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An underrated rite of winter: the Vegas sportsbooks release lines for team win totals.

Here's one set, from Bookmaker:

Red Sox   96     Twins     87     Rangers   88.5  
Yankees   91     White Sox 84.5   Angels    85
Rays      86     Tigers    83.5   Athletics 82.5
Blue Jays 75.5   Cleveland 71     Mariners  70
Orioles   74.5   Royals    70

Phillies  97     Cardinals 87.5   Giants    88.5
Braves    88.5   Reds      87     Rockies   87.5
Marlins   81.5   Brewers   84.5   Dodgers   82
Mets      78.5   Cubs      82     Padres    75.5
Nationals 72     Astros    73.5   D’backs   72
                 Pirates   65.5

The only one I feel strongly about is Milwaukee over 84.5.

If the Yankees' rotation is bad enough, they'll upgrade it; on paper they're probably around an 89-win team right now, but I think they're likely to finish over 91.

The Blue Jays' lineup is a wild card, but I like them over 75.5. The Orioles? I'll believe they can finish over 74.5 when I see it.

Kansas City under 70 is tempting, but I could see them calling up some of their prospects in the second half and going on a September surge.

Over/Under 2011 | 26 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
mathesond - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 07:50 AM EST (#230750) #
I'd take the under on the Phillies, Cards (guess who traded for Adam Wainwright 3 weeks ago in a non-BBFL keeper league!) and maybe Braves
AWeb - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 08:13 AM EST (#230751) #

The Jays have bettered that mark pretty much every year except 2009 (when they had a positive run differential). I think the division got weaker as a whole, Jays included, but I'd take the over. The Jays should just be set to 80.5 every year. Of course, lines are set to reflect betting, not as predictions. Is any team further off the 2010 record than the Jays, aside from the Padres being way down?

The Cardinals line, I assume, has dropped 3-4 wins already to reflect the Wainwright injury. I'd be happy taking the under on the Angels and the over on the Brewers, but I don't see any obvious flaws here.

Mike Green - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 09:16 AM EST (#230752) #
Red Sox, Phillies, Cards, Twins and Giants under.  Rays, Orioles and Padres over.
Original Ryan - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 09:37 AM EST (#230753) #
Things don't look good for spring training on the east coast of Florida.  The Orioles and Dodgers have left in recent years, and the Nationals are now looking to share a new spring training facility with the Astros near Disney World.  That will leave just the Mets, Cardinals and Marlins on the east coast, with the latter two sharing one facility.  The remaining teams might have no choice but to leave eventually.

If I'm not mistaken, Toronto's lease with Dunedin runs through 2016.  Once the Red Sox and Cubs get their new facilities, I believe that will leave the Blue Jays, Pirates and Athletics as the only teams with their spring training ballpark and practice fields at separate sites.  Winter Haven is reportedly making a push to bring spring training back to the city, with a new facility possibly being built near the new Legoland attraction.  I wonder if that's where the Blue Jays will wind up in a few years, and if they might find themselves sharing a facility with the Mets, Cardinals or Marlins.

Mesa and Ft. Myers are hoping to find tenants to fill sites vacated by the Cubs and Red Sox, respectively, but I can't see a team agreeing to do it.
John Northey - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 10:03 AM EST (#230754) #
Jays are an obvious over imo, the Pirates a tempting one (c'mon, they gotta be 1/2 decent someday).
christaylor - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 10:29 AM EST (#230756) #
This year, like last year's opening line, I think the Jays are a lock to take the over. MIL seems extremely low too. I'd also take the under on the Red Sox. 96 seems high given the strength of their schedule.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 10:44 AM EST (#230757) #
John, I confess that I may have missed something from the Pirates.  They won 57 games last year, with a Pythagorean of 53.  They've got McCutchen, Alvarez, Walker, and Tabata who may be better offensively in 2011 than in 2010, and they have added Overbay.  But, the pitching looks to be just awful. 

I suppose they could get to 68 wins or something, with an improved offence, Maholm, Ohlendorf and replacement level pitching, and a decline by other clubs in the division. 

bpoz - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 10:48 AM EST (#230758) #
AWeb or anyone, if it is not somehow distasteful could you go into more detail into the "betting" reflection on these numbers.

I have some knowledge on how it works, having read an article in the 80's. A person puts down a bet & if they lose then they lose their money but if they win the bookie keeps a small fixed % of the winnings which is called "sugar".

How much is Sugar these days?

Also as I understand it the odds are constantly changing as the "contestant or team" is bet on to win or lose, so as to balance out the bookie's retention on all the losing bets vs the bookie's payout on all the winning bets. The purpose is for the bookie to only make a profit.

Lastly am I correct in saying that there are "no odds" in this over/under. If you bet $20 under on the Jays and lose then you lost the $20 and if you win you get $20- sugar.

This part is a guess, the low win total on the Jays from a bookie's perspective is that he is balancing the "total $ volume" bet because too much money is bet on a low win number, and that number is 75 wins.

If this post has upset anyone, i apologize.
braden - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 10:50 AM EST (#230759) #
I feel pretty strongly that both the A's and Brewers will go Over.
AWeb - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 11:31 AM EST (#230761) #

I think the "sugar" is something that changes from place to place, essentially changing your odds slightly. The books make money two ways on something like over/under - split the betting equally over/under, take your 10% cut off of the winning side, and they come out 5% ahead.  Equal betting on both sides means the book always wins because of the sugar.

The other way is for them to set the over/under at a level which attracts bets to one side that the book is pretty sure will lose. Say, for instance, the bookie is pretty certain the Yankees collapse to under 85. Then he can set the line at 85, take 90% of the bets on the over, and assume that they are better than the crowd at picking the proper number. But if the Yankees do go over in this scenario, the books will lose. I think this strategy is more common for the popular teams who are likely to attract bets from larger numbers of people (and hence worse gamblers as whole).

If the over/under numbers move, it means the books are trying to achieve a better balance in the betting (to ensure a small victory), or they are pushing lines to see where the crowd stops betting big on the side they want them to. Again in the scenario where the book is relatively sure the Yankees finish at .500, if a book posts Yankees at 85, and everyone bets the over, they move it up a bit more until they stop getting the distribution they want.

 I think the big money books are playing a combination of both sides of these two strategies, because they happen to be really good gamblers compared to the crowd, essentially. The only way to beat sports betting is to be even better at it (or start your own book).

electric carrot - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 12:12 PM EST (#230765) #
quick glance at it makes me like the under on the red sox and yanks and the over on baltimore and toronto -- especially baltimore.  I think the east is going to be bunched in the middle this year with a wild finish.
Thomas - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 12:21 PM EST (#230766) #
If Wainwright is lost for the year, I think the Cards are a clear under. Phillies are under, too. I'll join the chorus on the Padres and A's - the latter is an improved team and won 81 games last year, while the former got worse with the loss of Adrian Gonzalez, but not 15 games worse. Rays over and the Indians are quite thin outside of their top 3 hitters.

Over: Padres, A's, Rays
Under: Cards, Indians, Phillies
Forkball - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 12:25 PM EST (#230767) #
Not sure if it was the sportsbook or Alex, but I found it interesting that the only team nickname not given in the table was Cleveland (but the Braves were).

Alex Obal - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 12:42 PM EST (#230768) #
That's just sloppiness on my part...

St. Louis is down to 83.5.
Chuck - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 01:03 PM EST (#230770) #

the Pirates a tempting one (c'mon, they gotta be 1/2 decent someday)

The trouble is, the Pirates are half decent. Their fans would prefer them to be fully decent.

John Northey - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 01:21 PM EST (#230772) #
Heh. The Pirates really did suck big time last year. Just thought I'd check them a bit and it is ugly but...

1) The starting 8 were all under 30 with 4 under 25
2) The top 9 starting pitchers were under 30 with only 1 start all year by someone 30+
3) Ross Ohlendorf has to have some luck this year - he went 1-11 with a 100 ERA+
4) Their bench has to be better - last year the starting 8 had OPS+ of 93+ outside of SS at 82 but the team OPS+ was 83
5) Same for backup pitchers - their 11 guys listed had 8 guys with ERA+'s above the team average of 82. Keeping Charlie Morton off the mound would help (54 ERA+ thanks to 1.7 HR per 9)
smcs - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 01:58 PM EST (#230777) #
A thing to remember with sportsbooks: they will juice the lines of more popular teams. I would say Boston, New Yorks (especially the Yankees), Chicagos (especially the Cubs) and Philly are all slightly too high because the books know these teams attract lots of attention from their fans on the over side (most fans think their team will always do better than expected). I'd also bet that Pittsburgh should a few wins higher, but the books know they attract attention on the "under" side. In other sports, look at the over/unders of the Celtics, Lakers, Patriots, Packers, Cowboys, Steelers, maybe the Jets and Giants, and, this year especially, the Heat.

To my eyes, other than the aforementioned public teams, the Jays, Padres and Brewers seem low. The Giants, Astros and Indians seem too high.

braden - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 02:20 PM EST (#230780) #

Vegas books will also juice the lines of LA teams simply due to the frequency of visitors/fans from that area throwing a quick bet on the over.

China fan - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 04:33 PM EST (#230782) #

Shi Davidi has written a fascinating story on Adam Lind's attempts to figure out his swing.  Lind's self-analysis, with the assistance of his personal hitting instructor Mike Shirley, is that the problem began when he gained weight.  He came into the league at 190 pounds and has bulked up to 220 pounds by now.  Davidi says the extra weight "led him to pull his front shoulder in as his swing began, causing his head to move, hampering his vision."  Lind himself is quoted as saying:  “I've really worked on freeing my hands up and trying to stay perpendicular with the pitcher, as weird as that may sound. Last year it was hard for me to see the pitcher, again as weird as that sounds..."

In case the above link doesn't work, here's the full link:

Mike Green - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 04:53 PM EST (#230783) #
It has often been said (including in the Davidi article) that DHing has affected Lind's hitting.  The numbers don't show that.  He actually has hit a little better over his career as a DH than as a left-fielder.
dan gordon - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 05:02 PM EST (#230784) #

I'd take the over on the Brewers, Jays and Giants. 

The Giants won 92 last year and they look to me like a much better team this year.  Why?  Well, they had Posey for only 108 games last year - he's there for the full season this year.  Sandoval was horrible last year, but he has lost about 40 pounds and is looking like a prime candidate for a big bounce back season.  They only had Bumgarner for 18 starts last year and they have him for the full season this year.   DeRosa missed almost the entire season last year, hit .193 in the 26 games he played, and he is back now.  They had Cody Ross for 33 games last year and they have him for a full season this year.  Andres Torres took over the CF job on a regular basis partway through the season last year and he will be there for the full season this year.  Expect Brandon Belt to get called up and make an impact sometime during this season - he may even make the team out of spring training, but they have said he will start in AAA if he's not going to play every day in SF.  Their bullpen was bolstered late last season by the addition of R.Ramirez and J.Lopez - they have those guys for the whole year this season.  Freddie Sanchez was only there for 111 games last season and he's there for the full year this year.  They lost Uribe, but replaced him with Tejada.  Lincecum wasn't as good last year as the previous 2 years.  He had one terrible stretch in August.  I expect he will be more like he was in '08 and '09.  Huff may not be as good as he was last year, but it's not like he's really old, he just turned 34 a couple of months ago.  Burrell is a question mark - will he hit like he did for them last year?  Like Huff, he just turned 34 and was a good NL player for a long time before he flopped with the Rays.  In any event, they have him for a full season this year after he played just 96 games for them last year.  San Diego won't be as tough an opponent as last year.

The Brewers look like a very strong team to me.  Weak schedule.  Excellent starting pitching.  Good bullpen.  Some big bangers. 

Thomas - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 06:00 PM EST (#230785) #
I'd take the over on the Brewers, too. (The Wainwright injury will help them in head-to-head matchups, even if it is a very minor consideration. Wainwright's faced them an average of 4 times a year over the past 3 seasons and has put up an ERA under 1.50 against the Brewers during the last two of those seasons, which spans 8 starts.)
bpoz - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 08:26 PM EST (#230793) #
This is not gambling related, but I remember the LAD having absolutely incredible pitching and ridiculously weak hitting and as a result, not making the playoffs. This was a theme for a few years. I hope this is a fact, if not please correct me.

Anyhow Bob McCowan said to Buck Martinez a couple of days ago that J Litch has an upside of 13 wins which he achieved in 2008 and is a #4/5 SP. Buck responds that the Jays want him to take the ball for 32 starts AND if someone's #5 SP wins 13 games then they are going to the playoffs. Buck did not mention AL East as a factor.

I certainly will not hold Buck to that comment but I respect the man and his opinion. Sure he had to think on his feet but it is interesting. I am grasping at straws to build optimism for the next 3 years.

So 5 SP with 13 wins each minimum is reason to be optimistic about 95+wins and a playoff spot in the AL East.

Guess what TB won 96 games in 2010. Price, Garza & Shields won 13+ games, Shields lost 15 games and W Davis & J Niemann did not win 13 games. So Buck Martinez has me convinced.
Craig B - Thursday, February 24 2011 @ 11:58 PM EST (#230796) #
The numbers are set just slightly high, as most years, so that the average team is predicted for 81.5 wins. Remember, most years the average team will have a bit under 81 wins, as August and September rainouts are not made up for non-contending teams. Most Vegas futures bets for team wins are over bets, especially fans grabbing their favorite team's line. I don't see too many Sox or Phillies fans taking the over (boy, those are some high numbers) but then that's what optimism does to you. Divisions : AL East +18, AL Central -9, AL West +2 NL East +11.5, NL Central -7, NL West +0.5 Like others here, I like the Brewers over a bit. I also really like the Tigers over.
christaylor - Friday, February 25 2011 @ 03:23 AM EST (#230799) #
On a slightly different topic -- each time I've looked at a list of the division lately, it makes too much sense that Houston would move to the AL West. Their travel schedule would be cut down, they'd have a natural geographic rivalry with the Rangers, and the novelty of moving to the AL could help a flagging franchise during a time where there's little hope on the farm.

It makes extra sense if baseball moves to the first round bye system for the top two division winners and add two WC teams, which was the the other (sensible) idea floated in this year's Sporting News baseball annual on the subject.
Anders - Friday, February 25 2011 @ 09:30 PM EST (#230849) #
A couple quick notes, to answer the gambling questions out there...

The cut the books take is called vigorish, or vig (also juice for short.) The quantity of the amount varies - in a Las Vegas casino sportsbook 9/10% is probably standard (so you are wagering $100 to win $91). So if two teams are evenly matched (or two sides, in the case of win totals), then both sides will/should be -110 to make their total, which is to say you wagering 110 dollars to win a total of 210 dollars - your $110 back + the $100. You can get better odds not in the casino, such as online sportsbooks, as they do not have to deal with having a physical infrastructure and compete in a more free market situation. The odds for things like future bets may vary as well - if much of the action is coming in on the Jays over, instead of raising the total win number, they may just shorten the price on the Jays over to -120 say, which means that instead of a 91% return on your money you are getting 83% - you have to wager $120 to win that same $100, or $114.5 to end up with $210.

As for a couple of other things, sports books will occasionally mess with the price of something, and so odds on the Cubs winning the World Series are probably always going to be a few points worse than they would be if judging solely field-based criteria. With that being said, for the most part there are enough smart people betting that posting a line that is too crooked one way or the other is not an optimal long term strategy for sports books. Fans may bet their teams, but professional bettors are in it for the long haul. Also the casino's and sports books can afford to hire smart people, and they know how to read Pecota's and everything else... Craig does correctly observe that the total skews slightly higher - this is because people prefer to root for achievement, either for their own team or others, than for failure. An extra 15 wins is not a huge amount though, all things considered.

Over/Under 2011 | 26 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.