It's never too early to look at some of last season's betting trends on MLB odds and decide if they will affect this season. Here the top two 'over' and 'under' teams from 2014.
Minnesota Twins: 87-69-6 'over/under'
The Twins' 'over' percentage of 55.8 was tops in baseball as was their 87 'over' games. What should we make of that? It certainly didn't help Minnesota in the standings as the Twins finished 70-92 and last in the American League Central. That cost Manager Ron Gardenhire his job, and he has been replaced by former Twin and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
It might surprise you to know that Minnesota finished seventh in baseball last year by scoring 715 runs. Most casual baseball fans can probably only name one every-day Twin: former All-Star and AL batting champion Joe Mauer. He actually didn't have a great season, playing in just 120 games (Mauer has been very injury-prone in recent years) and batting .277 with four homers and 55 RBIs. His contract is now one of the worst in the majors. No, the main reason so many games went 'over' was that Minnesota's pitching staff had a combined ERA of just 4.57, which was 29th in baseball. Phil Hughes was terrific in the rotation but that was about it. Fellow big free-agent addition Ricky Nolasco was a bust, going 6-12 with a 5.38 ERA. That group needs major help.
Detroit Tigers: 86-76-3 'over/under'
That the Tigers were among the 'over' leaders in the MLB odds this 2014 isn't probably a surprise as Detroit again had one of the majors' best lineups despite some regression from two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers still ranked No. 2 in baseball with 757 runs, behind only the Angels (773). A healthy Victor Martinez had his best season, batting .335 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs to help offset Cabrera's slight step back. That earned Martinez a four-year, $70 million extension this week despite the fact he can only play designated hitter or first base and is 36 years old.
What may surprise people is that a pitching staff of Cy Young winners Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price (after the July 31 trade deadline) as well as very good Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez had a combined ERA of only 4.10, 24th in baseball. Verlander had a down season, sure, but really that bloated ERA is mostly on the leaky bullpen that again cost the Tigers in the playoffs. They will address that this offseason.
San Diego Padres: 61-95-6 'over/under'
All those 'under' games are about a lack of offense for San Diego. For a while there, the Padres were on pace to become the worst offensive team in big-league history. In mid-July the Padres were hitting .214 as a team, which was a whopping 23 points lower than the club with the second-worst mark. That would have tied the 1968 Yankees for the worst average in the last 100 years.
San Diego did play better after the All-Star break but still hit only .226 overall, which was 12 points worse than No. 29 Cincinnati. The Padres' 535 runs were 48 fewer than No. 29 Atlanta. San Diego's leading hitter among regulars was Seth Smith and he hit just .266. Sure, San Diego had some injury problems to guys like Everth Cabrera, Jedd Gyorko and Carlos Quentin, to name three, but this is by far the worst offensive team in the majors. The pitching staff was very good, ranking No. 4 with a 3.27 ERA. Playing 81 games in pitcher-friendly Petco Park obviously helps the guys on the mound and hurts those at the plate.
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Atlanta Braves: 63-86-13 'over/under'
The Atlanta Braves have some really good offensive players like Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis and Justin Upton. Yet the Braves finished second-to-last with 573 runs and fourth in most strikeouts. Freeman played every game and led the team with a .288 average while hitting 18 homers and knocking in 78 but more was expected. Heyward underachieved with a .271 average and 11 homers and 58 RBIs. Gattis had some injury problems but 22 homers. No complaints with Upton's 29 homers and 102 RBIs. But brother Justin might have been the worst position player in baseball, batting .208 with five homers, 17 RBIs and 173 strikeouts in 519 at-bats. Right now, he's one of the 10-worst free-agent signings in MLB history. The Braves want to trade him, but they could cut Upton tomorrow, throw in a lifetime supply of baseballs and no team would take that contract.
It's a shame the offense couldn't back a very good pitching staff that had a combined 3.38 ERA despite losing guys like Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen to season-ending injuries last spring. Free-agent addition Ervin Santana had a nice season but he was just on a one-year deal and likely to walk.