Every year, Las Vegas oddsmakers set over-unders for just about every conceivable thing in baseball. Included with that is the Tampa Bay Rays. While most of us will not be placing bets, it is always fun to see what Vegas says and figure out what we would do. Here are the Rays over-unders courtesy of Bovada.lv and my choices for which way the players will go.
Team Wins: O/U 88.5
The Rays are going to win at least 90 games this year unless something goes horribly wrong. In fact, if you asked Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman whether they would rather take 90 games for sure right now or take their chances with the season, they would rather play out the year.
Evan Longoria Home Runs: O/U 30.5
In Longoria’s last two healthy years, he has 32 and 31 home runs respectively, which makes the Vegas number interesting. We also have to factor in the chances he gets hurt again. But Longoria played 160 games last year and hit 32 homers despite a major slump to end the season. 35 home runs is a reasonable benchmark for Longoria this year, and there is a very good chance he hits at least 31.
Evan Longoria RBIs: O/U 101.5
This one is more interesting. Longoria has not topped 100 RBIs since 2010 and managed just 88 in 2013. In addition, just 7 of the 25 players who hit between 25 and 35 home runs in 2013 got to 100 RBIs. Then again, Longoria had 99 RBIs in 2011 and the Rays should score a few more runs this year. It will be close, but I will guess 95 RBIs for Longoria this coming season.
Wil Myers BA: .280
Myers hit .293 his rookie year. Can he keep that up? I am not so sure. Myers had some serious issues with breaking balls and changeups during his rookie year, and teams will only have a better idea of how to pitch him. I am expecting a batting average between .260 and .270 for Myers in 2014.
Wil Myers Home Runs: O/U 24.5
While I do believe what I said last paragraph, Myers’ power is most certainly real. 25 home runs may be on the low end of what Myers can give the Rays this season.
Desmond Jennings Stolen Bases: O/U 25.5
In his two full major league seasons, Desmond Jennings has 31 and 20 stolen bases respectively. Vegas picked exactly the midpoint of those two numbers, 25.5. Jennings’ stolen base trends have been a little bit bizarre as he was caught just twice in 2012 but eight times last year. However, Jennings is too talented to get caught that many times again and (for what it’s worth) looked much more confident on the basepaths on spring training as he swiped 5 bases without getting caught. 30 bases is reasonable for him this season, and hopefully he can steal a few more.
James Loney BA: O/U .285
Loney is probably going to regress in 2013, but he is a .285 career hitter and he can certainly get their in 2014. If he is lower than .285, it will probably be like .283 (which will drive everyone who put money on the over nuts). In any event, if Loney starts slipping against lefties, Joe Maddon will not be afraid to start platooning him. It is reasonable to expect his average this season will be above his career mark.
Ben Zobrist BA: O/U .270
Zobrist is a career .263 hitter, and although he has been at .270 or above the last two years, he failed to reach the mark the last two years. 2013 start him hit .275, his highest mark since his breakout 2009, but also hit his fewest home runs since 2010. That was a little bizarre, and I will expect him to get his power back in 2014 but cost himself a few points on his batting average.
Matt Joyce Home Runs: O/U 18.5
Joyce has hit 17 or more home runs the last three years, but even in his All-Star 2011, he only hit 19 home runs. Even if Joyce has a great year in 2014, the chances aren’t too high that he gets there again.
David Price Wins: O/U 15.5
Rays pitchers have surpassed 15.5 wins just four teams and two of them came from Price. With the Rays improving from last year, it certainly isn’t crazy that Price wins at least 16 games this year. The other interesting thing: in both of Price’s campaigns with at least 16 wins, he finished in the top two in the AL Cy Young voting.
David Price ERA: O/U 3.05
After how good Price looked after returning from the disabled list, an ERA below 3.00 from him is relatively likely. He may not dip it into the 2.50 range and win another Cy Young, but he will be very good.
David Price Strikeouts: O/U 190.5
Price topped 200 strikeouts in both 2011 and 2012, but he was a different pitcher last year, seeing his strikeout rate drop from 8.7 per 9 innings to 7.3. Price should rebound to an extent in that regard, but something that big is too much to fathom.
Matt Moore Wins: O/U 14
This is a tough one. All of our knee-jerk reactions are “if Matt Moore went 17-4 with inconsistent control and sub-par velocity, imagine how good he’ll be at full strength!” But as we know, wins are a matter of run support, especially for a pitcher in Moore not known for going deep into games, and the likelihood is that his wins will drop this season. If Moore tops 14 wins, it likely means that he has broken through with his control and emerged as a second ace beside Price. Every Rays fan hopes that happen, but it is not the most probable outcome.
Matt Moore ERA: O/U 3.45
At the same time, Moore is a very good pitcher who could very well continue this season. After he posted a 3.29 ERA last year, he should not be too much worse in 2014.
Alex Cobb Wins: O/U 12.5
This one might be the easiest of them all. If Alex Cobb stays healthy, it is hard to see him not getting 13 wins this year. Cobb has dealt with some freak injuries–the line drives last year and the rib problem in 2013–but I believe enough in Cobb to say that this is the year he stays healthy for an entire season without declining too much from his 2013 performance.
Chris Archer Wins: O/U 11
Archer can probably reach 11 wins, but how much higher can he get? Especially as a pitcher still trying to harness his third pitch, an adjustment from the league is coming in his second full year, and he will get out of games more quickly even if he doesn’t collapse. I would take the under knowing that a realistic worst-case scenario is me getting my money back.
Grant Balfour Saves: 35.5
The Rays tend to play close games, and Fernando Rodney hit 37 even in an up-and-down year. Balfour may not save 40, but he should save at least 36.
Any of my picks that you disagree with? Any bets that you would actually consider making? Head to the comments and we’ll discuss it more there.