First sportsbook in Nev. opens MLB season win totals
February 14, 2017 3:04 AM
by Micah Roberts
I know spring is in the air as last Friday the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno became the first sportsbook in the state to open its MLB season win totals.
It’s the 11th straight year of sticking their neck out first, and for all the baseball fans down here in the southern part of the state, we thank them. Yes, baseball is almost here!
Right out of the gate we need to talk about the world champion Chicago Cubs with the highest total posted at 95.5 wins. They finished the 2016 regular season with a 103-58 tally, which easily exceeded the opening total of 89 wins – a number that was then bumped up several times by bettors.
It’s hard to see the Cubs having some kind of World Series hangover because they come into spring training this season looking better than they did last spring. In particular they landed Wade Davis as the closer, which was the one spot where the Cubs had a real concern before renting flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman. The Cuban sensation is back with the Yankees, but Davis could actually be an upgrade. In his last three seasons with the Royals as a set-up man and closer he posted ERA’s of 1.00, 0.94 and 1.87, and converted 27 of 30 saves last season.
The Cubs also bolstered the bullpen by signing Koji Uehara away from Boston in a one-year $6 million dollar deal. Former St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay was also signed to a one-year deal. Their only important departures outside of Chapman were Dexter Fowler signing with the Cardinals and Jason Hammel inking with the Royals.
Another reason for optimism with the Cubs this season is knowing last year’s big signing, Jason Heyward, can’t possibly be as bad as his 2016 was when he set career-lows for on-base percentage (.306), slugging percentage (.325) and home runs (7). If they get only an average 2017 out of Heyward it’s a huge improvement and makes them ever scarier for the rest of the National League.
The American League champion Cleveland Indians improved its lineup by signing slugger Edwin Encarnacion away from Toronto. The Atlantis posted them at 92.5 wins, the highest AL total. The Indians’ deep starting rotation is still intact and the only key cog from last season missing is Mike Napoli, who is a free agent and still unsigned for 2017. Last season the Indians went 94-67.
Here’s a few totals that stood out right away for me:
Minnesota Twins 70.5
I thought I missed some major transactions because the number suggests the Twins are much better than their MLB worst 59-103 record from last year. They did acquire catcher Jason Castro, who is much better than the .211 batting average from the past two seasons in Houston, but the pitching staff that was second-to-worst with a 5.03 ERA in 2016 looks the same.
Signing middle-reliever Matt Belisle should help a bullpen that converted only 56 percent of save opportunities, but getting 71 wins appears to be a stretch when most of their games will be against tough AL Central teams who they went 24-52 against last year. The awful pitching staff helped make the Twins the best OVER team (95-59) last season while also making them the worst team to bet (-3129 units). I like them UNDER 70.5 wins.
Atlanta Braves 71.5
The Braves have won 68 games or less the past two seasons but their rapidly improved roster has the look of being very competitive in SunTrust Park’s inaugural season. They have a nice lineup with veterans like 1B Freddie Freeman, LF Matt Kemp and RF Nick Markakis mixed in with promising future stars like 3B Adonis Garcia and SS Dansby Swanson. I also really like CF Ender Inciarte and an undervalued addition of Sean Rodriguez, who can play everywhere.
Rodriguez is injured and won’t be available for 5-6 months but the Braves were able to acquire veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Reds. But pitching wins games and their top four starters of Julio Teheran, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia and R.A. Dickey has me believing this team can actually win 80. Their bullpen is still a bit shaky, but I think they’ll be a fun story throughout the summer. OVER 71.5 wins is the play.
Baltimore Orioles 84.5
I like to joke that the best way for Baltimore to win its first World Series since 1983 is to get rid of Manager Buck Showalter like the Yankees and Diamondbacks did, winning the very next season after giving him the ax. But Showalter is the entire reason to trust the team will play competitive baseball all season. They’ve won 85 or more games four of the past five seasons, making the playoffs three times.
Despite a starting rotation that didn’t scare anyone, they won 89 games last season aided by a bullpen that was No. 1 in converting saves (79 percent) and a lineup that was No. 1 with 253 homers. Still unsigned is C Matt Wieters, but I trust in Buck to get the job done and win at least 85. OVER 84.5 wins looks good.
KC Royals 80.5
The Royals have won 81 games or more the past four seasons, but come into 2017 with a bullpen that doesn’t look nearly as intimidating as any of the previous four years. Davis is gone as the closer and Kelvin Herrera takes over. But I still like the everyday players and also the addition of DH Brandon Moss and RF Jorge Soler.
I especially like their 1-2 combination in the rotation of Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy, and if they can get anything out of Hammel and a healthy Jason Vargas they’ll be contending for the AL Central. They went 46-30 in the division last season – even though going 5-14 against Cleveland. This may be one of the most underrated teams coming into spring. OVER 80.5 is the play.
See the chart for a look at all the Atlantis totals, which are sure to be rapidly adjusted as bettors look for middle opportunities when other books around the state start posting their numbers. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook will release theirs on Feb. 21.