Ahead of the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, Shane Lambert looks at the best five total wins bets to be backing.
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The pre-season doesn't count for a lot in Major League Baseball with regular players not getting regular playing time. That being the case, teams that do well in the pre-season aren't necessarily going to be playoff contenders.
However, the pre-season certainly pertains to depth and coaching. For that reason it's very possible, and even likely, that a team that's doing well in the pre-season could have some hidden potential to do better than expected.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are the best of the 2017 pre-season so far with a .739 winning percentage. The Yanks were a club that did well after losing dead-weight Alex Rodriguez to retirement last season mid-year, going 31-24 in August/September. Sportsbet
offer an OVER/UNDER special on the 2017 Yanks at 83 wins with odds of $1.87 on the OVER. Getting to 84 wins (.519) should not be a problem with this ball club. Look for 24-year-old Aaron Judge to have a good year. Also catcher Gary Sanchez might end up in the All-Star game. But, even if they disappoint, you'll still have a standing chance to get to 84 wins as it's not a huge total for this club.
Likewise the Pittsburgh Pirates are doing well in the pre-season, posting a .667 winning percentage through 21 games. Their OVER/UNDER for total wins is set at 82.5 with bet365
at nice odds of $1.95. The Pirates only played .484 baseball last season but discounting September, when teams that aren't going to the playoffs slack, they really only had one bad month. They beat 82.5 in three seasons running before 2016 and I think they'll be back to normal in 2017.
St Louis Cardinals
The St Louis Cardinals are also a dangerous team, one that was pretty good last season going 86-76. They've added Dexter Fowler and that could help make them bigger Central Division contenders than many might realise. At $1.87 with bet365
, punters should take the OVER at 83.5 wins on the season (their spring training winning percentage is .650).
Toronto Blue Jays
Where there are under-rated teams, there have to be over-rated ones: it's a zero-sum world. The Toronto Blue Jays don't have Edwin Encarnacion anymore and Jose Bautista is well passed his prime now. The Jays are playing .316 baseball in spring training and that win percentage is well below their benchmark of 85.5 wins for their OVER/UNDER. If the Yanks are what they threaten to be (ie. playoff contenders) then they should take a bite out of Toronto this season as divisional foes that play regularly. Look for the Jays to struggle to play .500 baseball and maybe some of the championship-hungry players ask to be traded. Take the UNDER for 85.5 wins at very nice odds of $2.00.
The Chicago Cubs aren't necessarily going to be what they were last year either. They sucked without Dexter Fowler last season, a player that they lost to free agency. Furthermore, sometimes teams slack off a bit after winning a championship. The Cubs are playing .421 baseball in spring training, a winning percentage that won't continue when the starters play more frequently. However, their OVER/UNDER is way up at 96.5 meaning they'd need to play .599 baseball to play the OVER. Even if they improve their regular season winning percentage by a full 17%, the UNDER would still cash at $1.87 with Sportsbet
and that's the line to take.
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