Potential Profit Exists In Chance To Find Sweet Spot Between Projections Of MLB Season Win Totals

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The first MLB spring training games started over the weekend, and at the same time most of Colorado’s online sports betting sites have put out regular season total win projections for each team — with the chance to bet over or under the listed number.

It’s a happy time of year for certain baseball bettors willing to tie up some money in the futures market for the next seven months, especially because the sportsbooks don’t always agree on the right number. With so many sites available to Coloradans from the state’s wide-open and competitive market, bettors are in even better position than their peers in other states to make a profit if they study hard to get the best numbers.

And even better for those willing take a plunge into the “middle,” bettors can try to take advantage of some of the broader disagreements among the sportsbooks. When the win total numbers for a certain team varies by two or three games on different sites, a bettor can invest money on both the “over” and “under,” hoping the team’s record finishes between the two numbers and both bets become winners. In the worst-case scenario, only one of the bets succeeds and the vig is lost on the other.

The main downside is how the money is tied up until early October on two bets. The upside, aside from the potential to go 2-0 on the bets with no chance of going 0-2, is a bettor is in action on every game. He or she can track a team through the entire season trying to urge it into that perfect sweet spot between what two betting sites had projected.

With that in mind, here are seven opportunities for Coloradans to do exactly that, based on numbers at the various legal online sportsbooks. Keep in mind that we’re using numbers posted as of Monday morning, and they fluctuate according to injuries or acquisitions or betting trends or other factors, so you might see something different days from now:

Miami Marlins: 70.5 to 73.5 wins

The Marlins, who have been in a rebuild for what seems like forever, were a big surprise in the 2020 COVID-shortened season by making the playoffs with a 31-29 record. That was despite 18 of their own players being positively tested for the virus.

Based on the over/under win totals the sportsbooks have posted, they figure the Fish over-achieved and are ready to regress in a very tough NL East division, where the other four teams are all rated ahead of them.

The highest number we have seen posted among the betting sites is the 73.5 from the SuperBook, with the standard -110 vig. Meanwhile, BetMGM, Betfred, and Kambi-backed sites such as DraftKings and BetRivers all post the number at 70.5.

The difference among the latter three sites is only BetMGM has the standard vig for those betting over 70.5, while Kambi sites make it -134 and Betfred -135. A bettor using BetMGM on the Marlins over 70.5 wins and the SuperBook for under 73.5 wins has a nice opportunity to cash in if they win 71, 72, or 73 games.

Tampa Bay Rays: 84.5 to 87 wins

The Marlins are the only club for whom a spread as wide as three wins shows up among projections. The other Florida team is right behind them, however, with this 2.5-game disagreement.

Last year’s AL pennant-winner went 40-20 in the shortened season, and no one is projecting the Rays to win two of every three games this year (which would be a rare 108-54 season). The AL East is always tough, and the New York Yankees are the league’s projected pennant winner. At 86 wins, the Rays will prevail at a clip of 53.1% in 2021.

Only the SuperBook is listing a number as high as even 87 for the Rays’ over/under in 2021, again with standard vig to bet the under. For those who want to balance that with a bet on the over, one site, FOX Bet, sets the number at 84.5, but with a vig of -118. For those willing to make the bet, a Rays’ season with 85 or 86 victories is a two-way win, while 87 wins provides a payoff from FOX Bet and a push with the SuperBook.

Oakland Athletics: 85.5 to 87.5 wins

The differences of opinion among bookmakers that exceed two games on such projections is rare, and so we have now exhausted them. But there are five options to consider involving a spread of two games, starting with an A’s squad that has lost a few key players from a team that went 36-24 last year and is deemed likely to take a step backward after three straight postseason appearances. Oakland lost All-Star closer Liam Hendricks and shortstop Marcus Semien, a clubhouse leader who finished third in the 2019 American League MVP voting.

Circa lists Oakland’s o/u at 85.5 wins, with standard vig to bet the over. BetMGM and PointsBet both list 87.5, with BetMGM at -110 for the under and PointsBet at -115. That makes the two bets combining Circa on the over and BetMGM on the under worthy of consideration.

Detroit Tigers: 67.5 to 69.5 wins

Like the Marlins, the Tigers have been rebuilding for years. Unlike the Marlins, they showed no sign in 2020 that the process was ready to achieve results, as they finished 23-35, a year after recording a league-worst 47-114 record.

Detroit is stacked with a top-shelf farm system to help new manager A.J. Hinch, but the timetable doesn’t have them ready for contention this year — or even for a near .500 record, according to the projections. Still, one can “middle” bad teams just as easily as good teams.

FanDuel and Circa both put the Tigers’ o/u at 67.5, with standard -110 to bet the over. BetMGM and FOX Bet both use 69.5, but only BetMGM has the regular juice, so combining it on the under with either FanDuel or Circa on the over provides the best option.

Houston Astros: 86.5 to 88.5 wins

The Astros dropped off last season to a sub-.500 record after three straight AL West titles, and they are expected to rebound this year. They have lost some key players such as George Springer to free agency and Justin Verlander to injury, but there’s still a sound nucleus to make another pennant run possible. Verlander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September, intends to pitch this year even though the Astros estimate that his recovery could take 12 to 14 months.

Only the SuperBook has Houston as high as an 88.5-win projection, however, and only PointsBet is as low as 86.5. They both have the standard juice. Combining PointsBet on the over and SuperBook on the under might make a bettor very happy seven months from now if the Astros are pretty good — but not great.

Cincinnati Reds: 80.5 to 82.5 wins

The Reds last year got themselves above .500 — barely, at 31-29 — for the first time since 2013, and sportsbooks expect them to finish right around that middling mark again. Someone trying to middle them with this kind of bet would be pleased to see them produce that kind of average, so-so performance, with 81-81 a thing of beauty.

That’s because the SuperBook posts an o/u number of 80.5, while PointsBet, DraftKings, BetRivers, and Betfred are all 82.5. None of the latter have the standard vig to bet under 82.5, though — PointsBet is best with -115, making it the one to pair with SuperBook on this option.

Chicago White Sox: 89.5 to 91.5 wins

The last two-game spread we’ve identified is for a White Sox club that took great strides in 2020, achieving a 35-25 record, and has eyes on World Series contention this year after having made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Adding to the intrigue in Chicago is the arrival of 76-year-old Tony La Russa as manager, some 35 years after he was fired by the club.

Everyone sees them as a 90-win-or-better team, it seems, except the SuperBook, with its o/u of 89.5 wins. The Kambi-supported sites and Betfred are both using 91.5, but all with higher vig for betting the under. DraftKings and BetRivers, both with vigs of -118, are the better choice to combine with the SuperBook, for those willing.

La Russa turns 77 on Oct. 4, a day after the final game of the MLB regular season.

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at gary@usbets.com.

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