Friday, April 2, 2010

Baseball Season Over/Unders Are Here!

While everybody is licking their chops over the Final Four, let's take a quick moment to get my legendary season-long over/under guru on baseball - the nefarious and infamous "Mr. X." - to issue his pre-season report.

As always, these predictions from Mr. X are based on excellent and passionate baseball knowledge, a lifetime of wagering, melded together with a healthy dollop of cynicism, not wide-eyed fandom.

Also note, you MAY NOT be able to find these exact numbers at your local "shop." As Mr. X told me this spring, the numbers have been ALL OVER THE PLACE this year, more than he's ever seen. He's glad he got in on some picks early. But remember, there is NO such thing as a "bad" line move, it is just an opportunity to hedge your bets in another direction.

So without further adieu, I present Mr. X's pre-season report. Enjoy, and be safe.

Or, as "X" would say: "Only bet as much as you can afford............ to WIN!"

Mr. X Baseball, 2010

First, the gloat:
Ah, the streak goes on. Last year, my two “locks” got home easy. In May I got lots of “negative feedback” on the BlueJays UNDER pick when they were atop the Al East.

But in the end, were right where I said they’d be. The schedule was unbalanced, so their 2nd half was brutal, and they do play them all. Dodgers over was the other lock of 09. WWCD.

2009 marked the 10th year of making picks for Zabe and his “documenting”. After jumping out to an 11-1 start the first 2 seasons (91%), of course there was nowhere to go but down. But last year’s 2-0 allowed me to finish the decade 47-15, (76% clip). Works for me!

Rules of the road: If you look at your picks, and don’t see about as many UNDERS as overs, go back and start over. Every “over” player will moan about injuries and “off years”. Duh – that’s what makes unders. If you need everything to break right to go over, then skip it.

On to 2010
If you are getting this late in the game, well, I can’t help it. I can’t recall line moves like this in 15 or so years since the off shore movement began. The last time I recall this was in ’02 (I think) when I won both sides of the Astros, when they went from 82 to 87.5. Played over early, played under late. Came home on 87 I think it was. Rarely will you see moves of totals, (just odds). Let’s look back to last year. Both my “early locks” moved to very high juice. La/Tor both ended up at -200. But, the totals didn’t move. Nobody makes a living laying -200, but I convinced everyone last year to do it, because “a win is a win”, so take it. This year, the totals are moving. But, here’s the two I grabbed early:

1. Nationals over 67.
Easy winner. You can actually recognize their bench now. It used to look like the Indians in Major League. They have a solid player at all 5 infield positions (except for Dunn’s defense). They have speed in the outfield with Morgan, Tavares, Maxwell, and decent vet in Willingham. Young pitching is not something you want to count on, but with vets like Marquis and Hernandez to eat up innings, their youngsters won’t have to be overworked. You don’t even need Strasburg to win this play, but he is huge upside wildcard. (Number now closer to 70.5, but still a play, just downgraded from “lock” to “winner”.)

2. Colorado over 81.5.
I know, this one has moved up recently too (84 now), couple that with the public loving them, and I can’t give a strong play to it.

Others if 2-0 isn’t good enough:

3. Angels under 84.
This team is finally ready to collapse. I don’t see them getting to .500 in a suddenly balance AL West. You can make a case that A’s over 78 is good play, but I don’t want both. With a balanced AL West, the edge shifts back to Beane, who has been without horses for a couple years. I’m a believer.

4. Royals over 71.5.
First one to .500 wins the Central and Twins are overrated. With such parity – or mediocrity in Central, they can all end up in high 70’s, so I’m on the one with the low number. It’s almost like a play against Cle, Min and Det.

5. Cubs under 83.
Why Piniella is thought so highly of, I’ll never understand. His last real accomplishment was the Reds team that won the Series in 1990. That one year wonder after 3 disappointing seasons with the Yanks. What, he gets a lifetime pass for one winner? I think 12 guys have managed a WS winner SINCE him. Are they all geniuses too? He had Griffy, A.Rod and R.Johnson in their prime and won 3 division titles in 10 years (in a 4 team division!) Grand total of one playoff series win. He managed a young talented TB team for 3 years and couldn’t get over 70. Cubs have had most talent in NL for his 3 years there, and have steadily declined. Fine, perhaps you can’t blame him for everything, but a grand total of 1 pennant and 1 WS isn’t a lot for a 22 year career! Sounds more like Gene Shue to me. (22 years and about as much success as Lou.)

6. Astros over 74.
See Royals writeup. Only Cards are good in that division. Most likely to sneak close to .500 is the Astros.

Leans: I didn’t pull the trigger on these, but was close.

7. White Sox over 80.5.
Simple really, Peavy. This team is as good as the Twins, and Peavy is a big upside. I also am impressed that this organization shows no hesitation to “go for it”, if close. While the Peavy deal last year didn’t pan out, the move still shows the organizations ability to pull the trigger if at all close. That gets them over .500 and a likely division crown. With an unbalanced schedule, just take the best team in division over .500 and stop there.

8. Dodgers under 86.5.
On paper, this one is a little too close. However, all I have to say is: Manny Ramirez. If this team doesn’t start fast, look out. The front office is poised to sell, and ever seen Manny perform when it “doesn’t matter”? He can carry this team – but I’m betting he won’t. Will Dodgers be forced to sell, like the Sox? Most likely. You just can’t put up with him if you aren’t about to win it. Lots of things could go wrong on this team, and that division is much better.

9. SD under 72, lock it up after Gonzalez is dealt.

Division Winners (at values):
Boston at +180
White Sox +140

A’s at +700 (I’m not sold on any of the other 3, so I’ll take the big dog here).
Philly wins at -175 (but that number is not playable) Cards win, but I can’t lay -250. With my $, I’d rather take shot on 7-1 Reds.

Rockies at +260 (felt a lot better about this last month, before the world jumped on them).

WC is Yanks and Cards.

Both of them are nice odds “WC winner” plays, if you can find that. Example, you get a better price on “Yanks WC” than you would on RedSox to win division and it essentially is the same play!

No “AL/NL” champs picks are worth the shot this year. It will be a “chalk year”, and no reason to lock in now as no price advantage. (Unlike my 2003 Marlins to win it all @500-1! But, reality is I took them to “win the NL, at 200-1”, not WS. Yes, Czabe, I had to get the reminder back in!)

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