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August 19, 2019

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Bettors taking early positions on Major League Baseball in local sports books

Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels among teams with highest win totals at LVH Superbook

Albert Pujols

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols adjusts his batting gloves during spring training baseball practice Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, in Tempe, Ariz.

MLB Regular Season Win Totals

  • Arizona — 86.5
  • Atlanta — 87
  • Baltimore — 69.5
  • Boston — 89.5
  • Chicago Cubs — 74.5
  • Chicago White Sox — 74
  • Cincinnati — 86.5
  • Cleveland — 78.5
  • Colorado — 80.5
  • Detroit — 92.5
  • Florida — 84.5
  • Houston — 64
  • Kansas City — 81
  • Los Angeles Angels — 92.5
  • Los Angeles Dodgers — 81.5
  • Milwaukee — 84.5
  • Minnesota — 73
  • New York Mets — 70.5
  • New York Yankees — 93
  • Oakland — 71.5
  • Philadelphia — 93.5
  • Pittsburgh — 73.5
  • San Diego — 73
  • San Francisco — 87.5
  • Seattle — 72
  • St. Louis — 83.5
  • Tampa Bay — 84
  • Texas — 91.5
  • Toronto — 80
  • Washington — 84
  • Numbers from LVH Superbook

A bettor recently marched into the LVH Superbook with a request that’s surely been uncommon over the past two decades.

He wanted to make a “very big” wager on the Kansas City Royals to win the 2012 World Series.

“I put up a very conservative number on the Royals because we feel the public is going to be on them,” said Superbook Assistant Director Chris Bennett, one of two employees who oversees baseball betting. “I didn’t expect anyone to come right up to the window and want to bet that much on them. We had to limit him on the bet.”

Welcome back, Major League Baseball. Although it’s more than a month before Opening Day, pitchers and catchers have reported to training camp, and exhibition games are scheduled for this weekend.

That’s enough to stir betting interest in Las Vegas sports books. The month of March is about more than the NCAA Tournament for the most dedicated sports gamblers. It’s also the start of baseball betting season.

LVH, which had already posted a full board worth of future odds, released its baseball season over/under season win totals to much fanfare 10 days ago.

“It’s been pretty consistent over these last few years with interest in the season wins,” Bennett said. “People want to bet them and come in to ask us when they are going to be up.”

The Royals, a team that’s 40-to-1 to win the World Series with a win total of 81 games, are the surprise in a group of squads attracting early action at the Superbook.

It’s more understandable when bettors are firing money on teams like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Detroit Tigers. The Angels and Tigers signed the two most coveted free agents this offseason in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, respectively.

Only two teams — the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies — commanded higher win totals than the 92.5 posted for the Angels and Tigers.

“To me, the Tigers at 92.5 wins looks like a good number,” said Bob Harvey, a baseball handicapper and editorial contributor to Sportsbookreview.com. “If I were betting it, I would take the over.”

Bennett expects many bettors to share Harvey’s opinion of the Tigers. The Superbook opened Detroit’s win total a game higher than projected because of the strong support the team has received on future bets to win the World Series.

Bennett thought signing Fielder overshadowed some concerns associated with Detroit, most notably the season-ending ACL injury to designated hitter Victor Martinez.

“Fielder might struggle switching leagues and facing a lot of pitchers he hasn’t seen before,” Bennett said. “I think the Tigers are one of the most overrated teams by the public right now. I don’t see them as good as the other four top AL teams, which I consider to be the Angels, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox.”

Bennett and Harvey are on the same page when it comes to the Angels. Harvey is higher on the Angels than any other team this season.

It’s not only Pujols. He gushed about the Angels reworked rotation, which features Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana.

Harvey suggests plays on the Angels to win the World Series at 8-to-1, win the American League at 4-to-1 and go over 92.5 victories.

“I would at least give the Angels the same odds at the World Series as the Phillies and put them at the front of the American League,” Harvey said. “They are a steal. I think they are going to run away with the American League and win the World Series.”

Odds indicate the Philadelphia Phillies are the runaway favorites in the National League. LVH lists Philadelphia at a price of 17-to-10 to win the National League and 5-to-1 to win its second World Series in five years.

Coming off a 102-win season, the Phillies are the only team in the National League available at less than 15-to-1 odds to win a championship. But Harvey isn’t sold.

Despite the presence of three marquee starting pitchers — Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels — Harvey thinks Philadelphia will miss the departed Roy Oswalt. More important, he’s hesitant because of an infection first baseman Ryan Howard suffered after an Achilles surgery.

Howard could miss more than the originally expected two months.

“The Phillies, I think, are a little overpriced,” Harvey said. “Everyone is still in love with them, but they haven’t really upgraded. When I drew up my futures, mine looked a lot different than what the books put up.”

If there’s a team similar to the Tigers or Angels in the National League, it’s the Miami Marlins. The franchise arguably signed the next two most significant free agents behind Pujols and Fielder in shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.

The Superbook posted the Marlins win total at 84.5, which is 12.5 more games than they won last season. It’s the biggest differential on the board.

Harvey regarded 84.5 wins as “the right number” and had no real opinion on Miami, a team that’s listed at 25-to-1 to win the World Series.

“The Marlins really helped themselves, but they are still probably a pitcher or two away,” Harvey said. “But at this time of the year, you’re looking for bargains or a place to make an investment. The Marlins might not be a bad place to do that.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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