The 2016 MLB season is just around the corner. Spring training is in full swing, and the regular season is set to start on Sunday, April 3 and Monday, April 4.
That means you still have plenty of time to get your futures bets in. We’re going to discuss MLB season win totals, which I believe is a great opportunity to buy low on teams that are getting negative publicity, and sell high on teams that are getting a lot of hype coming into the season.
There were several teams that didn’t finish anywhere near their win totals in 2015. I’ll list the overachievers and the underachievers below to show you what I mean. These are the teams that either exceeded their win totals by 10 or more games, or fell below their win totals by at least 10 games.
2015’s Biggest Overachievers
- Royals +14.5 (Win Total: 80.5, Record: 95-67)
- Cubs +14.5 (Win Total: 82.5, Record: 97-65)
- Pirates +13 (Win Total: 85, Record: 98-64)
- Cardinals +12.5 (Win Total: 87.5, Record: 100-62)
- Twins +12.5 (Win Total: 70.5, Record: 83-79)
- Astros +10.5 (Win Total: 75.5, Record: 86-76)
- Blue Jays +10 (Win Total: 83, Record: 93-69)
Nobody had faith in the Royals last year despite the fact that they had been to the World Series and in a Game 7 with the San Francisco Giants in 2014. All the Royals did was prove their naysayers wrong by getting back to the World Series, and this time winning it over the New York Mets.
The Cubs were a popular ‘over’ play last year, and they did not disappoint by winning 97 games with a win total of 82.5. Those 97 wins would have been good enough to win any other division, but it was only good enough for 3rd place in the stacked NL Central.
That’s because the Pirates exceeded their win total by 13 games with 98 wins, and the Cardinals were +12.5 as well, becoming the only team to win 100 games last season.
The Twins (+12.5), Astros (+10.5) and Blue Jays (+10) were all feel-good stories. Nobody expected the Twins to finish above .500, while certainly nobody expected the Astros to make the playoffs like they did. The Blue Jays made it to the AL Championship Series, only to get knocked out by the Royals.
2015’s Biggest Underachievers
- Reds -14 (Win Total: 78, Record: 64-98)
- A’s -13.5 (Win Total: 81.5, Record: 68-94)
- Brewers -11 (Win Total: 79, Record: 68-94)
- Nationals -10.5 (Win Total: 93.5, Record: 83-79)
- Tigers -10.5 (Win Total: 84.5, Record: 74-88)
- Mariners -10.5 (Win Total: 86.5, Record: 76-86)
- Padres -10.5 (Win Total: 84.5, Record: 74-88)
The top two three teams on this list were only expected to finish toward the bottom of their respective divisions anyways, but they didn’t even live up to those expectations even though their projected records were only around .500.
The Reds were a mess and finished 14 wins below their projected total of 78. They sold out at the trade deadline by sending Johnny Cueto to Kansas City, where he would go on to win a World Series.
The Brewers finished with just 68 wins and in 4th place in the NL Central with a win total of 79. The A’s finished a distant last place in the AL West with only 68 wins despite making the playoffs the previous year and coming into the season with a win total of 81.5.
But the bottom four teams on this list were the most disappointing because they were expected to win their divisions, or at least compete for a division title.
The Nationals had the highest win total coming into the season at 93.5, but finished with just 83 wins and missed the playoffs altogether, letting the upstart Mets overtake them. The Mets nearly made this list as they were +8.5 in win differential, winning 90 games with a win total of 81.5.
The Tigers actually finished in last place in the AL Central with only 74 wins, falling short of their 84.5-win total by 10.5 games. The Mariners were also -10.5, winning 76 games with a win total of 86.5 and lofty expectations coming in.
Then there’s the Padres, who spent a ton of money in free agency last year, only to see it backfire. Instead of competing for an NL West title, they finished just 74-88, falling 10.5 wins short of their 84.5-win total.
Betting Against Last Year’s Results & Public Perception
I believe it to be a very profitable move to bet against what happened last year, and to also fade the public’s perception of teams. Oddsmakers set their lines based on what they believe the public is going to do to try and get even action on both sides, and this is where we can find some value.
One of the best ways to find value in terms of MLB season win totals is to see how much the totals jumped from one year to the next, and then to go against those moves. This is what I call artificial inflation, and it pertains to win totals just like everything else.
So, I’m going to list the teams’ win totals you should either back or fade based on how much their totals have either gone up or down pertaining to last year’s win total. I’ll start out with the teams you should fade and bet the UNDER, and then list the teams to back and bet the OVER.
Best UNDER Bets Based On Win Totals Going Up
- Astros +13 (2015 Win Total: 75.5, 2016 Win Total: 88.5)
- Cubs +11 (2015 Win Total: 82.5, 2016 Win Total: 93.5)
- Diamondbacks +9 (2015 Win Total: 72.5, 2016 Win Total: 81.5)
- Twins +9 (2015 Win Total: 70.5, 2016 Win Total: 79.5)
- Mets +8 (2015 Win Total: 81.5, 2016 Win Total: 89.5)
- Rangers +7.5 (2015 Win Total: 76, 2016 Win Total: 83.5)
Best OVER Bets Based On Win Totals Going Down
- Padres -11 (2015 Win Total: 84.5, 2016 Win Total: 73.5)
- Brewers -8.5 (2015 Win Total: 79, 2016 Win Total: 70.5)
- Braves -8 (2015 Win Total: 73.5, 2016 Win Total: 65.5)
- Reds -7.5 (2015 Win Total: 78, 2016 Win Total: 70.5)
- Angels -7.5 (2015 Win Total: 88, 2016 Win Total: 80.5)
- A’s -6 (2015 Win Total: 81.5, 2016 Win Total: 75.5)
- Nationals -5 (2015 Win Total: 93.5, 2016 Win Total: 88.5)
I believe if you bet all of these over/unders you will come out ahead this season. But I’m also going to give my win total predictions on all 30 teams below. Feel free to use them as you please.
Obviously, the ones that I have predicted to finish the furthest away from the actual win total are my favorite bets. Thanks and best of luck, Jack.
2016 MLB Win Totals & Projections
**Note – I used a consensus of the 3 books for recommendations