MLB Odds: Predict 2016 NL East Season Wins Using Sabermetrics

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 3:33 PM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2016 3:33 PM GMT

Our expert handicapper is back with his method of using sabermetric to predict wins against O/U totals. Read on as he breaks up the MLB odds and picks of NL East!

Introduced in the 2015 season, my method of predicting O/U season win totals using two sabermetrics projection systems proved very profitable. 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 the league average. It’s such a popular metric that there are many versions of calculating and projecting it, such as fWAR (i.e. Fangraphs WAR) and Steamer. 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.

This season, I’m only using the Steamer projection system to create my win-loss totals projections. While the fWAR projections cashed over 66% of the time (20-10), there wasn’t a trend in which direction the system was stronger in. However, the Steamer projection system was stellar in indicating teams that would come in below their O/U win total (8-1 or 88.8%). Since the Steamer projections were across the MLB odds board, more bullish than the other systems, this year I’m including results that come within 2 games as “Under” leans. Given this same method last year the Unders would have cashed at a rate of 73.3%.

Let’s take a look at the season MLB picks and 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.

 

2016 Projections

TEAM

Projected WAR

Steamer Projected Wins

O/U (Bovada)

Diff.

Lean

ATL

20.3

71.69

66.5

5.19

Over

PHI

18.9

70.33

65.5

4.83

Pass

MIA

31.4

82.46

79.5

2.96

Pass

NYM

41.7

92.45

89.5

2.95

Pass

WAS

41.2

91.96

89.5

2.46

Pass

 

New York Mets
The Mets blew up their Steamer projections last year, exceeding their projected 76-win total by 14 games. They were the lone loser in the system, an outlier. This year, Bovada has caught up to the Mets and put a bar of 89.5 games on their O/U total. The Steamer projections indicate that line is just sharp enough for me to take a pass.

The Mets have a top 3 pitching staff in predicted WAR and a top 10 offensive lineup. They are well rounded, deep, and have three pitchers that are predicted to exceed 4 WAR in Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. The Mets also have six players on offense predicted to exceed 2 WAR. They are my pick to take the AL East again.

 

Washington Nationals
The Mets caused a flip flop in win totals in the AL East, which caused Steamer to be wrong about the Nationals too. This year the bar is lowered 4 games, as Bovada has their O/U line set at 89.5 wins. They are just behind the Mets in projected wins and odds to win the division as well. The Steamer projected wins indicate that this O/U line is sharp and bettors should pass.

Where the Mets are deep in talent, the Nationals have some superstars with huge projected WAR contributions in Bryce Harper (6.5 WAR), Max Scherzer (5.6 WAR), and Stephen Strasburg (4.8 WAR). This always perks my injury risk radar, as a loss of any one of these three for a significant amount of time would be disastrous for the Nationals. It’s just another reason to pass on backing them to win the division.

 

Miami Marlins
Steamer correctly picked that Miami would be a sub-.500 team last year, as they only won 71 games. This year, they are again asked to be nearly .500 with an O/U total at 79.5 at Bovada. The optimistic projection model indicates that line is pretty sharp, while the division odds of +600 is likely a fool’s errand.

The Marlins are extremely shallow in their pitching staff behind Jose Fernandez (4.9 WAR) and Wei-Yin Chen (2.8 WAR). That is obviously a reason for concern in their AL East division hopes. They are also a great example of what happens when a superstar goes down, as Giancarlo Stanton, who is projected to put up 5.1 WAR this year, missed significant time last year due to injury. Stay away from the Marlins this season.

 

Atlanta Braves
Steamer correctly picked that Atlanta would lose more than 73.5 games last year, and this year they have a very low bar of 66.5 games set for them at Bovada. The projection model has Atlanta winning at least 70 games, which would be a strong lean towards the Over.

Don’t get me wrong, Atlanta is going to be bad this year, and has the worst projected WAR of any pitching staff in the MLB. They also have the 28th projected offense in the league. I don’t know if these projections are really based on Atlanta, or the fact that they get to play Philadelphia a bunch of times this year. Probably the latter, but we shouldn’t care about that as long as the 'Over' is the right way to go.

 

Philadelphia Phillies
Steamer predicted that Philadelphia would be the worst team in the MLB last year and they were right, as they only won 63 games. This year, they are also predicted to win the least amount of games in the MLB, while they have the lowest O/U bar to clear at Bovada at 65.5 games. The slightly optimistic Steamer projections indicate the O/U line is just sharp enough to take a pass.

I would go into great detail here about why Philadelphia is going to lose a bunch of games, but they are in such a rebuilding mode I don’t recognize many of the players. They have three players on offense projected to be worth more than 1 WAR, and five on the pitching staff. Philadelphia is going to get beat up this year, but it’s also one of the reasons why the leader of this division is sure to have more than 90 wins.

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