2018 Sabermetrics Futures Model: AL Best Bets

texas rangers

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 11:29 AM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2018 11:29 AM UTC

MLB handicapper Mark Lathrop presents his win total model for the American League here, as some Under calls present the best value on the board.

It’s the 4th year of putting together my sabermetrics-based futures model for MLB, and this time I’m going to show you all of the consolidated results for each league in one place. After the model hit at nearly 80% in 2015, it followed up with 67% seasons in 2016 and 2017. Last year was especially good for Overs, which hit 7-for-8 and an 88% clip. Let’s take a look at the American League. Please note that all rosters have been adjusted for injuries and signings up to March 25.

The projection models this year are optimistic by 2 games over the MLB futures odds available. What I mean by that is that the total wins projected by the models is 2 wins more than needed to cover futures totals. One reason for this is that the models have a hard time projecting for missing time due to injuries. This results in a range of teams that should be passed on, as the projections are too close to the lines to have an edge. In addition, I have included this year a strength of schedule adjustment calculated over at FanGraphs. The results for the American League reflect a futures market that looks rather sharp, with the Over leans being weaker than those in the National League. Some strong plays still remain, however.

TEAM Projected Wins O/U (Bovada) FG SOS ADJ Diff. Lean
LAA 89.64 84.5 -1.4 3.74 Over
BAL 78.97 73 -2.5 3.47 Over
TOR 85.08 81 -1 3.08 Over
HOU 99.14 96.5 0.2 2.84 Pass
BOS 94.39 91.5 -0.1 2.79 Pass
CLE 94.97 94.5 2.3 2.77 Pass
OAK 78.48 74.5 -1.5 2.48 Pass
NYY 96.14 94.5 -0.1 1.53 Under
KC 72.66 71.5 0.2 1.36 Under
MIN 82.17 82.5 1.6 1.27 Under
DET 69.36 68.5 0.2 1.06 Under
TB 78.77 77.5 -1.5 -0.23 Under
CWS 67.13 68 -0.5 -1.37 Under
SEA 81.78 81.5 -1.9 -1.62 Under
TEX 77.32 77.5 -3 -3.18 Under

Texas Rangers: Under 77.5 Wins

The Rangers have the worst projected win total in the AL West in my model, yet don’t have the lowest futures mark at 77.5 games. It could be argued that the Rangers will split their games with Oakland and Seattle, but they are easily projected to lose the season series to the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels. That should be a losing record over 38 games for the Rangers and is also the reason why FanGraphs gives them a -3 strength of schedule adjustment. They were a strong Under lean before the adjustment but are now the best Under call projected in my model.

Tampa Bay Rays: Under 77.5 Wins

This is another scenario of the weakest team in a strong division. They weren’t the weakest team until just recently, when the Baltimore Orioles picked up one of the better remaining free agents in Alex Cobb. Those expected wins slide over from Tampa to Baltimore, and the back end of the Rays rotation could have used Cobb again. They do have a superstar in the making in ace Chris Archer, but their starting lineup only has one player projected to put up over 100 wRC+. That player is Brad Miller, who put up 83 wRC+ last year, so he has a bit of work to do. Steven Souza Jr. and Evan Longoria were lost over the winter as well. The Rays only have two starting pitchers projected to pitch over 160 innings this year, and an injury to any starting pitcher will spell their demise.

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