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2019 MLB Win Total Projections: The 6 Teams That Have Betting Value

Mar 15, 2019 12:00 AM EDT
Credit:

Brad Mills, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Yolmer Sanchez, Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada

  • The 2019 MLB Season begins on Wednesday, March 20 with the Japan Opening Series between the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.
  • Before the season begins, Sean Zerillo ran his MLB model to project each team's win total for 2019.

When the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook released their 2019 MLB win totals, the market was initially over-inflated by nine wins, at an average of 81.3 wins per team, things have adjusted since then but the market is still over-inflated towards the over.

In 2018, totals were 17-13 to the under. All five teams in the AL Central and four of the five NL West teams (not Colorado) went under.

When in doubt, take the under.

Conversely, four of the five NL Central teams (not Cincinnati) hit their over. Four playoff teams (Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee, and Oakland) had at least 15 wins more than their projected totals, while only the Baltimore Orioles fell more than 15 wins shy of their total (by 26 wins).

Exactly half of the league (15 teams) ended up within five wins of their total.

Over a 162-game schedule, when merely having good or bad luck in one-run games can swing the outcome of a team’s season by double-digit wins, any edge in this market will be razor thin.

For closer examination, I selected the six teams (Arizona, Atlanta, both Chicago clubs, Colorado, and Seattle) whose projection in the model is off by at least 2.45 wins from their total. Colorado’s line has remained at the opening total, but each of the other five teams has seen line movement toward their composite projection.


Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Opening Total: 73
  • Current Total: 75.5
  • Model Projection: 77.975
  • Recommended Play: Over (+2.475 Wins)

The betting market over-corrected for rebuilding clubs during the last offseason (Pirates and Rays) and that appears to be the case once again.

Losing Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and Patrick Corbin really hurt the name-brand talent on this Arizona squad, but this roster still has enough starting pitching (Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, and Luke Weaver) and is good enough defensively (+157 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018, 1st in MLB) to continue to play near .500 baseball going forward.

If Ketel Marte can make a smooth transition to Center Field, and if Carson Kelly can quickly acclimate to this pitching staff, the reloading Diamondbacks could surpass all expectations.

Atlanta Braves

  • Opening Total: 86.5
  • Current Total: 86
  • Model Projection: 83.375
  • Recommended Play: Under (-2.625 Wins)

After arriving a “year early” and winning the NL East in 2018, the Braves have now added Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann to a lineup that already features Freddie Freeman, and potential generational stars in Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

However, Donaldson is far from a sure thing to stay healthy, and the Braves seemingly deep rotation is already thinning out with injury issues this spring. Mike Foltynewicz is dealing with an elbow issue, while Kevin Gausman, Luiz Gohara, and Mike Soroka are each battling shoulder discomfort.

The NL East might be the most competitive division in 2018, and I don’t see how the Braves have improved their standing, relative to their competition, over last season.

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