AL EAST REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS
|TEAM||2020 WIN TOTAL||ODDS TO WIN THE AL EAST|
|New York Yankees||102.5||-800|
|Tampa Bay Rays||89.5||+600|
|Boston Red Sox||84.5||+1400|
|Toronto Blue Jays||76||+20000|
BALTIMORE ORIOLES – O/U 56.5
Last season: Under 59.5 by 6 wins
I started this column last year saying it would be hard for the Orioles to repeat a performance that terrible, but in the end it was still the Orioles and took the Under anyway. The O's did not disappoint. While Baltimore had seven more wins in 2019 compared to 2018, that gives them a grand total of 101 wins the last two seasons. There still aren’t significant improvements coming to this roster in 2020. Dylan Bundy is gone. They're hoping Alex Cobb is healthy and John Means can replicate his 2019. But other than that. This is still the Orioles and banking on them to go Over this number is a risky proposition.
Pick: Under 56.5
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BOSTON RED SOX – O/U 84.5
Last season Under 94.5 by 11 wins
It has been an interesting offseason for the Red Sox. They are coming off a disappointing 84-win 2019. They traded arguably their best player since Ted Williams for a bag of balls in Mookie Betts, in apparent “cost saving” measures. They had to fire manager Alex Cora, for his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. And are still waiting for the results from their own alleged cheating to come down. They still have a solid core of position players of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi. But the rotation, which was once a strength, is now very thin. That Chris Sale contract looks like an albatross now, and the Sox’s fourth starter is Martin Perez. They currently don’t have a No. 5. On top of all that, the bullpen is shaky at best. Considering all those factors, it’s hard for me to think they’ll have more wins than last year.
Pick: Under 84.5
NEW YORK YANKEES – O/U 102.5
Last season: Over 96.5 by 7 wins
Not surprisingly, the Yankees have the biggest win total in the American League. The Bronx Bombers led the Majors in scoring on their way to 103 wins last year, and have now added one of the best pitchers in the game in Gerrit Cole. Not only did they win 103 games, they did with a ton of players getting injured. Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar all missed significant time last season. James Paxton will miss the start of the season with an injury, but for the most part the Yankees enter Spring Training healthy and motivated, as one of the teams that feels most directly cheated by the Astros. Their bullpen is also still the most intimidating in baseball.
Pick: Over 102.5
TAMPA BAY RAYS – O/U 89.5
Last season: Over 84.5 by 12 wins
Heading into last season I was not a believer of either the Rays or the A’s and their strategy of using just three or four starters and going with openers for much of the season. (For those who don’t know, an opener is a reliever who starts the game and pitches one-to-two innings before handing it off to the bullpen). I ended up picking the Under for both teams and got burned. The Rays return most of their lineup for last season and have added interesting Japanese transfer Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to the mix. Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow are healthy, while Charlie Morton looks to build off a terrific first year in Tampa Bay. The bullpen is still excellent, and Kevin Cash is one of the best managers in the game. The number feels pretty spot on here, but we’ll give the Rays the benefit of the doubt this season.
Pick: Over 89.5
TORONTO BLUE JAYS – O/U 76
Last season: Under 75.5 by 9 wins
The Blue Jays are an intriguing team heading into 2020. They only won 67 games last season, but from June on, they went 36-42, which works out to about 75 wins over a full season. Of course, this is when Vladdy Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio all joined the roster. The Jays also did that with one of the worst rotations in baseball and they remedied that in a big way. The team made a splash signing former Dodger Hyun-Jin Ryu, while adding Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson for depth. Top pitching prospect Nate Pearson is also expected to make his big-league debut at some point in 2020 (he can hit 104 mph on the radar gun). If the Junior Jays can take the next step in their development, they can be a dark horse for the second AL Wild Card.
Pick: Over 76
UNDERSTANDING MLB SEASON WIN TOTALS
Sportsbooks will post projected win totals for every MLB team before the season starts. The numbers are projections for the amount of wins a specific team will get in a given year set accurately enough in hopes of getting an even amount of dollars wagered on both the Over and the Under. These markets open before Spring Training, close when the regular season begins and don’t cash out until the season is over eight months later. So, be prepared to ride out your investment.
MLB season win total odds will usually look like this:
New York Yankees Over/Under 102.5
This means you can bet the Yankees to have more than or less than 102.5 wins. So, 103 or more wins and you cash an Over bet and 102 or fewer wins and your Under is the winner.
Most of these odds are juiced to -110 each way, meaning you would need to bet $110 to win $100. If adjustments are made, due to players changing teams, getting hurt or liability (amount wagered on a certain side), then usually the number would change, for example: the Yankees move from 102.5 to 103.5.
HOW TO BET MLB REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS
There are many strategies to consider when making an MLB regular season win total bet. First and foremost, you're looking for value. Has a sportsbook overvalued a player acquisition or undervalued the strength of a division? Just because the Rays won 96 games last year, doesn’t necessarily mean they'll go Over their win total of 89.5 this year. With a little bit of research, you can find some real value in the numbers.
Also, consider the length of your investment. As mentioned before, MLB regular season win totals need to be locked in prior to the Opening Day of the MLB season (usually at the end of March) and don’t cash out until the season ends (usually at the end of September). That’s a long time to wait out a bet. If you are betting the Rays to go Over 89.5 wins, but they stumble out the gates losing 15 of their first 30 games, you’ve got a season-long sweat on your hands.
Another thing to look at is good teams versus bad teams. The MLB is in a weird state where it seems like only a third of teams are actually trying to win at a time, while the others tank to accumulate assets. But since sportsbooks don’t like setting numbers too high or too low, there's actually value in betting bad teams to lose and good teams to win.
Finally, shop around. These totals are from the Superbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas. If you like the Red Sox to struggle but don’t love the number at 84.5, maybe another book doesn’t have as big a liability on Boston and has a number of 85.5 or even 86.