Red Sox projected for 90.5 wins, second in American League

The Atlantis Casino projects the Boston Red Sox to win just over 90 games this season, good for the second highest total in the American League.

The Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nevada is the first sportsbook to release win totals for the upcoming Major League Baseball season for betting that began on Friday, with the projections looking good for the Boston Red Sox.

As the defending World Series champions, it’s no surprise to find the Chicago Cubs at the top of the list, with a projection of 95.5 wins. The Cubbies have a sizable lead over the Cleveland Indians (92.5 wins), who rank second on the list after falling short in a tightly contested Game 7 last October.

The Red Sox come in with a projected win total of 90.5 games, which ranks fifth in the majors and second behind Cleveland in the American League. The oddsmakers appear confident that Boston will retain their division crown and return to the postseason, but the addition of Chris Sale to an already formidable pitching staff wasn’t quite enough to vault them over the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season.

While Boston is projected for fewer wins than Cleveland, head oddsmaker Steve Mikkelson told ESPN that the Red Sox have a better shot at winning the World Series.

“I have [the Red Sox] with shorter odds to win the World Series but a lower win total because they have a much more competitive division,” Mikkelson said. “The Indians and Red Sox are a notch above the other teams in the AL.”

The Red Sox have a fairly comfortable margin ahead of the reset of the pack in the AL East, but there are three other teams in the division projected to finish with winning records – the Toronto Blue Jays (86.5), Baltimore Orioles (84.5) and New York Yankees (83.5).

The odds would suggest that Cleveland will coast to another division title, with the Detroit Tigers (85.5) being the only other AL Central team pegged to have a winning record.

Navigating a more competitive division certainly makes it more difficult for Boston to pad their win total, so perhaps the Red Sox are the better team – at least on paper – despite the lower win projection. However, I’m hesitant to agree with the notion that this means Boston has better odds to win a championship.

We can’t underestimate home-field advantage the way manager John Farrell did last year when he allowed his team to take their foot off the pedal down the stretch. The Red Sox dropped five of their last six games to limp into the postseason, conceding home-field to Cleveland in the ALDS. Their indifference to playing on the road cost them, as the Red Sox were promptly swept in the series.

Boston had the AL’s best road record last season, so they weren’t fazed by starting the postseason away from Fenway Park. What they overlooked was how much better Cleveland plays at home, where they scored the second most runs in the league, compared to a dismal 13th in the league on the road.

If you plan on placing a bet on the Red Sox to win the World Series, you’re gambling that they will also finish with a better record than Cleveland. If the two teams face off again in the postseason, Boston would face longer odds without home-field advantage on their side.

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