The Cubs are in the middle of their annual Spring Training trip to Lost Wages, which means it’s time for an obligatory post on some of the various bets you can place on the team.
There’s a reason they keep building multi-billion-dollar monuments to excess in the desert and it’s not because the house loses. To that end, I’m reasonably sure you could fully finance the construction of a new casino on the Strip with the mountains of money that’s been put on the North Siders over the years.
2015 is no exception either, though the jump to 12-1 and even 6-1 World Series odds that followed the Joe Maddon and Jon Lester signings made many futile bets a little less so. But what fun is a single wager when there are so many more out there to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can put some of your money on your team and maybe even get a little back in return.
Most of the projections systems out there have the Cubs at around 83-84 wins, so taking the over here is a very enticing option. While I can see any number of scenarios in which they under-perform those estimates, a nearly full season of Kris Bryant (PECOTA’s projection only has 394 PA’s for him) could well pay off for the over.
Anthony Rizzo Home Runs – 30.5 (Sportsbook.ag)
I’m taking the over on this one and laughing all the way to the bank. While it’s true that Rizzo hit only 32 homers last year, he did it in only 140 games; consistency in his approach and confidence in his abilities, not to mention a stronger lineup, should allow Rizzo to grow even more in 2015.
Jon Lester Wins – 13.5 (Sportsbook.ag)
Lester has tallied at least 15 wins in 7 of the last 8 seasons (9 W’s in 2012), so one would think this is a pretty safe over to take. When you factor in his move to the NL Central from the AL East and, to a much lesser degree, the AL West, 14 or more wins seems like a lock.
Then again, pitcher wins can be really squirrelly category (right, Shark?) and aren’t necessarily indicative of a hurler’s performance. So despite the Cubs’ improvements, it’s still entirely possible that Lester finds himself with one of his lower win totals in recent memory. Still, I’d put a couple bucks on the over.
Jake Arrieta Wins – 11.5 (Sportsbook.ag)
I’ve got to be honest, I really didn’t want to keep taking the over on every single one of these bets, but I’m going to do it again here. If Arrieta can maintain his health, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to add 2 W’s to his career-high 10 from last season.
Like Rizzo’s home run total from last year, Arrieta’s counting stats were hurt by the fact that he missed the first month of the 2013 season. And when you consider that he received an average of only 2.59 runs in support of his 25 starts, Arrieta is primed to exceed 11 wins with room to spare.
Odds to lead MLB in home runs – Anthony Rizzo 14-1, Kris Bryant 50-1 (Bovada)
Despite my confidence in Rizzo hitting more than 30 homers, I just can’t see him beating out the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, et al. Same goes for Bryant, who will have a smaller number of AB’s, not to mention the adjustment to Major League Baseball.
Odds to Win NL Central, NL, and World Series – 4-1, 8-1, 16-1 (Las Vegas SuperBook); 2.5-1, 7-1, 14-1 (Bovada); 3-1, 10-1, 14-1 (Sportsbook.ag)
This is an instance in which you want to find the longest possible odds, given the general difficulty in achieving any of the feats listed. Plus, you want to maximize your bet. If you actually think the Cubs are going to win, you certainly want to be sure to get the best bang for your buck. If you don’t think they’ll win, you might as well throw cash at the highest odds.
There are many, many more bets available through legitimate sports books and shady backroom bookies alike, so if you’re interested in making the baseball season even more, well, interesting, I’m sure you can find myriad ways to do so.
Have you seen some other prop bets out there? Put some money on a few of your own? Let us know about it in the comments below.