MLB Coverage: Reviewing National League Win Props

We’ve got 8-plus weeks to go in baseball’s regular season, and while the playoff races are the main topic, let’s also not overlook how each team is faring against its preseason win prop—the number posted on Las Vegas where you can bet the Over/Under on how games each will win.

TheSportsNotebook’s preseason MLB coverage includes the win futures and a prediction on how each team will fare. In this post we’ll look at how the National League looks. The landscape is divided into four categories.

If a team’s winning percentage projects out to exceeding or missing the win prop by 10-plus games they’re in the Landslide category. It would take something extremely dramatic to change the bottom line. If the range is from 5 ½ to 9 ½ games it’s Solid. The final result is likely to hold firm, but there will be a couple that won’t, and it wouldn’t be anything historic. Teams whose current pace shows them within 1-5 games of the final number are Within The Margin Of Error, to borrow a phrase from political polling. And if a team is either even, or within a half-game, the betting markets are Dead On.

Here’s how everyone sorts out in the NL, complete with full disclosure on how TheSportsNotebook’s picks are faring…

Over: Pittsburgh
Under: Washington, Milwaukee, San Francisco
The Pirates’ 98-win pace is beating the number by 21 ½ games and that’s the biggest spread in either direction in all of baseball. While I don’t advocate making this criteria the be-all end-all for Manager of the Year, I think it certainly puts the burden of proof on anyone who wants to go in a different direction than Clint Hurdle.

I spent yesterday lambasting the Nationals, so I’ll spare more negative commentary here. Obviously San Francisco has gone through a tough year after their 2012 World Series title run, and even though Milwaukee’s number was a modest 80.5, the fact they’re dealing with a landslide in the wrong direction is just one more reason—along with Ryan Braun—to be glad football season is almost here.

TheSportsNotebook has split on these two, missing the Pirates and the Nats.

Over: Atlanta, St. Louis
Under: Philadelphia
Expectations for St. Louis were surprisingly tame this year, with a modest 86.5 win prop that was the same as the injury-riddled New York Yankees. The Cards are within a half-game of moving up into the landslide category, and that’s after having just gone through their worst stretch of the season.

Unfortunately for me, it’s the only team in this group I got right. I was too high on the Phils, too low on the Braves.

Over: ChiCubs, Colorado
Under: NY Mets, Cincinnati, LA Dodgers
The Dodgers are still four games under their 92-win projection which tells you both how high expectations were, and how big that hole was they dug themselves. The cases of Colorado and the New York Mets are another reason I like this measuring stick—if you’re a fan of either team, I think beating Vegas expectations (74 for the Mets, 71.5 for the Rockies) would be something legitimate for each rebuilding club to hang its hat on.

TheSportsNotebook is 3-2 in this group right now, and with my subpar showing among the teams who are winning by a wide margin, I’m going to need to win a majority of these close ones here. Not a comfortable spot to be in.

DEAD ON: Miami, Arizona, San Diego
Arizona was beating its 82-win number comfortably until coming back to the pack of late. The same goes for San Diego, which is shooting for 75 wins. The Marlins need only get to 64-98 to reward “optimists” in their camp.

That leaves me 6-6-3 on the National League, with a dependence on winning the close races. It’s the opposite of the American League where I’m running a strong 9-4-2 and looking good with the teams where the margin is looking decisive. Click here to read the American League win prop landscape.