Odds: Over/under win totals for National League teams

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Bookmaker.com has posted its initial over/under odds for regular season team wins. Here are the National League totals (for entertainment purposes only, of course):

Phillies          97
Giants            88
Braves            88
Rockies           87
Reds              86.5
Brewers           85.5
Cardinals         83.5
Dodgers           83
Cubs              82
Marlins           81.5
Mets              77
Padres            76
Diamondbacks      72.5
Astros            72.5
Nationals         72
Pirates           67

Just about everyone would agree that the Phillies are clearly the class of the National League and probably enter the season as World Series favorites, but 97 wins is an exceptionally high baseline for even a great on-paper team. For example, the last NL team to win more than 97 games was the Cardinals in 2005 and a total of just six NL teams have topped 97 wins since 2000. Philadelphia is definitely capable of joining that group, but I’m not sure it makes sense to bet on it.

Colorado also stands out as a strong “under” bet at 87 wins considering they won 83 games last season and didn’t really make any significant offseason additions. Plus, it’s not as if Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can be much better than they were in 2010. I’m also not sure I see why the Cubs have an over/under as high as 82 wins after going 75-87 last season. They should be better after adding Carlos Pena and Matt Garza, but it’s tough imagine them being much above .500.

Adrian Gonzalez is really good and San Diego came out of nowhere last season, but setting their over/under at 76 wins seems pretty low coming off a 90-win campaign. I’d be surprised if they aren’t at least around .500. Arizona also seems like a solid “over” bet at 72.5 wins, as their historically awful bullpen–much like Seattle’s historically inept lineup in the AL–almost can’t help but be much better, particularly if J.J. Putz stays healthy.

With the caveat that I haven’t exactly spent a lot of time breaking down projections and crunching numbers to come up with these opinions, I like the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Mets the most for “over” and the Phillies, Rockies, and Cubs the most for “under.”

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?