The Sports Bros.
As fans of both baseball and gambling, the Sports Bros. have a difficult time during the 162-game grind that is baseball. There are simply too many games and too much unpredictability to bet on much of anything (read: any one game) throughout the season. Each individual game is a crap shoot.
The solution to this simple problem is easy, so take advantage of it: Season win totals. Every team has a win total set by Vegas and, we the gambler, bet they will win more or less than that number. Truly simple.
Here, each of us offer up our five favorite bets (plus some bonuses).
- Texas Rangers: Under 87.5
The Rangers had quite the season last year, and I think the number is a bit inflated due to that World Series run. Josh Hamilton won’t have nearly the same MVP numbers and there’s dissension with Michael Young switching over to DH. The real question mark is the pitching staff. C.J, Wilson, Colby Lewis, Brandon Webb, Derek Holland, Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter? Some good young arms, but it’ll be feast or famine with most of these guys. Too inconsistent.
- Tampa Bay Rays: Over 83.5
This has a lot to do with their pitching staff, but also a lot to do with the Yankees being a touch overrated. I absolutely love Tampa’s pitching staff. Anchored by David Price, it still includes great arms like James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis? Yes please! They also added Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon in the offseason. Despite their age, they both can still hit. There is concern at the closer spot, but Jake McGee is a fabulous young left-handed flamethrower.
- Philadelphia Phillies: Under 95.5
Once Cliff Lee resigned with the Phillies every one decided to just hand them the championship. Yes, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are probably the best one-two punch in the league, but the offense is suspect, especially with the injury to Chase Utley. There just simply isn’t a lot of pop outside of Ryan Howard. Jimmy Rollins is an ex-MVP who hasn't been playing at near the same level. You can’t expect Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco and Ben Francisco to take up the slack. Pitch around Howard and you can avoid a good portion of the lineup. Plus, as someone who has seen Roy Oswalt pitch for a very long time, he can be dominating, but can also be inconsistent. He throws a lot of strike and can get hit around.
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Under 72.5
I happen to think that Arizona will have the worst record in baseball. Most bad teams have made strides to improve or at least have some exciting young players. Arizona? Not so much. If Joe Saunders is your ace, JJ Putz your closer and you’re fielding a lineup that has position battles involving Geoff Blum and Melvin Mora look for a long season filled with many losses. Also to note, the Giants, Rockies and Padres all have very good if not great teams.
- Houston Astros: Over 71.5
Listen. Houston won 76 games last season, playing half that year with Kaz Matsui. I don’t think the Astros will be great by any means, but I think they have a good set of veterans and a strong group of young players like Brett Wallace, Chris Johnson and Bud Norris who should thrive in their cemented starting roles. The rotation doesn’t wow anybody, but it has five competitive arms throwing pitches. I also look for Jordan Lyles to get a major league call up sometime this year and he’ll bring a lot of talent with him. The key to the Astros going over is the health of the starters and the bat of Johnson. It was his offensive flurry last season that made the Astros competitive, and I look for that continue.
Other totals I like: Cincinnati Over 86.5, St. Louis Under 83.5, Washington Over 72.5, New York Mets Under 76.5, Boston Red Sox over 94.5
- Houston Astros: Over 71.5
I can't start with anything other than the home team, and I think the 'Stros getting a lot of undeserved crap. We've written about this before, and it's hard to believe the Astros will somehow lose five more games than they did last year (a team that had abysmal stats like a -118 run differential). Yes, we do have to expect Brett Myers to have a year something close to like he had last year, and yes, position players like Brett Wallace have to come into their own — but there's no way the Astros don't hit 72 wins.
- Boston Red Sox: Over 94.5
If you're predicting a Philles-Red Sox World Series, you're right. And there's a reason both are sitting at roughly 95 win totals. After adding superstars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox are THE force to be reckoned with. While the Phillies are running through some injury issues (closer Brad Lidge starts the season on the disabled list), I think the Red Sox not only get to 95 wins, but could possibly hit 100 (and may finish as the best team in baseball).
- Florida Marlins: Under 82.5
The Marlins have the pitching. That's never been the problem. It's the fact that they can't get the runs in to cover for the stellar work on the mound. Young pitcher Josh Johnson is going to be great (finished second in the league in ERA in 2010 and could win the Cy Young in 2011) and fellow hurler Ricky Nolasco is a true budding star even if his ERA doesn't show it (his three-year extension show the Marlins believe in him). But generating enough hitting from a lineup where Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez are your go-to guys and you kind of hope the others fill in isn't going to cut it.
- San Francisco Giants: Over 88
Pitching wins in The Show. We learned that explicitly last year as 2010 The Year of the Pitcher yielded an un-fashionable champion, but a champion with a rotation like none other. Fast forward to 2011 where ace Tim Lincecum is followed up by Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner. The Giants will hit 88 and win their division. Expect them to give the Phillies a run for the pennant.
- Oakland As: Over 84.5
I wanted to put the A's on here because I think for once they have a rotation that can give the Rangers a run for their money in the AL West. Trevor Cahill could be one of the more underrated pitchers in the league, and we all saw Dallas Braden deal punches last year. The wild cards are if newbies Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui can get the As' run support over the hump and get them ahead of the Rangers. I don't know if Oakland will win the West, but I do think it will get to 85 wins.
Other totals I like: Detroit Over 84.5, Los Angeles Dodgers Under 83.5, New York Mets Under 76.5, Seattle Mariners Under 70, Kansas City Royals Over 68.5