, Cespedes, Gray, etc. and you have to wonder what went wrong.
They’ll surely be overlooked but the puzzle portrayed in 2015 mainly surrounds a few broken pieces. Can Brett Lawrie stay healthy and relax with the tattoos? Is Coco Crisp aging? Will Eric Sogard be prescribed contacts?
We have yet to really see a team in Oakland be highlighted as an underdog with any branch of talent; I think they’ll flourish in this role. While I’m nudging bettors to select the over for both Oakland and Los Angeles, I’m seemingly assuming the A’s win 93 games. Crazy? Yes. So is baseball.
TS: I’d rather take a long shot that has a realistic chance, but I don’t see it here. In that case, I’ll go with the Angels at +180.