No rooting interest in the NCAA Tournament? Join a pool. No rooting interest in the Super Bowl? Buy a few squares at work or bet on the National Anthem. No interest in baseball and/or no interest in any team other than your team? Like everything else, bet on it.
A huge knock on baseball is the way it’s covered. ESPN turns into the Yankees and Red Sox Programming Network during baseball season and in short, nobody on the West Coast really cares. Like, at all. How do you fix that? You guessed it, bet on it.
On New Years Day 2011, my cousin, Grant, and I made a 20-year bet on the Yankees and Red Sox. The line for combined World Series titles between the Yankees and Red Sox was set at an agreed upon 5. I have the over. Now, Terry Francona popping pills like “The Situation” from Jersey Shore? Fascinating. Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and co. drinking beers during games? What in the hell is going on out there in Title Town? Alex Rodriguez went to Germany to get treatment on his knee and shoulder? Thank you, Kobe! (You’re Welcome #KobeSystem).
I care about Carl Crawford’s rehabilitation. I care about Joba Chamberlain having his leg amputated after jumping on a trampoline with his kids. I actually care about the Yankees and Red Sox – all thanks to money.
So sure, whether you’re a Giants fan or an A’s fan, Opening Day is right around the corner. I can’t wait until Tim Lincecum takes the hill in Arizona. I can’t wait to see Buster Posey take his first at-bat since getting trampled by Scott Cousins. I can’t wait to see Brandon Belt in the three-hole in Fresno. Wait a second…
But I also can’t wait to see Justin Upton step into the box. I can’t wait to see that god-awful monstrosity also known as a home run display to go off in Marlins Park after a Hanley Ramirez home run. Because I have money on it.
I did it with the Super Bowl and less profitably with March Madness, so here are my 2012 Baseball Over/Unders. Because everything is more interesting with money on it.
Curtis Granderson Over 29.5 Home Runs
Curtis Granderson is a dead pull hitter (37 of his 41 home runs in 2011 were to the right of dead center), which is tailor made for the short porch in Yankee Stadium. Interestingly, though, he also hit 20 home runs on the road last season. Betting the under is essentially saying that Granderson’s 2011 was a fluke and there will be a regression of epic proportions in 2012 (think Adam Dunn). But even if there is a decent-sized regression, I still have 11 home runs of wiggle room. Taking his development as a hitter into consideration, as well as the fact that he has topped the 29 home run mark in two of the last three seasons, I see no reason but to bet the over. In size.
Matt Kemp Over 29.5 Home Runs
Before last season, Kemp predicted he would go 40-40. He fell one home run short of doing just that. This season, he’s calling his shot like Babe Ruth in the 1932 World Series: 50-50. Even as a Giants fan, his talent is undeniable. The only things that can keep him under this number are injuries and Rihanna. Tebow, I hope I lose this bet.
Justin Upton Over 29.5 Home Runs
29.5 seems to be the magic number this year. Of the three bets, I like this one the least even though Upton is my favorite non-Giants player. If healthy, this bet is a winner. He is coming off a breakout season in which he was fourth in NL MVP voting and he’s only 24 years old entering the prime of his career. But he is rarely healthy. In his first three full seasons leading up to last season, he played 108, 138, and 133 games, respectively. If he can stay healthy and keep that contact rate at or above what it was last season, this bet is going over. However, those are big ifs and my wager size will be indicative of those concerns.
Adrian Gonzalez Over 32 Home Runs
According to Matthew Berry, Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t been completely healthy in two seasons. With that said, he still hit 58 home runs combined. Now that he’s completely healthy, I’m expecting the kind of numbers we saw in 2008 and 2009, but adjusted to playing at Fenway Park for half of his games.
Hanley Ramirez Over 21.5 Home Runs
Like Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez’ talent is undeniable. Now that he’s said to be happy, healthy, and hungry (figuratively), he looks primed to return to his 2008 form. Others are skeptical, and rightfully so, but I expect big things from Hanley in 2012.
Tim Lincecum Over 14.5 Wins
It really can’t get worse for the Giants’ offense than it was in 2011 when the Giants scored an astoundingly low 570 runs. If the Giants’ offense can improve only marginally, I think Tim Lincecum will be a 15+ win pitcher in 2012 like he was in each of his first three full Major League seasons.
Arizona Diamondbacks Over 86 Wins
I just think the Diamondbacks are a very good team. They’re deep and even better on paper than last season’s 94-win team with the additions of Jason Kubel and Trevor Cahill. There might be a little bit of a let down after potentially overachieving last season, but it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if they won the National League pennant.
New York Yankees Over 93.5 Wins
The Yankees needed more horses in the rotation. Now they have them. With the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, to go along with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, starting pitching shouldn’t be an issue this season. I also like the fact that winning your division is of utmost importance now that there are two Wild Card winners that have to play in a one-game playoff. The Yankees will have the petal to the metal all season.
Tampa Bay Rays Over 87 Wins
With David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Wade Davis in the rotation, with Joe Madden (whose teams always seem to overachieve), and the fact that Evan Longoria still hasn’t had an MVP caliber season, chalk them up for 88+ wins.