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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 31, 2007 at 11:42 AM

Win totals not created equal

A glance at some Las Vegas odds, at Sportsbook.com, this morning shows the Mariners with an over-under at 78.5. That means, for those not into betting, that the bookmakers in Vegas are figuring half their clientele will pick the M’s to win more games (79+) while the rest will choose fewer (78 or less). While hardly an exact science, the formula does tend to give you an indication of where the cooler, objective heads think a team is headed.
Remember, the object of the odds-setters is to make money. They want to create as much “action” as possible by picking a figure that’s close enough to realistic expectations in order to get as many bettors as possible off the fence and into the gambling realm on both sides of the debate. The bookmakers will usually lose money if they go out on a limb, like the average hyper-fan, in predicting a 90-win season for a team like the M’s based on the hope of everything going right. The folks in Vegas see the M’s as a last-place finisher in the AL West, a full 10 games behind the Angels, another seven back of Oakland and a few shy of Texas. That’s actually about where I see things, though I’d flip-flop Seattle and Texas and put the Rangers last based on the M’s offensive improvements and a dismal off-season for Ron Washington’s team.
But, that’s why they play the games. It’s also why, I think, fans should waste less time worrying about win totals and more on examining on how competitive a team stays and for how long. The Mariners, despite all of their improvements, could very easily match or even fall short of last season’s 78 wins. But they could also play competitive baseball for far longer this year, and that’s what fans should be looking for. Let’s not forget how, in 2006, the Mariners played like a 70-win team up until late August before going on a victorious run — albeit far too late to make a difference in the standings — that padded the team’s win total to 78.
As I told radio host John Clayton this morning on KJR here in Seattle, I can actually see the team playing on a 78-win level throughout. What that means is, if the M’s can actually go on a similar winning late-August and September roll, the win total could carry into the mid or high-80s. Do I actually think that will happen? No, I don’t.
It’s a lot easier to win when the pressure is off. Winning under the stress of a September playoff race is a different animal altogether. Check out the Toronto Blue Jays of the past decade for proof of that, a team I witnessed firsthand as it won when it didn’t matter and collapsed when it did. The Mariners, if things go reasonably well, should win about as many as they lose. And they should do that for the majority — if not the entirety — of this season. The fact that Las Vegas agrees with that assessment does not surprise me in the least.

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