Opening day is almost here, and the Red Sox are looking for another strong season. What are the odds that they repeat as World Series champions? What individual bets might make sense for Red Sox players, and which ones would I avoid? (All over-under and lines from Bovada)
Red Sox wins: 87.5
This number closely mirrors the expected win totals of PECOTA and other projections systems. With their rotation intact to start the season, a deep bullpen and a potent offense, I think the Sox will reach 90 wins again this year.
Odds to win the AL East: +220
Bovada has the Rays at the same odds, so they are co-favorites along with the Red Sox. This one seems too close to call. If both teams are healthy, I would give the Red Sox the advantage as both teams haven’t changed much since last season.
Odds to win the World Series: 12 to 1
So many factors go into this that I wouldn’t make a bet on a World Series win. Were the Red Sox really that much better than the Tigers last season? That series turned on some slim margins, and it’s difficult to predict that the Sox will have the same combination of talent and luck that led to the 2013 crown.
For individual bets, here are a few overs I would predict where a Red Sox player outperforms his number, and a few where I would take the under.
Xander Bogaerts 14.5 HRs, .269 batting average
Bogaerts hit .307 with 20 Hrs in 2012 in the minors, and .297 with 15 HRs in 2013 in the minors. That’s with fewer games played than he should play this year. Manny Machado, a close comp to Bogaerts in terms of talent level, hit .283 with 14 home runs in his first full season.
I think Bogaerts will clear 14.5 and .269 comfortably. He’s the BRSPSN (Best Red Sox Prospect Since Nomar), and 2014 should be a big year for him. He gets all my votes already for Rookie of the Year.
Jon Lester 179.5 strikeouts
Lester last cleared 200 strikeouts in 2010, and his K rate per nine innings has dipped a bit. He struck out 177 last season, and I’m predicting another strong year in 2014 where he clears 180.
Betting the under:
Shane Victorino 24.5 stolen bases
Coming off 21 steals in 2014, I expect Victorino to run less and less each season. He always seems to have a nagging injury, and last year they were back and hamstring problems. These are the types of injuries that can reoccur, and certainly hamper a player’s speed. Plus, he’s already dealing with an oblique problem in Spring Training. I would take the under on stolen bases here.
Koji Uehara 35.5 saves
A good gambling maxim would be to never expect a career year two years in a row. Koji’s remarkable 2013 season may have been the best ever by a relief pitcher. John Farrell already stated that he would try to take it a little easier on Koji, and has several reliable options available in the bullpen. Koji could reach 40 saves with an injury free season (knocking on the biggest piece of wood nearby), but my guess is he doesn’t hit this mark.
Finally, some motivational material for Dustin Pedroia: Bovada has Jacoby Ellsbury as a 16/1 candidate to win the AL MVP, while Pedroia is at 20/1. I hope someone on the Red Sox staff has made Pedroia aware of this before the first series against the Yankees this year.