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Picking the best MLB over-under bet for 2018

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Do better this year, people. Do better.

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Every year, I assume that the wisdom of crowds will help us — all of us — make money. Every year, I figure that thousands and thousands of hardcore baseball fans can mush their brains together and become a supercomputer that’s smart enough to beat the stupid casinos.

Every year, I trust you. And now I’m ruined.

Before the 2017 season started, every team was given an over-under line by Bovada. For example, the Astros were set at 89½. You would then have the option to bet on how they did relative to that projection. Did you think the Astros were going to win 90 games or more? You would have taken the over. Were they going to win 88 games or fewer? You would have taken the under. Every team had a line, and there was an option to bet on them winning more games or winning fewer.

My job was to pick just one of those teams and scenarios. I picked the Reds to finish with 70 wins or fewer. I was smart. The rest of you ruined me.

There were 1,454 people who voted in last year’s poll. A majority (751) of you failed. And what’s worse is that you have to bet $100 to win $190 — a $90 profit — but when you lose, you lose the whole $100. So it takes a healthy number of wins over 50 percent to really make money. When you lose, it really screws everything up.

Here’s how we fared last year, with the winnings and losses assuming that every vote was a fake $100 bet:

2017 MLB over-unders

Team 2017 over-under Actual wins Over votes Under votes Winnings Losses
Team 2017 over-under Actual wins Over votes Under votes Winnings Losses
Angels 79.5 80 61 22 $5,490 $2,200
A's 73.5 75 48 11 $4,320 $1,100
Astros 89.5 101 20 17 $1,800 $1,700
Blue Jays 84.5 76 30 6 $540 $3,000
Braves 73.5 72 55 14 $1,260 $5,500
Brewers 69.5 86 62 1 $5,580 $100
Cardinals 84.5 83 39 5 $450 $3,900
Cubs 95.5 92 26 22 $1,980 $2,600
Diamondbacks 77.5 93 14 6 $1,260 $600
Dodgers 93.5 104 6 22 $540 $2,200
Giants 87.5 64 18 4 $360 $1,800
Indians 92.5 102 19 17 $1,710 $1,700
Mariners 85.5 78 23 13 $1,170 $2,300
Marlins 76.5 77 9 7 $810 $700
Mets 88.5 70 29 20 $1,800 $2,900
Nationals 90.5 97 28 2 $2,520 $200
Orioles 80.5 75 41 7 $630 $4,100
Padres 66.5 71 28 17 $2,520 $1,700
Phillies 73.5 66 43 13 $1,170 $4,300
Pirates 82.5 75 22 13 $1,170 $2,200
Rangers 84.5 78 143 12 $1,080 $14,300
Rays 77.5 80 51 9 $4,590 $900
Red Sox 92.5 93 15 12 $1,350 $1,200
Reds 70.5 68 17 44 $3,960 $1,700
Rockies 80.5 87 31 27 $2,790 $2,700
Royals 76.5 80 41 5 $3,690 $500
Tigers 82.5 64 26 12 $1,080 $2,600
Twins 74.5 85 12 28 $1,080 $2,800
White Sox 69.5 67 20 10 $900 $2,000
Yankees 82.5 91 63 16 $5,670 $1,600

Rangers fans. You fools. You ruined this for everyone.

Royals fans, as usual, spit on the projection systems and were right to do so. Maybe we should keep that in mind when it’s time to pick. I enjoy that there were 18 people who thought about it long and hard, and decided the Giants were actually much better than they were being given credit for. You poor souls.

Something worth pointing out, though, is that 27 of the teams had more “over” votes than “under.” This is because optimistic fans storm the poll and pick their team to do better than projected. Even Phillies fans did that last year. Hey, it’s spring, and I can’t blame them. Except this got in the hands of the people of Lone Star Ball and they RUINED MY PRECIOUS PROJECT.

So my suggestion is this: try not to pick your team. If you think they’re being hosed, go for it, but really look these over and pick the over-under that stands out to you. Don’t just go straight for your team and moon the casinos. I’m counting on you and your spongy hive mind.

Here are the MLB over-unders for 2018, courtesy of Bovada:

2018 MLB over-unders

Team 2018 over-under
Team 2018 over-under
Arizona Diamondbacks 85.5
Atlanta Braves 74.5
Baltimore Orioles 73
Boston Red Sox 91.5
Chicago Cubs 94.5
Chicago White Sox 68
Cincinnati Reds 73.5
Cleveland Indians 94.5
Colorado Rockies 82
Detroit Tigers 68.5
Houston Astros 96.5
Kansas City Royals 71.5
Los Angeles Angels 84.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 96.5
Miami Marlins 64.5
Milwaukee Brewers 84.5
Minnesota Twins 82.5
New York Mets 81
New York Yankees 94.5
Oakland A's 74.5
Philadelphia Phillies 75.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 73
San Diego Padres 69.5
San Francisco Giants 81.5
Seattle Mariners 81.5
St. Louis Cardinals 85.5
Tampa Bay Rays 77.5
Texas Rangers 77.5
Toronto Blue Jays 81
Washington Nationals 92.5

Just one of these years, I want these to come out and make this easy for me. “Cubs: 45 wins.” And then I can finish in one paragraph and start day-drinking. Unfortunately, this is tough. It always is.

The first step is to rummage through and get some quick thoughts. The Dodgers and Astros being at 96.5 seems high, just because it’s hard for any team to count on 97 wins. On the other hand, both teams are loaded and deep, and if something breaks, they’ll trade prospects for glue. The Marlins seem like a lock to lose 100 games, except it’s really, really hard for teams to lose 100 games. Baseball doesn’t like extremes.

I would like to take a break and point out that I’m entirely confident in the Mariners winning exactly 81.5 games. It would be the crowning achievement of Mariners-dom.

The Mets should win more than 81 games if they stay healt

whoops wifi went out, lemme just reboot that, and

The Mets should win more than 81 games if they stay healt

huh, did it again, and all the lights in my house are flickering, guess I’ll just type that one more time

The Mets should win more than 81 games if they stay healt

now there’s smoke coming from the modem, maybe I should just move to the next team

The Brewers at 84.5 wins seems pretty aggressive, considering that they’re messing around with Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley and counting on all of their pitching breakthroughs from last year to hold. On the other hand, Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain were pretty danged sweet additions, and the lineup looks impressive. On the other other hand, they aren’t beloved by projection systems.

Say, let’s look at the difference between the projection systems and the over-unders. There might be some outliers.

Differences in projections and over-unders, 2018

Team 2018 over-under FanGraphs projected wins Difference
Team 2018 over-under FanGraphs projected wins Difference
Kansas City Royals 71.5 66 5.5
Milwaukee Brewers 84.5 79 5.5
Arizona Diamondbacks 85.5 82 3.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 96.5 93 3.5
Colorado Rockies 82 79 3
Washington Nationals 92.5 90 2.5
Chicago White Sox 68 66 2
Atlanta Braves 74.5 73 1.5
Cincinnati Reds 73.5 72 1.5
Cleveland Indians 94.5 93 1.5
Minnesota Twins 82.5 81 1.5
Philadelphia Phillies 75.5 74 1.5
Chicago Cubs 94.5 94 0.5
Los Angeles Angels 84.5 84 0.5
Miami Marlins 64.5 64 0.5
New York Yankees 94.5 94 0.5
New York Mets 81 81 0
Detroit Tigers 68.5 69 -0.5
Seattle Mariners 81.5 82 -0.5
Tampa Bay Rays 77.5 78 -0.5
Boston Red Sox 91.5 93 -1.5
San Francisco Giants 81.5 83 -1.5
Baltimore Orioles 73 75 -2
Pittsburgh Pirates 73 75 -2
St. Louis Cardinals 85.5 88 -2.5
Texas Rangers 77.5 80 -2.5
San Diego Padres 69.5 73 -3.5
Houston Astros 96.5 101 -4.5
Oakland A's 74.5 79 -4.5
Toronto Blue Jays 81 86 -5

Dammit, Royals. Every year we have to do this? Every stinking year? But if the over-under already accounts for them beating their projection, they aren’t the answer, here.

The other outliers are the Brewers and Blue Jays, and to be honest, I hadn’t thought about the Blue Jays. I hadn’t thought about them since last August or so, really. It was just a few minutes ago that it was easy to be awed into silence by the Tulo-Donaldson-Bautista-Encarnacion thunder in the middle of the lineup, but now I’m not sure if there’s anyone in the lineup who I would bet on having a .330 OBP, other than Donaldson. But their pitching staff is easy to overlook, so maybe we should trust in the computers? That’s a pretty healthy gap.

Except I’m going to go with another team that seems to be underrated, here. Allow me to present the most boring rotation in baseball:

  1. Sean Manaea
  2. Kendall Graveman
  3. Daniel Mengden
  4. Andrew Triggs
  5. Paul Blackburn

Not a stunner among them. But they’re all projected to be worth a win or more, and they’ll be supporting a lineup that could have six players who hit 20 to 25 homers. They’ll be covered by Jharel Cotton in the event of an emergency, if he’s not already in the rotation, and this might be the year that A.J. Puk melts our faces off. The weirdness of Khris Davis in left field has been replaced with Stephen Piscotty and the natural order of things with Khris Davis as a DH. Whoever plays defense in center should be an upgrade. Matt Chapman is about to molt and become Adrian Beltre in his prime.

[gasping for air] GIVE ME THE A’S. 96 WINS.

Or, at least, something that’s 75 wins or better. They’ll be playing in a division without a patsy, and that’s part of the problem, but this doesn’t strike me as anything close to a 90-loss team, which is what the over-under is hinting at.

A’s. Over. Final answer.

Now it’s time to vote in the poll. (Note that if you’re here via Apple News or Google AMP, you won’t be able to see a poll. Sorry!) Again, please do your best to be objective and vote for a team that isn’t your favorite. LOOKING AT YOU, RANGERS FANS. LOOKING AT YOU WHILE WEARING A BARREL WITH SUSPENDERS.

Good luck, and remember to never gamble because it would appear that gambling is a great way to lose money. Thank you.

Poll

Pick the best MLB over-under bet for 2018

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Angels over
    (47 votes)
  • 0%
    Angels under
    (4 votes)
  • 8%
    A’s over
    (163 votes)
  • 0%
    A’s under
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Astros over
    (40 votes)
  • 1%
    Astros under
    (24 votes)
  • 1%
    Blue Jays over
    (34 votes)
  • 1%
    Blue Jays under
    (28 votes)
  • 2%
    Braves over
    (47 votes)
  • 0%
    Braves under
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Brewers over
    (29 votes)
  • 1%
    Brewers under
    (30 votes)
  • 1%
    Cardinals over
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    Cardinals under
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Cubs over
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    Cubs under
    (30 votes)
  • 0%
    Diamondbacks over
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Diamondbacks under
    (36 votes)
  • 0%
    Dodgers over
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    Dodgers under
    (51 votes)
  • 4%
    Giants over
    (78 votes)
  • 1%
    Giants under
    (32 votes)
  • 0%
    Indians over
    (12 votes)
  • 1%
    Indians under
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Mariners over
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    Mariners under
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    Marlins over
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Marlins under
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    Mets over
    (93 votes)
  • 1%
    Mets under
    (20 votes)
  • 2%
    Nationals over
    (48 votes)
  • 0%
    Nationals under
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Orioles over
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    Orioles under
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    Padres over
    (83 votes)
  • 0%
    Padres under
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Phillies over
    (48 votes)
  • 0%
    Phillies under
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Pirates over
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Pirates under
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    Rangers over
    (66 votes)
  • 2%
    Rangers under
    (44 votes)
  • 0%
    Rays over
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    Rays under
    (87 votes)
  • 1%
    Red Sox over
    (25 votes)
  • 0%
    Red Sox under
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    Reds over
    (25 votes)
  • 0%
    Reds under
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Rockies over
    (32 votes)
  • 0%
    Rockies under
    (16 votes)
  • 0%
    Royals over
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    Royals under
    (53 votes)
  • 0%
    Tigers over
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Tigers under
    (27 votes)
  • 2%
    Twins over
    (42 votes)
  • 0%
    Twins under
    (13 votes)
  • 4%
    White Sox over
    (77 votes)
  • 0%
    White Sox under
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Yankees over
    (29 votes)
  • 2%
    Yankees under
    (45 votes)
1897 votes total Vote Now