The Major League Baseball season is long, and I will admit that it can get boring. That’s why I am suggesting that you spice it up by placing a prop bet or two on some MLB team win totals to encourage you to follow along all season long.
According to Wikipedia, a prop bet is a bet made regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence during a game (usually a gambling game) of an event not directly affecting the game’s final outcome. The ones I am suggesting will play out over the length of the 2018 season.
Below are three certified Graf Guarantee winners that I may or may not have thrown a few shekels at myself, and a few that I just couldn’t quite bring myself to risk real actual dollars. All odds come from Bovada.lv. All batting and pitching rankings come from ESPN.com.
New York Mets Under 81 Wins
The Mets went 70-92 in 2017, and that is mostly because their starting rotation was decimated by injuries. They signed Jason Vargas to provide depth to the starting rotation in case of injuries, and he broke his glove hand during Grapefruit League play. The injury bug is starting early this year for them, and it shows no mercy.
Their offense was ranked 19th in Major League Baseball last season. Although, they did bring back Jay Bruce after trading him midseason to the Cleveland Indians and brought in first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and infielder Todd Frazier to try and provide an offensive boost. I wouldn’t bet on any of them to have career years while on the wrong side of 30 in the notorious pitcher’s park Citi Field.
The Mets still play in a division with the Washington Nationals, and the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies should be better this season. They should be able to steamroll the Miami Marlins, but the 2018 NL East isn’t the cakewalk that it was in 2017.
The best reason to like this bet is the vig is set at +130, and there is nothing better than getting plus juice. The Mets could easily surpass 81 wins, but it’s hard to envision them remaining healthy. The strength of their 2015 and 2016 teams was that they had excellent starting pitching depth, but that has dwindled and hanging on by a thread.
Lock in another lost season for the New York Mets and under 81 wins.
Colorado Rockies Over 82 Wins
The Rockies went 87-75 in 2017, and they played in the same division as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, who also made the postseason. Pitching has always been an issue at Coors Field, but surprisingly, the pitching staff ranked 17th in Major League Baseball last season and should only improve. Their young pitchers should take another step forward, and they will get a full season of solid starting pitcher Chad Bettis after having battled testicular cancer last season. Their bullpen should remain sturdy behind the arms of Jake McGee and new closer Wade Davis, who replaces another former Kansas City Royal Greg Holland.
Nolan Arenado is the best third baseman in Major League Baseball (Sorry, Kris Bryant and Cubs fans). He’s the anchor of the Rockies lineup and a perennial Gold Glove winner in the field, and he’s not the only good position player in their lineup. Centerfielder Charlie Blackmon led the National League in batting average last season, and DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story are no slouches up the middle for them either.
The Rockies also have three prospects in the preseason top 100 rankings from MLB.com in case they need to make a trade for some reinforcements and former top prospect David Dahl is beginning the season in Triple-A Albuquerque.
At -125, that is a little more juice than I would like to lay, but I feel very strongly about the Rockies being even better than they were last year. Their biggest loss from last season is Tyler Chatwood, a 2.0 WAR starting pitcher, but they had four rookies (German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Jeff Hoffman) make 93 starts combined. Bud Black’s background is as a Major League starting pitcher and a pitching coach, so if anyone can coax the best out of some young pitchers, I believe in Black.
Lock in a repeat playoff berth for the Colorado Rockies and over 82 wins.
Baltimore Orioles Over 73 Wins
The Orioles finished 2017 75-87 and in last place in the AL East. Baltimore’s pitching was ranked 27th in Major League Baseball last year, but Dylan Bundy has ace potential if healthy, and Kevin Gausman is another solid starter. They recently added Alex Cobb to their rotation, who will help them remain competitive. When Zach Britton returns from the disabled list, they also have a lockdown bullpen.
Manny Machado and Adam Jones, the Orioles two best position players, are slated to become free agents after this season. Most people are already penciling Machado in as the Yankees third baseman in 2019 after he signs a gazillion dollar contract, but he will be ready to go all out one last time in Baltimore. The Orioles had the 16th best offense in 2017, but they battled injuries. They still have Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, too, so they will hit the ball out of Camden Yards at a high clip. Tim Beckham was also a revelation after the Orioles stole him from the Tampa Bay Rays, and he’ll have a full season to prove himself playing third base.
The Tampa Bay Rays seem to be on a mission to collect prospects and rid themselves of quality Major Leaguers, and the Toronto Blue Jays are getting old and have free agents to be of their own. The New York Yankees are a mashing unit who will be tough to get out, and the Boston Red Sox should continue their run of success. This presents a perfect opportunity for the Orioles to see what they are made of.
At -115, it’s a pretty standard vig, so there is nothing to be overly concerned about there. The biggest concern is that if the Orioles fall too far out of contention they may be compelled to trade Machado, Jones, or Britton. They are all free agents at the end of the season, which also could compel them to go all in while they can.
Lock in an interesting season in Baltimore and over 73 wins.
The Boston Red Sox under 91.5 wins is enticing at +135 because they won 93 games in 2017, and the Yankees have only gotten better. It’s fair to assume that the Red Sox may be in for a battle for the AL East.
The Kansas City Royals under 71.5 wins seems like a safe bet because of all the position players they lost like Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, but it’s a tough pill to swallow at -145. That’s a lot of juice to lay.
The Milwaukee Brewers over 84.5 wins would be a solid wager considering they added incredible outfield depth with the trade for Christian Yelich and the free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain after they had a surprisingly good 2017, but again, it’s hard to lay -145 when they didn’t really improve their pitching staff.
The Minnesota Twins over 82.5 wins seems like a lock considering they had a strong 2017 season and added Jake Odorizzi, Addison Reed, and Fernando Rodney to their pitching staff. It’s also safe to assume that Jose Berrios will take another step forward, but I’m not willing to lay -180 on a team that looks like it’s still another year away.
The Philadelphia Phillies over 75.5 wins looks pretty good as the Miami Marlins are in full tank mode, and I believe that the New York Mets will continue to take another step back. The Phillies also added Jake Arrieta recently to their starting rotation, and he is a good ace for a young team. There is no way though that I am confident enough to lay -260 though.
The Tampa Bay Rays under 77.5 wins is all but guaranteed since they seem to be intent on fielding the best Quad-A team in Major League Baseball, but I don’t want to bet against them at -250.
The Washington Nationals under 92.5 wins could provide incredible value because they have never really run away with the NL East despite their lack of competitive division foes. It’s especially enticing at +155.