Analyzing MLB season win totals 

March, 4, 2011

The other day my 7-year-old son came to me with a problem. He's got a pretty long bus ride to school every day and it seems he was getting bored. He can't read because it makes him sick to his stomach while the bus is moving. He can't draw because they won't let him use pens or pencils or markers on the bus. Lately his buddy Sam just wants to pick on one of the kindergartners and, I was happy to hear, my boy didn't really feel like doing that. So I asked him, "What did you do before you became bored?"

"I talked with my friends about Bakugan and Bey Blades," he said, referring to a couple of battle-themed games all the kids are playing these days. "But now, everyone wants to talk about the Yankees."

"Well," I said. "I happen to know a lot about sports. I could probably help you with that."

"Nahh," he answered, "I don't care about the Yankees. I just wish everyone would stop talking about them."

Live in the New York area and that's what you're stuck with: the Yankees (and the broke New York Mets). The thing is, if you went to Vegas right now and eavesdropped on a couple of squares staring at MLB season win totals, you'd probably hear the same thing. Baseball is no different than football in that there are teams the public thinks they know everything about, and will therefore bet. The Boston Red Sox are on that list; the Yankees are on it, too. The Chicago Cubs usually make it and, this year, so do the Philadelphia Phillies. These are baseball's public teams.

And, in most cases, you should avoid betting on their season-win totals at all costs. Because of suckers like you, the numbers -- Philly at 97, the BoSox at 95 and the Yankees at 91.5 -- are inflated and overpriced. "Almost always, bookmakers are going to shade win totals for every team, especially the big names, over," said Vegas vet Jeff Whitelaw. "That's why I look for the unders."