Want to make some $$$? Here's top MLB props for 2014 season
Mar 30, 2014 at 12:00p ET
We’re about to embark on the longest regular-season journey of any professional sport. The 162-game grind has more ebbs, flows and plot twists than a Major League Baseball PED hearing.
Given the summer marathon, betting every day turns even the most disciplined sports bettor into an absolute wreck for stretches when trying to manage his/her bankroll. There is an alternative for the casual fan to be smarter with investments while avoiding the daily toiling for winners; examine things from a macro perspective shifting focus toward futures, win totals or player props.
These are the perfect accompaniment to the fantasy enthusiast who understands the numbers much better than the intricacies of what exact winning percentage is required to turn a profit laying -125 favorites. Here’s the complete list of regular-season win totals with a few best bets and why they make sense ... at least in my warped little head.
Prices courtesy of the LVH Superbook (my best picks to follow):
2014 MLB TEAM OVER/UNDERS
|NL TEAM (Opening line)||CURRENT||AL TEAM (Opening line)||CURRENT|
|Arizona Diamondbacks — (80)||78½||Baltimore Orioles — (78)||81|
|Atlanta Braves — (87½)||87||Boston Red Sox — (87½)||87½|
|Chicago Cubs — (68½)||69½||Chicago White Sox — (77)||75½|
|Cincinnati Reds — (83½)||84||Cleveland Indians — (80)||81½|
|Colorado Rockies — (75½)||76||Detroit Tigers — (89½)||90|
|Miami Marlins — (69½)||70||Houston Astros — (63½)||63|
|Los Angeles Dodgers — (93½)||95||Kansas City Royals — (79½)||82½|
|Milwaukee Brewers — (79½)||79½||Los Angeles Angels — (87½)||87½|
|New York Mets — (73½)||74½||Minnesota Twins — (71½)||70½|
|Philadelphia Phillies — (76)||74||New York Yankees — (85½)||86|
|Pittsburgh Pirates — (84½)||83½||Oakland A's — (89)||87½|
|San Diego Padres — (78½)||78||Seattle Mariners — (80½)||80½|
|San Francisco Giants — (85½)||85½||Tampa Bay Rays — (87½)||88½|
|St. Louis Cardinals — (91½)||91½||Texas Rangers — (86½)||86½|
|Washington Nationals — (87½)||90||Toronto Blue Jays — (79½)||80|
My philosophy on win totals has been and will continue to be: gravitate toward the under. Remember when you’re betting a team to go under its win total, the benefits of slumps, injuries and dysfunction in the clubhouse work in your favor rather than against.
It’s hard to predict a team staying healthy, especially when you look to attack the biggest numbers on the board (ahem, Dodgers). Do I believe a team like LA with its wealth of riches will struggle to approach its total? Not especially, but rather than guess I’d just choose to stay away. That’s the luxury of picking and choosing spots rather than trying to accurately peg every team.
Detroit Tigers: Under 90
Last year, we saw Justin Verlander struggle for extended stretches. Problem? Not when you have Max Scherzer step up and become an ace in waiting. I wouldn’t be so sure history can repeat itself if either struggles with a shaky defense behind them and the loss of Doug Fister from the rotation. Swapping Prince Fielder’s bat out of the lineup for Ian Kinsler isn’t exactly an upgrade either, meaning the offense should drop off more than any expert wants to admit. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly are now the X factors ... quite frankly, I’m not ready to buy into this team in a much improved AL Central where the Royals, Indians and even White Sox could prove to be a thorn in the Tigers’ side.
LA Angels: Under 87½
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I’m still unsure why people have such high expectations for this franchise. Pitching is a major question mark, especially with no true front-line starter anywhere on the big-league roster. Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are solid options, but at this point in their respective careers they don’t instill fear in hitters, making them No. 2 top arms at best. I’m also at a loss trying to figure out where the depth on the staff comes from without Ervin Santana and Joe Blanton there to eat innings (among other things in Blanton’s case). Expectations are high for Hector Santiago, although having watched him pitch extensively last year, I think there are a few years of development before he realizes his potential. Offensively 1-through-5, they’ll continue to be ferocious assuming Albert Pujols is 100 percent. ... But if you can’t keep the other team from scoring, winning games is no given. Every year, the Angels get put on a pedestal in the AL West, and I just can’t buy them. I mean, c’mon, they couldn’t beat the Astros last year. ... Tells you all you need to know about their prospects to eclipse this number.
Seattle Mariners: Over 80½
I know what you’re thinking right now: How in the hell will that baseball graveyard in the Northwest produce 80 wins? It’s not just the addition of Robinson Cano but the continued emergence of elite level young talent in the form of Brad Miller, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin and Taijuan Walker that will lead this team back to the postseason for the first time since Ken Griffey Jr’s heyday. I’m obviously concerned about the state of affairs regarding this pitching staff after Felix Hernandez, however, I think once Hisashi Iwakuma and Walker are back healthy, this rotation’s top three spots are better than anyone else in the division. Don’t believe me? There’s a reason books set a strong number on this squad reminiscent of the 2013 Cleveland Indians, who also rode their youth movement to an improbable berth in the postseason. Besides, now there’s nothing to be nervous about in the ninth inning when Fernando Rodney comes in late to button down the saves (GULP).
Anthony Rizzo: Over 22½ homers
Last year, the young Cubs slugger was just getting warmed up on the corner of Clark and Sheffield. This season, Anthony Rizzo takes the stride to big boy country by flirting with 30 dingers despite having little protection in the Cubs lineup.
Felix Hernandez: Over 13½ wins
Finally, there’s an offense behind Felix, meaning he isn’t forced to hold the opposition to one run if he’s going to notch a W. I don’t worry about durability the same way with him as other elite arms. The motivation of pitching for a legit contender could inspire him, making him my favorite to win the 2014 Cy Young, grabbing 15-plus wins in the process.
Yu Darvish: Under 14½ wins
I believe Texas takes a major step backward this year. The offense looks potent on paper, but the bullpen remains a major concern. Neck stiffness aside, Darvish could feel the effects of a struggling ballclub. Back out the Rangers’ dominance against in-state rival Houston last year — 17 wins in 19 games — and they’re roughly a .500 team. Fading elite arms won’t get you rich in this business, but I’ll take my chances with opportunity here that Darvish fails to meet expectations.
Julio Teheran: Over 11½ wins
Atlanta feels he is their ace in waiting. Unfortunately, the future is now with its staff resembling a MASH unit. The young stud will step up and embrace the spotlight ... even for a team that will struggle to sustain momentum knowing Aaron Harang will potentially toe the bump once every five days.
There’s mild value in all of these, but don’t go putting your mortgage or kid’s college tuition into any of these long shots.