The baseball over/under win totals were posted late February. I had been looking at them for almost every day they were out. I also began to research the types of statistics contribute the most to runs scored by a team. I came across RPA at The Baseball Think Factory.
If you don’t want to click the link, the idea is that every possible outcome a batter can have contributes X runs. Baseball Think Factory determined what those values were, and I used those values and the ZIPS projections developed by Dan Szymborski to create the amount of runs each player would create this season. I added the players on each team to get the runs scored for each team. To get runs given up by each team, I added ZIPS projected earned runs of the players on each team. I divided this number by .92 because that is a rough approximation of the relationship to earned runs and runs.
After calculating the runs scored and runs given up by each team, I used Bill James Pythagorean Theory to calculate the win percentages. Multiplying the win percentage by 162 games gave me the wins for each team.
This system has a lot of assumptions. The biggest one is that every baseball team has the same defensive skill. This system does not include the amount of wins that defense creates/loses. It also assumes that ZIPS is the best projection system. The system also assumes no trades throughout the season. These assumptions, among others, are the reasons these projections could be off. I am only suggesting my top 4 bets as these are the only bets that had a greater than 10 run difference from the Vegas totals.
Without further explanation, here are my best bets for the season-long over/under totals
Houston Astros Over 63 Wins
The Houston Astros are an interesting team for this season. Last summer, I wrote about how they will win a World Series in a couple years. It turns out, the initial stock of young guys that they have been storing up in the minors are ready to perform in The Show.
George Springer is the biggest name. I think that he will end up with a starting job out of spring training, and here is what I think he can do this year. They also traded for Dexter Fowler, which is an upgrade for them. If Jason Castro puts together a 2014 like his 2013 and Chris Carter cuts down on the strikeouts, the Astros have a nice core that can easily clear 63 wins. And don’t forget, Mark Appel, number 1 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, will probably come up after the Super Two deadline.
I am actually excited to watch the Astros this year, unlike last year’s squad of horrendous talent.
New York Mets Over 73.5 & Chicago Cubs Over 69
The Mets and Cubs are in a similar situation as the Astros. They are both rebuilding teams, but they are further along than the Astros.
The Mets are primed with young talent. They have built their farm system through some good trades. They have picked up Zack Wheeler (Carlos Beltran Trade), Travis d’Arnaud, and Noah Syndergaard (R.A. Dickey Trade). They also have drafted and signed international free agents well too with Matt Harvey and Rafael Montero. I expect everyone i have listed, except Harvey, to be playing for the Mets by the end of the year. With the Curtis Granderson signing to help with the offense, they should be able to clear 73 wins with ease and make a run at a .500 record.
For the Cubs, their season is going to depend on Jeff Samardzija future because he is the best pitcher on the Cubs’ staff, and their biggest question is how many runs are they going to give up. They are definitely going to score runs with Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Nate Schierholtz, but the pitching will be in serious question if/when Samardzija gets traded.
You want to know how I know it is in trouble? The ORIOLES got rid of the 2 of the 5 starters in the Cubs’ staff. However, ZIPS projects a breakout for Jake Arrieta and no drop-off from Travis Wood. I trust those projections, and my win total of 80 wins.
New York Yankees Under 86.5
The Yankees are another year older, and I do not think they upgraded enough in the off-season to get them more wins than last year’s 85. They got big upgrades with Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury. However, that just bolsters the offense, and their pitching was the biggest problem last year.
I believe that the Yankees did not do nearly enough to help the pitching. CC Sabathia hasn’t hit 90 mph yet this spring, and I do not see him improving on last year’s numbers. Also, they can’t count on Masahiro Tanaka to be Yu Darvish. They have 3 starters that are 2 or 3 starters in a good rotation, but no ace. Tack on a terrible back-end of the starting rotation and no Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are gonna give up a ton of runs.
Take these to Vegas, and dominate