It all started exactly 2 years ago for me here at SBR, as I introduced my method of predicting O/U season win totals using sabermetrics based projection systems. My model hit at over 75% that year and I've been cashing tickets ever since. Read on as we discuss this year's results for the NL East.
One of the most common metrics discussed in sabermetrics is WAR, or Wins Above Replacement. This metric takes into account many separate statistics and combines them into a single value indicating how much more valuable, or not, a player is compared to a replacement level player. These individual projections can be combined to create a WAR value for an entire MLB roster, and therefore a likely win-loss record for the upcoming MLB season.
I have narrowed down my WAR projection system of choice to Steamer over at fangraphs.com, and because it is a bit optimistic, I am raising the bar 3 games against futures lines for my Under calls. Using this method Under calls cashed at 88% in 2015 and 69% in 2016. Using a buffer of 5 games, Over calls cashed at 63% last year. Anything in between is a pass for me.
Let's take a look at the season record projections for the NL East using Steamer and see if we can't uncover some betting value when compared to the season O/U futures and the overall NL East division race.
Miami Powers Themselves Over 76.5 Games in 2017:
Despite having the worst projected pitching staff in the NL East, my model picks the Marlins as the only team worth an Over wager in the division. The reason is quite simple, in that they have a lineup projected to put up 18.3 WAR alone, including Christian Yelich (3.9 WAR), Giancarlo Stanton (3.7 WAR), Marcell Ozuna (2.4 WAR), J.T. Realmuto (2.2 WAR), and Martin Prado (2.1 WAR). That is a heart of a lineup that most teams would drool over, and my model likes them to overcome the deficiencies of their pitching staff.
The strongest Under call for my model belongs to the New York Mets, not just in this division, but in the entire major leagues. I know less than a game doesn't look like much, but remember this is an optimistic model where ‘everything goes right'. That optimism is also evident in the model projecting more wins across the league than there are games played, hence the 3-game adjustment for Under calls. The Mets are in the bottom third in the MLB in projected offense, and are behind Miami and Washington in their own division. Their bar of 88.5 games won is very high considering they are getting outhit by the teams they will play 34 combined times this year. New York Mets Under 88.5 games is definitely a wager I will be making this season. That also makes a pick on the Washington Nationals to win the division at -140 a pretty good idea.
The other Under call in this division is the Atlanta Braves. They were projected by my model to win 71 games last year, which was over their O/U bar set at 66.5 games. That wager won for me as they won 68 games, and now the bar has been set at 73.5 games for the 2017 season at Bovada. Projections have the Braves increasing their WAR for their pitching staff by over three games, but their offense is still projected to rank near dead last in the league. Their projected pitching is still on pace to be in the bottom 20% of the league too. Either way, the Braves and Phillies look to be beat up all year by the other 3 teams in their division, so I am inclined to agree with the model on the Under call in this case.