The 60 game season certainly puts us all in a place where we know nothing, and we have to reanalyze our process with everything. Fortunately for us, Vegas is in the same boat. I'm normally not much of a totals bettor. Waiting 162 games for a -110 payout doesn't really do it for me when I can get that return betting on one inning. However, this shortened season eases that discomfort and makes it worth taking some action. Combing through some of the win totals, there are several outliers which jump off the page. Of important note is that every team is playing their division rivals ten times each, for forty total division games, and approximately 3-4 games versus their geographical rival division teams.
Baltimore Orioles 20.5 Are they a bunch of furniture movers? With ten games against the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox they are already in a hole, and the Blue Jays figure to be about a .500 team. Three games each against Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta and the Mets....with a four game home and home with the Marlins. Their best player Trey Mancini won't play this season. It is very conceivable there will be no games this season that they would be favored, and I highly doubt they even win a single series. Easy under, the line should have been in the mid teens
Cincinnati Reds 31.5 Might be the team that benefits the most from the short season. They have an elite starting rotation, with three aces capable of throwing game 1 of a playoff series with Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and a resurgent Sonny Gray. Anthony DeSclafani is one of my favorite fantasy value starters this year and Wade Miley and Tyler Mahle off quality depth. The lineup is stacked with the additions of Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos, who looks like he is ready to take the step to MVP Candidate, and a now healthy Eugenio Suarez, who stood to miss some times at the original start date. The schedule is middling, and I do not see how they aren't a guaranteed .500 team. If they have the courage to sell some prospects to fortify the bullpen, they could take this one to the house. This is an easy over, and one of our favorite World Series bets at +2500.
Cleveland Indians 32.5 Their schedule features 23 games against the Royals, Pirates, and Tigers. If they win just 60% of those games, they can go 18-19 over the rest of the schedule and pay off this over. With two legitimate Cy Young candidates leading off the rotation in Shane Beiber and Mike Clevinger, that certainly is possible. The layoff also helped Carlos Carrasco in his tremendous recovery, if he returns to solid form this could be the best rotation in the AL. Similarly to the Reds, their lineup is very much improved from last year with the addition of Franmil Reyes as a power threat and Cesar Hernandez setting the table up top. If James Karinchak takes the step we are hoping for, the bullpen could approach a viable championship level. At +2500 I'm also staking a ticket to win the World Series.
Houston Astros 35.5 Where in the world Is Yordan Alvarez? We're days from starting the season and he has not reported to camp yet. Is it Covid-19? Is it travel issues? Any extended absence would be a tremendous blow. You can't bang on a trash can in an empty stadium. All of the metrics point to Alex Bregman being a league average hitter when he doesn't know what is coming. His Exit Velo, Barrell %, and HR distance are all well below league average and there is a tremendous gap in his production on fastballs versus offspeed/breaking balls. The 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke is as good as there is, but they haven't even come close to replacing Gerrit Cole, and expected third starter Jose Urquidy has also not reported to camp yet, in the same mysterious fashion as Alvarez. They're still a World Series favorite, but I could see some regression and it's simply the right thing to do to root against them this year so why not put some skin in the game and take the under?