National League East Win Total Betting Guide
After an exciting offseason that featured the signing of Bryce Harper, the National League East is positioned to be the most entertaining playoff race this season. The Nationals had a down year in 2018 and lost Harper to the rising Phillies, and the up-and-coming Braves took the top spot in the division a year ago.
This season, those three teams and the Mets (if they can stay healthy) will be fighting for the division title, per oddsmakers. In our continued effort to pinpoint the best win total bets in each division, here is one over bet and one under bet that offer value, according to our models. As usual, win totals are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
|Team||FanDuel Total||numberFire Projected Wins|
|New York Mets||85.5||82|
Miami Marlins -- Over 63.5
It’s really boring to watch bad teams while sweating out an over bet on the win total, so our apologies. However, Miami is in position to improve on a 63-win season from last year. The Marlins lost their best hitter to the Phillies (which seems to be a trend in this division) in J.T. Realmuto, but Miami returns Brian Anderson and Starlin Castro and added Neil Walker. These three project to be the heart of their order, and while this lineup isn’t threatening by any means, it will provide some stabilization in a likely last-place effort.
Miami brings back the same starting pitchers it had last season, but the biggest improvement should come from the bullpen. The Marlins’ relievers finished with -2.1 wins above replacement last season, according to FanGraphs, which was 29th in baseball. Similar to the idea that the Yankees’ dominant bullpen will negatively regress toward the mean this season, the Marlins’ bullpen likely won't be as atrocious as it was last year.
The worst offenders were saves leaders (both with 10) Kyle Barraclough and Brad Ziegler, each of whom were in the red WAR-wise. Both are gone, and Miami has brought in Sergio Romo, who had a good season in Tampa Bay in a variety of roles, often closing games while also accumulating a handful of starts in an "opener" role.
Our models project that Miami will win 70 games this season, which is a full 6.5 games above the FanDuel total. For the most part, there’s value in betting on teams with very low totals, because the public typically writes off bad teams, thus deflating the total. The Marlins might just be one of these cases. If their bullpen sees positive regression as expected and their younger positional players like Anderson continue to improve, they’ll beat 63.5 wins, even if they still finish in last place in the NL East.
Philadelphia Phillies -- Under 88.5
Even though our models project the Phillies to win 88 games, which is just below their total, the perception that Bryce Harper will improve Philly to a first-place team is flawed. Last season, Philadelphia finished with 80 wins but had a Pythagorean record of 76-86, according to Baseball Reference. It’s safe to say that the Phillies overachieved last season, and they’ll have to improve by about 13 games -- based on their Pythagorean mark from 2018 -- in order to go over their total.
Philly should be one of the most improved offensive teams this year. The Harper acquisition got the headlines, but they also added the best catcher in baseball, according to our projections, in the aforementioned Realmuto. The Phillies also landed Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, thus upgrading four of their eight starting spots (not counting pitcher).
The improvements on offense would likely be enough to get Philly close to 90 wins or so; their lineup packs a punch that it was lacking last season. However, Philadelphia stood pat with their starting rotation, most of whom are projected to decline this year. Our models have favorable projections for Aaron Nola, but both Nick Pivetta and Vincent Velasquez have negative fantasy scores while Jake Arrieta is on the wrong side of 30. According to ZiPS projections from FanGraphs, Pivetta, Velasquez, and Arrieta are projected for a combined 4.9 WAR, down from 7.4 WAR last season.
Perception seems to be fueling the Phillies' total. Bryce Harper is arguably the face of Major League Baseball, so it’s understandable that his addition -- plus the others Philadelphia has made -- would lead to a total much higher than the Phillies’ Pythagorean win total last season. However, it’s important for bettors to look at roster changes (or the lack thereof, in the case of pitching) in aggregate. Nola isn’t going to be able to carry the pitching staff all by himself despite his immense talent, so the best bet on Philly is to go under the 88.5 total.