I teased this in my MLB Over/Under Wins story, but I made my annual bet with Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus on these picks. He's started to write a column picking win totals for MLB teams the last few years and we've compared our stories and placed on bet on who does better.
As usual we're more alike that different, as he's on my side for 3 of my 4 bets (he likes the under at 72 on the Giants, over on the A's at 73.5 and the under of 84 on Seattle). We differ on the Cubs for a second year in a row, so we bet on them. But we wanted to add more teams to make it a best out of three.
Sheehan has the Rangers (80) and Reds (82) at very high projections (in fact he's the highest of any analyst as this great post on VegasWatch.com notes). But I wasn't as down on them as their sportsbook line (77.5 for the Reds and 75.5 for the Rangers), so Joe and I split the difference.
Here's the bet:
Sheehan took the over on the Cubs last year based on the Cubs' PECTOA projection and won. (Although it came down to the last week and some bad fielding plays by Norris Hopper as an infielder and Ken Griffey unable to throw the ball in after an injury - not that I'm bitter or anything). The fact that PECOTA has the Cubs projected to win over 90 games has me a bit nervous, but I'm not sure the Cubs will jump to second in the NL in runs scored from eighth last year. I don't think the Rangers were as bad as they played last year (they were four games worse than their Pythagorean W-L) and their lineup should score runs.
But the under seems more likely given their rebuilding phase. I love the talent on the Reds, but my taking the under is basically a bet on manager Dusty Baker. He'll figure out a way to screw it up.
Sheehan put it best: "The potential is there, however, for Baker to once again ride 88-win talent to 84 wins, and be hailed a hero for it."
Other over/under bets I liked that I didn't mention in the article and Sheehan liked as well were the unders on the Astros (76) and Cardinals(76). A few days after reading my article, I should have bet more on the Giants under (72). Seeing them on Opening Day reinforced how bad their lineup will be.
So who got the best end of this bet?