It has been one of the craziest MLB offseasons imaginable for the Houston Astros thanks to the sign-stealing scandal. But with spring training here, we turn our attention to the MLB odds for regular season win totals. Andrew Caley may not have a trash can banging system in place to know what's coming, but he slides into the MLB betting odds headfirst and gives his best Over/Under win total predictions for the American League West.
AL WEST REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS
HOUSTON ASTROS - O/U 94.5
Last season: Over 96.5 by 11 wins
Where to even begin with the Astros? The banging scandal has rocked baseball to its core. The GM and head coach are fired. The team was fined and lost a bunch of draft picks. But the general consensus is that it wasn't enough. Everyone hates the players and owner for being so contrite and believe their World Series title should be stripped. The point is, this story isn't going away anytime soon. Astros players are going to hear it from fans and opposing players all season long (what's the Over/Under for number of trash cans confiscated when the Astros play?).
Losing star starter Gerrit Cole hurts a lot and the division as a whole got a little better, but this all about the trash can. And in the end, the weight of the scandal will prove too much. That's already baked into this number as Houston won 107 games and nearly a second title last year, but we're taking the cheaters to go Under. There's a minor league team called the Trash Pandas, maybe Houston can borrow that nickname for this season?
Pick: Under 94.5
LOS ANGELES ANGELS - O/U 85.5
Last season: Under 82.5 by 11 wins
Every year I pick the Angels to go Over their win total. And every year, they disappoint. I want Mike Trout in the postseason and the Halos are usually tasked with a modest number. And here we are again. But this year might be a little different. The Angels brought in Joe Maddon to be their new manager, they signed postseason hero Anthony Rendon away from the Nationals, and it sounds like two-way star Shohei Otani is healthy. If they get 20 starts out of him, that's a huge plus. But the Angels also bolstered their rotation by brining in Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, who I think has the stuff to be a frontline starter now that he's out of Baltimore. This is the year. I know it.
Pick: Over 85.5
OAKLAND ATHLETICS - O/U 89
Last season: Over 83.5 by 14 wins
The A's just continue to surprise. I went into last season thinking there was no way they could repeat their 97-win performance from 2018, and they went out and won exactly 97 games again. Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien anchor a solid lineup. The A's play fantastic defense and have a rotation that feeds into that perfectly. Mike Fiers leads the staff, Sean Manea is healthy, and Frankie Montas gets a full season. The bullpen is also lethal. With the same core returning and healthy, I'm giving the A's the benefit of the doubt.
Pick: Over 89
SEATTLE MARINERS - O/U 67.5
Last season: Under 71.5 by three wins
After a hot start to the 2019 campaign, the Mariners went into full-on tank mode. The M's ended the season with 67 wins, but 18 of those wins came before May 1. At the plate, Seattle ranked second-to-last in batting average and on the mound, they ranked 23rd in team ERA. It could be more of the same in 2020. This is Year 2 of the Mariners rebuild and it's sounding like they're going to give a lot of time to their top prospects. Kyle Seager is now the Mariners' elder statesman with Felix Hernandez gone. But expect Seager, Dee Gordon and Mitch Hanigar all to be shopped at some point this season. The rotation is OK, not good enough to get Over this number.
Pick: Under 67.5
TEXAS RANGERS - O/U 79.5
Last season: Over 71.5 by 7 wins
The Rangers are another intriguing team heading into 2020. They have a new ballpark and were a surprising team in Chris Woodward's first year as manager, winning 78 games. This offseason they went out and acquired one of the best pitchers in the American League in Corey Kluber. The Rangers now have a solid rotation with Kluber, Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Joey Gallo enters the season healthy and should provide a boost to the Rangers lineup. This number feels pretty spot on, but Kluber is worth an extra win or two.
Pick: Over 79.5
UNDERSTANDING MLB SEASON WIN TOTALS
Sportsbooks will post projected win totals for every MLB team before the season starts. The numbers are projections for the amount of wins a specific team will get in a given year set accurately enough in hopes of getting an even amount of dollars wagered on both the Over and the Under. These markets open before Spring Training, close when the regular season begins and don't cash out until the season is over eight months later. So, be prepared to ride out your investment.
MLB season win total odds will usually look like this:
Houston Astros Over/Under 94.5
This means you can bet the Astros to have more than or less than 94.5 wins. So, 95 or more wins and you cash an Over bet and 94 or fewer wins and your Under is the winner.
Most of these odds are juiced to -110 each way, meaning you would need to bet $110 to win $100. If adjustments are made, due to players changing teams, getting hurt or liability (amount wagered on a certain side), then usually the number would change, for example: the Astros move from 94.5 to 95.5.
HOW TO BET MLB REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS
There are many strategies to consider when making an MLB regular season win total bet. First and foremost, you're looking for value. Has a sportsbook overvalued a player acquisition or undervalued the strength of a division? Just because the A's won 97 games last year, doesn't necessarily mean they'll go Over their win total of 89 this year. With a little bit of research, you can find some real value in the numbers.
Also, consider the length of your investment. As mentioned before, MLB regular season win totals need to be locked in prior to the Opening Day of the MLB season (usually at the end of March) and don't cash out until the season ends (usually at the end of September). That's a long time to wait out a bet. If you are betting the Mariners to go Under 67.5 wins, but they come flying out the gates winning 20 of their first 30 games, who've got a season-long sweat on your hands.
Another thing to look at is good teams versus bad teams. The MLB is in a weird state where it seems like only a third of teams are actually trying to win at a time, while the others tank to accumulate assets. But since sportsbooks don't like setting numbers too high or too low, there's actually value in betting bad teams to lose and good teams to win.
Finally, shop around. These totals are from the Superbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas. If you like the Angels but don't love the number at 85.5, maybe another book doesn't have as big a liability on the Los Angeles and has a number of 84.5 or even 84.