This is a post about gambling tips. You do not have to pay for these gambling tips. If you dial my 888 number, you can subscribe to my premium gambling tips, backed by the NHL Guarantee™ (if I'm wrong about baseball, you get all of my NHL picks for free.) (Hint: North Stars in 10 innings.)
But these gambling tips are free. And while you shouldn't use them to gamble, they will probably make you rich, especially if you put down a lot of money. What follows is a list of over/under lines for the 2013 MLB season, as found through Jonah Keri's Twitter feed, and presented to you in a fancy table by way of the good folks at Getting Blanked:
|American League||National League|
The numbers closest to the team name represent 2013 wins. The numbers to the right represent … dunno, those might be phone numbers for rival gambling-tip services. Don't call them! But we're concerned with the numbers that represent wins. You have to decide whether a team will get more wins or fewer wins than the posted total. For example, the over/under on the Tigers is 90. So if you think they'll win fewer, take the under. If you think they'll win more, take the over. If the Tigers win exactly 90 games, you'll have given the sports book an interest-free loan for six months.
The goal of this article is to find the best bet of all the 30 teams. It doesn't matter if we're taking the over or under, we're just looking for the best bet. The first thing I'll do is eliminate the teams that make me think too long. If you have to go back and forth to pick one, it probably isn't a good bet.
Eliminated in the first round
Almost all of them
I started to make a list of the ones I wasn't sure about, but it became a list of 25 or 26 teams because it turns out -- wait for it … -- that Vegas is good with this stuff. They're supposed to be tough calls. They're supposed to make the rational person blink and the irrational fans to part with their money. The Mariners at 76½? I'd rather play keno and get drunk in the bar than take a position on if the Mariners will win more than 77 games or fewer. It's like that with most of the teams. So I'll just choose five semi-finalists.
A's - 83 wins (over)
If you don't know about the Plexiglas Principle, here you go. When a team takes a big jump in wins from one season to the next, they're usually borrowing them.
But while I'm not sure the A's can keep the same good luck with their pitching, nor am I sure that Brandon Moss is really an every-day, middle-of-the-order first baseman, I'm bullish on Yoenis Cespedes and most of the young pitchers.
Indians - 77½ (over)
The first version of this article about the Indians was filed about 15 minutes before they signed Michael Bourn, and after the deal was announced, I had to go back and rejigger the heck out of it. Which is to say, I thought the Indians were a deep-sleeper pick before the Bourn move. After the signing, I think they've moved from deep-sleeper to plain sleeper. But do I trust their possibly horrific rotation to get them over or around .500? Maybe. But not "I'll give you my money" certain.
Diamondbacks - 81½ (over)
They won 81 last year, but their Pythagorean total was 86 wins. They swapped Justin Upton and Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and Cody Ross, which (as long as you're using Upton's numbers from last year) is a push, at worst. I'm a big believer in Adam Eaton, and I think their rotation is really, really underrated with the addition of Brandon McCarthy. But I'd also sell on Jason Kubel, Aaron Hill, and Ross, so I'm not sure if they're better. They're semi-finalists, but that's where they'll stay.
Royals - 79 (under)
Short answer: because they're the Royals, and you would have won money with this bet 19 out of the last 21 seasons. Long answer: I'm not seeing how Wade Davis, James Shields, and a sour-shouldered Ervin Santana help them win seven more games. There's a lot of upside in the lineup until you get to Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz -- enough to threaten .500, for sure -- but I'm not going to get too excited until I see Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy healthy and effective again.
Astros - 59½ (under)
Whenever you see an extreme prediction, you usually want to bet on something less extreme. An over under on prime-years Ichiro hitting higher than .330? Take the under. Every time, even if it's Ichiro. But when it comes to the Astros losing 103 games -- four fewer than last season -- that suddenly seems less extreme. I don't think they're as bad as the 2003 Tigers or anything, but they start with Tyler Greene in the leadoff spot, and they work their way down to Fernando Martinez. The only ray of hope in the middle is Jose Altuve, and it's not like he's Craig Biggio just yet.
But I can't get past the truism that only suckers bet on quasi-rare events like 100+ losses. Baseball Prospectus has them at 99 losses, and @Twins is one. If you're having gambling problems, I feel bad for you, son. No, really, I do. You certainly shouldn't be reading this.
So the Astros, while tempting, are out.
Which leaves, as my ULTIMATE LOCK of the preseason … the Royals. Give me the under on the Royals. History is on my side, and I'm still sore from almost believing in them last year. The Royals will get fewer than 79 wins.
Sorry, daughter's college fund. But the government will just give you the money in exchange for threatening phone calls years after you graduate. You'll be fine. And if you're at a community college for five years because of this … it's James Shields's fault, not mine.
This is the lengthiest poll I've ever appended to an article, but it's worth it. Please take five seconds to give the world your pick for the best bet on the over/unders this year.