I hate the overrated/underrated game. You know how it goes: "such-and-such team is overrated/underrated" or "such-and-such team exceeded expectations." What I hate is that the standard is so nebulous. Give me something I can evaluate, like wins and losses.
For my money, the best standard for measuring expectations is the degenerate gamblers. Show me guys who have laid serious money on both sides of a number, and I'll show you guys who have done some homework. Which is why I made a point of sifting through some gambling sites tonight to see what the over/under wins number was for American League teams. (BTW, these are found at betus.com.)
Angels - 84.5
Rangers - 84.5
Mariners - 83.5
A's - 79.5
Here's why I'm glad I did this - because I already fell into the overrated/underrated trap. I've heard so many people tout the Mariners this year that I hinted six weeks ago that I think they're overrated. But 83.5 wins doesn't seem excessive. That feels about right for the Mariners.
By the way, if you're a big Baseball Prospectus PECOTA guy, here's your chance to put your money where your mouth is. PECOTA states that the Angels should win about 76 games this year, or 8.5 games less than Vegas. It's the biggest spread between PECOTA and Vegas in the American League. Bet the "under" and double your money.
And for the record, I wouldn't touch that "under" bet with a 10 ft pole. The Angels won 97 games last year, and now we think they're going to win just 84? And PECOTA thinks they'll lose an extra 21 games this year?
Red Sox 94.5
Blue Jays 71.5
Here's a shocker - the wild card team is likely coming from the AL East. Vegas' money is ranking the Rays as the underdog, which isn't totally shocking considering all the money that pours in from the Northeast. For the record, PECOTA likes the Rays a couple games more than Vegas and the Yankees a couple of games less, making it a much closer race. I'd love that to be true. I'd love to see the Yankees miss the playoffs. I'm small and bitter that way.
Now let's get to the one you've all been waiting for...
White Sox 82.5
That's the order I would come up with too, with the Twins and White Sox a step or two ahead of the Tigers, and way ahead of the Indians and Royals. But I think Vegas is underestimating the spread between the top two teams and the rest of the division. Both of those teams feel like they're 90-win teams. It would truly be a sucker bet to parlay two "over" bets in the same division, but that would tempt me.
Instead, can I bet against PECOTA? It lists the Twins, White Sox AND Tigers as 80 win teams. If only BP would open a casino.