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BettorIQ’s MLB Betting Preview: Detroit Tigers


BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. Over the course of the next few months, we will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective.

Detroit Tigers
2019 Record: 47-114
2019 Profits: -41.2 units
2020 Win Total: 57
2020 Odds to Win AL Central: +25000
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +46500
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +90000

Betting Positives: The bar will certainly be low for Detroit, especially in the betting community after losing over 41 units of profit. The good news is the Tigers made a handful of offseason moves that should improve the team in the short term. One-year deals include position players C.J. Cron, Austin Romine, Cameron Maybin, and Jonathan Schoop, as well as pitchers Ivan Nova and Zack Godley. There seems to be some divide on how much of an impact these new additions will make. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA standings projected 69.4 wins over a 162-game season while the betting markets were as low as 56.5. At catcher, first base, second base, and right field, the Tigers combined for minus-11.2 bWAR last season. With the addition of a handful of average MLB players at those positions, it could lead to a fairly large improvement. Among the returnees, there was also talk this spring about a resurgence from veteran Miguel Cabrera who reportedly looked terrific during spring training. 

Betting Negatives:  Like Baltimore, Detroit is still paying the price for excessive spending and a “win now” approach. And with a shortened season, the organization may choose to develop rather than rush their top prospects like former top pick Casey Mize. As for the current roster, no position player is projected to produce a WAR of greater than 1.7 and there isn’t much to turn to when looking at the pitching staff either. Starter Matthew Boyd can eat innings (185.1 IP) but regressed in a big way the second half of 2019. During that stretch, Boyd allowed a .254/.325/.505 slash with a .344 wOBA against. Starters Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull have not shown to be quality MLB starters and Jordan Zimmerman and Ivan Nova appear to be on the downside of their career trajectory. In total, the Tigers are projected to have the 24th-best starting staff, and things are pegged to be worse in the bullpen. One of the few quality relievers they had, Shane Greene, was dealt to Atlanta last season and the remainder of the unit looks very weak.  

Handicapper’s Take: The Tigers offense was woeful last season. They combined the 29th ranked BB% rate with the 30th ranked strikeout rate to generate just 3.6 runs per game (30th) and only 77 wRC+ (29th). That resulted in a 69-84-7 O/U mark; a trend that could continue give the lack of quality bats. In addition to looking at totals going UNDER, the Tigers could prove to be a decent “spot bet.” As noted earlier, PECOTA projections like the Tigers far more than the betting market. And a number of players on one-year deals will be motivated to perform in the hopes of earning a bigger payday with a contender. Last year’s team was on average a +161 moneyline underdog though that included the first few months of the season before everyone caught on to what proved to be a historical level of ineptitude. The average plus price could be even higher in 2020 which coupled with a higher winning percentage suggests bettors should be able to make a few well timed units of profit.