MLB Future Bet
Texas Rangers under 49.5 % -105

Pinnacle  BET365 46.5% SportsInteraction  5DIMES  888Sport

Posted On July 17th

Texas Rangers under 49.5 % -105 (Available at BET365)

It’s understandable that we would look to 60-game samples from normal, non-pandemic regular seasons to figure out what this upcoming year is going to look like. What better guide could there be to the future than the past? We would argue that this year isn’t going to act like any sample from MLB’s history. The commonplace notion of team true talent is itself going to be distorted—like our lives have been—by COVID-19. The idea that play on the field this year will look anything like that of the previous seasons is flawed.

True talent is one of those terms that gets thrown around in sabermetric circles, sometimes without thinking deeply about what it means. A team’s “true talent” could be viewed as its ability to score and prevent runs over an infinite set of games. Of course, we never get an infinite series of games—even 162 contests really isn’t that many—so all we are privy to is a noisy estimate of a team’s true talent. There are problems with this concept even in a full season, because teams change over the course of the year: pitchers get hurt or get hot and/or the team makes midseason acquisitions. In a normal season, the idea of a team’s skill remaining mostly steady over the course of a six-month opportunity is relatively believable.

The trouble is that this season will be anything but normal. There are a half-dozen different factors making this year weird, from rules changes like the universal DH (which NL teams were unprepared for) to new, strange schedules (only playing nearby divisional opponents) to travel procedures that will see players limited to only their hotels when playing away series. But the biggest and most obvious factor is the virus itself.

Already we’ve seen nine players opt-out from the season because of the virus. What that means is that the roster each front office assembled on paper—the “true” talent—won’t be the one that takes the field in and around the 23rd of July. Even setting that aside, COVID-19 is likely to continuously remove players from the field at a much greater rate than we’re used to. Any positive test—even a false positive, which will happen—takes a player away for a minimum of a few days. It is for that reason, one would be taking a big risk when wagering on any team to go over their posted win percentage. 

The true talent we’re used to in watching baseball—founded on hitting, pitching, defense, and so on—will be confounded this year with a totally separate “talent” altogether: players’ ability to stay virus-free. The teams and rosters that take COVID-19 seriously, wear their masks, eat takeout, and don’t go out, will be the ones who can get the most at-bats to their quality players. Conversely, the COVID-19 deniers and those who believe themselves invincible will bring the virus into the bubbles, pulling whole groups of players out of action for days or weeks. And that wouldn’t be too much time in a regular season, but in the compressed, accelerated 60-game version we have, any absence can be enough to turn a playoff contender into an also-ran.

What applies to the Texas Rangers applies to every team in regards to the virus. We’re merely pointing out to be overly cautious about playing any team to go over their posted win percentage number. There are other variables to factor in as well, which we will get to in our fade target ---the Texas Rangers.

First up is the Rangers without the virus. Basically everyone on the 2019 Rangers overachieved and they couldn’t manage to crack 80 wins (78-84). Okay, fine, it wasn’t everybody. The bullpen could serve as the inspiration to a new season of American Horror Story. Every pitcher who wasn’t Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, or Rafael Montero (sidebar: wtf?) turned in performances only surpassed in incompetence by Marco Estrada after he left the Blue Jays. If you’re at the point of seeing what Rafael Montero has left, things have really taken a left turn even if it turns out he was decent.

Seriously though, Danny Santana was good. Hunter Pence was good. In limited time, Joey Gallo looked like a superstar. Nick Solak and Willie Calhoun proved they can hit even if they have the combined defensive aptitude of a grass Pokémon. Even Shin-Soo Choo put up an above league-average line. Working against this fade is that Gallo is ostensibly healthy, Mathis is relegated to backup/personal catching duties, and Todd Frazier is here to attempt to fill the Adrian Beltre-sized hole at third base. Working for us is that Santana is no longer a pleasant surprise and instead is the plan in center field. Even better is that Solak is the backup plan in center field. Oh, and they signed/traded for an entire rotation to back up Lynn and Minor.

It’s nice to know the Rangers front office can identify a problem because Ariel Jurado, Adrian Sampson, Drew Smyly, Kolby Allard, and Jesse Chavez combined for 60 starts last year. Shelby Miller, yes that Shelby Miller, made eight. Chavez had the lowest ERA among the group at 4.85. All told, 18 Rangers got the nod last year. A full third ended the year with ERAs over 7.00. We haven’t seen that kind of ineptitude in the face of a crisis since, ah, well, not so funny these days, is it?

Acquiring Corey Kluber for Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields was an absolute heist for Texas but that gives the Rangers one, count em, one reliable starter and one has to question if indeed he is reliable. He’s good but he struggled early last year before suffering a right ulna fracture in May. Subsequently, a left oblique strain ended his season. 2017 was his high-water and now he is one of the reasons that the Rangers win % number is 49.5% and not 44. After Kluber, the Rangers reeled in Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles on the free agent market. The Rangers also signed Joely Rodriguez, and have Allard, Jurado, Joe Palumbo, and Taylor Hearn kicking around as additional depth. Now the bullpen:

Jose Leclerc led the ‘19 team with 14 saves and is back to reprise his role as inconsistent but occasionally devastating reliever. We guess there’s, uh, Nick Goody? He might be the best Rangers reliever and he walked five per nine last year. Jonathan Hernandez has a live arm but implying he solves a bullpen problem when he had a 5.16 ERA in Double-A is like when parents solve a babysitter problem by having their 13-year-old watch their 10-year-old.

Now, the kicker, which is the schedule and the Rangers are up against it to be sure. The Rangers have 27 games combined against Houston, the Dodgers, the Athletics and Arizona. The Dodgers and Astros remain powerhouses while Arizona's front office has greatly impressed with the way it dealt with the most difficult payroll questions -- Paul Goldschmidt, and then Zack Greinke -- while adding talent and remaining competitive rather than tanking. Arizona has won 93, 82 and 85 games the past three seasons and will be the team most likely to challenge the Dodgers in the NL West. 

Oakland doesn't usually field stars, but the Athletics have elite players at first base, shortstop, third base, center field, designated hitter and in their bullpen and they’re going to be very good again. The Rangers also have 10 games against the Angels and the Angels over/under win % number is 53½%. Right there are 37 of their 60 games with the other remaining games made up by Seattle (10), Colorado (6), the Giants (3) and San Diego (4). The Rangers better go 15-8 or 16-7 against the M’s (41.5 percent over/under win total), Rocks (45.5%), Padres (51.5%) and Giants (42.5%) if they plan on playing .500 ball and that, my friends, is extremely unlikely.   

In conclusion, the names look pretty (Kluber, Lynn, Minor, Gallo, Frazier, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor) but there are flaws throughout, especially defensively. Furthermore, despite being one of the most jaw-dropping players in baseball, the Joey Gallo package also comes with incredible swing-and-miss problems, which has often left him as baseball’s most productive player who also can’t escape the specter of the Mendoza Line. Mike Minor was an All-Star last year but he also posted a strand rate that suppressed his ERA by nearly two runs below xERA (also remember, 2017 skills were as a reliever). Minor is a serviceable lefty who showed he could eat innings, but he's as good a bet as any to regress in 2020. So is Lance Lynn. Finally, that schedule is brutally tough and we will not overlook it in trusting that if the Rangers play great, have few injuries or sickness related DL stints, they’ll still be hard-pressed to play .500 ball.

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Texas Rangers under 49.5 % -105 (Risking 3.15 units - To Win: 3.00)

MLB Future Bet
Toronto Blue Jays under 46.5% -105

Pinnacle  BET365 46.5% SportsInteraction  5DIMES  888Sport

Posted On July 17th

Toronto Blue Jays under 46.5% -105 Available at BET365

The Blue Jays don’t represent a city, they represent a country and that means no team in baseball has a larger fan base. It also means that more people are rooting for the Blue Jays to do well, which in turn has said individuals wagering on them to go over the projected win percentage total of 46.5%. If the Blue Jays go over that number, we’ll be wondering how for years to come. We really hate to rain on anyone’s parade and especially on the Blue Jays and their fans because we are Canadian and know that the majority of our readers are Canadian and are rooting for the Blue Jays. To that we apologize but we’re not here to patronize. We’re here to take advantage of a bad projection and cash in on it. The posted win % is absurd.

The 2019 Blue Jays were never supposed to be good, but that didn’t stop them from being disappointing. Yes, last season was meant to be the official turning point of the franchise, the year when the Large Adult Sons of various baseballing heroes of the 1990s-2000s assembled to form the foundation of a winning team. It did not go as planned. Marcus Stroman led the team in WARP despite being banished to hell traded to the Mets in July. That means the best player who remained with the Blue Jays for the whole season was … Teoscar Hernandez. The recap can end there. 

You can neatly categorize Toronto’s entire lineup into three clear sections: The Show of Favoritism Infield, The Outfield of Failed Prospects, and Danny Jansen. Yes, we’re gonna talk about Reese McGuire too. Have some patience.

Let’s start on the dirt, where the Blue Jays are taking favoritism a bit too far even for today’s society. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. is the headliner here, of course. He held serve at the plate as a rookie, but played third base with all the grace and skill of a weeble. The only way Vladito won’t remain a first baseman is if he’s a DH instead. Somewhat surprisingly, the Son of Vlad was outperformed by the Son of Dante. Bo Bichette looked like a potential future star in his rookie campaign, impressing at the plate and in the field. But even more surprisingly, Bo was also outperformed by the Son of Craig. Yes, it was Cavan Biggio of all people who had the best Blue Jays debut in 2019 but the Jays couldn’t stop at three major-league offspring in their infield. No, they had to round out the set with Travis Shaw, whose father Jeff Shaw was a journeyman reliever from 1990-2001. Is Shaw any good? No. But he’s related to an ex-player, and that’s all that really counts. 

In the outfield, the players are less defined by their heritage and more by what they can’t do. Neither Hernandez nor Randal Grichuk can field or hit for average. Anthony Alford can’t stay healthy. Derek Fisher can’t do much of anything. Dalton Pompey is not only gone, but can’t prove he ever existed at all. It’s a sad collection of busted prospects save for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whose father was an Olympian and whose brother is major-leaguer Yuli Gurriel. Seriously, Blue Jays? What sort of daddy issues are you harbouring? 

Finally, we arrive at the backstops. We should talk first about young catcher Danny Jansen. Last year, we warned that the road ahead could be bumpy and sure enough, he veered straight into the ditch, as woes from the prior September persisted. Jansen started the first half of 2019 with a .188 batting average and only 4 HR and it would not be reasonable to expect him to be sharp out of the gate after being off for months. Backup Reese McGuire got caught using the ol Gabe Kapler coconut oil trick in his car. That was honestly the most interesting thing to happen to the 2019 Jays, and it happened in 2020.

While the Jays are banking on improvement from within the lineup, they correctly assessed that not even polite Canadians could live with the rotation again. As such, four out of Toronto’s five projected starters are new to the club. Hyun-Jin Ryu is the headliner now, lured up north by a four-year, $80 million contract. While a pessimist could point out that Ryu hasn’t reached 400 total innings over the past three seasons combined, an optimistic will correctly note that he’s been quite good when on the mound. If nothing else, he’ll team with Vladito and Rowdy Tellez to ensure the Jays lead the league in total facial circumference. 

The options behind Ryu are less inspiring, yet still far better than the various riff raff Toronto offered up as sacrificial lambs last year. Tanner Roark was signed to serve as Wade Miley’s AL East spiritual successor. Chase Anderson was acquired via trade in a sign of increasing tension between the U.S. and Canada. And Shun Yamaguchi is here now, too. How many baseball writers do we think will accidentally refer to this season as his “stateside debut?” The over/under starts at 40.  The competition for the remaining starting spot is uninspiring. Despite popular belief, Matt Shoemaker has not retired—he’s still on this roster. Trent Thornton did more to boost offensive output than the bouncy balls last year. T.J. Zeuch is one letter away from having a very cool name and three pitches away from having a very cool arsenal. Ryan Borucki is not fat enough to be named “Ryan Borucki.” It’s stunning this team let Mark Leiter, Jr. go.  Overall, this group is deep enough that it should help the Jays improve on what was the 22nd best group by ERA a season ago. Don’t hold your breath for a top-20 finish, though. And to Ryu, we say, this isn’t Dodger Stadium or the NL West. 

As is true of most “rebuilding” teams, the Jays have a pretty bad bullpen. Ken Giles is decent and has stopped punching things, but he doesn’t have much in the way of a supporting cast. Toronto made Sam Gaviglio throw 95.2 innings last season not because he was good nor because he was used as an “opener,” but rather because they had no one else. Wilmer Font is still better at generating puns than outs. The only reinforcement here is Anthony Bass, who actually pitched pretty well last season but who can’t outrun being an ex-Mariner.  The 2020 Jays aren’t supposed to win a ton of games. This group will help ensure that fate. Blue Jays fans just need to be prepared, because this group is not going to be close to .500. 

Finally, we have the schedule. Did the oddsmakers not know what the schedule looked like when they posted 46.5%? Let’s start with the Jays first 16 games. How about three against the always dangerous Rays, four against the world champion Nationals, three against the Phillies, three against the NL East Division favorite Atanta Braves and then three against the Red Sox. The Jays might be 5-11 if things go well and we haven’t even mentioned the 10 games they’ll face the Yankees in. Add seven more against the Rays, three more against both the Phillies and Mets and seven more against the Red Sox and it would be considered acceptable if the Jays won 30% of those games.

Allow us to write it out for you one more time:

10 games against the Yanks

10 games against the Rays

10 games against Boston

4 against Washington

6 against the Phillies

3 against Atlanta

3 against the Mets

That’s 46 games, leaving 14.

The Jays “easy” games will consist of 10 games versus the Orioles and four against the Marlins but it’s not going to matter because the Blue Jays will are not equipped to go 28-32 to beat us. Their outfield is atrocious. Their lineup is thin, their rotation devoid of any upside and we haven’t even considered injuries or COVID related missed games. The Jays look headed in the right direction, but most of the journey still lies ahead. We’re still a year or two at best from the Jays being relevant again and if Blue Jays fans don’t like that, well, they can just pretend this projection came from Sherwood Jr. This is a strong wager.

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Get all the details here

Play:


Our Pick

Toronto Blue Jays under 46.5% -105 (Risking 3.15 units - To Win: 3.00)

Bet at 5dimes