The idea that the Orioles probably aren’t going to be very good this year has been obvious since long before they limped to a 47-115 finish last season. Even with the hiring of new general manager Mike Elias offering hope for the future, there’s not much he can do about the MLB squad this year. The gambling world has noticed.
Caesar’s Palace posted the first preseason win total numbers on Tuesday night and the Orioles, no surprise, are the lowest by far, with an over/under at just 59 wins. Anyone who wants to bet the over has to think that the Orioles will win 60 or more games. The under, on the other hand, requires a belief that the Orioles will win no more than 58 games.
Given that the O’s would have to improve by at least 11 wins with a roster that no longer includes Manny Machado for any part of the season in order to beat that under, it’s almost a surprise the number is as high as 59.
For bets like these, the sports book wants the bets to come in 50/50 as much as possible. The reason for that is simple: That way, they make money no matter which bet pays out. With both over and under odds set at -110, that means someone must wager $110 in order to win $100 on either bet. If half of the money is bet each way, the winners as a group get their money back, plus the losers’ money too - minus the $10 out of every $110 that is the house’s cut. The house always wins.
It’s important, then, to set the numbers so half of the money is on the over and half is on the under. Internet randos can fire off opinions and be wrong and people will forget about them at best or briefly ridicule them at worst. If the casino sets a low number and everyone bets the over and everyone wins, they lose money, at least until the gamblers give it back by betting on something else.
In a sad way, that the over/under number is as high as 59 is almost a cause for celebration after seeing that 47-win Orioles squad from last season. They really think half of the money might come in for 60+ wins! A 102-loss season never sounded as good as it does right now.
The idea that the Orioles are due for a bit of regression in a positive direction isn’t that crazy, even with the roster being what it is. They managed to underachieve their Pythagorean W-L expectation by eight wins last season.
If that was bad luck and that bad luck evens out, the O’s will look better without even getting into whether Elias, Brandon Hyde, and company can use their analytics magic to wring better performance out of returning players that the Dan Duquette/Buck Showalter tandem was incapable of helping. The good players who were traded in July are still gone, though.
A few other MLB teams are expected to come in at a more ordinary level of bad, with the Marlins at 65.5 wins, the Tigers at 67, and the Royals at 69. That’s some bad baseball. If you were wondering, a different sports book had the Orioles o/u at 72.5 wins before the 2018 season.
That under bet paid out - or the unfortunate optimists who bet the over could rip up their tickets - on August 29th, when the Orioles lost their 126th game of the year to fall to 37-89. Even though I constantly remember how much last year sucked, I still forget about how much it sucked.
On the other end of the spectrum, the good teams are expected to be really good. The Astros have the highest o/u at 97.5, with the Yankees at 96.5 and the defending champion Red Sox at 95.5. If you imagine a Red Sox fan who is indignant about being behind two teams after just winning the World Series, it may bring a small bit of joy to your day.
Would you take the 2019 Orioles at over or under 59 wins?
This poll is closed
Over (60+ wins)
Under (58 or fewer wins)