Which Team Wins the Over or Under Bet?

There is no denying that the 2021 MLB season was one of the most action-packed in recent history. Between the regular season and the post-season there were numerous upsets and surprises. One of the biggest shocks of the year was the New York Yankees’ appearance in the World Series. The Bronx Bombers had been eliminated from contention during the last couple of weeks of the season before rallying to cause one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent memory. Naturally, many bettors rushed to place wagers on which team would triumph in the end. The bettors were in for a big shock because the team that most everyone thought would win the World Series was not the New York Yankees at all, but rather the St. Louis Cardinals! The Cardinals went on a historic roll during the season, winning 22 of their 28 games against the spread. They also won the majority of their interleague matchups as well.

Cardinals’ Over/Under Winning Streaks

The year before the Cardinals appeared in the World Series they had won only four games total against the spread. Although they did not win the World Series in 2020, they turned things around in a big way. In fact, between the regular season and playoffs they won 22 of their 28 games against the spread. During the regular season they went 8-2-1 in one-run games and 11-2 in games decided by one or two runs. In other words, they were perfect in one-run games and an improved version of their normal team in head-to-head battles. They also posted a +14 run differential during the regular season, the most ever by a team since 1900 (baseball-reference.com).

The following are some of the biggest surprises of the year:

Philadelphia Not The Champion We Thought We Were Going To See

Although the Phillies had a strong season they did not live up to the lofty expectations that fans and observers had for them. The team collapsed down the stretch, going 4-12 against the spread in their final fourteen games. Additionally, they failed to cover the spread in four of their eight post-season games. This was mostly due to the fact that the Phillies had an extreme variance in performance throughout the year. For example, they went 4-16 in June, but finished 20-13 against the spread. The team also went 9-8 against the spread in one-run games and 5-5 in close games. (To give you an idea of how they performed in one-run games, they went 4-16 against the number, 6-16 against the spread, and 9-7 against the spread when ahead or behind by one run). Some of the disappointing performances came at the hands of their key rookies. For instance, Rhys Hoskins had a down year, hitting just.229 with three home runs and 24 RBI. His subpar numbers were certainly a major contributing factor in the Phillies’ underwhelming year. Other rookies such as Jeter Downs and Alec Bohm also underperformed, contributing to the team’s struggles. For the most part, the Phillies’ poor performance came as a complete shock to everyone.

While the Phillies were underwhelming this year they still gave everyone a good show. They had one of the best individual seasons of any player on the planet in Josh Bell. The second baseman hit.346 with 41 home runs, 108 RBI and 17 stolen bases. He also had a fielding percentage of.992 (172 of 176 total chances) at second base. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the Phillies as they came close to missing the postseason entirely. With a record of 79-83, the team finished just three games out of the last spot in the NL East. (To give you an idea of how close the season came to going down in flames, the Phillies had a 1.5 game lead with six games to go on June 26th and then they lost two straight to the Braves and one more to the Marlins).

Baltimore Not The Powerful Force People Thought They Were Going To See

The Orioles had the chance to make a few major moves this offseason to improve their chances of winning the World Series. They had the third-highest payroll in all of baseball (about $214 million) and could have brought in some of the best free agents available. Unfortunately, they did nothing to bolster their team and instead chose to stand pat, mostly because their best player, George Springer, will be a free agent after the 2021 season.

This is pretty shocking for a team that many thought would easily win the AL East since it was seen as a two horse race between the defending champ Yankees and the pesky but talented O’s. However, it should not have come as a complete surprise to anyone. Baltimore was awful throughout the year, posting a record of 62-100, barely avoiding 100 losses. They did not win a single one-run game all year long and were only plus-2 in runs scored. The O’s also had a horrible defense, committing 17 errors leading to 45 unearned runs. With the exception of Manny Machado, the Orioles did not have many standouts on offense or defense. Additionally, their pitching staff posted a 6.22 ERA that was the highest in all of MLB. The numbers are embarrassing for a team that was expected to be highly competitive in the AL East.

Boston Not The Dynasty People Thought They Were Going To See

Although the 2020 Red Sox season was filled with disappointment, it was not a total bust. The team won 94 games, the most they had won in a single season in Boston since 1918 and the fifth-most in MLB. (They also had the highest payroll in baseball with about $236 million and could have made some major moves, but instead did nothing and missed the playoffs entirely).

The Red Sox were heavily favored to win the AL East, it was seen as a straight shot between the Yankees and the Red Sox. However, no one expected the team to go this far. They cruised to the finish line, winning 20 of their first 25 games and then proceeded to win seven in a row, including a playoff game against the eventual champion Cardinals. With the exception of Mookie Betts, who will be a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, the Red Sox have a lot of talent and this year they proved that they are for real.

Falling Short Of The Perfect Season

Although the Yankees had an excellent season, they were not quite as perfect as people thought they would be. They were a +21 run-differential during the regular season, which is the highest since the 2001 Mariners. Additionally, the team had the highest paid roster in baseball. However, it was not enough for them to go all the way to the World Series. They faltered down the stretch, losing ten of their last fourteen games and dropping from first to fourth place in the AL East. This was mainly due to their pitching staff’s 5.22 ERA in July and August that was the highest in all of MLB. (To give you an idea of how bad it was, Boston’s bullpen had the fifth-highest ERA in all of baseball with a 6.75 ERA). With the exception of Jeter and A-Rod who will be free agents after the 2021 season, the Yanks can still look forward to a strong core of players, but there is no mistaking the fact that this was a disappointing year.

Since 1900 there have only been four seasons where a team won the World Series and only one of those teams (the 2000 Yankees) won the title by more than a game. The 2020 season was one of the closest World Series in history and there is still a chance that the Yankees could come back for another try. However, for now, they will have to settle for being one of the best teams ever, which is definitely something to be proud of.