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Mar 6, 2018
[h=1]Ultimate MLB betting guide: Season win total projections for all 30 teams[/h]

The 2019 MLB season is upon us sooner than ever before, which means I have already made my season win total and futures bets that I believe offer value. While I bet both football and basketball (college and pro) more heavily than baseball year-to-year, my baseball futures have yielded my biggest lifetime return on investment.

There are bets involving nine different baseball teams I like this season ranging from win totals and division and pennant winners, to even a couple of Cy Young futures that I believe will have a good opportunity to cash come October. I also included my win projections for all 30 teams for reference, even if I didn't find an edge or discrepancy between them and the market.

Win totals from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. As always, shop around for the best price.
[h=2]Washington Nationals[/h]
2019 season win total: 89 | My projection: 91.32 | Divisional odds: +225

2018: Wins: 82 | Pythagorean wins: 90 | BaseRuns wins: 89

I'm typically looking for a three-game discrepancy between my win projections for a team and the market. Now that the Phillies have signed Bryce Harper, the adjustments to win totals and division prices in the NL East have been too extreme -- especially for the two favorites. I'll be monitoring the season win totals throughout the month, and if Washington's total drops another half game to 88.5, that will be my buy point for an over bet.

I have the Nationals winning the division 32 percent of the time (or +213), so at +225 this price is pretty fair. There are other sportsbooks that moved division prices more drastically, however, and I got involved at +300 for the Nationals to win the NL East (implies just a 25 percent chance). I would recommend the same at a price of +275 or better.

The attention the Harper contract received was warranted, but how much of an impact did he ultimately have on the Nationals this past season? In 159 games, Harper finished with just 3.5 WAR, while 20-year old rookie outfielder Juan Soto had a 3.7 WAR in 43 fewer games. With Soto slotted to play the full season alongside up-and-coming outfielder Victor Robles (0.5 WAR in just 21 games last year), the argument can be made Washington is in a better position -- certainly one with greater upside.

Robles graded out as a positive impact player defensively in the outfield, while Harper graded 84th of 87 qualifying outfielders in 2018 in Statcast's Outs Above Average metric. Robles didn't have enough opportunities to qualify, but after eliminating any qualifying threshold, he graded 50th of 295 outfielders last season (Harper finished 291st).

Remember, Washington performed like an 89-90 win team based on pythagorean and BaseRuns numbers last season, so they were fairly unlucky to only get to 82 wins. Don't let the loss of Harper to Philadelphia fool you -- the Nationals are going to be really good.

Play: Over 88.5 or better (smaller at 89)
[h=2]Atlanta Braves[/h]
2019 Season win total: 86 | My projection: 83.10 | Divisional odds: +300

2018: Wins: 90 | Pythagorean wins: 92 | BaseRuns wins: 92

With nearly a three-game edge between my projection and the current season win total, I made a bet on the under 86 wins for the Braves. It isn't so much that Atlanta did anything negative this offseason that suddenly makes them a bad team, it's just that the Braves still play in the NL East. Not only will Atlanta be routinely facing the Nationals and Mets (both projected to win nearly 10 more games than they did last season), but the Phillies' additions should make them a much better foe as well.

It's going to be extremely difficult for Atlanta to duplicate last season's success, and while the market made an adjustment to its win total accordingly, I don't think it was drastic enough. I recommend a play on the under at 86 wins or better.

Play: Under 86
[h=2]Pittsburgh Pirates[/h]
2019 Season win total: 77.5 | My projection: 74.18 | Divisional odds: +1800

2018: Wins: 82 | Pythagorean wins: 80 | BaseRuns wins: 78

The Pirates project to be the worst team in the NL Central this season. Similar to my Braves reasoning, this doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad ballclub, but they play almost half of their games this season against the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and a drastically improved Reds team.

As much hype as projected Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon is getting, he was a bit lucky last season posting a 3.20 ERA despite a 3.46 FIP. His numbers in 2019 look to regress some, and he's ultimately not an arm I would count on being the ace of a team winning at least 78 games. While everyone else in the division seemingly made positive additions, Pittsburgh was fairly stagnant.

I have the Pirates generating 4.15 runs per game this season, which grades out to be the fifth fewest in baseball (ahead of only the Orioles, Royals, Giants and Marlins). With the lack of offense and trust in the rotation -- and my projections coming in over three games lower than the current market -- I like the Pirates under 77.5 wins.

Play: Under 77.5
[h=2]Los Angeles Dodgers[/h]
2019 Season win total: 93 | My projection: 97.75 | Divisional odds: -425

2018: Wins: 92 | Pythagorean wins: 102 | BaseRuns wins: 101

Outside of the sheer disagreement between my projection and the market's season win total, the case for the Dodgers over 93 wins is fairly straightforward.

Los Angeles managed to win 92 games last season despite matching the franchise's worst start with a 16-26 record. Regardless, pythagorean and BaseRuns win projections graded the Dodgers out as a 102- and a 101-win team, respectively. The reason? They led the National League in runs scored and ERA. When a team is manufacturing runs at the highest rate in the league and limiting their opponents to scoring runs at the lowest rate, it generally leads to wins.

While the addition of A.J. Pollock is garnering the headlines, Corey Seagerreturns after missing almost the entirety of the 2018 season in Los Angeles. In 2017 Seager ranked 14th in WAR, and in 2016 he ranked sixth behind only four other position players you might have heard of: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, and Josh Donaldson.

I have heard concerns over Clayton Kershaw's potential health, but he hasn't pitched a full season since 2015 -- the Dodgers are accustomed to this. They have arguably baseball's deepest rotation with the emergence of All Star-caliber arms Walker Buehler and Ross Stripling this past year. Reports suggest that highly coveted prospect Julio Urias is fighting for a spot in the rotation and has shown promise in two successful spring training starts for the Dodgers. In other words, even if Kershaw misses a portion of the season again, things will be OK in L.A.

Los Angeles showed it wasn't afraid to deal for the likes of Manny Machado to help make a push toward a World Series a year ago, and there isn't any reason the Dodgers won't try to make key additions again as the season progresses. While the Padres will be improved in the NL West, both the Diamondbacks and Rockies will likely be taking a step back.

The Dodgers over 93 wins is my favorite season win total bet. I also took L.A. to win the NL pennant at +400 and anticipate them to be in the mix for a third straight season.

Play: Over 93 wins, win NL (+400)




Mar 6, 2018
[h=2]Colorado Rockies[/h]
2019 Season win total: 84.5 | My projection: 81.23 | Divisional odds: +450

2018: Wins: 91 | Pythagorean wins: 85 | BaseRuns wins: 85

The question for the Rockies this season isn't their bats, but their ability to duplicate pitching results from 2018 that look unsustainable. Even with their impressive numbers from last season, it took some good fortune (26-15 in one-run games) to reach 91 wins. Both pythagorean and BaseRuns win projections graded the Rockies an 85-win team last season. Four of the five starters in the rotation project to be worse in 2019 (allowing 0.3 more runs per game as a team), and Colorado lost arguably the best setup bullpen arm in baseball in Adam Ottavino after he signed with the Yankees this offseason.

While I still project the Rockies to be the second-best team in the NL West, I am hoping my hesitance rating the San Diego Padres as high as many others have is proven incorrect. If the Padres were to make a playoff push or win 80-plus games, then my projection for Colorado (already three games below the market) would come in even lower. Take the Rockies under 84.5 wins.

Play: Under 84.5
[h=2]Tampa Bay Rays[/h]
2019 Season win total: 84.5 | My projection: 81.32 | Divisional odds: +800

2018: Wins: 90 | Pythagorean wins: 89 | BaseRuns wins: 96

Tampa Bay made waves throughout multiple baseball communities in 2018 with their approach to "openers" -- using relief pitchers beginning in the first inning. The early results were promising, and the league saw other ballclubs begin copying this method in certain situations (the Oakland Athletics' wild-card playoff game against the New York Yankees comes to mind).

While the Rays' pitching overall was effective -- ranking second in the AL in ERA last season (only the Astros were better) -- they just didn't have the bats to manufacture runs. Not only do I project their offense to score 0.13 runs less per game this season, but the pitching staff projects to be 0.19 runs per game worse as well. This is why my win projection comes in closer to 81 wins rather than the 90 they reached a year ago. I'm trusting the numbers and making a bet on the Rays under 84.5 wins.

The Red Sox and the Yankees are two of the three biggest favorites to win the AL pennant -- and they deserve to be. With so many games for Tampa Bay coming against the elite of the AL East, and the unlikely scenario Baltimore wins just 47 games again, I don't see the Rays duplicating last season's success.

Play: Under 84.5
[h=2]Baltimore Orioles[/h]
2019 Season win total: 59.5 | My projection: 57.83 | Divisional odds: +30000

2018: Wins: 47 | Pythagorean wins: 54 | BaseRuns wins: 56

A few of the sharpest baseball minds I talk to really like the Orioles under 59.5 wins. While I do project them to be the worst team in baseball this season, I would like to see a 60 pop up in the market before I ultimately put any of my money on a Baltimore under. Shop around and keep your eyes out for a 60 in the next couple of weeks, that is my buy point for an Orioles under this year.

Lean: Under 59.5 (play at 60)

[h=2]Cleveland Indians[/h]
2019 Season win total: 91 | My projection: 93.92 | Divisional odds: -400

2018: Wins: 91 | Pythagorean wins: 98 | BaseRuns wins: 94

The Indians were slightly overlooked last season. They played in a weak AL Central division and teams like the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees were making bigger splashes anyway. Part of it was the fact they were a little unlucky compared to pythagorean and BaseRuns win projections and only won 91 games.

If my numbers pointed to at least a 94-win team in 2018, then I have no doubt they will be in the mix this season to get back to a similar win total (especially considering just how bad the rest of this division should be). We only need 91 wins to avoid losing any money on an over ticket. While there will be a drop-off in runs scored with the departure of Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnación, they still roster two top-25 players in weighted runs created plus (wRC+) last year: Jose Ramirez (seventh) and Francisco Lindor (25th). As a whole I still project the Indians' offense to score the fifth most runs in the American League, and the pitching staff is the best in the AL (projected 3.96 runs allowed per game).

I also like Cleveland at -400 to win the AL Central. There certainly is a world in which the Indians finish with fewer than 92 wins but still take down the division. I like the idea of splitting some of the variance and betting both of these for half the amount. I also took a shot on pitcher Trevor Bauer to win the AL Cy Young at 22-1 for 10 percent of my standard risk.

Plays: Over 91, win AL Central (-400), Bauer to win Cy Young (22-1)
[h=2]Chicago White Sox[/h]
2019 Season win total: 74 | My projection: 70.55 | Divisional odds: +2500

2018: Wins: 62 | Pythagorean wins: 62 | BaseRuns wins: 67

With almost a 3.5-game edge showing to the under 74 wins for the White Sox, I considered making this a slightly bigger play. Both Harper and Machado were technically in the mix to sign here, and we saw their season win total open extremely high as a result at 76.5 wins. With neither player ultimately signing here the win total has dropped, but not as much as it should have.

The team lacks impactful bats and arms and projects to finish 11th and 13th, respectively, in the AL in runs scored and runs allowed. They also appear to be a likely candidate to become a seller at the trade deadline, which would give us even more upside to the under if they were to make a few moves directed toward building for the future (my current win projections don't account for potential trades midseason).

My only worry about making the under 74 wins any bigger than my standard sizing is that between the White Sox, Tigers and Royals muddled in the dredges of this AL Central division, it feels like one of them has to win a few more games than anticipated. They can't all win less than 70 games again, can they? I'm wary of the variance, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm kicking myself for not taking a bigger stance come October.

Play: under 74

[h=2]2019 MLB Season Win Total Projections[/h]