• Despite a number of repeat teams in this year's postseason, that didn't stop some intriguing over/under storylines from developing throughout the year.
By Ben Reiter
October 02, 2017

My pre-season MLB over/under picks—published in early March, in which I predicted which of the league’s 30 teams would exceed Vegas’s projected wins total and which would fall short—came with a disclaimer: “Of course, you probably shouldn’t act on any of them.”

Sorry about that.

As it turned out, my picks went 21-9 this year.  That means that if you had wagered $100 on each, and factor in the oddsmaker’s published vigs (which mean that you drop the whole bet if you lose but take home between $71.46 and $100 if you win), you’d currently be $906.59 richer.

There’s more.

When I tweeted out the story, I included my six “best bets.” 

All six of them hit.  Had you put down $100 more on a six-team parlay, you’d have won an additional $4,468.07.

That’s a total profit of $5,374.66, which means that you could now buy yourself this sweet 2008 Mercury Mountaineer. Just 148,961 miles on that baby.

Of course, nobody did this, including me.  (If you did – ping me at @BenReiter).  Still, the lesson?  Gambling is easy, and you can never lose.

Here’s when I went right, and where I went wrong.



Arizona Diamondbacks

Prediction: OVER 78.5

2017 Wins: 93

We said then: The only good part of a nightmare season like the one the D-Backs had in '16? You have to wake up eventually. Morning could arrive in the form of a healthy A.J. Pollock and a rebounding Zack Greinke, superstars as recently as 2015 who could account for 10 extra wins.

What happened: Pollock stayed relative healthy (112 games played) and Greinke improved (4.37 ERA to 3.20) – but so did the rest of a pitching staff that allowed an incredible 231 fewer runs than it did last year.

Atlanta Braves

Prediction: OVER 71.5

2017 Wins: 72

We said then: The rebuilding Braves acquired several short-term veterans (Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Brandon Phillips) to help them avoid outright putridity in their new ballpark. The real reason they'll do it is a lineup that rapidly improved last season, from 30th—dead last—in runs before the All-Star Game to sixth after it.

What happened: The offense, led by Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte, did get better – to the tune of a 75-run boost.  That was just enough to barely hit the over with a final day win, on the heels of a six-game losing streak.

Baltimore Orioles

Prediction: UNDER 84.5

2017 Wins: 75

We said then: Maybe Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman can become co-aces, but the Orioles still have a rotation that will include Wade Miley (5.37 ERA in '16) and Ubaldo Jimenez (5.44). They'll hit a ton of homers, but it's hard to win 85 games with a staff like that.

What happened: Their 232 homers were the league’s fifth-most – but not nearly enough to counterbalance a starting staff that was indeed the game’s worst, with a 5.74 ERA. As anticipated, no starter other than Bundy or Gausman had an ERA under 5.00.

Boston Red Sox

Prediction: OVER 91.5

2017 Wins: 93

We said then: David Ortiz is gone, but let's not overreact. This is a club that had an AL-best +184 run differential and added possibly the best starter in the league, Chris Sale. The Sox also get a full season from the game's No. 1 prospect, Andrew Benintendi. Doesn't sound as if they'll win less.

What happened: They missed Big Papi, and still do, as their run differential declined to +117 and they slugged an AL-low 168 bombs.  Sale, though, was at least the league’s second-best starter, leading a staff that was bettered in the AL by only the Indians’.

Chicago Cubs

Prediction: UNDER 96.5

2017 Wins: 92

We said then: Winning 97 games is hard. Over the past decade, just 1.7 clubs per year have done it. The champs are a lock to run away with the NL Central, but they'll rely on three starters in their 30s (Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Jon Lester), any or all of whom could begin to regress.

What happened: Well, four teams won 97 this year, but the Cubs weren’t one of them. Arrieta, Lackey and Lester, perhaps feeling their age and last October’s extra workload, saw their combined ERA jump from 2.95 to 4.16.

Chicago White Sox

Prediction: UNDER 71.5

2017 Wins: 67

We said then: Adam Eaton and Chris Sale have already been traded from the rebuilding South Siders. Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Jose Quintana and David Robertson could soon join them. The future's bright, but for now things will get worse as the Sox wait for their newly acquired prospects to mature.

What happened: Of the players mentioned, only Abreu remained with the Sox until the season’s end, leading to an Under-clinching 30-45 second half.  But, damn, those prospects.

Cincinnati Reds

Prediction: UNDER 73.5

2017 Wins: 68

We said then: There is little reason to expect much improvement here. Joey Votto can't get better—his league-dominating second-half OPS last season was 1.158—but he can't win by himself, and a bullpen that gave up a record-smashing 103 homers added only Drew Storen.

What happened: Votto (1.032 OPS) was ridiculous, and he actually got some help from Zack Cozart, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Eugenio Suarez, all of whom slugged 24+ home runs.  But the pitching (NL-worst 5.19 ERA) was execrable in all facets.

Cleveland Indians

Prediction: OVER 93.5

2017 Wins: 102

We said then: They won the second-most games in the AL last season despite losing their best hitter (Michael Brantley) for nearly all of it and two of their best pitchers (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar) by its end. Can they win as many with those three healthy and a new slugger in Edwin Encarnacion? Seems likely.

What happened: In fact, they should have won even more games than they did – 107, based on their MLB-best +254 run differential.  This was always free money.

Colorado Rockies

Prediction: OVER 80.5

2017 Wins: 87

We said then: The Rockies haven't surpassed 80 wins since 2010. The offense is as potent as ever, but it's a newly promising rotation fronted by Jon Gray—and supported by a deep bullpen that added Greg Holland and Mike Dunn—that could have them flirting with .500.

What happened: They actually scored slightly less this year – 824 runs, versus 845 last year.  But Gray (3.67 ERA) did lead a staff that improved enough (4.91 ERA to 4.50) to account for a 12-win bump.

Detroit Tigers

Prediction: UNDER 84.5

2017 Wins: 64

We said then: The Tigers look like contenders, with a power-packed lineup and a rotation led by a rejuvenated Justin Verlander and Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer. But they have just one top-100 prospect. It's tough to predict that nothing will go wrong for an aging club, making the under the safe pick.

What happened: A ton went wrong—including terrible declines by Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jordan Zimmermann—and Verlander won’t be around for the rebuild that is now in full swing.

Houston Astros

Prediction: OVER 87.5

2017 Wins: 101

We said then: The offense should be in the top five, but the front office's ability to add a top-end starter is what could push the club into the mid-90s. If it's not a trade for someone like Chris Archer, Sonny Gray or Jose Quintana, it'll be the promotion of fireballing prospect Francis Martes.

What happened: It was actually a trade for Justin Verlander – but by then the Astros were already 80-53, with the Over a lock.  An offense that turned out to be not top five, but top one (an MLB-best 892 runs scored) will do that for you.

Kansas City Royals

Prediction: UNDER 81.5

2017 Wins: 80

We said then: The unthinkable death of Yordano Ventura in a January car accident deprived a thin rotation of its ace. A slow start could snowball and force GM Dayton Moore to trade away key players before their free agency, including Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

What happened: They started slow—10-20—but Moore, not wanting to prematurely end the winning era he’d built, didn’t trade anyone.  Maybe he should have, as a mediocre finish followed and the club now faces an uncertain future.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Prediction: OVER 92.5

2017 Wins: 104

We said then: There's a reason Baseball Prospectus' and Fan Graphs' projection models have L.A. at, respectively, 98 and 94 wins. Despite having no starter top 176 innings in 2016 and losing Clayton Kershaw for more than two months, they still comfortably took the NL West crown. The Dodgers are loaded.

What happened: They again had no starter top 176 innings.  Kershaw again hit the DL, albeit only for just over a month this time.  They still won the most games since the `04 Cardinals.  Plus, Cody Bellinger.  Loaded indeed.

Minnesota Twins

Prediction: OVER 70.5

2017 Wins: 85

We said then: They dropped 24 wins from 2015 to '16, so they only have to pick up half of those to hit the over. There's simply too much young talent in Minnesota—including Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano—for them to continue to be this bad.

What happened: The young players mentioned were all great: Berrios went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA; Sano hit 28 homers; Buxton was the club’s second-ranked WAR leader (3.5). It added up to one of the odder three-season swings in baseball history, from 83 wins to 59 to 84.

Oakland A’s

Prediction: OVER 66.5

2017 Wins: 75

We said then: The A's are stuck in a purgatory between contending and rebuilding. But will they have their worst season in two decades? Unless Billy Beane goes into full teardown mode, a healthy Sonny Gray and a decent bullpen (buoyed by Santiago Casilla) makes that improbable.

What happened: Gray was good – 11-6 with a 3.43 ERA before Beane traded him to the Yankees. What really allowed them to avoid putridity was their surprising power: they quietly hit 233 homers this year, the fourth most in baseball.

Philadelphia Phillies

Prediction: UNDER 72.5

2017 Wins: 66

We said then: The Phillies lucked into their 71 wins last year: Their majors-worst –186 run differential suggests they should have won only 62 games. After a modest off-season (additions included Clay Buchholz, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders), improvement for the future-focused club is unlikely.

What happened: None of those additions did much—aside from Kendrick, who was traded to Washington—and their luck turned.  They won four fewer games than they should have, based on their -92 run differential, though even average fortune wouldn’t have resulted in an Over.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Prediction: UNDER 85.5

2017 Wins: 75

We said then: A 20-game drop from 2015 hinged on two factors: Ace Gerrit Cole got hurt, and their best hitter, Andrew McCutchen, declined dramatically. Cole's elbow might hold up, but McCutchen is no lock to return to his MVP days. An eight-win bounce appears too high.

What happened: While McCutchen was good again – his OPS spiked from .766 to .848 – the club was otherwise punchless, second to last with 151 homers.  And while Cole topped 200 innings, he did so while pitching to a career-worst 4.26 ERA.

St. Louis Cardinals

Prediction: UNDER 88.5

2017 Wins: 83

We said then: A rotation that had a middling 4.33 ERA last year was supposed to be bolstered by the flamethrowing Alex Reyes, Baseball America's No. 4 overall prospect. But the 22-year-old tore his UCL in February, banishing any thought that St. Louis might challenge the Cubs.

What happened: The rotation turned out to be better, with a ninth-ranked 4.11 ERA, thanks largely to Lance Lynn (3.43 ERA) and Carlos Martinez (3.64).  But another middling season from the offense resulted in a second straight mediocre finish.

Tampa Bay Rays

Prediction: OVER 75.5

2017 Wins: 80

We said then: The Rays are perennially underfunded. In 2016 they were unlucky, too. Normal fortune, plus one of the AL's best rotations and a couple of advanced pitching prospects (Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell) make them the most attractive "over" pick on this list.

What happened: Their luck was appropriate, as one of four teams (along with the Braves, Red Sox and Rockies) whose Pythagorean record perfectly matched their real one. While the rotation got just 2.2 innings out of DeLeon and Honeywell, it was still the AL’s fifth best (4.12 ERA).

Toronto Blue Jays

Prediction: UNDER 85.5

2017 Wins: 76

We said then: Will Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce adequately replace Edwin Encarnacion, the departed AL RBI king? Probably not. Otherwise, this is now an aging club, with 15 members of its likely 25-man roster older than 31. It's not a formula for getting better.

What happened: Morales and Pearce barely combined to outproduce Encarnacion (41 homers and 122 RBIs, versus 38 and 107), but there are, you know, two of them.  That creaky roster spent 1,747 days on the DL, third most in the majors.

Washington Nationals

Prediction: OVER 90.5

2017 Wins: 97

We said then: For half a decade the Nationals have alternated 95+ win seasons with seasons of 86 wins or fewer. This is supposed to be the latter, but new import Adam Eaton, electric young shortstop Trea Turner and the return after a down year of a 10-WAR Bryce Harper will stop the oscillating.

What happened: It stopped, even though Eaton tore his ACL in April, Turner was out two months with a broken wrist and Harper, who himself missed more than 50 games, ended up with a 4.7 WAR.  A sixth-ranked offense and third-ranked rotation helped them overcome all that.



Los Angeles Angels

Prediction: UNDER 76.5

2017 Wins: 80

We said then: Mike Trout, with his annual 10 WAR, will never let the Angels be terrible. But two starters (Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano) lost to torn UCLs and a No. 1—Garrett Richards—trying to come back from one will mean an eighth straight season without a playoff win.

What happened: Trout was incredible, with a 6.8 WAR—the majors’ sixth best—in just 113 games, the others lost to a torn thumb.  Heaney and Richards made only 11 starts.  I don’t know. Andrelton Simmons was great?  I guess, just, Trout.

Miami Marlins

Prediction: UNDER 76.5

2017 Wins: 77

We said then: The September boating death of Jose Fernandez was devastating in so many ways, the least of which is to the Marlins' on-field fortunes. They still have one of the NL's best outfields, but a rotation topped by Wei-Yin Chen and Edinson Volquez won't be enough.

What happened: The rotation was indeed awful, with a 5.12 ERA. The outfield was even better than expected, as Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich slugged 114 homers and drove in 337 runs – just enough to cost me a 22nd win.

Milwaukee Brewers

Prediction: UNDER 71.5

2017 Wins: 86

We said then: As owner Mark Attanasio told MLB.com in January, "It is essential that we do this rebuild correctly, and I think if we get too hung up on wins and losses, we're maybe not doing it [right]." In other words, while Milwaukee's farm system is excellent, its major league roster is lacking.

What happened: I definitely didn’t anticipate 30+ homers from Domingo Santana, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames, nor sub-3.90 ERAs from Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson. David Stearns is a good G.M.

New York Mets

Prediction: OVER 90.5

2017 Wins: 70

We said then: Bartolo Colon is gone—!—but the Mets made the playoffs in 2016 despite a ridiculous run of injuries: Only one regular, Curtis Granderson, played more than 142 games, and they eventually lost 80% of their projected rotation. Even average health should translate into at least 95 wins.

What happened: It can always get worse, when you’re the Mets.

New York Yankees

Prediction: UNDER 83.5

2017 Wins: 91

We said then: GM Brian Cashman's 2016 trade-deadline maneuverings mean the Yankees of 2019 will be a force. But what about in the interim? Avoiding the club's first losing season since 1992 seems a reasonable goal. A suspect rotation behind Masahiro Tanaka suggests if they achieve it, it won't be by much.

What happened: I didn’t imagine that Luis Severino would vault into becoming a Cy Young contender, nor that CC Sabathia would return to being a borderline one.  And, AARON JUDGE.

San Diego Padres

Prediction: UNDER 64.5

2017 Wins: 71

We said then: They've got one star-level hitter left, Wil Myers, and their new veteran rotation leader, Jered Weaver, can no longer throw even 88 miles per hour. The farm system is fertile, but it won't mature in time to keep the Padres from becoming the majors' only 100-game losers.

What happened: Weaver was horrible (he retired in August with a 7.44 ERA), and the Padres were horrible – much more horrible than their record.  Their -212 run differential should, mathematically, have resulted in 13 extra losses.  I guess losing 100 games is hard.

San Francisco Giants

Prediction: OVER 87.5

2017 Wins: 64

We said then: The Giants have won 88, 84 and 87 games over the last three years. They have virtually all of last year's key pieces and seem a lock to finish in that range again. A full season of Matt Moore and a solid new closer in Mark Melancon should be worth an extra win over last year.

What happened: A motor bike accident for Madison Bumgarner.  Simultaneous regressions from Melancon and Moore, as well as Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.  Not a single hitter among the league’s top 126 in homers.  Et cetera.

Seattle Mariners

Prediction: OVER 85.5

2017 Wins: 78

We said then: GM Jerry Dipoto's hyperactive winter brought 26 new faces to Seattle's spring camp. The nucleus, though, remains the same—and it's a good one, as the club ranked sixth in runs scored and eighth in ERA in 2016. Dipoto's fiddling should, at worst, ensure a repeat performance.

What happened: James Paxton: 24 starts.  Felix Hernandez: 16 starts.  Hisashi Iwakuma: six starts.  Ariel Miranda: 29 starts.  That’s what happened.

Texas Rangers

Prediction: OVER 85.5

2017 Wins: 78

We said then: Yes, the Rangers played over their heads last year; they only had a +8 run differential. But a 10-win decline seems too precipitous for an offense loaded with talent young (Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor) and old (Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli) and a rotation topped by Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels.

What happened: Their run differential was just 25 runs worse, but they won 17 fewer games.  Ignore the luck gods at your peril.


You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)