A lot of sports gambling is really just convincing yourself of a surety (or as close as you can get to a surety). You stare at a potential wager as and slowly talk yourself into everything going right that you need to happen in order to secure the bag.
Sometimes, such as during March Madness, you’ve got so little experience or knowledge about what you’re wagering on that it doesn’t take much to make a decision. There’s that classic moment filling out your tourney bracket where you talk yourself into two reasons why South Dakota St. can upset Arizona & you move on with your less than educated guess.
Fortunately with MLB futures you’ve got an abundance of stats to realize what tide needs to turn in order for you to be successful. During Spring Training I’ll highlight a few teams that could potentially defy expectations in 2019, and what that team will need to happen over the course of the season to do so.
We’ll begin with the Minnesota Twins (admittedly my favorite franchise, who I will do my best to be objective over) and what you’re betting on in order to have a successful future’s wager on the club.
All odds via BetStars
Wins Over/Under 83.5 (Over)
Last year’s Twins finished 78-84, a disappointing but not entirely unpredictable finish after a Wild Card Game appearance in 2017. A few obvious culprits jump out for this regression.
While the offense was just above league average in Runs/Game, the Twins found themselves below league average in Home Runs, OBP, Slugging, & Stolen Bases. What opened 2018 as a potentially dynamic offense was stymied by:
- Injuries & ineffectiveness to Miguel Sano & Byron Buxton
- An 80game suspension to Jorge Polanco
- The down year & subsequent trade of Brian Dozier, and trade of Eduardo Escobar
- Another notquite-a-breakout season by Max Kepler (although he did set a career-high in HRs).
Eddie Rosario was the clear bright spot, as he was the only Twins position player worth more than 3.0 WAR (3.6, according to Baseball Reference). Essentially though, what could’ve gone wrong for the Minnesota offense did go wrong.
Minnesota hurlers too finished below league average in crucial categories such as ERA, FIP, & Home Runs, while the bullpen finished 2nd worst in baseball with 28 blown saves.
Kyle Gibson & Jose Berrios had exemplary years, with Gibson finally having the breakthrough season long awaited & Berrios being named an All-Star. In the pen, Taylor Rogers quietly closed out the year as one of baseball’s top relievers.</a> Other than that, however, the staff left much to be desired.
The pre-season signing of Lance Lynn turned out to be a bust, with Lynn turning in a 5.10 ERA before being dealt to the Yankees. Jake Odorizzi turned in his worst ERA since his first cup of coffee in the bigs, and the offseason signings of Fernando Rodney & Addison Reed failed to help the aforementioned bullpen.
Ready to bet on the Twins yet?
You should be, because there’s a lot to like about your chances of getting a six-game improvement to hit that Over total.
Buxton & Sano are both still only 25 years old, and both just a year removed from potential stardom. Sano was an All-Star in 2017 and a candidate this Spring Training as the Twins’ top “best shape of his life” guy. Buxton was a 5-WAR player in 2017, most of it coming in an incredible second half. If both guys stay on the field and produce even to half of what they’re capable, it could lead to a huge improvement for the Twins’ lineup for the better (not to mention Buxton as potentially the best CF in the game when healthy).
The Twins aren’t just relying on comebacks from Buxton & Sano, or a real breakout from Kepler to boost their offense. They went out and nabbed Nelson Cruz & his five consecutive seasons of 37 HRs or more in free agency, and also signed a one-year pact with Jonathan Schoop, just one year removed from a 32 HR season as a second basemen. Between those additions and the bat of CJ Cron (added after being DFA’d by the Rays) to replace Joe Mauer by trading OBP for power, anyone with a little optimism would assume a clear improvement of the Twins offense.
The Twins did a bit less this offseason on the mound, mainly just the signing of Martin Perez, hoping the LHP could compete for the 5th starter role and bring back some of the stuff that made him a top prospect way back when.
To bet on the Twins hurlers you’re hoping for continued growth from Berrios & a replication of 2018 from Gibson. You hope that Odorizzi regains his form a bit and that Michael Pineda comes back strong from TJ, leading to a more stable and better than league-average rotation. Whatever role Trevor May finds himself in, you’re hoping that him being over a year removed from TJ also improves his performance.
Like with most teams that you’re hoping defy expectations, the Twins will need help from unsung players or prospects if they’re going to surpass their Over figure and contend in what could be a weak AL Central. Former top prospects/picks Fernando Romero & Kohl Stewart could factor heavily into the team’s pitching plans, with talk of Romero taking his elite stuff to the bullpen.
Other than Astudillo, help from the farm might not come for the Twins’ offense in 2019. Nick Gordon was abysmal in AAA in 2018, and Alex Kirillof might be a bit too far off (although if he hits his way to Minnesota before September, it might be great for the Twins).
The Twins might now wow you on paper, but getting a 6-win improvement out of a young team that just signed some solid veteran bats might not be as difficult as you’d think. At least now you know what you’re betting on.
By Kyle Bandujo