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2014 MLB over/under odds: Picking the best bet

If you need a new kidney, gambling is probably the best way to get it. So let's look for the best bet in baseball for 2014.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, on Valentine's Day, I wrote up some baseball over/under bets for the 2013 season. There's just something so romantic about sportsbooks. They make me think about the gravely voice of my first love, Iris. She brought me as many free whiskey-and-Cokes as I wanted while I watched sports in the early afternoon, and my heart still aches thinking about it.

At the end of that post last year, there was a 60-option poll, asking you which bet would have been your kidney bet for the 2013 season. As in, if you needed a few bucks for a new kidney, and that bet was the only way to get it, which over/under would you choose?

There were 665 votes cast. As you suspected, gambling is almost evil, but not quite. Let's pretend that instead of votes, those were actual $100 bets. How did the readers of SB Nation do?

Winnings: $29,490
Losses: $29,200

Take that, Vegas. The power of nerdsourcing got us a net profit of ... $290. Dammit, Vegas. How do you do that?

You bet big on the A's, Red Sox, Indians, and Braves to go over, and they did. You lost big on the Giants, Nationals, and Blue Jays, which seems just adorable in retrospect. I picked the Royals to go under. Thirty teams and 60 different options, and my pick would have completely ruined me. Good work, Ervin Santana. I hope you get an NRI with the Ducks.

It's that time of year again, so let's try it again. The list of teams and their over/unders in 2014, according to Atlantis in Reno:

Team Will they win more or fewer games than ... Special considerations
Dodgers 92.5
Tigers 91.5
Cardinals 90.5
Nationals 90.5
Rays 88.5
Red Sox 87.5
Reds 87.5 (-115u)
Braves 86.5
Athletics 86.5
Giants 86.5
Rangers 86.5
Royals 85.5
Pirates 85.5 (-115u)
Angels 84.5
Yankees 83.5
Indians 82.5 (-115u)
Mariners 81.5
Diamondbacks 81
Orioles 80.5
Brewers 78.5 (-115u)
Phillies 78
Blue Jays 77.5
White Sox 76.5 (-115u)
Rockies 76.5
Padres 76.5
Mets 71.5
Marlins 66.5
Cubs 65.5
Twins 65.5 (-115u)
Astros 57.5

Pick one.

Huh, you say. Huh. That's what these odds are supposed to make you say. Huh. If there were something that tickled your gambling gland right away, these folks wouldn't be in business. That's the point. But we need a new fake kidney again, so let's pick the team that will get us one.

(Note: an earlier version of this explainer was incorrect, suggesting that a $100 bet could win $200. That's not how it works. I'm dumb. Apologies.)

These odds are a little different in that most of them are straight bets, which means that if you bet $100, you'll win $190 (including the original bet). Last year's came from a different sportsbook, and they were less favorable -- you would bet $100 to win $185 in most cases. That's the case for some of the unders this year, which are noted as (-115u) in the third column. You'll win less money betting on the Twins to go under then you would on them going over.

Quick definition: Say the Cleveland Spiders' over/under is 40. If you think they'll win 41 games or more, you take the over. If you think they're good for 39 or fewer, take the under.

Let's eliminate some teams, first. I'm fairly sure the Dodgers will win 93 games this year. There is no way in heck I'd bet on it. Even for the best teams, 93 wins takes a little luck. Or, rather, an absence of bad luck. I guess an absence of bad luck is what it takes for any team to hit the over on their projection, but there's something about overly optimistic projections that make me shy away. In last year's pool, the Tigers, Dodgers, and Nationals were the only teams set at 90 wins. The Nationals missed, and the Dodgers needed an absurd, record-breaking two months to get just two wins over.

The same goes with the Astros losing 105 games, too. I get that they're going to be lousy again -- their #5 hitter on MLB Depth Charts is a player I hadn't heard of before writing this -- but it takes a special confluence of awful to lose more than 100. The Astros have lost 100 games as many times (three) over the last three seasons as the Cubs have in their history. Instead of giggling at the Astros' misfortune, we should appreciate just how amazing and fluky that is. And I wouldn't bet on it happening again. The Twins are basically the Astros + Joe Mauer, and I don't think he's eight wins' worth of difference. I'd pick them up before the Astros, and the same goes with the Cubs.

The Phillies, Reds, and Royals are too high. The Rays, Diamondbacks, and Astros are too low. But not so high or low that I'd place a bet and have sweet, sweet kidney-themed dreams for the next six months. That's the problem with these things. Constant second-guessing and self-doubt.

Except … through the morass of conflicting data points and confusing teams, there is a kidney bet. In fact, this is one that I feel far more comfortable with than any of last year's bets. Before we move on, note that I've set up another poll at the bottom. If you would like to choose your kidney bet without bias, please go and vote now.

Okay, I've had to check and recheck my work, making sure this team isn't as bad as they've been pegged to be. They're not. Here's their starting rotation:

Bartolo Colon
Jon Niese
Dillon Gee
Zack Wheeler
Jenrry Mejia

Not bad. Not bad at all. That's a swell mix of competence and upside, and there's always a chance that Noah Syndergaard could debut this season. There's also Daisuke Matsuzaka in a glass case, too, and that's rather exciting.

The Mets aren't even standing pat from their 88-loss team offensively, either. Curtis Granderson is making good coin to provide some power, Chris Young is a good bet to have a bounce-back year, and Travis d'Arnaud might crack the starting lineup. That's 3/8ths of the lineup that could provide more for the Mets than they got last year, yet the over/under has them at a game worse than 2013.

Or, put it this way. Think about all of the LOLMets from the last 20 years. Sure, there was a pennant-winning team and some contenders mixed in there, but there's also been a lot of LOLMets. Think of Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen in the same rotation, Oliver Perez getting a dozen chances to justify his contract, and Alex Cora starting at short. Think of all the bad Mets baseball from the last two decades.

They lost more than 91 games twice. They lost exactly 91 games twice more. The over-under for this Mets team is 71.5, which means by choosing the under, you're expecting them to lose as many games as the very worst Mets teams of the past 20 years. By choosing the over, you're guessing they'll be as bad as they have been for the last three years, but not more.

Then remember they're facing the Marlins and Phillies for a disproportionate amount of games. I'd give the Mets the same odds for finishing with 81 wins as I would for 71. Which means they're probably in the middle of that range, and that makes them my kidney team.

You should probably gamble a lot of money on the Mets.

When has anyone regretted betting money on the Mets?

Please, bet on the Mets. Because I'm not going to, and I want to live vicariously through someone.

On second thought, I do not advise that you bet any money on the 2014 Mets.

But if I had to pick one team, there you go. The rotation is more competent than you remember, and even when you think about the things that have gone wrong for the Mets over the last five years, they would have beat the under five years straight. I need a fake kidney, and the Mets are the team to ...


dammit, Ruben Tejada, what are you doing, stop that, no, no, no

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