Nick Gordon
Minnesota Twins infielder Nick Gordon fields a ball during baseball spring training at Hammond Stadium Tuesday March 15, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)


Mike Shara

The 2022 season is upon us (finally). What a relief for fans and bettors alike. Baseball’s regular season is unlike any other sport’s – it means six months of having games to watch every day and bet on every day. One bet I always like to make before the season gets underway is in predicted over/under wins totals. Even in a normal season there are opportunities to pounce on oddsmakers early. In a truncated offseason/spring training/free agent signing period I believe there are even more pouncing opportunities this year. Let’s have a look at a few of them that jumped out to me in mid-March:

OAKLAND ATHLETICS (over/under 78.5 wins on Unibet)
The A’s are sort of the west coast Tampa Bay Rays in that they manage to keep trading away expensive marquee players and keep on winning games, but this season looks like it’ll be a real step back. Last year they won 86 games, but it won’t even be close to the same team. The only three players who had over 600 at-bats for Oakland in 2021 (Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Mark Canha) will all be on other teams, they won’t get Starlin Marte’s superb first half again and starting center fielder Ramon Laureano will miss the first two months due to a PED suspension. They’ve already traded co-ace Chris Bassitt and will presumably unload at least one more good starter (Sean Manaea or Frankie Montas) before the season starts. They don’t have any top tier homegrown prospects looking to break into the majors either. Seattle and Houston are already playoff level teams, Texas has definitely upgraded and the Angels should be healthier, too. You know the expression that if you don’t know who the asshole in the room is, then it’s you? Well, if the A’s don’t yet know who the worst team in their division is, they’re going to find out very soon. 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (over/under 85.5 on PointsBet)
Just across the bay we have another good play, but on the opposite side of the spectrum. San Francisco has lost some key players from last year’s team (Kevin Gausman, Buster Posey) but they’ve already replaced Gausman with Carlos Rodon and added Carlos Martinez and Jacob Junis for rotational depth. Top prospect Joey Bart looks ready to replace Posey behind the plate and they aren’t done adding yet (maybe a Kris Bryant return?). No one envisioned the Giants winning 107 games in the 2021 regular season and it’s almost impossible for them not to regress somewhat this season, but 22 more losses worse? They still get 38 layup divisional games vs. Arizona and Colorado every season and their pitching depth will keep them in all the other games. It’s hard to see them being just basically a .500 team this year. 

CINCINNATI REDS (over/under 79.5 on SugarHouse)
Despite the perception that they had a decent season, the Reds still only went 83-79 last year. Since then they’ve lost All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos to free agency, traded away Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker and lost Wade Miley on waivers to their division rivals the Chicago Cubs. Their best reliever (TJ Antone) is going to miss the year after Tommy John surgery and the rest of their bullpen couldn’t get anyone out consistently. Jonathan India was N.L. Rookie of the Year, but his numbers were hardly awe-inspiring and he’s their only young impact player. Offensively they’re now going to bet on players whose contracts they wish they could get rid of. They have to hope Mike Moustakas returns to health and Joey Votto has yet another great season at age 38. The Brewers and Cardinals still look to be the elite of the NL Central and the Cubs will be better. Plus, when you play for a team whose ownership is clearly dumping salary, it’s hard to feel like you’re part of a team of destiny. The Reds are pretty clearly taking an exit off the contention highway and heading back to Rebuild City.

MINNESOTA TWINS (over/under 74.5 wins on Unibet)
Last season everything that could go wrong for the Twins did go wrong. They sat for four straight games in April due to inclement weather, then struggled in the next few weeks as closer Alex Colome blew a lot of games late and they lost 5 of 6 extra-inning games in April, ending up just 12-24 by the middle of May. Following that rough stretch, they were basically a .500 team the rest of the way despite trading Jose Berrios and Nelson Cruz at the trade deadline, Byron Buxton missing 100 games, Kenta Maeda requiring Tommy John surgery and key reliever Trevor Rogers and top outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff suffering hand injuries. They’ve already started to re-fortify by adding Sonny Gray, Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela while shedding Josh Donaldson’s contract and they probably aren’t done yet, now that Donaldson’s money is off the books. Their division has one good team (Chicago) and three other teams that are clearly flawed and the Twins feel due for a bit of a bounceback. With all that said, if they are just two wins better than last year’s disastrous season, they’re over this number.

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