American League East Win Total Betting Guide
Opening day is just a couple weeks away and there are many bets to make before the season begins. In particular, we’ll take a look at each division before the regular season begins and highlight the bet win total bets.
Today, we start with the American League East, home to the reigning World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox. The division projects to be a race between two of the oldest rivals in the sport: the Sox and the Yankees. Despite both franchises being the richest in baseball and some of the league’s top superstars were available in free agency, neither had a splashy offseason.
|Team||FanDuel Total||numberFire Projected Wins|
|Boston Red Sox||95||92|
|New York Yankees||96.5||94|
|Tampa Bay Rays||84.5||85|
|Toronto Blue Jays||74.5||71|
Tampa Bay Rays – Over 84.5
Last season, the Rays were a surprise team and finished with 90 wins, yet they were seven games behind Oakland in the wild card race and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. Tampa Bay will be remembered for rotating their pitchers in an "opener" role -- rather than having clear starters, manager Kevin Cash often started pitchers for a couple innings before going right to the bullpen. Even team saves leader Sergio Romo started five games!
Although their pitching staff was mostly made up of career relief pitchers, the Rays’ top traditional starter won the Cy Young Award. Blake Snell was brilliant last year, with a 1.89 ERA and 221 strikeouts. But as good as Snell and company were last season, the Rays finished dead last in opponent runners left in scoring position. The Rays’ opponents managed to hit in runners in scoring position at a rate unsustainable over multiple seasons, which is something that isn’t captured in the Rays' actual record or Pythagorean win record (89-73). Thus, Tampa Bay runs against total is inflated and their record was likely worse than their true level of play last year.
The biggest move made for the Rays over the offseason was signing Charlie Morton away from the Astros, which should offset a full season without Chris Archer, who was traded to the Pirates last season. After having slightly underachieved last season and adding an All-Star starting pitcher, it might be strange that our model projects them to only win 85 games. However, the Rays have had subtle changes in their lineup that will likely leave them worse off this season.
Utility outfielder Mallex Smith stole 40 bags last year and had 3.4 wins above replacement (WAR) according to FanGraphs, but he signed with the Mariners over the offseason. Tampa Bay also lost designated hitter C.J. Cron to the Twins and replaced him with the inferior Ji-Man Choi. The Rays also got career years from infielders Joey Wendle and Matt Duffy, both of whom are projected to regress negatively this season.
Although the Rays will probably be worse offensively, their pitchers underachieved, and they made a significant move with the acquisition of Morton. Tampa Bay likely won’t reach 90 wins this year, but they have enough to get to 85, so bettors should back the Rays to go over the 84.5 total.
New York Yankees – Under 96.5
The Yankees won 100 games last season and finished with 99 Pythagorean wins, so their total of 96.5 wins might seem low. New York’s dynamic duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton combined for 65 home runs last year, and our projections show them racking up a whopping 82 bombs between them this season. Even with only minor additions to the lineup, such as the acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu, their offense should improve as the younger bats like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar continue to progress. Our projections also predict a bounce-back year for Gary Sanchez, who finished last season with an awful on-base percentage (OBP) of below .300.
Last season, the Yankees’ biggest weakness was their starting pitchers. They relied on 29 starts from the elderly CC Sabathia, and their trade with the Oakland Athletics last season for Sonny Gray turned sideways as Gray finished with an atrocious 4.90 ERA. This offseason, they shored up their staff by adding James Paxton from the Mariners. Paxton projects to be one of the best starters in baseball according to our projections, so now the Yankees have one of the best one-two punches in the league with Paxton and Luis Severino.
That being said, the Yankees will have a hard time getting back to the 100-win club. Last year, New York put together one of the best seasons by a bullpen in recent years with four relievers producing at least 1.5 WAR, according to FanGraphs. While three of those pitchers (Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green) return this season, David Robertson departed for Philadelphia and will most likely be replaced with Zach Britton, whom the Yankees acquired midseason from Baltimore last year. New York’s group of four should still make for one of the best bullpens in the majors this season, but it’s highly unlikely they reach the same heights as last year.
The Yankees’ relievers totaled 9.7 WAR in 2018, which is the highest amount since the Dodgers’ bullpen reached 9.6 in 2003, led by Cy Young winner Eric Gagne, who had 4.7 WAR by himself. Relief pitching is too variable on a year-to-year basis; even the most dominant teams typically regress to the mean. For example, the Dodgers’ relievers followed up their dominant season with 6.7 WAR, even with another great year of 3.4 WAR from Gagne.
This Yankees team is a World Series contender, but 96.5 is the highest total on the board (tied with Houston). Bettors should lean under, even though New York should be one of baseball’s best teams.