If we are reading the signs properly, it would appear that we are on the verge of a sea change in sports wagering legalization, possibly as soon as the next time the Supreme Court convenes, which is this coming Monday, April 2. This means that the floodgates will open, and states other than Nevada will begin accepting legal wagers on sporting events.
Now, some of
us you may already be wagering in the underground world outside of Nevada, and I'm not here to judge myself you. However, as gambling's availability is legally augmented, the temptation to wager will be sitting right there for you to dabble. She's a cruel temptress, that gambling, I tells ya!
So here is one warning — try to avoid booming a daily gambler on baseball. The number of games can make it an all-consuming thing, and it's the hardest sport to predict on a game to game basis. To wit, the Astros won 62 percent of their games last season and were hailed as conquering heroes. When you win 62 percent of your games in football, you're not even a one or two seed.
The better way to have a fiscal interest in baseball, to me, is season win total bets. It's the long play, the less volatile play. So with that in mind, here are five season win total bets that I like a lot. (NOTE: Whatever site or casino you use to place wagers may have slightly different odds, so adjust accordingly.)
TAMPA BAY RAYS UNDER 73.5 (+100)
The American League East is beefed up, as the Yankees have welcomed Giancarlo Stanton (and are coming off a postseason that should provide momentum), and the Red Sox signed J.D. Martinez. Both are clear cut 92-94 win teams, at least. I think the Blue Jays are kind of frisky, and I don't know that the Orioles are the out and out disaster that everyone is forecasting. That leaves the Rays, who at this point, are best known for dwindling crowds and shedding any asset that has any sort of remote value. Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, see ya! Is there any doubt their best arm, Chris Archer, will be on the move at some point, when they're 15 games back in July? This team seems to have an ideal combination of the rebuild gene and a stacked schedule.
CLEVELAND INDIANS OVER 94.5 (-135)
Everyone wants to predict "dynasty" for the Indians, and I give them credit for putting together a regular season that showed they could recover from postseason disappointment, having lost in seven games to the Cubs in the World Series back in 2016. They, like the Astros, should cruise through the regular season, and only injuries in the pitching staff to someone like Corey Kluber, along with cluster injuries in the lineup to the likes of Francisco Lindor will keep this team from 97-99 wins. Their division has three of the five worst teams in the American League, which brings us to....
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CHICAGO WHITE SOX UNDER 70.5 (+115)
On the flip side in the AL Central are the dregs, and the White Sox, no doubt, fit that moniker. For some reason, they're getting significantly more "win total" respect than the Tigers and the Royals, despite the fact that this is an awful baseball team that will be playing games in July and August in front of a ton of empty seats, in a city where the team across town will be a World Series contender. They had one good pitcher last season, Jose Quintana, and they traded him... TO THE CUBS. They still have Jose Abreu, though, and they have... well, they have.... um, a very bet-able season win total. Of the Tigers, Royals, and White Sox — three teams screaming "BET THE UNDER" — take the UNDER on the highest total. That's the White Sox.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS OVER 95.5 (+105)
Now, we come to the two World Series teams. Like the NBA, Major League Baseball is very top heavy this season, with basically seven teams thought to have ANY chance at all to win the whole thing. The Dodgers are going to be one of those teams for a long, long time, as they have six everyday players under the age of 27 and a stout pitching staff. You could argue that if Kenley Jansen were able to retire Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth inning of Game 2, the Dodgers may have won that series in five games. It comes down to "Do I think that a team that won 104 games last season and had no significant attrition in the offseason can win more than 95 games?" I think they can and should.
HOUSTON ASTROS OVER 97.5 (-125)
Similar argument on the Astros side. They won 101 games, won the world Series, and now have virtually the same team coming back in 2018. The only significant differences are GOOD ones — namely, they will have a full season of Justin Verlander (who was lights out in spring training, just saying) and a full season of the Alex Bregman we saw from July on last year. Oh yeah, they also added Gerrit Cole, who was an All Star a couple seasons ago in Pittsburgh. People outside of Houston, and perhaps the oddsmakers, forget that this team had major injury issues last season (Keuchel, McCullers, Springer, Correa all missed varying chunks of the season) and still won 101 games. Also, the division is full of mediocrity, outside of the Astros. We are all rooting for them here in Houston, so why not get paid, right?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.