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MLB betting: Computer projections really hate Tigers (and other teams) this season

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There's reason to believe the Detroit Tigers could be a lot better this season. The projections don't see it though.

The PECOTA projected season standings from Baseball Prospectus offers fans a chance to either complain (if their team is lower than expected) or praise PECOTA (if their team is higher than expected). The fan base with the biggest issue this season is the Tigers.

The Tigers' projected win total is a full 11 games under its BetMGM odds. PECOTA has the Tigers at 67.3 wins, which is 11.2 wins less than the BetMGM season win total of 78.5. No other team has a difference of more than 7.8 wins between PECOTA projection and BetMGM odds.

Tigers fans shouldn't be too happy with that.

Tigers added key veterans

The optimism about the Tigers is twofold. They have young players on the rise and added some key veterans.

The Tigers have some prospects like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene who probably should be on the opening day roster and could make an impact right away. Players like outfielder Akil Baddoo and pitcher Tarik Skubal could take steps forward after showing some promise.

This offseason, Detroit added shortstop Javier Baez, pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Tucker Barnhart. The AL Central isn't too strong outside of the Chicago White Sox, and the Tigers saw an opportunity to take a step forward. They got aggressive.

If everything comes together, Detroit could improve from last season's 77-85 record. That's why BetMGM's season win total is set at 78.5. Just don't tell that to PECOTA, which is not a big Detroit fan this season. If you trust that projection, a Tigers under bet is pretty easy.

Detroit Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo (60) is big part of the team's young core. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Detroit Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo (60) is a big part of the team's young core. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Are Giants an under play?

PECOTA, or any other projection, has flaws. It should not be the final word in anyone's future bets. But it's a tool, and if it is way off a team's odds, it's worth looking into.

There are other teams PECOTA hates. The San Francisco Giants' PECOTA projection of 77.7 wins seems crazy after they went 107-55 last season, but that's the second-biggest discrepancy compared to BetMGM odds. BetMGM has the Giants' season win total at 85.5, 7.8 off its PECOTA projection. The other teams whose BetMGM odds are five or more games higher than the PECOTA projections: St. Louis Cardinals (5.4-win difference), Tampa Bay Rays (5.2-win difference) and Kansas City Royals (5-win difference). If you trust PECOTA fully, those are your under bets this season.

The best over bet, based solely on PECOTA projections, is the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks' projection is 72.9, and the odds are set at 65.5. The Diamondbacks are interesting because Fangraphs' projections also like them. Fangraphs has Arizona at 70 wins, 4.5 wins over the BetMGM odds. Other possible over bets based on PECOTA projections: New York Yankees (7.2 wins over BetMGM odds) and Cincinnati Reds (5.9 over).

There's more to betting season win totals than blindly following a projection. But what projections do is eliminate the biases we can have and give us a win projection based on stats and simulations. And this season, the computers — at least the ones at Baseball Prospectus — really don't like the Tigers.