Spring training is just starting, but betting on Major League Baseball regular-season win totals is in full swing at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
“The baseball season wins, next to the NFL, are by far the second-most popular. They’ve really taken off,” said Ed Salmons, Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk. “We have a lot of sharp guys betting into it. But mostly the public is in love with that stuff.”
The Yankees have the highest total at the Westgate with 102½ and the Dodgers have 101½, followed by the Astros (94½), Twins (91½) and Braves (90½).
William Hill bettors have hammered Houston to go under its win total, causing the number to drop from 97 to 94½, after an MLB investigation found that the Astros illegally used electronics to steal signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title.
Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired for their roles in the cheating scheme.
“People think, with Spygate, they’ll take a step back since they had to shake up their coach and front office,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “But who knows? Maybe the players will come out with a chip on their shoulder and show it wasn’t the cameras.”
The Astros won at least 101 games in each of the last three seasons.
“Houston’s the biggest question mark,” Salmons said. “For the most part, they’ll be the evil villain everywhere they go. And every home game, everyone’s going to listen for any noises.
“It’s still a talented team, but they did lose (starting pitcher Gerrit) Cole and a lot of their bullpen.”
Handicapper Doug Fitz is banking on Houston to go under its win total.
“The Astros are in for a long season. It will be extremely difficult for them to deflect the sign-stealing scandal, which will follow them around all year,” said Fitz (Systemplays.com). “New manager Dusty Baker is a tiresome retread who has the reputation as a players’ manager, but he’s a terrible in-game skipper who’s underachieved with every team he’s managed.”
There have been several notable moves on baseball win totals at William Hill since it released the numbers in late December.
— The Red Sox’s total dropped from 89 to 85 after manager Alex Cora was fired for his role in the Astros’ scandal and Boston traded former American League MVP Mookie Betts and former Cy Young Award winner David Price to the Dodgers in a salary dump.
— The Giants’ total dipped from 71½ to 68½. San Francisco, one of the most popular under bets at William Hill, has suffered three consecutive losing seasons and lost ace Madison Bumgarner, who signed with the Diamondbacks, and closer Will Smith, who signed with the Braves.
Salmons likes the Giants under.
“They remind me of the Orioles from two years ago,” he said. “They’re ready to implode and go into the 50s.”
— Salmons also likes the defending World Series champion Nationals to go under their total, which has dropped from 92½ to 89½.
“The (National League East) is such a tough division. There’s so many good teams in there, it will be hard to win so many games,” he said. “(Nationals pitcher Max) Scherzer is at that age (35) where he’s going to start breaking down. (Stephen) Strasburg threw the (second) most innings he’s ever thrown in his life. Usually when you see that, the next year he’ll come back and get hurt.”
— Arizona’s total has increased from 81 to 84, the Mariners have dipped from 70½ to 67½ and the White Sox have climbed from 82 to 85.
“The most money on the over is on the White Sox,” Bogdanovich said. “They think the South Side is gonna be alive.”
— The Westgate took some sharp over money on the Marlins, who have a win total of 65½ after averaging 60 wins the last two years.
“We do like the Marlins,” Salmons said. “It’s a tough one because the public bets the Marlins under every year, so we didn’t want to throw up a high number. We just think it’s a young team that’s gotten a little bit better each year.”
— Miami is one of five teams with a win total in the 60s. The Tigers and Orioles are at the bottom of the league with matching win totals of 56½.
Detroit finished 47-114 last season, and Baltimore went 54-108.
“I don’t remember two numbers this low in the history of doing these things,” Salmons said. “It’s unbelievable.”
MLB win totals
At Westgate sportsbook
Red Sox 85
White Sox 84½
Blue Jays 76
Most regular-season wins
Up to 80-1
Most regular-season losses
Up to 60-1
Blue Jays 30-1
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