If your NCAA Tournament brackets are already busted, then maybe it's time you turned your attention to baseball and some soft win totals still out there on the MLB futures odds board.
Have to confess to being confused when I first got this assignment, which were the 'best and worst win totals' available on MLB futures odds. What exactly were the best and worst? Was it the best lines for bettors to play or the best lines for sportsbooks?
Eventually, I settled on going with the sharp and soft lines angle. At this point on the calendar, it can be argued that all lines are either too sharp with no edge 'over' or 'under,' or that all lines are soft and can be exploited, though a few stand out to fit those definitions.
Angels & D-Backs Both Tough Calls
One of the toughest win totals for me to figure belongs to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Orange County California, or whatever their official name is. The Halos are on 79½, and apparently I'm not alone in which way to play it with Bookmaker reporting a 50/50 split in the action. Most sportsbooks have the Anaheim Nine picked fourth in the AL West on a 10/1 return, so a total shy of 81 is certainly easy to see.
But any team that has Mike Trout, the game's best player, on its roster is always a threat to win. Mike Scioscia's team has been playing better than the break-even plateau in the Cactus League, and while spring games are often poor barometers for the regular season it's still worth mentioning. The offensive potential is clearly there, but questions on the mound leave me thinking playing the Angels high or low on 79½ carries too much risk either way.
Another team playing good ball out west in the Cactus League this spring is Arizona, and the Diamondbacks have a lot in common with the Angels. Their win total is just a tad lower at 77½, and like the Angels they are picked to finish fourth in the NL West at 18/1. The Snakes are just above .500 this spring and have the potential for a nice starting staff if Zack Greinke can get back close to his old form while young arms like Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin take a step forward. Too many questions persist, though, and while I like them more on the 'over' 77½ than the 'under,' I won't be risking my bankroll either way.
Rangers One Of Best 'Over' Wagers
One team sporting a soft win total is Cincinnati, the Reds one of two National League crews that I feel has a good chance to lose 100. We saw Cincinnati go out with a 70½ win total in Las Vegas, that figure settling to 69½ at most offshore betting outlets. The Reds are in full-blown rebuild mode, and there's talk they could trade away even more veterans -- though that cupboard is getting bare. I've got them down for 90+ losses without much sweat and definitely like them 'under' 69½.
Let's wrap things up by heading back to the AL West where we started, and end this edition of free baseball picks on a winning note. The Texas Rangers are listed with a respectable 85½ win total, and I definitely like them on the high side of that number. The Rangers should have a strong 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation in Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, and the potential is there for a nice three-headed relief corps (Dyson, Bush, Jeffress). Veteran sticks like Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli will lead young up-&-comers Roughned Odor and Nomar Mazara on offense, and my crystal ball says Texas is a strong threat to bust through the 90-win barrier.