MLB 2020 odds and American League West win total predictions: What to do with the Astros?

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It has been one of the craziest MLB offseasons imaginable for the Houston Astros thanks to the sign-stealing scandal. But with spring training here, we turn our attention to the MLB odds for regular season win totals. Andrew Caley may not have a trash can banging system in place to know what’s coming, but he slides into the MLB betting odds headfirst and gives his best Over/Under win total predictions for the American League West.

AL WEST REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS

TEAM 2020 WIN TOTAL ODDS TO WIN AL WEST
Houston Astros 94.5 -225
Oakland Athletics 89 +350
Los Angeles Angels 85.5 +600
Texas Rangers 79.5 +2000
Seattle Mariners 67.5 +30000

HOUSTON ASTROS – O/U 94.5

Last season: Over 96.5 by 11 wins

Where to even begin with the Astros? The banging scandal has rocked baseball to its core. The GM and head coach are fired. The team was fined and lost a bunch of draft picks. But the general consensus is that it wasn’t enough. Everyone hates the players and owner for being so contrite and believe their World Series title should be stripped. The point is, this story isn’t going away anytime soon. Astros players are going to hear it from fans and opposing players all season long (what’s the Over/Under for number of trash cans confiscated when the Astros play?).

Losing star starter Gerrit Cole hurts a lot and the division as a whole got a little better, but this all about the trash can. And in the end, the weight of the scandal will prove too much. That’s already baked into this number as Houston won 107 games and nearly a second title last year, but we’re taking the cheaters to go Under. There’s a minor league team called the Trash Pandas, maybe Houston can borrow that nickname for this season?

Pick: Under 94.5

LOS ANGELES ANGELS – O/U 85.5

Last season: Under 82.5 by 11 wins

Every year I pick the Angels to go Over their win total. And every year, they disappoint. I want Mike Trout in the postseason and the Halos are usually tasked with a modest number. And here we are again. But this year might be a little different. The Angels brought in Joe Maddon to be their new manager, they signed postseason hero Anthony Rendon away from the Nationals, and it sounds like two-way star Shohei Otani is healthy. If they get 20 starts out of him, that’s a huge plus. But the Angels also bolstered their rotation by brining in Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, who I think has the stuff to be a frontline starter now that he’s out of Baltimore. This is the year. I know it.

Pick: Over 85.5

OAKLAND ATHLETICS – O/U 89

Last season: Over 83.5 by 14 wins

The A’s just continue to surprise. I went into last season thinking there was no way they could repeat their 97-win performance from 2018, and they went out and won exactly 97 games again. Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien anchor a solid lineup. The A’s play fantastic defense and have a rotation that feeds into that perfectly. Mike Fiers leads the staff, Sean Manea is healthy, and Frankie Montas gets a full season. The bullpen is also lethal. With the same core returning and healthy, I’m giving the A’s the benefit of the doubt.

Pick: Over 89

SEATTLE MARINERS – O/U 67.5

Last season: Under 71.5 by three wins

After a hot start to the 2019 campaign, the Mariners went into full-on tank mode. The M’s ended the season with 67 wins, but 18 of those wins came before May 1. At the plate, Seattle ranked second-to-last in batting average and on the mound, they ranked 23rd in team ERA. It could be more of the same in 2020. This is Year 2 of the Mariners rebuild and it’s sounding like they’re going to give a lot of time to their top prospects. Kyle Seager is now the Mariners’ elder statesman with Felix Hernandez gone. But expect Seager, Dee Gordon and Mitch Hanigar all to be shopped at some point this season. The rotation is OK, not good enough to get Over this number.

Pick: Under 67.5

TEXAS RANGERS – O/U 79.5

Last season: Over 71.5 by 7 wins

The Rangers are another intriguing team heading into 2020. They have a new ballpark and were a surprising team in Chris Woodward’s first year as manager, winning 78 games. This offseason they went out and acquired one of the best pitchers in the American League in Corey Kluber. The Rangers now have a solid rotation with Kluber, Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Joey Gallo enters the season healthy and should provide a boost to the Rangers lineup. This number feels pretty spot on, but Kluber is worth an extra win or two.

Pick: Over 79.5

UNDERSTANDING MLB SEASON WIN TOTALS

Sportsbooks will post projected win totals for every MLB team before the season starts. The numbers are projections for the amount of wins a specific team will get in a given year set accurately enough in hopes of getting an even amount of dollars wagered on both the Over and the Under. These markets open before Spring Training, close when the regular season begins and don’t cash out until the season is over eight months later. So, be prepared to ride out your investment.

MLB season win total odds will usually look like this:

Houston Astros Over/Under 94.5

This means you can bet the Astros to have more than or less than 94.5 wins. So, 95 or more wins and you cash an Over bet and 94 or fewer wins and your Under is the winner.

Most of these odds are juiced to -110 each way, meaning you would need to bet $110 to win $100. If adjustments are made, due to players changing teams, getting hurt or liability (amount wagered on a certain side), then usually the number would change, for example: the Astros move from 94.5 to 95.5.

HOW TO BET MLB REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS

There are many strategies to consider when making an MLB regular season win total bet. First and foremost, you’re looking for value. Has a sportsbook overvalued a player acquisition or undervalued the strength of a division? Just because the A’s won 97 games last year, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll go Over their win total of 89 this year. With a little bit of research, you can find some real value in the numbers.

Also, consider the length of your investment. As mentioned before, MLB regular season win totals need to be locked in prior to the Opening Day of the MLB season (usually at the end of March) and don’t cash out until the season ends (usually at the end of September). That’s a long time to wait out a bet. If you are betting the Mariners to go Under 67.5 wins, but they come flying out the gates winning 20 of their first 30 games, who’ve got a season-long sweat on your hands.

Another thing to look at is good teams versus bad teams. The MLB is in a weird state where it seems like only a third of teams are actually trying to win at a time, while the others tank to accumulate assets. But since sportsbooks don’t like setting numbers too high or too low, there’s actually value in betting bad teams to lose and good teams to win.

Finally, shop around. These totals are from the Superbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas. If you like the Angels but don’t love the number at 85.5, maybe another book doesn’t have as big a liability on the Los Angeles and has a number of 84.5 or even 84.

 

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.