For 15 years, the semi-mysterious “Mr. X” has been providing his season-total over/under plays in major league baseball to me for publication on the radio. I can vouch for his record, as outlined below.
Now, it should be noted: “Mr. X” could well be due for a 15 year cold streak at any moment. Or, he may just keep picking winners at a near 80% clip for as far as the eye can see.
The only way to find out: put down some benjamins, and enjoy the ride!
Here’s his write up…
Mr X’s Baseball – 2016
First, let’s set the record straight.
First year I send picks to the Czabe was 2000. Went 6-0. He took note. The following year, we started on the air with them but only went 5-1. The rest is history, from local show, to the annual spring ritual.
From 2000 through 2013, went 66-17, at about 79%. That prompted the “one and done” year of 2014 (the Famous Yankees UNDER) that won and put Mr. X at 67-17 and a cool 80% over 15 years. Done!
Looking back at it, the final 6 years were actually 22-3, raising it to the 80% threshold, which seemed like the right place for “retirement”.
In 2015, we released the one play, “touched by God” at CzabeVegas, (TB over), and hit too.
Now, what about 2016?
First (and nobody cares about this), but how do I do it? 3 parts.
- Know baseball (which I do),
- Understand data (let’s just call it sabermetrics, and the impact), and combine it with understanding rising and falling with age (that Bill James first taught us in the 80s).
Every good handicapper can do that though. Or at least somewhat. But I think my key has been the 3rd leg of analysis – which, like the formula for Coke, is just going to stay in my head. Or, in the case of those who bought me drinks at CzabeVegas, in their heads now too! ☺
On to 2016
AL whipped the NL badly last year, around 35 games over .500 and looks poised to do it again. But that was the 2nd highest rout since start of interleague. Not sure they really can improve on that – yet the “totals” imply an even higher dominance over the NL, and I don’t see that happening. The NL has the 6 worst rosters in baseball, but some very good teams too. In general, that led me to WANT to identify the UNDERS in the AL (and maybe over in NL).
The 6 worst teams in baseball (by both the projected totals and any glance), are all in NL. AND they all seem to have quit. Atl, Phi, Cin, Mil, SD, Col all LOOK like teams that could or should lose 95-100 games. All during Vegas I had guys asking about “going under” on 1 of these teams. I won’t. Reason? They just can’t ALL suck. Well, they can all suck, but they can’t all go under. They do play each other, right? I wanted to find which of the 6 was most likely to be better than the rest, and play them over. Just by the math. But eventually decided all 6 are a “PASS”, for 2 reasons. 1) trying to split them into better and worse is a waste of time, and 2) there will likely be a race to sell. With all 6 throwing in the towel so early, each may be dumping players quicker than normal. How’d you like to take Cincy over and then have them dump Votto? So, can’t take any of them over – as they CAN even get worse when they sell off players, and well, can’t take any UNDER because of the mere presence of the other 5!
- Cleveland over 85 (as given at Czabe Vegas!). While I clearly prefer unders, Cleveland COULD be best team in AL. I think they battle with Toronto for best record, win the Central, win 90 or more. All that makes an easy over for them. Keep in simple. If you are in top 2 (or 3) teams, then you go over 85. IF that’s not enough, add this: If I had to play each team, I’d play each of the other 4 teams in ALC UNDER. I like Min and KC under, and small leans under on CWS/Det too. No sense in spreading around on those unders, I’ll just roll to Clev over. Clev has the best starting rotation in the AL and the back end of bullpen is very solid and underrated. This is a 90+ win team, and also sleeper pick for WS.
- Baltimore under 80. If you look at Baltimore closely, they appear to be near a .500 team. But, they have holes and while they COULD edge the Yankees, they are likely to be 5th place team in the AL east. If they can come in 5th and win over 80, something is wrong. While the Central is weaker than most believe, the West is stronger. I’ll save the baseball and say, if you come in 5th in your division, you can’t play 500.
- Cardinals UNDER 87.5. Yes, shorting the machine. For the longest time, this team has simply over performed all metrics. You certainly can’t make a living shorting them. But, this number is just too high. I see 5 and maybe even 6 teams in the NL better than STL, and that makes getting upper 80s not gonna happen. I see them flirting with 82 wins at best.
- Dbacks under 83 – yes, it if you go “UNDER” the team that makes biggest splash in offseason, you usually win. I usually do that, but not by “hype” alone. Greinke going from best pitchers park and great catcher, to hitters park and average catcher. I think he returns to form as solid, yet average pitcher. Not nearly as good as Dodgers or Giants, so 3rd place finish and no better than 81 wins.
Those are the 4 best. I would guess I go 3-1, but I just can’t find the “1”!
There are 8 other LEANS I have, which means 18 PASS’s. Making predictions on all teams is just wrong. They are so interrelated, that you can either get most correct or most wrong – so just not the way to go. Yes, if I picked them all, I find that the bottom 20 usually go either 15-5 or 5-15, but that’s just because they are related. Picking all is silly, and picking out just 1 is……well, just GAMBLING. ☺
If you must find more winners, choose from:
- Cubs over 93. Can’t EVER recall going over on the top dog, in fact usually under. But this team simply has NO FLAWS and has the depth to overcome injuries. They should get to 98, and with such misery at bottom, they could easily win 100.
- Pirates under 87 – see STL. Window closing, not a top team anymore, closer to 82.
- Miami over 80. If you want to try that one team out of the pack with high odds to win penant, this could be it. I see them battling with NYM/Was for title, all between 85-89 wins. Stanton and Fernandez have rarely been on the same field. If stay healthy, no reason they can’t leave the pack of crap teams behind.
- LAD over 89.5. Again, rarely take over on top teams, but the pack is SOOOO bad and the Dodgers should win the west over SF. That puts them in 90s, just by default.
- TB over 82. They can contend in east and should win 86.
- Texas under83/Oak over 75.5/Sea ov82.5: these 3 are too related for me to separate, but pick one as it probably goes 3-0 or 0-3. I think Texas very overrated and Oak/Sea will finish ahead of them. Seattle is the longshot play in AL, as they can contend with Hou for division.
Division Winners (with odds factored in!)
AL: TB (9-1), Clev (2.5-1), Sea (5-1)
NL: Mia (10-1), Cubs (-175), LAD (7-5)
Wild cards: Tor and Oak; SF and Was.
Clev at 12-1 to win AL, Mia at 30-1 to win NL.
But, FYI, I took a flyer at 50-1 on WS matchup to be Cubs vs Cleveland. WWCD.