MLB Coverage: Reviewing The Over/Under Win Props

The 2013 MLB regular season is in the books, and on this final Sunday night of the season, as we await the Texas-Tampa tiebreaker game on Monday, followed by the two wild-card games on Tuesday and Wednesday, let’s clean up one last loose end from the season and it’s to review each team’s win props.

Regular readers of TheSportsNotebook know that a staple of our preseason MLB coverage, along with the NFL and the NBA, is to measure each team against it’s Over/Under win prop and make a pick. Let’s look at who the big winners and losers were in the win prop sweepstakes.

I’ve broken the teams down on an arc based on how much they beat, or missed their number by. The Big Winners/Big Losers each were teams that Las Vegas missed by double digits on. Then a separate category of teams that were in the 5-9 win range, where it wasn’t a blowout, but the team was pretty clearly on a certain side of the aisle. Finally there are the teams that were tight enough to be within five either way, and two teams landed right on the number. Here’s how it shook out…

BIG WINNERS: Pittsburgh (+16.5), Boston (+14), Cleveland (+13.5), Oakland (+12.5), St. Louis (+11.5)

SOLID WINNERS: Atlanta (+8), Baltimore (+6), Kansas City (+7.5),

CLOSE WINNERS: Tampa Bay (+4.5), Detroit (+0.5), Texas (+4.5), San Diego (+2.5), Colorado (+3.5)

PUSH: NY Mets, LA Dodgers

CLOSE LOSERS: Minnesota (-2.5), Miami (-1.5), NY Yanks (-1), Cincinnati (-1), Arizona (-1)

DECISIVE LOSERS: Houston (-8), ChiCubs (-7.5),  Seattle (-7), Washington (-6.5), Milwaukee (-6.5)

BIG LOSERS: ChiSox (-17.5), Toronto (-15), LA Angels (-13.5), Philadelphia (-11.5), San Francisco (-11.5)

A few thoughts…

*I like the fact that this review exposes teams like the White Sox–the biggest disappointment on the board–as the underachievers they are. Too often, teams like Chicago, because they were not expected to make the playoffs, are let off the hook when they go badly off the rails.

But you’re telling me a fan on the South Side wouldn’t have had more fun watching an 80-win team, as the White Sox were projected? At least you turn on the TV set each night with a 50/50 chance of seeing a win and you can at least root for a winning season in September. Instead, the Southsiders gave their fans nothing and only the win prop review calls them to account, along with the more heralded disappointments they share company with.

*In a somewhat odd twist, Tampa Bay and Texas each had the exact same win prop at the start of the season. I was 86.5, rather than the 91 wins each posted. But it’s strange the teams who have to go to a one-game playoff on Monday for the last playoff spot were perceived as dead even when the season started.

*The repudiation of those in the Boston Red Sox front office who forced out Terry Francona after the 2011 season is complete. Cleveland is in the group of big overachievers and hosts the wild-card game on Wednesday night. And Boston got back into that group only by hiring John Farrell, who as the pitching coach through 2010, was the next best thing to bringing back Tito. Maybe there’s something to this notion of getting rid of the players rather than the manager. And maybe more teams should take note.

And just how bad did Houston have to be to decisively miss a number that was only 59 to begin with? We can strike a similar tone with the Mariners and Cubs.

Finally, congratulations to Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates. They win the honor of being baseball’s biggest overachiever. This is TheSportsNotebook’s second year of tracking this, and last year’s champion were the Baltimore Orioles. On the flip side, last year’s big loser was the Colorado Rockies, succeeded in 2013 by the White Sox.

My own picks were the very definition of mixed bag. I finished 14-14-2. It’s a downer because in 2012, I had winning records in all three sports where this mode of preseason analysis is used, albeit by narrow margins in all three.

On the positive side, I feel good about myself because I went 6-4 on the ten teams that are on the extremes, while going only 3-7 on those decided by five or less. The breaks just didn’t go my way. Of course if I were betting this for real, my bookie would be happy to let me feel good about myself while he collected his 10 percent juice and made a profit on my .500 record.