The release of the FanDuel (among others) 2021 MLB win lines allows us to compare with the BettorUpMLB win projections to identify potential wagering opportunities. Two caveats:
This is an initial look. Spring training playing time decisions and the potential for injury can still impact win totals. Last season, seemingly hours after drafting Noah Syndergaard for a fantasy team, he blew his arm out. As a result, I wait and make final decisions just before Opening Day.
Second, in the Peta methodology that serves as BettorUpMLB’s backbone, a four-game deviation from the sports book line is sufficient cushion to place a wager. Given the issues applying 60-game stats to a 162-game season, I am insisting on a much higher spread.
Nevertheless, we still see potential opportunities:
Athletics (FanDuel 86.5) – The BettorUpMLB methodology uses FanGraphs (FG) BaseRuns as its starting point. In this case, FG BaseRuns assessed Oakland’s actual 2020 record as overperforming the underlying numbers by four wins. FG also projects significant WAR declines season-over-season in hitting and relief pitching, lowering still further projected runs scored and increasing runs allowed.
Cleveland (FanDuel 81.5) – Similar to the As, the Indians 2020 actual record was two games better than the underlying numbers. Despite losing Lindor, the offense takes less of a hit than pitching. While there might be a number of arms, none beyond Shane Bieber seem to yet impress FG WAR calculators.
Reds (FanDuel 81.5) – BettorUpMLB swims against the tide of many analysts who see the Reds as Central Division contenders. While FG BaseRuns suggest the Reds under-performed their 2020 record by two games, FG WAR projections suggest significant year-over-year reductions in runs scored and allowed.
Blue Jays (FanDuel 86) – A team that overperformed its underlying 2020 numbers by three games, the Blue Jays offseason acquisitions, combined with the expected maturation of their young stars, makes the Jays — not the Rays — as the most likely challenger to the Yankees.
Braves (FanDuel 91.5) – FG BaseRuns suggest the Braves 2020 record could have been two games to the better. While projected FG scoring stays about the same year-over-year, the FG 2021 WAR increase in starting pitching fuels another potential division championship.
Dodgers (FanDuel 103.5) – No one wants to take the Over on a hundred plus wins, but the Dodgers are simply not regressing. While neutral in 2020 FG BaseRuns; depth, maturation of young stars, and the addition of Trevor Bauer points to another 100+ win season.
Orioles (FanDuel 63.5) – In 2020, no two teams gave me greater pause in betting the Over than the Orioles and Tigers. Both delivered. The Orioles are back on the list for a second year with their 2020 FG BaseRuns underly this potential wager. The 2020 Angels and Orioles were the two MLB teams that FG BaseRuns indicated were five games betterthan their actual record. The Orioles 2021 FG WARs do not suggest any significant improvement in talent but neither does it suggest regression.
Rangers (FanDuel 67.5)—Like the Dodgers, another FG BaseRuns neutral team (and the comparisons to the LAD stop there), even the modest projected improvement in 2021 hitting over 2020 (+4.7) and pitching (+8) WAR makes a difference.