MLB Win Total Betting Analysis

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Updated: March 3, 2017

We recently looked at the win totals versus projection systems for the 2016 season and found that they did a pretty damn good job of predicting good bets. Far better than the sportsbooks themselves did. For the 2016 season, Fangraphs was 17-13 against the projection systems and PECOTA did even better at 18-12.

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Of course, betting all thirty teams is not exactly an easy thing to do so we went a step further and looked at only projections that differed by two or more wins. By that measure, Fangrapsh was 8-3 and PECOTA was a whopping 15-5. That’s a huge win and a repeat in 2017 could mean huge profits for us. Let’s take a look at the current projections compared to win totals and go from there starting with last year’s big winner PECOTA.

Team Total PECOTA Differential
Arizona Diamondbacks 77.5 77 -0.5
Atlanta Braves 74.5 76 +1.5
Baltimore Orioles 80.5 74 -6.5
Boston Red Sox 92.5 90 -2.5
Chicago Cubs 96.5 91 -5.5
Chicago White Sox 69.5 76 +6.5
Cincinnati Reds 70.5 75 +4.5
Cleveland Indians 93.5 92 -1.5
Colorado Rockies 80.5 76 -4.5
Detroit Tigers 83.5 79 -4.5
Houston Astros 90.5 93 +2.5
Kansas City Royals 76.5 71 -5.5
Los Angeles Angels 79.5 78 -1.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 94.5 98 +3.5
Miami Marlins 77.5 78 +0.5
Milwaukee Brewers 70.5 76 +5.5
Minnesota Twins 74.5 80 +5.5
New York Mets 87.5 88 +0.5
New York Yankees 83.5 82 -1.5
Oakland Athletics 73.5 75 +1.5
Philadelphia Phillies 72.5 74 +1.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 83 80 -3
San Diego Padres 66.5 69 +2.5
San Francisco Giants 88.5 86 -2.5
Seattle Mariners 85.5 87 +1.5
St. Louis Cardinals 83.5 76 -7.5
Tampa Bay Rays 78.5 84 +5.5
Texas Rangers 85.5 85 -0.5
Toronto Blue Jays 85.5 81 -4.5
Washington Nationals 91.5 86 -5.5

Last season there were 20 teams that qualified at this threshold and right now there are 19. The best bets look like:

  • St. Louis Cardinals Under 83.5
  • Baltimore Orioles Under 80.5
  • Chicago White Sox Over 6.5
  • Chicago Cubs Under 96.5
  • Tampa Bay Rays Over 78.5
  • Washington Nationals Under 91.5
  • Kansas City Royals Under 76.5
  • Milwaukee Brewers Over 70.5
  • Minnesota Twins Over 74.5

Of course, as we saw last year there is no real rhyme or reason to which bets go over. Four teams on this list were the biggest busts by the projections last season. The Rays and Twins went way under their projections while teh Rangers and Orioles went way over.


Now let’s take a look at what FanGraphs has to say about the 2017 Win totals.

Team Total Fangraphs Differential
Arizona Diamondbacks 77.5 76 -1.5
Atlanta Braves 74.5 73 -1.5
Baltimore Orioles 80.5 81 +0.5
Boston Red Sox 92.5 93 +0.5
Chicago Cubs 96.5 95 -1.5
Chicago White Sox 69.5 69 -0.5
Cincinnati Reds 70.5 70 -0.5
Cleveland Indians 93.5 92 -1.5
Colorado Rockies 80.5 78 -2.5
Detroit Tigers 83.5 81 -2.5
Houston Astros 90.5 91 +0.5
Kansas City Royals 76.5 75 -1.5
Los Angeles Angels 79.5 83 +3.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 94.5 94 -0.5
Miami Marlins 77.5 78 +0.5
Milwaukee Brewers 70.5 70 -0.5
Minnesota Twins 74.5 74 -0.5
New York Mets 87.5 85 -2.5
New York Yankees 83.5 81 -2.5
Oakland Athletics 73.5 78 +4.5
Philadelphia Phillies 72.5 71 -1.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 83 82 -1
San Diego Padres 66.5 65 -1.5
San Francisco Giants 88.5 87 -1.5
Seattle Mariners 85.5 83 -2.5
St. Louis Cardinals 83.5 83 -0.5
Tampa Bay Rays 78.5 82 +3.5
Texas Rangers 85.5 83 -2.5
Toronto Blue Jays 85.5 86 +0.5
Washington Nationals 91.5 91 -0.5

Last season there were 11 teams that met the “two win” threshold for Fangraphs and, oddly enough, this year there were nine. It’s interesting that both systems had roughly the same amount of picks last year and this year. This might tell us that whatever system Bovada used is pretty close to FanGraphs, but that is just speculation.

The best bets here are:

  • Oakland Athletics Over 73.5
  • Tampa Bay Rays Over 78.5
  • Los Angeles Angels Over 79.5

Of course, the same caveat applies in that just because something looks like the best bet doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.


The thing with the FanGraphs projection is that they are the average of the Steamer and ZiPs projection systems. So, not to complicate things too much, but just for fun let’s add the PECOTA projections to the Fangraphs projections and average them out.

The combined numbers are:

Team Total BP+FG AVG Differential
Arizona Diamondbacks 77.5 76.5 -1
Atlanta Braves 74.5 74.5 0
Baltimore Orioles 80.5 77.5 -3
Boston Red Sox 92.5 91.5 -1
Chicago Cubs 96.5 93 -3.5
Chicago White Sox 69.5 72.5 3
Cincinnati Reds 70.5 72.5 2
Cleveland Indians 93.5 92 -1.5
Colorado Rockies 80.5 77 -3.5
Detroit Tigers 83.5 80 -3.5
Houston Astros 90.5 92 1.5
Kansas City Royals 76.5 73 -3.5
Los Angeles Angels 79.5 80.5 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 94.5 96 1.5
Miami Marlins 77.5 78 0.5
Milwaukee Brewers 70.5 73 2.5
Minnesota Twins 74.5 77 2.5
New York Mets 87.5 86.5 -1
New York Yankees 83.5 81.5 -2
Oakland Athletics 73.5 76.5 3
Philadelphia Phillies 72.5 72.5 0
Pittsburgh Pirates 83 81 -2
San Diego Padres 66.5 67 0.5
San Francisco Giants 88.5 86.5 -2
Seattle Mariners 85.5 85 -0.5
St. Louis Cardinals 83.5 79.5 -4
Tampa Bay Rays 78.5 83 4.5
Texas Rangers 85.5 84 -1.5
Toronto Blue Jays 85.5 83.5 -2
Washington Nationals 91.5 88.5 -3

Best Bets:

  • Colorado Rockies Under 80.5
  • Detroit Tigers Under 83.5
  • Kansas City Royals Under 76.5
  • Tampa Bay Rays Over 78.5
  • Baltimore Orioles Under 80.5
  • Chicago White Sox Over 69.5
  • St. Louis Cardinals Under 83.5
  • Washington Nationals Under 91.5
  • Chicago Cubs Under 96.5
  • Oakland Athletics Over 73.5

Some of these feel weird. There has been more words written about the Rockies potentially breaking out this year than any other team. The Cubs were the best team in baseball. The Nationals are a really good team. The Cardinals roll out of bed winning 84 games. The systems always love the Rays and they didn’t live up to it last year.

I could nitpick every team. My advice to you? Pick a system you like, pick the ones you agree with and go from there. Last season PECOTA went 15-5 against the spread. Pick say, 7-10 of those teams and hope you grabbed the right ones.


UPDATE: PECOTA has updated their projections. Those new projections are as follows.

Team Total PECOTA 3/7 Differential
Arizona Diamondbacks 77.5 78 0.5
Atlanta Braves 74.5 77 2.5
Baltimore Orioles 80.5 74 -6.5
Boston Red Sox 92.5 86 -6.5
Chicago Cubs 96.5 92 -4.5
Chicago White Sox 69.5 74 4.5
Cincinnati Reds 70.5 76 5.5
Cleveland Indians 93.5 91 -2.5
Colorado Rockies 80.5 77 -3.5
Detroit Tigers 83.5 79 -4.5
Houston Astros 90.5 93 2.5
Kansas City Royals 76.5 72 -4.5
Los Angeles Angels 79.5 79 -0.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 94.5 95 0.5
Miami Marlins 77.5 77 -0.5
Milwaukee Brewers 70.5 78 7.5
Minnesota Twins 74.5 80 5.5
New York Mets 87.5 89 1.5
New York Yankees 83.5 80 -3.5
Oakland Athletics 73.5 76 2.5
Philadelphia Phillies 72.5 74 1.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 83 81 -2
San Diego Padres 66.5 73 6.5
San Francisco Giants 88.5 86 -2.5
Seattle Mariners 85.5 85 -0.5
St. Louis Cardinals 83.5 76 -7.5
Tampa Bay Rays 78.5 83 4.5
Texas Rangers 85.5 84 -1.5
Toronto Blue Jays 85.5 82 -3.5
Washington Nationals 91.5 88 -3.5

 

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