This was so much easier last year, when nobody except baseball nerds and savvy gamblers knew the name Nate Silver. Now, thanks to his election predictions (and, to be fair, the fortunes he made us all on the Rays last year) he's a media sensation. And as a result, the books appear to be wise to the predictive power of PECOTA. Here's how you can tell that the books are on to us: the Win Total Over/Under on the Royals this year is 76.5.
Anyway, the pickings are slim this year. In the space below I've cut and pasted my email to Hambone from Monday with my initial MLB Win Total leans. I expect to post final picks some time next week, after discussion and opportunity to look at the projections of CHONE and other models. One thought I've had is to maybe make a lot of smaller plays on several of these teams, as opposed to last year's massive cash dump on a couple obvious plays. Your input is welcome and encouraged in the comments.
Baltimore Orioles Over 73.5 +110 (The Greek): it's even money elsewhere, PECOTA projects 77 wins and one of the best offenses in baseball, which makes sense when you consider their personnel. If they find some pitching they might get to .500.
Chi White Sox Under 79.5 -170 (BetUS), Under 78.5 -120 (WSEX): Iffy here because PECOTA always sells the Sox short because they're so old- projects 74 wins in 2009. It expects everyone to get injured, usually one or two of the senior citizens defies the odds.
Colorado Rockies Under 77.5 -125 (BetUS): PECOTA says 72. I like this one. If you look at the projects behind the 72 wins, none of them look overly pessimistic and some even look a little optimistic.
Detroit Tigers Over 82.5 +105 (BetUS): PECOTA says 85. PECOTA and +105 = value.
Florida Marlins Under 76.5 -130 (WSEX): Good WSEX line-shopping value here, it's -135 and -140 at the other two sites. PECOTA says 70 wins. PECOTA also expects Volstad and Maybin to kinda suck, which concerns me, but what do I know?
Houston Astros Under 74.5 -135 (The Greek): Nope, I'm not gonna spout an overused movie quote here. Anyway, value here with BetUS at -150. PECOTA projects 68 wins. This one is the rare play that goes in the "Definite" pile.
LAAofA Under 89.5 -130 (BetUS): eh. PECOTA says 83. It's a definite play without the juice, with the juice I'm less enthused.
L.A. Dodgers Over 82.5 -200 (BetUS) or Over 83.5 -150 (WSEX): I guess the books dealt with the Manny uncertainty differently, maybe WSEX gave them an extra game to cushion against his likely signing back in February. I like the WSEX line a lot better, I'll check it in the line comparison tool to make sure but it seems like a no-brainer. PECOTA says 91 with Manny on board. Giggity giggity.
Mil Brewers Over 80.5 -125 (WSEX): Good value again at WSEX, with the price at -140 and -145 elsewhere. It pays to line-shop. PECOTA says 85. I'm concerned about them getting too far behind the Cubs and getting cheap at the trading deadline and moving Prince Fielder or something, but I think they'll stay close.
Minnesota Twins Under 83.5 -105 (BetUS): PECOTA says 76. Book it. Easy as that.
Tampa Bay Rays Over 88 -150 (WSEX): Dare we tempt fate again? The team that made Nate Silver famous is projected to 95 wins this year. That's a lot of wins.
Toronto Blue Jays Under 79.5 -140 (WSEX): It's Under 80.5 -190 elsewhere, but this looks better to me. PECOTA says 73. If the Rays are gonna win 95, the Os are gonna win 77, and the Sox and Yanks are the Sox and Yanks, this team is in deep trouble.
Washington Nationals Over 71.5 -125 (WSEX): More WSEX value, with the price at -130 and -135 elsewhere. PECOTA says 76. Not the best value here, but if there's any value, I'm gonna play it, if only as a way to keep myself sane as I pay thousands for season tickets and spend countless hours at the ballpark to watch an also-ran for the fifth consecutive summer. It's exhausting.